Digital Wanderings

So, at the beginning of this year, I promised I would write to a schedule.

I’d have a minimum of 2500 words a week, with the ultimate goal of finishing the YA novel I’m working on. I might actually meet that minimum goal this week, having some 1700 words of poetry done, but overall, I think I’ve fallen well off that these past few weeks. Mostly, I blame the craziness of the Twitter Fiction Festival totally disrupting my discipline.

I was so excited by it, I let it distract me far too much – what followed was a minor social media storm (compared to what I’m used to). I worked a great deal on my short story “Aftertweet”, and on re-designing my blog, centralising my social media platforms, links, and so on, all of which took far more time and energy than it should have. It’s amazing how distracting and exhausting maintaining these profiles can actually be – feeling connected and engaged with an audience is a delight, to be sure, but it’s important to take a balanced approach to it, I think.

To not always shift to see what that (1) in your tab is, to check out that notification. I realise it can seem conceited to complain about social media connectivity, I just think for me lately there has been a definite lack of productivity tied to it – and if the choice is between constant distraction with online interaction, with arbitrary numbers, or producing the stories I’m always dreaming up, I’d pick the latter every day of the week. But my actions lately haven’t reflected that, so I’m now consciously telling myself to get back on the damn wagon and get off Twitter.

Ironically, just hitting ‘Publish’ on this post will send it zipping out to a half-dozen social media platforms, but I’m interested to know whether anyone has found it to have the opposite effect? Is anyone inspired by, or using Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc to increase their creative output? Of course, I often use Twitter for just that reason, to ensure I’m not just being a zombie or filling the ether because there’s space to be filled and nothing better to do. I try to use it creatively with micropoetry or the occasional short story — the other week I wrote several tweets as fables in the modern day.

Didya hear the one about Rumpelstiltskin? No? That’s because he deleted his Twitter, Tumblr, FB & killed everyone involved. ?

Didya hear the one about Snow White? She bit an Apple & wound up in a glass bar with 7 blue-shirted Genii. They laughed off her screams.

Instead of visiting Gran, Red Riding Hood Skyped her. “Google Maps says there’s 15km of woods b/w us? Lol. Y r u so far away?”

Didya hear the one about Cinderella? Lost a shoe at the club, saw it instagrammed by @royaldud ?

Or this short bit:

I gasped, curled up. Being kneed in the balls does that. Chivalry sniffed. “Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

The other day, I was also reading about a poet using Instagram to great effect. So, while it can be distracting, I know it can and frequently is put to good use. I encourage that. I think I’m just feeling a little put off by the lack of progress I’ve made in fiction these past few weeks. I put a little bit too much pressure on myself with this novel, and this particular short story which keeps dragging at my focus. I need to finish the latter to get back to work on the former, and most importantly, cast off the shackles of seriousness. There is great freedom in writing just for fun — an euphoric joy that is lost when your ego gets in the way and keeps repeating This Is Important.

As my touchstone, Ray Bradbury, once said, “Don’t worry about things. Don’t push… The important thing is to have a ball, to be joyful, to be loving and to be explosive. Out of that comes everything and you grow.”

So maybe that’s what I need to do, step back, return to the basics of having fun with storytelling, and easy my foot off the social media throttle — unless it’s for creative purposes. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?


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