Social Media & the Siren Call of Other People’s Voices

the sirens callThis week it’s all about the internet, social media, and tuning out the siren call of other people’s voices. We can pretend to be “busy” all day long by on social media, email, or by searching out someone else’s creative work on YouTube or other websites. Someone posts a video on Facebook, and we “Like” it and comment that we’re “inspired.” Inspired to do what? More social media?

Let’s face it. Unless we keep the digital monster at bay, it can eat up all our creative time.

Perhaps worse than the time drain, social media can drown the inner voice a writer needs to tap into, be intimate with. Our longing for external noise and other distractions is compelling and addictive. It makes me wonder: what are we afraid of hearing inside?

Whatever it is, perhaps we should be writing about it.

1) Re-direct your reactivity

Feeling that urge to post on Facebook? Check your email? Train yourself to notice that urge–and to respond differently. The more you counter the urge, the easier it will be to do so.

“When the resistance pushes you to do the quick reaction, the instant message, the ‘ping-are-you-still-there’, perhaps it pays to push in precisely the opposite direction. Perhaps it’s time for the blank sheet of paper … the difficult conversation, the creative breakthrough …Or you could check your email.” [via Seth Godin]

2) Tame the email monster

We can tame the email monster by mutual agreement.

“We know that checking our e-mail every five minutes is a potent form of procrastination. But what if sending messages is another side of that coin? What if sending an e-mail is an excuse to not think through a problem — a hope that we can grab a bite of someone else’s attention and make them do our thinking for us, when what we need to do is to clarify our own intentions and make our own decisions?” [via Washington Post]

3) Eat social media for dessert

Do the work that truly nourishes you first. Write before you check your email, your Facebook, or your Twitter.  Make a goal–I will write 500 words; I will edit 4 pages–then reward yourself with a foray into social media when you have accomplished it. Does the thought of this make you anxious? The fact that the pull towards social media is so strong is a big sign that you should resist it.

4) Turn off the distractions

Turn off every program except the one you’re using to write, so you you won’t be pinged by audible or flashing alerts and be seduced by email, Facebook, etc.

5) Block schedule time away from the internet

Choose at least one morning or afternoon a week to totally disconnect from the internet. Really. Totally disconnect. Pull the plug literally and figuratively. It can be done. Don’t worry. The internet will still be there when you get back. I promise.

Here’s a tool that will help you tune out the internet (and tune into yourself).

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