In April of last year, I wrote this post explaining why I often take extended breaks from the wonder that is the Internet. Oh, how much fun is the Internet! So much to do and to learn and to distract me from my work. Social media is the worst. Authors are encouraged to engage our readership through our blogs and Facebook pages and on Twitter. And I love doing all of that. Need a recipe? Ask on Twitter. Readers know EVERYTHING. Alas, readers are so interesting, I lose time chatting and look up and realize I’ve lost hours I should’ve spent deep in the cave of my mind. So it’s nice to find other writers recognizing that sometimes holing up in the brain cave for awhile is a good thing.
Trust me, it is liberating to be free of the opinions of strangers. We all need to focus on our writing. Because the millions of readers out there don’t care about your blog. They aren’t searching for you on Twitter and avoiding your books based on the comments of others. They aren’t taking one star reviews seriously.
It’s very easy to obsess in this business. But I haven’t seen a single shred of evidence that obsession helps careers.
The thing that I have seen, over and over, is people finding success by writing good books.
I really think it is possible to make a very nice living by writing and not worrying about anything else.
We all want to believe we’re doing something good for our careers, so we abuse social media, buy ads, rigorously defend our good name, cultivate media contacts, make appearances, and celebrate our own very minor celebrity.
Let it all go. Spend your time working on your books. That’s the only thing that really matters, and the only thing you have control over.
7. STOP LETTING PASSION FERMENT INTO POISON
Passion can be a paintbrush — or it can be a gun. It can be a warm cup of go-go juice or an icy syringe jacked up with blowfish toxin. Passion is a horse that either carries you racing across the sunlit plains or stomps you bloody into the mud. Creators are passionate people; they have to be. Passion drives us to do what we do. But that passion easily goes septic and next thing you know, instead of pointing it toward our work and our desires, we’re instead letting it fuel some bullshit argument or be the rope that binds us into some crass emotional tangle. Writing the next great story from the deep of your heart is so much more valuable than EGADS SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERTUBES I WILL EXPEND MY CREATIVE ENERGON CUBES ASSERTING MY SUPERIORITY.
14. FIND SIGNAL IN NOISE
We can either fill our lives with meaning, or bog it down with distraction. The latter is easier, frankly: it’s so much simpler to lose ourselves to the Internet or video games or stupid arguments or Russian elk porn. But a life of writing requires focus. It demands that we tune out the noise and zero in on the signal. Signal will save us. Noise will drown us.
It is a wonder of the world, the Web. I have facts at hand by the thousands about everything from the different kinds of government to the names of the stars of television shows I’ve never even seen. I’m smarter, then, with my computer on, but not much deeper. I worry that my knowledge of the world is actually growing shallower, in fact, because for every idea there are a dozen articles and Wikipedia entries to read that allow me to avoid thinking for myself. And it’s not like any of that is going away, nor will I be staying away from it. Just putting it aside for a few hours a day so that I can think without the world humming in my ear, sitting in front of my blue screen with gray text, or stretched in bed with my little portable keyboard, a working setup so bland it’s actually inspiring.
Actually, this final post is worth reading and reading and reading. There’s so much to think about (the kitten analogy especially) here and I love that this was written in the infancy of social media, proving distraction has long been an issue for those of us who need to keep our brains engaged elsewhere!
So when I disappear, don’t worry. I’m still here. Slaving away. ;)