Archive | February 2017

I Need a Break: Giving Up Twitter for Lent

I remembered this morning that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. For those who may not be familiar with this season, Lent lasts for six weeks beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending Easter Sunday. During this period, people spend time reflecting on Jesus Christ and His sacrifices for our sins, including giving up something for 40 days as a form of self-denial and repentance. 2017’s Lent starts March 1st and ends on Thursday, April 13th, Holy Thursday.

I tried to think of something to give up for the next 40 days, wanting to try it again and stick to it opposed to failing in years past. In my heart, I found my answer immediately.

I am giving up Twitter.

Twitter was one of the first social media sites I really began to use more frequently. I think I had MySpace one time a long time ago but it wasn’t used a lot. I have struggled numerous times to get rid of it because of the writing connections I found, discovering new things and people and just being a little more aware, too aware actually, of the things around the world.

After the Golden Globes earlier this year, I decided to take Twitter off of my phone. It was gone for almost a week…and it felt rejuvenating. I did it because I knew it would be crazy after Meryl Streep’s speech garnered so much attention.

I have thought over my connection to social media, my platform as a writer and why I even stuck with the thing all this time. But today, I realize I need to walk away for a while.

The only posts that will appear on Twitter will be from here and Goodreads when I finish, start or update my page counts with a book. No retweets, likes or comments on stuff that I should’ve ignored a long time ago. I will still be on Instagram but may not do many posts there either. You can also catch me on Goodreads and LinkedIn.

There comes a time when you need to gain perspective, take away one of the main distractions from your craft and just not worry about everyone else, politics or not. It would be easy to just delete my account and then restore it after Lent is over, but I know my followers would want to know what’s going on. I don’t want to be irresponsible about this decision.

Until Easter, see ya Twitter!

 

A Time to Unplug and Think: Returning to What Was Left Undone

I’d like to start this post with a quote from my favorite musician, role model and all-around refreshing fella, David Archuleta:

“You may end at the same destination whether you fail or smooth sail the whole time, but something about pushing through and fighting the good fight makes the entire journey all worth it–perhaps even greater than the destination itself that you were moving towards.” (Social Media Break, 2/6/15)

I did some thinking last night. You see, after eating too fast during dinner, I had briefly gotten sick. For fifteen minutes, I put the tablet down. I put the phone down. Focusing on my breathing and the washcloth on my forehead.

It’s strange that in those moments, I feel grateful to not be looking at a screen. One other time I had commented about social media in trying to distance myself from it. Recently I took Twitter off my phone for a couple of days. I understand the need to be connected to your fellow writers, groups you follow and readers you will have one day.

But do we really need to be “on” 24/7? Do we really need to keep looking at these screens on our phones, laptops, iPads, whatever we have a couple hours a day so we don’t fall behind or feel “out of touch” with whatever news or trend is going on that very day?

Since this past year, my dad has been watching CNN. I too have watched a few hours a day.

But was I happy? Not really. In fact, time I should have spent writing was put towards these games on my tablet that aren’t the end of the world if I don’t reach a certain goal that very same day. Time was focused on the current political atmosphere with so many opinions, thoughts, beliefs and so on. Books on writing, books on my to read list whether physical or Ebook, untouched on my writing shelf or tablet.

I shared the quote that I did at the beginning of this post because David himself was discussing a social media break. He too was feeling overwhelmed by the opinions everyone seemed to have about his music career, his personal life, etc. Who could really blame the guy! If I were him, I would have felt the same.

Not every path we take will be smooth. A lot of the time they are messy, bumpy and even an absolute nightmare that you feel you will never get out of. But there are things left undone. Things that should be accomplished, needs that should be met.

Instead of saying “I know I shouldn’t be on this phone for so many hours”, if you can, just do it. Turn it off for half an hour if possible. Remember what is around you. For us writers, it’s remembering our books to read, our writing guide books and even our pens and papers.

Being a writer can be difficult no matter your experience. That doesn’t mean you should give up. Today, I had that wake-up call I was waiting for. I just had to take, and make, that first step.

Social media is great for our writing platforms, but it shouldn’t be everything. Don’t beat yourself up if old habits come back. You can try again.

In the end, it will be worth it.

 

Following Your Heart: Being Authentic and Learning to Breathe More

photo_22873_20121204

Titled “Education” Credit: freerangestock.com

I know it has been at least a couple of weeks since I have written a blog post. I got sad for a while and…the many things that have happened in our world got to me.

I am sure some of you have felt the same too.

I think it’s pretty easy to feel helpless with your art as of late, especially if you are just starting out and building your publication credits like I am. You wonder if your work will truly ever make an impact on someone whether in real life or online. You criticize yourself for not doing enough. You ask yourself if this is truly your sense of purpose. You don’t want to get involved in very difficult, and sometimes complex, situations where people could be easily hurt even if you don’t mean to do anything hurtful.

I have seen that a lot lately, mostly online rather than real life. It was never aimed at me but people taking it out on each other. As someone who hates fighting, dislikes confrontation and tries to be peacemaker one time too many, it can drain you fast. You feel you have to protect your heart even more, and that includes your art. You feel you can’t be yourself, so you stay silent to keep peace.

But I have realized something.

You can’t hide your authentic self. Writing, for me, has been my outlet to be my best self without judgment from anyone. Lately, that has felt stagnant, but that’s because I wasn’t feeling or being honest.

When I wrote something earlier this week, job-search related, I felt liberated. The piece took five, maybe ten minutes at the most. I just did what all of us writers need to do more often but struggle to do.

Block the various comments from both sides: the positive and the negative. Tell the inner critic to shut up. Plus, a little instrumental never hurts!

I felt like myself again writing what I did. Because I was me.

I was real, I was honest about my heart and I felt those weights finally lift away. Maybe it’s been a growing trend ever since I felt a love for reading return with The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, my January Book of the Month Pick. Or perhaps because it is now 2017, a new year and 2016 is finally behind all of us.

Whatever it is, I’m finding my heart and light again.

I know the world is pretty scary for a lot of us. It is dark, at times divisive, uncertain, fearful and even hopeless. But I know there is still good amidst the chaos.

Remember your art. Read a book that you love that is not in your genre. I’m also going to take the advice of something I saw on Twitter this week too:

Turn it off (social media, the news, etc). Focus on your own life.

Because sometimes, you have to say I need to focus on me right now. You have to pull yourself away from the heartache and anger.

Follow your heart my fellow artists. Be real, and give yourself a break. You’re beautiful just the way you are, don’t hide that.

We need your light today.