Are You Addicted to Social Networking (Like I am)?

As I put the finishing touches on this post, I found out—much to my immense surprise and thrill—that the July issue of The Writer magazine named me (@wordsxo) as a “Top Feed to Watch.” I’m greatly honored and thrilled, but I can’t help but marvel at the irony.

Am I addicted to Twitter? Are you?

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while—ever since I’ve been having so much trouble focusing on my new WIP. Ever since I feel like I’m missing out on something if I don’t check Twitter or Facebook at least several times a day. Ever since I started querying and email is my new best friend (and worst enemy). Ever since I got my iPhone, and now I’m never away from social networking. Ever.

But recently I have an increased incentive. It’s bothering me more. I’ve been restless when I don’t check in. My first thought when I take a photo with my iPhone is I need to tweet this. Then I read an article about social networking addiction. Recent research suggests that all the tweeting and friending and posting we’re all doing may actually be addictive. And there’s a serious problem with addiction in my immediate and extended family.

First. For the purposes of this discussion: What is addiction? Maia Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist, defines it as “a matter of inbalance—between your personal desire to engage in the addictive behavior and your conflicting desire to avoid the negative consequences of said behavior and/or do something else.”

According to one study I read about, people may have a harder time controlling their desire to check social media (when they really didn’t want to) than they do controlling urges to smoke or drink alcohol. The same study showed that workaholism is a very real thing, too—that many people will work when they really don’t need to.

It occurred to me after reading these results that we writers kind of have a double whammy. Not only is it a requirement of our job to build the all-important platform, but building the platform actually involves the requirement to be a social networker. Compounding this, we often work alone, and social networking allows us to connect with other writers and feel like we’re a part of a community. Further, since the majority of us work at home, we can work 24-7 if we want to—hmmm, does that make us workaholics too?

All this made me wonder…. are we as writers more susceptible to becoming addicted to social networking? And then I wondered further….am Ialready addicted? Like I said, as I set out with a brand new WIP, I’m having a harder and harder time focusing—more difficulty with the balance. Some days I give myself an ultimatum: it’s all or nothing. Shut down the social networking altogether. Because here’s the thing.I often can’t figure out a way to limit myself in a positive way. Then, if I cut myself off I end up feeling left out of the social networking scene but if I don’t cut myself off and write less, then I’m disappointed with my writing effort or just generally frustrated without really understanding why.

Of course I know I’m not the only writer who grapples with this—it’s a frequent subject of conversation and blogs and tweets among all the writers I know. In fact, just recently one writer friend and I were lamenting over email (yes, this too can be a part of the addiction) about how unproductive we were with our writing, and I asked my writer friend about the idea that social networking might be addictive. Here’s what he/she said:

“…Social media is an angel AND the devil all wrapped into one, is it not? Yes, I recall you talking about the research saying that it’s addictive. I can see that in myself, too, where some days I can’t pull myself away and am there for HOURS…”

That comment prompted me to email other writer friends—a combination of women and men, published and unpublished, traditional and indie published, new to the profession and lifers, and across genres, too. The general consensus: we all struggle with the balance in some way, shape, or form. It’s a continuum, but we’re all in this together, no question.

Here’s a sampling of what some of my writer friends had to say, clearly I hit a nerve.

Writer A: “…With the publication of my book and a newly realized need to “build a platform,” my social networking mushroomed into a blog, a couple of groups on the Writer’s Digest site, a Twitter account, and a second Facebook “author” page. There is a substantial list of other sites I’ve read that, as an author, I should be participating in, but let’s get real….”

Writer B: “To me, social networking is the epitome of a double-edged sword. It has introduced me to so many outstanding writers and authors that I can’t imagine my life without it. I have found “my people”! But in all of this wonderful relationship building, my writing has suffered….If I don’t check Twitter, Facebook, etc. at leasta couple of times a day, I feel anxious. I do think it is because of my “profession,” though, that I am so addicted. Writers are supposed to build their platform to gain an audience but then we don’t know when to quit! I think through social media it is evident that people desire connection, but there is a price we pay.”

Writer C: “It’s difficult for me to balance social media, life, and creative writing.  I don’t like to inundate people on any social media platform with lots of posts or re-tweets, but I worry that, “being out of sight is out of mind.” That’s a constant struggle.  And social media can be a time-suck, albeit a pleasant one.  So when I write creatively, I tend to just have my document file open and nothing else.”

Writer D: “I know exactly what you mean about social media feeling like an addiction; for me it’s a constant struggle. It’s the strangest thing because as much as it’s interfered with my life, it’s enhanced it in many ways too. So it’s not easy for me to describe in such absolutes as love/hate. There are days when I absolutely know I can’t go on Twitter, whether it’s because of work or because I’m out, away from my desk. There are times when I’ve gone on Twitter and had the most wonderful conversations and made genuine connections, so that when I’ve stepped away from it I’ve felt like it was a worthy way to spend my time. But the flip side of that is, there have been many, many times when I’ve stayed on longer than I should have, disengaged from the Tweets I’m reading but perhaps hoping that the next one will be like the last time, fun and full of great links, replies, etc. And I’ve stepped away wondering, “What did I just do with that hour of my life?” In that way, it’s very much like an addiction.

Writer E: “The internet, and especially twitter, has been a wonderful source of both friendship and support for me. I have made many fine friends there.  (And three of the authors who gave me fabulous blurbs for my novel were people I met on twitter.)… Of course, like so many things, the trick is knowing when to stop (and then actually stopping.)  I have precious little willpower, and so I employ artificial means to save myself from temptation when I really have to knuckle down and work.  I use software called Freedom that disables the internet completely.  Knowing that I can’t check email or social media sites allows me to put it out of mind completely, so I can concentrate on the job at hand.”
Writer F:I think one of the hardest parts of the writing life nowadays—life in general, really!—is how to find a way to keep social media’s impact at a minimum without losing touch with it’s very worthwhile points. I know for me it’s push and pull. I can’t say enough how grateful I am for the personal connections I have made through social media—the friends I’ve made…and there’s no question that social media can broaden a writer’s reading audience. But that said, it can sometimes feel as if we spend more time online than off it. For me, not having a smart phone is one way I am forced to curb my time online—and by not being able to access social media at all hours (and it not being able to access ME) I think has allowed me a modicum of boundaries. All in all, I am glad to have jumped in to the social media pool. I just wish some days I didn’t feel as if was sinking more than swimming in it!”

Can you relate? I know I can, and we’re clearly all in this together. I’d love to hear from you, to start a conversation…

Do you spend more time on Twitter, Facebook, blog responses, etc., than you think you should or than you really want to? How many hours a week do you spend on social networking—have you ever kept track? Has social networking ever interfered with your writing productivity or your “real life”? Are you like me? That some days you chalk up greater word count in tweets than on your WIP? Can you resist better than I can? Or maybe you think that the idea of social networking addiction is just not really a problem and/or not worthy of too much attention? Please leave a comment!
Cheers,

Julia

Comments

  1. I feel like I spend a lot of time in the blogosphere, but most of that time is spent reading. I have to force myself to use Twitter and to comment on blogs and I don’t think I do either very effectively. I guess I’m as shy on the Internet as I am in person. Maybe that trait keeps me from being an “addict” but it will also block me from using social media tools when I need them.

    • That’s so interesting that you’re equally shy on the Internet and in person — I am quite shy and very introverted (in person), but I really don’t feel the same way online. I guess I never considered that it could be a good thing that I’m as interested in social media tools as I am — no matter which side of the line we’re on, I suppose it’s all about finding that balance.

  2. It’s especially hard for me to spend time away from FB and Twitter because I manage a couple of my copywriting clients’ social media accounts. I try to control my time by scheduling each day’s updates ahead of time, and then checking in a few times a day. Now that FB finally enabled scheduling for page’s posts, this is much more doable! Now to just put everything into practice…that’s the tough part. Finding a solution to social media addiction is never hard–it’s implementing them that becomes the issue for me.

    • I can see how that would be a huge challenge Natalia — to be required for work to be on social media. Controlling and scheduling your time does become all the more important then, I’m sure. I didn’t know that you could schedule pages posting on FB now — great news — now, as you say it’s up to me (and you) to implement! As you say, that’s the harder piece!

  3. What a great post, Julia. YES, I think we all struggle with this (and I need to check out this Freedom software as well). The biggest time suck for me is the blog: writing it, promoting it, responding to it, then — this is the REAL time sucker — reciprocating on others’ blogs (reading them, commenting, RTing them). I spend at least 12 or MORE hours per week doing this, because I’m afraid that NOT doing so means I’m not participating enough or not supporting others enough. But in the end, the real goals – MY goals – of becoming a published author are what suffer.

    I noticed that when I DON’T blog regularly, I feel a lot less pressure/anxiety about social media. While I love Twitter and blogging (I agree with the comments about having met wonderful people and having found helpful information), on the weeks I don’t post, I feel less compelled/stressed by the reciprocation factor. On those weeks, I can get on Twitter occasionally (without any addiction), read a few blogs here and there, PLUS be productive with my goals. So I’ve taken to regular social media sabbaticals (where I’m pretty much all-or-nothing with social media). Seems to be the only way I can BE creative is when I pull away (social media and fiction, to me, require two different mindsets).

    So for me, it’s less an addiction as it is a pressure. Of course, some days, it IS hard to pull away. But I seem to be driven by “fear” more than addiction – fear that I’m not doing enough, reaching out enough, being present enough. Can’t wait for your next installment.

    • I like your idea of the social networking sabbatical — I actually was headed in that direction and then had second thoughts! I completely understand what you mean by the compell/stress reciprocation factor, I know it well. I always have the same fear you do — am I doing enough? It’s that feeling that drives the time sucking 12 + hours a week, for sure! Here’s to both of us finding more balance and less fear!

    • CMSmith says:

      You state my feelings about it very well, Melissa.

    • Lisa Ahn says:

      I’m replying here, because I can relate to so much of what Melissa says in this comment. Social media pressure often feels like a fear to me — “Am I doing enough?”

      I can’t get into the mindset for creative writing if my head is swimming with tweets and posts and comments. I’m still working on a balance. Like Melissa, my ultimate goal is to be a published author. My personal balance also includes homeschooling and a head injury. Most days, it comes down to this: I have to write to keep sane. I fit in social media where I can, when I can, but I try to keep my eyes on my priorities — my kids and my writing.

      The other aspect I’ve noticed (and I think you’ve written about this too, Julia?) is that I obsess about social media more when I focus on my “numbers” — blog readers, twitter followers, etc. When I let go of the numbers and focus on genuine connections, then the social media not only feels more rewarding and natural — that flow that “Writer D” mentions — but it is also not addictive.

      Great conversation and post, Julia!

    • I agree — Melissa really nails the feelings, no question — my goal is to be a published author too. It’s always crazy for me to catch myself short and remind myself that blogging/tweeting is never the end goal, just something that has to be done. Nonetheless, it’s such a rewarding experience because it eases the required isolation and brings me together with such wondeful writers like the three of you! Here’s to days of full writing flow!

  4. Hi Julia,

    Great post! About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about a new disorder they came out with: “Internet Addiction Disorder.” And I think this falls right along your topic of discussion today. :-) About six months ago, I was suffering the exact same predicament as you (and I still do struggle with it, from time to time). However, other freelance clients HAD to take priority, as they were paying me. So, I cut back to blogging every OTHER week, slowed down the Twitter and Facebook posting, and reserved my blog reading for those who are loyal to me. Since I’ve finished projects for those clients, I’ve kept my social media at that lesser level, therefore devoting that extra time to two other aspects in my life that are important right now: exercise/losing weight, and creative writing. I’ve even begun reading the classics again. :-) And I’ve noticed a very positive effect: My writing has improved, I feel more inspired, and my social media presence has GROWN because the quality of my posts and blog articles are better.

    I think I finally found my balance! :-)

    • Hi Shari! I will definitely look up that disorder (and check out your post) — thank you! I think you’re definitely onto something with your cutback approach. And I’ll likely follow suit, trying to (a) focus on more positive things in my life and (b) controlling the amount of time I spend on social networking in relation to other things — as you say, find a better balance. Thank you for the excellent advice! (And for your visit and comment to my post!)

  5. I struggle with this when I hit a rough writing patch. I try to schedule my tweets, check back to reply or update during the mornings, and then unplug from the Internet from about 1 until the next morning. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s nice to see that red X over the Internet connection symbol. Helps my mind unclog and the creativity engage.

    • Ahhhh, so you can relate to what I’m going through right now, Jolina — like you, I would describe what I’ve hit as a rough patch. I often feel this way when I’m in transitional times. Right now, one novel done, starting another, my kids going on to internships for the summer, it leaves me feeling like I need something and I turn to the Internet! I like your idea of picking specific times to unplug. I can see how the red x would be incentive — as you say unclogging for creativity. And I can also imagine that for me it would help me feel more in control! Thanks for some great suggestions!

  6. Lisa says:

    My name is Lisa and I am a SocialMediaholic, as well as a distractionaholic, a workaholic, and an anyexcusetonotaccompishmygoalsaholic. 😛 But seriously, I have to find the balance, but it is harder when I feel lonely and disconnected with anybody but my social media network. So, I take myself out of the house and write from there. It helps a little (but note that I am at a coffee shop now, and I am still connected. At the same time, I just wrote about 1700 words and will write a few more before I finish today. Considering that I have accomplished very little for the past week or so, that is an improvement. I find that allowing myself to check e-mail when I reach a point of pause helps me focus again when my break is over.

    • You’re so funny Lisa!! And I completely know what you mean about the dependence on social media being more when you/I feel disconnected and lonely. A lot of my IRL friends have moved (as their kids have graduated from h.s.) and I have only one writer friend where I live (and I met her on Twitter!) — it makes the draw to social networking much stronger. I like the idea of checking email only at a point of pause… but of course that would require more self control than I apparently have at times!

  7. This is such a thought-provoking post and I know many writers on Twitter will identify with it! I’ve been editing my manuscript this week. The only way I can focus is to stay off Twitter until late afternoon where I allow myself to logon for half an hour or so and then around 9/10pm when I’ve finished what I’m supposed to be doing with my manuscript!

    • Thank you for your idea to limit Twitter to a limited short time period late in the day — what a great idea to make sure you won’t stay on too long and to ensure that you’ve finished everything you need to on your ms! I appreciate your idea and your visit to my blog, Anita! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. Emma Pass says:

    A great, thought-provoking post! Social networking is definitely a double-edged sword for me. I have met some fabulous people because of Twitter, Facebook, blogging etc, been asked to join a wonderful group blog and even got opportunities for work through it. But the temptation to check Twitter or Facebook or emails just one more time can be so strong, I find that, like you, it’s sometimes necessary to ‘disappear’ in order to get some writing done!

    • Another disappearing writer — it definitely has its benefits, doesn’t it?! But you make an excellent point, Emma, that it’s such a great way to meet other writers, feel a part of a community but also as a way to find work. I think that’s what makes it so tough for me — I always have that feeling that the next tweet/post/comment will be the one that I just can’t miss, that will be the magic bullet (of what, I don’t know!). As you say, the double-edged sword.

  9. Joe says:

    I tend to view the idea that social media is the ideal platform for the writer with a healthy dose of scepticism. For instance, a lot of writers on Twitter have thousands of followers, yet the fact they feel the need to bombard you with requests to tweet about their books, or post a nice review on Amazon, suggests that their big online presence isn’t bringing them tangible rewards, in terms of sales at least.

    But social media is fundamentally a Good Thing for the writer at whatever stage of their career. I’ve learnt so much from blogs I’ve followed, or tweets to useful links on writing that I wouldn’t have otherwise. If used in the right way (i.e. not as a blatant means of self promotion) then the rewards are great indeed. You get out of it what you put in to it.

    And yes, it can be addictive! 😉

    • I know exactly what you mean, Joe — it is so frustrating to be bombarded with tweets requesting to tweet about books or post reviews, etc. To be honest, I often will unfollow people who (without knowing me) make these requests. As for social media being fundamentally good, I completely agree, and I’ve gotten much out of it, made great friends. But now to find that balance so I don’t get too much of that good thing! Thanks so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog, Joe. Nice to meet you!

  10. Oy to the vey. What a great post and discussion and I love the snippets you added from other writers. I see most these as rhetorical questions: “Are you spending more time on social media than you should?” etc. Um, who isn’t 😉 Sadly, we all are and we all know it. I think breaks are great. I’ve taken them and it’s helped. Melissa’s point about feeling less pressure on weeks we don’t post is so true. There’s a natural reciprocity that keeps blogs going. There’s nothing wrong with that . . . few of us can be The Bloggess who has a huge audience and doesn’t need to visit other blogs.

    I used to fight the addition a lot. Then recently (as you know from my blog) I embraced how much I enjoy blogging and connecting with other bloggers and decided to go with that for a bit and give the fiction a break. I’ve been so happy with that. I don’t see it as a permanent decision at all. For now it just feels good to do one thing with gusto instead of everything half-way. But in my situation (4 kids ages 7 and under) I really can’t manage everything at once so I felt I had to pick one writing project. The blog one for now. Can’t give up the kids! 😉

    • I agree there’s nothing wrong with the natural reciprocity — I love reading my writer friends’ blogs! Now I just have to figure out how to manage the time it takes and balance it with the writing. I need to figure out my balance with the whole thing (like you have) and then all will be right with the world (ok, maybe all will be right at least temporarily in my writing world)!

  11. Oh! And congrats on the mention of your quality twitter feed. I’m constantly starring your tweets because they have links I want to read later. I’m not surprised others have noticed your great content.

  12. Terri says:

    Wow, I was discussing this precise topic with a friend this morning. I hate (and I don’t often use that word) how much time the whole platforming process takes. Sometimes I feel depressed/depleted after being online too long. Indeed, it’s a double-edged sword. Necessary, these days, for writers who want to publish.

    I’m an ENFJ on thy Myers Briggs, so I get my energy from interpersonal, face to face, interaction. While I enjoy the connections I make online, I long for deeper ones … and sometimes find that time spent online takes time away from interaction with my family. So, I must consciously opt to turn the computer off and get away from it. I don’t have an Iphone because I don’t want to be accessible (or have access) constantly. Sometimes I crave anonymity, which is impossible when trying to publish.

    Again, it’s so apropos that I’m seeing this post today. I just mentioned to a friend that I’m going to write up a schedule with boundaries and limits around the time I spend platforming/networking.

    It’s very important to me that my face-to-face interactions come first, my prose writing second, and my blogging/platforming after other aspects of my life.

    But, yes, it’s sometimes tough not to go for that elusive carrot that may or may not be in the next tweet or peer’s blog post.

    • I know that feeling well, Terri — of depletion, exactly! But I always assumed it’s because I’m an introvert (almost same as you but an I… INFJ here!). I love that you have the priorities set for what’s important and that you’re making a schedule. I think that’s a great step to take to control the boundaries and add more balance. Thank you so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog!

  13. Annie says:

    Well congrats on the top feed to watch; that’s awesome! I have been thinking about social media and its time-draining qualities a lot recently, so your post is timely for me. The compulsion to check everything (Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc.) is the main reason I haven’t jumped onboard the smartphone trend yet. I just don’t want another way to trade life with internet.

    One way I regulate my own social media time is by considering it part of “work,” even though I enjoy most of it. In other words, once my workday is finished, I don’t get online much if at all – and when I do, I leave it for the next morning to answer. And I rarely get online over the weekends, either, which is such a nice break for me. I still think I get on too frequently throughout the day, but I haven’t quite figured out how to better limit myself with that yet.

    • Thanks for the congrats, Annie! And I’m not sure what this says about me, but I am absolutely tied to my iphone (I think in large part because it’s the best way to keep in touch with my college-age kids!! Or at least that’s what I tell myself…). I like you think of social media as part of my work — I too rarely go on after hours (family time!!). Weekends are more a gray area, especially because I’ll often write on the weekends, too. As for better limits? I need to find those too!

    • And thank you for your visit to my blog! Nice to see you here!

  14. Erika Marks says:

    First off: CONGRATULATIONS, my friend!! What a wonderful–and well-deserved–honor!

    I love this post–and I take great comfort in knowing that most of us struggle with the world of social networking and have yet to find that balance.

    • Thank you for the congrats, friend :) You’re too sweet! And like you I take comfort in knowing it’s a every-writer struggle because that way we’re all a little (or a lot) more forgiving of the sometime disappearances! Here’s to balance all around.

  15. I’m totally addicted. I’ve tried to set aside a certain period of the day that’s a No Social Media Zone, but, truth be told, I often forget. Social media has become a part of my life, like eating and showering, and I probably visit Twitter and Facebook more than I eat and shower. In fact, I know I do. But as long as I remain productive and remember to unplug from time to time, to step away from the computer, I’m okay with it.

    • Here’s the most meaningful (to me) part of your comment: “But as long as I remain productive and remember to unplug from time to time, to step away from the computer, I’m okay with it.” You sound like you’ve found the balance, the “comfort zone” we are all seeking — where you are controlling and deciding how you do social media and not the other way around. That’s great!

  16. Actually, I’m addicted to playing scrabble on my iPad with Norm, who isn’t even a person. How sad is that? I rarely check Facebook ( I have tons of notices pending), I don’t know how to Tweet, and I don’t own a smart phone. But I am addicted to that darn scrabble game and I need to tear myself away so I can get my writing done. Your post has made me want to try harder to dump the damn game! I won’t go so far as to actually delete the app, but if things don’t change, I may have no choice.

    • I love playing Scrabble — so if you ever switch from playing Norm to playing Words With Friends, let me know and we can indulge our two addictions at once: social networking and video games! I have dabbled in gaming at times over the years myself, so I know the draw… “just one more game.” Here’s to balance and more writing for both of us, Susan!

    • CMSmith says:

      I’m MissHickery on Words with Friends. Look me up. I’m not very good. You’ll probably kick my butt. It’s humbling.

    • I am so happy you gave me your Words With Friends name!! Yes, we’ll play but can’t promise the humbling butt kicking :-)

  17. Julia, congratulations on being named “Top Feed to Watch” by The Writer magazine! So excited for you! I would even be jealous except I’d be a little afraid of an influx of social media from receiving that kind of recognition. And, yes, I’ve got a problem balancing mine.

    I didn’t used to be out of balance (but I will admit I was always an email addict). I was only on social media here and there, didn’t feel addicted to it, spent most of my time living my creativity and was happy living under my rock. But doing it that way means the blog posts you write don’t get as many readers – which can feel disappointing when you’ve really put your creativity into writing and preparing your posts.

    But the biggest thing that got me hooked into social media more lately is because I have online businesses. Mind you, I’m not convinced that social media brings me new writing students or coaching clients. I haven’t seen any evidence of it (yet). But I’m giving it my best shot, to find out whether social media will work as well for me as plain, old-fashioned SEO on my websites does.

    Unfortunately, in the meantime, I have become addicted to it. I especially love having fun tweeting with others who like to play and joke around or with friends who I know I can have interesting conversations with. I love the inspiration that can come from being on Twitter, as well as the friendships that emerge from it.

    I’ve been hearing some of my friends lately talking about disengaging from social media more so they can live their creativity. D’oh! I feel so out of sync. That’s what I was doing before while everyone else was doing social media. And now they’re gonna pull out on me?? Oh, cruel fate.

    Thanks for starting this discussion! I could go on … but I’m supposed to be packing for vacation. Which will be my first test since forming my new addiction: I’ll be checking email only twice a day and doing no social media. I’ll let you know whether I have withdrawal pains – and how bad they are. ;~)

    • Thank you so much for your congratulations, MIlli! It means so much, really. I’ll admit I’ve always been an email addict and a snail mail addict and a phone call addict and an any stray comes into the house addict. It’s one of the downsides of being isolated in a home job — I love it when I get unexpected interruptions and opportunities for interaction!

      What you say is so important about making contacts so you feel that your blog posts get the attention they deserve after the hard work — so true. And I feel pretty lucky that I don’t have too much online business (beyond my own) because then I’m sure I’d be even more hooked. (I hope it works for you in spades!!) I see what you mean about cruel fate… I too am new to the social networking party (just over a year) yet I definitely feel a need to pull the plug at times. I’m still figuring that balance thing out. I’ll be so curious how it will be for you away from all social networking while you’re on vacation. I didn’t have any trouble when my kids were home, but then, I wasn’t completely off…. please keep me posted (when you get home, of course!). Have a fun time!

  18. A great discussion, Julia! This is such an important topic. How much is enough?
    I remember Tammy from Rowdy Kittens, who makes her living online, took a digital sabbatical last year and wrote that it was the best thing she’d done. She came back to the fray energized and excited where before she’d been burned out.
    I know it’s important for writers to have a “platform” and have active social media connections, but it’s a fine line to walk, isn’t it? A bit of a catch-22. Without the writing there’s little need for a platform. Without a platform it’s certainly hard (but not impossible) to stay in the forefront of everyone’s minds. When I get a bit anxious about that I make a list of all the amazing writers I admire who don’t have a blog, don’t tweet and don’t have a FB page.

    Congrats on your award from The Writer. Well deserved!

    • A sabbatical is a great idea! I of course fear that I would be gone and forgotten — but then that’s part of the addiction and balance issue, right? You got it exactly right, in my opinion! It IS a catch-22! As you say, there are plenty of amazing PUBLISHED writers who don’t tweet nor blog nor have FB. And then that makes me wonder… what the heck am I doing? Maybe I jumped the gun? Hmmm….

      Thanks so much for your congrats; I appreciate it so much!

  19. CMSmith says:

    Congratulations on the acknowledgement from The Writer. That, plus this post has a bit of irony to it, I’ll agree. Writing a post that has a lot of interest causing many people to respond with substantial comments, is going to take a bit of your time. :)

    I used to make comments about video games being addictive, which used to outrage my oldest son. I still believe they are addictive. Maybe this is too.

    Everything in moderation.

    I agree that fear and anxiety is what drives a lot of this. It reminds me of when my kids were in grade school and many parents had their kids on select athletic teams year-round, and had their every free moment signed up for an “enriching” activity. I couldn’t keep up with that either.

    I’m trying to shut down the noise and do what I feel I want to and enjoy doing.

    • Thanks so much for your congratulations on The Writer — I’m still wrapping my head around it to be honest — and no question there’s an irony, hahaha! And yes, it has taken me time to respond and tweet and not to mention write :) I think you’re so right about video games being similar to this. Agreed. Everything in moderation…. if I can. That’s the issue. This morning I did just as you suggested and shut down the noise, disconnected from the internet, and I just wrote. And guess what? 3100 words! I’m psyched!

  20. country wife says:

    i definitely spend too much time on it, but am not sure if i am “addicted”. I mean, I could totally stop if I wanted to, you know. It’s not like I have a problem or anything.

    uh-oh…

    :)

    • Me too (spend too much time) and could totally stop anytime. It’s not like I had to take a break from Twitter to come over here and comment on your comment or anything… yeah, but TOMORROW. Then I’ll totally stop! Uh-oh too… :)

  21. I am trying to cut down on the impulse to check social media non-stop. I hate to use the word “addicted,” although I will cop to being addicted to caffeine. 😉

    I think some of it has to do with the isolation of writing. It is just too tempting to see what is going on when you can’t work through a scene or when your character is stuck in a plot that you can’t figure out how to move past.

    • I hate to use the word addicted, too Karen… and I’m working hard to balance the social media with the writing on a daily basis — but I so agree that it has to do with the isolation for me too. I just don’t get out that much and the dog’s getting old so she doesn’t chat as much as she used to :)

      As for caffeine? I too was addicted. I stopped drinking coffee everyday over a month ago. It was AWFUL. Now, I have about half a cup maybe once a week… when I really need a boost (probably when I’m spending too much time on social networking!).

  22. Missy says:

    I have a really hard time balancing it sometimes. This summer though, I’m going to be almost totally away from Twitter – not be design, just by lack of ability with my kids home! It’ll be a blessing and a curse. Very well written – love the questions this post poses!

    • I’m glad you understand — and I’m pretty envious of your summer blessing/curse away from Twitter. My kids are both away from home in college and now internships, and a Twitter break for kids sounds just wonderful, enjoy! Come fall, you’ll be back in here trying to rebalance with the rest of us. Thank so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog; nice to meet you!

  23. By the way, I forgot to tell you that I am super impressed that The Writer magazine mentioned your blog! Wow! Oh, and I do play Words with Friends.

  24. I too agree with all the comments about the wonderful people I’ve met through social media. When you think about it, these people all over the country and the world — there is no way this ever would have happened in our lifetime if not for Twitter, FB, etc. But, this summer with the kids home, I’ve tried to step back from tweeting away while with them. I was at a fast food place and saw a mother and young daughter sitting together. The daughter was eating silently while the mother stared at her phone, punching away every now and again. That image stuck with me because I know that I must look like that. Trying to find a balance with it all. Great post @wordxo Top Ten Feed to Watch. Woo.

    • You are so right, Jamie — I could not agree more about the age of social media connecting me with wonderful people (like you!) all over the country. It’s great to meet so many new friends! I think you and I are on the same page with stepping away from Twitter when we’re with our kids. I also have seen parents with kids as well as couples out to dinner alone — one or both stabbing away at their phones. Once I observed a couple who never once spoke to one another while the husband just stared at his iphone (and this was at a “date type” restaurant)! Unbelievable. That image stuck with me too, and I never want to be on the receiving or giving end of that or what you witnessed either! (p.s. thanks for the congrats!)

  25. Ann says:

    Wow – that is one thoughtful post, girlfriend! I agree with many in thinking that social media IS a double edged sword. It’s very necessary in today’s world of business…whether you’re a writer, a restaurant or a laundry soap maker!

    I found that I was on it a TON with my blog and enjoyed it for the most part. Now that I am no longer blogging, I check it for the sheer joy of it. I have discovered a teeny-tiny creative outlet in Instagram. I can still make something, see something and send a quick photo out. It’s lovely because I see more than just blog subjects – I get to see a “slice of life” snapshot. It’s delightful…..

    ……especially since I’m not using it for business!

    On a side note – we have the EXACT same computer!

    • Hey computer twinsie…so glad you enjoyed the post! And you make such an excellent point that social media is for everyone, certainly not just writers. I love instagram too, and love the slice of life snapshots! Here’s to social media for sheer joy and not necessity — I agree it’s a double edged sword but here to stay.

  26. Ann says:

    Sorry I’m such a dweeb…..

    Congratulations on being recognized! I’m not surprised because you’re MADE of awesome!

  27. I love the empty martini glass by your laptop 😉 Aren’t writers already plagued with mental oddities? That’s why we write. We’re weird and have problems. I’d venture to say most writers are addicts of some variety. I bet you can get addicted to the chemical thrill of writing in the brain just like any other activity that produces endorphins. I do love Twitter to the max but I don’t have a smart phone to partake in it when I’m away from the computer or to get involved in all this picture taking/instagram stuff. IF I had a smart phone I would probably cross over into full blown addiction. Really great post Julia :) Oh and that’s so exciting about the magazine!! DUH you are the writer to watch. I can’t wait to read your novel!

    • First, YAY for someone mentioning the martini glass!! And I’m glad you noted its emptiness; it truly was just a prop, of course. I would agree that writers are plagued with mental oddities, but I would also make the case that everyone is — writers just are willing to “go there.” I think you might be right about the chemical thrill. I certainly feel that way when I am on a writing jag, in the zone. I always love your comments, Sara — very insightful — and it’s also insightful of you not to have a smart phone. Definitely a double edge sword for me! (p.s. thanks for your huge vote of confidence that I’m the writer to watch, keep your fingers crossed for my queries!)

  28. Mishell says:

    I have never considered social media an important part of my work. For me it is just that, social. I spend too much time on it when I do not feel like working, but feel instead like chatting with people and making snarky comments. For the most part, anyone who follows you on Twitter is already buying your books, so aside from saving them the trouble of looking up your next release date you are not really helping your sales. What helps your sales is word of mouth. So yes, Twitter helps, but not your own self promotional efforts. What helps is when third parties talk up your books on the net from genuine enthusiasm.

    So the key to success continues to be what it always was: satisfying, no, thrilling your readers. Social media is fun. Social media is social. Please do not justify it by pretending it boosts sales and is therefore work. It is the equivalent of hanging out at a party at WorldCon. The social aspect of being a writer is important to open doors and keep you sane, but the #1 contribution to your bottom line, without even a ballpark 2nd, is just plain old writing. So I think that is the only thing one should consider as being on the clock.

    • It’s so motivational to think that my writing could be “satisfying, no, thrilling” to my readers! It’s what we all want as writers, so true! And no question if you don’t do the writing, then what’s really the point? Thank you so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog — nice to meet you!

  29. Leah says:

    Congratulations! What an honor! But I have to say I’m not surprised. You are a fabulous writer and I always look forward to your engaging posts. This one is no exception!