15 August 2011

My Social Media Hiatus (And I Why I Still Handwrite)

Wednesday, at 6 pm, I announced my 48 Hour Social Media Hiatus, as a way to prove to myself that I am not addicted to social networking. So, in case you didn’t notice, I was not on Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus for 48 hours. This is a blog post about that experience.

On 5:59 PM, I posted my last comment Google Plus, which read something like, “I have one more minute! What do I do???”

A few sarcastic responses later, I signed off and closed my Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus applications and paid attention to the world around me, instead of the world living inside of my iPhone.

After I got home, instead of spending my usual time with eyes squinting at the latest events on my blog, and social networking accounts, I grabbed the spiral bound notebook I had bought at Office Max just a few weeks ago, and turned to a blank page. And I wrote.

The scene that inspired my bout of writing at that particular moment had come from a weird event on my way home one night. An event that was bizarre and alarming at the same time; something I had been meaning to turn into a story, but hadn’t yet made the time for it.

The next day, after spending several hours job hunting, I returned to my computer. I checked my email, of course, and spotted new comments to my blog. I resisted the urge to comment back, to follow back, to go on my usual online writing or blogging forums and get involved, as I usually do.Instead, I grabbed my phone once again and put it to good use.

I opened up the Pandora app, and I turned to one of my stations I created for a certain writing ambience (The Exorcist station was perfect for the horror element of the scene I was writing) and I wrote.

It was at that moment that I suddenly realized why I have loved handwriting my stories, even with our constantly improving technology.

For one thing, while I’m at my computer, it is very easy for me to become distracted, even when I don’t have internet access (i.e. Sims 3). And for some reason, even when I try to discipline myself, and I open up Microsoft Word, I can’t help but feel disconnected from the writing process. When I open up Word, I just hear the word, “edit” or “academic.” I don’t hear “creative” or “expression” or “character.”  I don’t mind typing blog posts, though. It is just something about typing stories – especially new ideas –that I just don’t like.

I don’t even write with the best handwriting when I do use a notebook, so that really doesn’t make a difference to me. Check out my notebook here....

You see? But something about the freedom, about the pen touching the paper, about turning to the next page to continue the story…all of it gives me the feeling that I am connecting to the story in a different way. It’s the same way that I feel about reading paperback books, as opposed to reading an ebook. I need that physical connection to the story in front of me. It probably goes back to when I was really little and I would go to the bookshelves and take out every single book there.  Even then, before I could read, I loved books. The feel of the pages. The smell of the ink. The crackling of a brand new book. The familiar smell of an old book.  I don’t even like to use bookmarks; I bend the pages of the books while I read them. It’s interactive for me and somewhere along the way, it became that same way for me with writing. I rarely look back on the stories I have started on my computer, but I always go back to the ones I have handwritten.

So, during my social media hiatus, I took out my notebook and I reminded myself the importance of my (somewhat unique) starting point. With that said, though, I do type my stories…but when I type them, I am also rewriting. I am fixing grammar mistakes, enhancing descriptions, improving character dialogue…I couldn’t start out at the very place that I associate with my inner critic. I do know that it’s important to have an inner critic about my writing…that’s how rewriting is done. But I don’t want that from the start. At the start, I want the writing to feel free and creative, without having to critiquing myself along the way.  If I do critique myself like that, I end up stalling completely and never going back to the story.

Today, I’m inspired to write, because I have been reminded about what I enjoy the most about the writing process. I enjoy the new notebooks, the feeling of the pen in my hand, the black ink that cakes the side of my left hand after writing too long, the feeling of the pages in my hand…all of it. Today, I’m inspired to write because I have proved to myself that I can take a break from the internet around me and focus on my writing; that all is not lost.

So, take your “social media hiatus.” Take it during a period of time that you use social media the most (taking mine during the middle of the week was a big deal; for some reason I rarely go to social networking sites on the weekend). And when you take your break….write. Pay attention to the world around you. Connect with the people who are actually in front of you. Create. For 48 hours, live without social networking. What will you learn?


  1. I love the feeling of writing with a pen and paper. It's definitely more inspiring than writing on the computer. I used to light a whole bunch of candles, turn on instrumental music and just write for a few hours...now I don't have quite the time, but this post reminds me that I should take that time.

  2. I still enjoy writing with a pen and paper, but I really like the time saving of typing particularly for blog post.
    I do think getting away from the computer is helpful and giving yourself time limits. I have to make myself sign out sometimes to ensure I get my work and errands done.

  3. I have just found you via the monday mingle, and what an inspiring post to find... I am going to go cmaping with the family hopefully soon 9we're in the UK ) and there i will leave the whole internet behind as much as I love social networking its good to restock every now and again with the 'real world' :D

  4. @Rebecca - I used to do something very similar! I would take out incense, put on soft music and put on very few lights and write (not so much fiction but this was to prep my writing self); I don't have quite the time for this, but handwriting for me, usually happens at night when I get home! It's such a good feeling!

    @Optimistic Mom - me too on the blog posting! I couldn't handwrite that! It's almost a different part of my brain; although I do generate ideas that way! Sometimes, I am thankful that I can't afford wireless. :)

  5. @Sarahofmum3 - oh how timely!! That's perfect!! Talk about a time to disconnect (and reconnect) at the same time!! Have fun on your trip!

  6. Not sure I could cope with a social media hiatus - think the withdrawal symptoms would get the better of me!
    And isn't your writing neat and tidy?? Wow. When I started (hand) writing my current novel while I was on holiday, every page was filled with crossings-out, insertions, arrows to extra paragraphs etc. I was SO glad to get back to my computer!

  7. I absolutely love writing pen-to paper. The problem is, when I try rewriting it on Microsoft word or something, I end up changing the entire scene xD
    And My handwriting changes ever few paragraphs, so it's barely unrecognizable, I might try that though... :)

  8. I'm a bit different. I learned to type when I was only five or six years old (yes, I had been reading for several years by then). I type about as fast as I think - so for me it's the perfect way to get words down when the inspiration is flowing. It has become even more true now as I've started developing some arthritis in my hands, so handwriting is painful in a short time - and gets more and more unreadable. I also draw so I tend to "save" my hands to draw with, if that makes any sense. I don't do a thing to set the mood - although I do often write late at night when the world is asleep. I'm a night owl so that's perfect for me, and even more so now that my DH has taken early retirement and is home all day...LOL. I do know what you mean about loving books, the smell and feel of them. I even have a few very old encyclopedias I bought at a sale - for the smell of them. Mmmmmm...

  9. I'm always up for a good challenge! I worry about how much I spend connected to social media since I started my blog, too. And I agree with you that there is nothing like pen to paper. I jot down all my blog post ideas, outlines and posts in my notebook before I get in front of the keyboard. It really helps me organize my thoughts more, and feels more natural!
    Sarah @ made in usa challenge

  10. same hre nicole! pen and paper are still the best buddies!
    anyway, i'll add you on my blogroll of it's okay.. and thanks for following my blog!

  11. Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting.. Here to follow you back. Have a wonderful day!

  12. So I was going back and forth with a friend about the love I have for my kindle and then, at her request, I did something I hadn't done in a while- I picked up an actual book...

    I had to call and tell her she was right. A Kindle is convenient but a book is home. I won't be walking around with anything but my convenient Kindle once I finish this book(it's tough enough wearing heels, carrying a huge actor's bag of tricks in New York City with out adding heavy books to the mix) but I can admit defeat.

    Next up commit to a social media hiatus. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes.


  13. @Paula Martin - I guess it is pretty neat! I have gotten into the habit of not editing as I get out the first draft of anything (for the very reasons you described!), so my handwriting doesn't have many scratch outs...that comes later! Sometimes my stories evolve entirely into something different when I start making that transition!

    @Kat - me too! I begin to think I have some weird issues I have to deal with when I see how much my handwriting changes (or maybe I watch too much Criminal Minds?) Ha ha...And me too, 100%...I totally will change a scene or plot line when I start typing. That's kinda why I love it! Because I am not as quick to rewrite if I start out typing!

    @Summer Fey Foovay - that's awesome that you are connected to your typing like that!! Good for you!! Funny I guess I have gotten more used to it, because I didn't have a computer at home until I graduated from high school...so during high school when big essays would come due, most of the paper would have been handwritten and so I could type it at the library computer (timing was key then because of the two hour limitation!) I guess our experiences as we grow up do impact us in that way! Me too on being a night owl, by the way!! I write best at the night time...day light makes me want to go out. :)

  14. @Sarah - yay!! Good luck on the challenge!! I'm excited to hear how it goes for you!! And for me too on the notebook! I have tons (although I don't finish them, either...not sure why on that one...so I have a ton of half-ish done notebooks!

    @Macy - I'm glad to know I'm not the only one!! I'm checking out your blog as well!

    @Mary - Thank you for coming by!! You too!!

    @Metch - Ohhh I can relate on not wanting to take around a huge book like that!! (and with heels none the less! Good job on that one!!!) But you are so right, a real book is home (one day, I swear I'll have a fireplace to sit and read in front of!) I have an app on my phone for ebooks and it isn't the same (although maybe kindle would have a better screen!)

    It's funny, because I usually choose my books based on my purse...and then as long as it can fit in with everything else I jam in there! :)

    Yay!! Good luck on the Social Media Hiatus!! I'm excited to hear how it goes!!

  15. I love writing with a pen! I have a special one that I LOVE to use. I know I'm a bit crazy, but I also journal in long hand, too.

  16. It's hard to rip yourself away from social media once you're hooked. Isn't it? I recently cut back to posting 3 times a week because of that. There's a lot more to life than sitting in front of the PC. Also, for me I find that writing on paper is best when I'm writing poetry. :)

  17. It's always nice to "unplug" for a while. Well aside from our daily duties of job hunting then checking our email for that miracle email offering us our dream job.

    Just to get back to our roots of, rough drafts and such. And I totally agree with you, there really is nothing better than a smooth pen streaming across sheets of paper.

    Happy job hunting. I'm hoping for good news for both of us. :)

  18. http://oldentimes.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/welcome-back-ive-missed-you/ I just spent 3 weeks 'off-line'.
    The results were not earth shattering, but I managed to get a lot done that would not have been otherwise.

  19. Oooooh, don't know if I could actually do this. I would probably get LOADS of stuff done, but as I work at the computer all day I am not sure I could resist the temptation to check up on Facebook, or send off just one little tweet ...

  20. @Ciss B - I knew I wasn't the only one!! Ha ha...I should buy a special onetoo! Ive not done that yet!

    @Laila Knight - good for you for cutting back!! That why I have stayed resolved to twice a week. This could get out of hand! :)

    @Marisa - thank you! I hope you get good job hunting news (I got mine recently!) it is nice to have that feeling of connection to pen and paper....Feels Like a REAL rough draft! :)

    @Oldentimes - isn't That amazing how much you get done?? It's a good feelIng!! I'll check out your blog as well!

    @Meg - I don't blame you!! lt would be so hard to resist!! :)

  21. I like to take social media and computer hiatuses once every couple months. During this time I clean my house, pay attention to my family and make really elaborate dinners, but one thing I rarely do is write with a pen. I love it, I really do, but my wrists are weak and ache within minutes. I don't have carpal tunnel, but writing that way is very uncomfortable for me. Besides I type like 80wpm lol. This is a great post though, because it reminds me why stepping away is so important.

  22. It is tough to write with a pen all the time!! I do it for most writing projects, but not for all of them. I need to do another hiatus for sure. :) I've been quite addicted to my technology lately.

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