A Writer’s Guide to Avoiding the Social Media Timesuck


Social media is the antagonist of the modern creative’s life story, and writers are no exception.

Have you ever logged onto your laptop, computer or even mobile/cell phone with the definite intention of putting your fingers to the keyboard and writing out that epic saga you’ve had planned in your mind for so, so long it feels like the characters have become a part of you? You’re inspired. Your idea about thirty-something Gillian Rachelson accidentally uncovering a murder plot where the killer turns out to be the only somewhat likeable man needs to be put down into words on your writing program of choice. Your YA fantasy about the teenage assassin struggling to choose whether she should romance the man she’s fated to kill or her fellow rogue assassin, feels like it’s ready for teenagers to devour and is definitely an original idea.

You log onto your device of choice. You open up Microsoft Word. Or Scrivener. The notes app on your iPhone? Maybe you’re one of those adventurous devils who writes out your story in notes on your TI-Inspire calculator (Note: Definitely not something I did back in high school). Then you realise you forgot to name Gillian Rachelson’s antagonist. Michael? Marcus? Maybe you should head onto that baby name generator site. Click on the link “Most popular baby girl names of the 1980s”. Then what about Mary Sue Assassin? She needs a name too. Randomise. Randomise. There we go. A name. Nah. That’s a bit boring. Then it occurs to you: “What about Facebook?” You probably have some friends—or even mutuals—with names to randomly pick and mix for your latest masterpiece.

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30 Days of Facebook to Make You Sick of Social Media Forever

social media

Ah, Facebook: the writer’s biggest procrastination tool. Or, I suppose, anyone on the internet’s biggest procrastination tool. We spend many an hour when faced with writers block, burnout, or simply  a case of CBF. It comes second only to Twitter, but since there’s a lot more to do on Facebook (i.e. waste away the hours with), more time can be wasted. Time that can be spent creating, sleeping, eating, cleaning the house and generally catching up on that 200-strong to-read list (cough, cough).

For anyone new to the internet—or fresh from an internet detox—Facebook is a social networking service created by Mark Zuckerberg and a few classmates in 2004 to perv on his attractive classmates at Harvard. Now, it’s the domain of middle-aged women playing Farmville, Candy Crush Saga and other monotonous freemium games I long ago blocked in my settings; 20 somethings posting about their boring lives to make them seem more exciting; 30 somethings posting the most cringeworthy pictures of their kids; and, of course, the many, many random fads everyone talks about obsessively, and then forgets about forever.

You don’t know what I’m talking about? The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is probably the most popular, taking over everyone except Fred from down the street who hasn’t had Facebook since 2008. What originally started as awareness for Motor Neurone Disease (MND), it quickly spiralled into an attention seeking pit of: “Watch me throw ice all over myself…for LIKES”. You may have obsessively played those freemium games like the Housewives of Facebook: Candy Crush Saga, 4 Pics 1 Word, Petville, blah, blah, blah.

Since most people see the events of Facebook as a blip on their constantly whirring monitor, these fads on Facebook fade out of our consciousness as quickly as they attention seeked their way on. In order to make the most of our utterly useless Facebook addictions (I suppose you could also do this on Twitter or, God forbid, Google+, but most of these fads were originally on the Zucker-zone) and to slowly release ourselves from the grip of social media and its constant sucking of time, hours, and resources, I propose the Internet Explorer Facebook Challenge.

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By the Way, Just Do What You Love

There’s this allure in writing that makes most people immediately go: “Aha! That’s what I’d love to be. An author.”

So that's it!

Aha! I’m going to be the next generic light bulb Google image.

On millions of bucket lists around the First World, people proclaim it their life ambition to write a novel. They want to make megabuck$, to be the next J.K Rowling, Stephen King or whoever the most popular author of the week is. They really want to be known around the world. Reality sinks in like a cruiser to an iceberg: It involves effort. For the most part, you actually have to enjoy writing. You probably enjoyed reading the set texts back in high school. God forbid, you enjoyed creative writing time.

Reality sinks in, hard and fast. They still think they’d love to be a writer, but never get around to it. I know, I keep mentioning this month after month, but I still see heaps of people both online and in the Real World saying how much they want to write a novel. Key word: Want. Perhaps the key part is that they don’t actually love writing. Say you love crochet or building model aeroplanes or cosplaying as Link from Legend of Zelda with likeminded individuals. Do those instead!

Or all of the above

Or all of the above!

So many people waste years of their life doing what they don’t love: watching seven hours straight of TV the moment they get home, going clubbing weekend after weekend without questioning why and whether they enjoy it. They just do. You say you don’t have time to do what you love, but you actually do.

What I’m trying to say, for the most part, is do what you love. Such a simple statement, yet most people never realise until they’re hitting retirement age, and by that time, most people just can’t be bothered. I don’t mean to sound preachy, and if you enjoy doing absolutely sh** all, then by all means, do sh** all. I did say do what you love.

Maybe I’ve been reading too many self-help books lately—damn you, overdue library book—but if you waste too much time procrastinating on the internet, watching that Family Guy marathon, or just sitting on your couch monotonously like a gnrwing-blerghBRAINS zombie, you are wasting away your life. Life is short: around eighty years in most developed countries, and you could be actively creating instead of mindlessly consuming. Most people just run around like headless chickens, because they don’t know what they love. In this blog post, I wrote about the exact same thing, but I still see the same stuff happening.

Goddamnit, do what you love, or just imagine this: You’re a bitter old man or woman, complaining about those lazy young’uns and berating people who actually have done something with their lives. Maybe you don’t need to imagine. You sit on you rocking chair, or crappy Ikea couch, and constantly tell your children and grandchildren how you could have done something with your life, you just didn’t get time, your job was time-consuming, you couldn’t afford it: excuses, excuses, excuses.

If you really want to do something, just f***ing do it. Sorry: Just do it. Unless you intend to trek across South America in a day, or create a phone that connects you to the dead, then it’s probably possible to complete. Just do what you love. Right now. Unless it’s illegal. Then don’t do that.