In the Shadows of Mount Doom: Month One Without Social Media

Actually, the title is quite tongue-in-cheek. It’s true I have been off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram since January 2nd, but I really sort of like it.

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Sometimes habits creep up on you on little cat feet. You don’t realize you’re snacking on potato chips every day or that you click ballpoint pens compulsively or that you tailgate or that you spend all your free time on social media. That’s pretty much where I was. Because I had cultivated such a close-knit group of writer friends, I justified this overindulgence by rationalizing that I was spending time with educated, talented people and that it was inspirational.

This is true. It, however, does not negate the fact that because I was so engrossed in social media I was losing any writing time I might have. I also was opting for quantity time over quality time with my husband, as if being in the same room and staring at separate screens counted as being together. My to-do list was getting longer and I just couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have the time to complete anything.

So I went cold turkey, kaput, in an effort to get my habit under control. I knew if I just tried to cut down, I would eventually just slowly slide back into my old habit. So I took a break. It’s not forever, just a realigning of priorities.

I wish I could say I missed it. I miss my friends, my nerdy fellow writers who understand what it’s like to obsess at 1 a.m. about a sticky plot point. But instead of just checking in, I spent a great deal of time scrolling through my feed, looking for new articles or statuses or thoughts. The act of scrolling is very compulsive and you can just go on and on and on. You may say to yourself: I should turn off my screen and go do something important, but you’re like as not to end up there an hour later. It’s just like casual television watching: all calories, no nutrition.

So here’s just a few of the things I’ve been doing, as I pass through the Wilderness of No Social Media:

Writing: I have taken a very sharp red pencil and stabbed the heck out of my manuscript. I’ve plotted and planned and researched and head-scratched. What started out as a crazy jumble of 27k words in NaNoWriMo 2011 has evolved into a fairly lean and well-plotted historical murder mystery novel of right at 50k. I believe I am less than a dozen scenes away from completion and that is VERY exciting. Once complete, then it’s back to the drawing board to confirm that all the plot lines are threaded and the writing is taut and the herrings are red. And then…and then, my friends, to the editor! *gasp* Yes, even I, Editatrix, know that I cannot edit my own work beyond making it a highly buffed and solid first draft.

Nesting: I have been busy making my house pretty. We have hanged all the artwork and put up some curtains and generally prettified and sorted and tossed. While I would need a serious influx of money to get the house where I would like it to be, we certainly have done a lot with a little. We now have wedding pictures up and my library is starting to come together. Pictures to come.

Kissing: my sweet hubby. Nuff said.

Dreaming: This is something that falls by the wayside when I get busy. Lots of staring off into the middle distance and letting tendrils of my imagination trail off into the vast reaches of improbability.

Healing: Many of you are aware I was in a car accident in December and getting better is a full-time job, between physical therapy, doctor’s visits and other treatments.

Watching: This was actually a secret fear of mine, that I would break one habit only to succumb to another. I’ve been pretty good overall, though I confess to glutting myself on Sherlock and VEEP (my favorite sardonic political comedy). A few days ago, I re-watched my beloved Anne of Green Gables miniseries, which has only burnished beautifully with age. Even after all these years, its gentle loveliness still has the power to bring me to tears.

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Plotting: Surely ye did not think I would rest on my laurels. You’ll just have to wait and find out what the DFQ has up her voluminous sleeves.

I expect Minions to weigh in below – it has been too long!

With all faery affection,

DFQ

30 Comments

  1. Marissa Ames
    Feb 6, 2014

    I’m glad things are coming along so well! We have really been missing you. I’ve noticed so many others taking breaks, and I’ve even scheduled certain days away from social media to catch up on my tasks. Good luck and keep healing!

  2. BekahCat
    Feb 6, 2014

    So nice to see/hear from you! :D
    It’s great that you’re getting so much more done now, the news about how your novel is coming along is fantastic!

    I think sometimes we all just need a break, I just don’t have the willpower to stop myself justifying the hours without end I spend on Facebook…

    By the way, your blog is so pretty! ^_^ x

  3. Angie
    Feb 6, 2014

    Anna, I am so happy to hear that you’re enjoying your social media break. Awesome post!

    I miss you dreadfully but I’m also very proud of you for following your heart and doing what needed to be done. Good for you!

    Post pictures of that library soon. :)

  4. Anna Howard
    Feb 6, 2014

    Good to hear from you!! Glad you’re making progress on all your projects. Hope you get all healed up soon :-)

  5. Wombat
    Feb 6, 2014

    Hello, Myrna. You’ve been missed, obv., but if I emulated you I’d not get any more done. I’d just watch old films on telly. Coming offline would be like shutting the door on my friends. I’d rather chat to them about what’s going on.
    Having said that, it’s working for you, so all power to your elbow.
    Wombat

  6. Leslie Fulton
    Feb 6, 2014

    Hello, my sweet DFQ! Lovely to read your words again. You are very much missed. Glad you are getting stuff done and taking the time you need for yourself. Miss you big time though!

  7. Emmie Mears
    Feb 6, 2014

    Great post, Anna!

    Now I want to go watch Anne of Green Gables again…

  8. Miss Bliss
    Feb 6, 2014

    WAHOOOOOOO!!! First draft, wedding photos hung, healing, dreaming, watching and plotting…all brilliant. We’ve missed you but to be the DFQ ya gotta be centered in your life. I find that one of my lifelong lessons is balance. I’m not very good at it so I have to practice a lot and not succeed with it and then get better and so on and so on. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your progress with your book. xoxo

  9. Lisa Shambrook
    Feb 6, 2014

    Lovely to read your words…especially the dreaming bit…as I’m such a dreamer…
    Carry on healing, writing, loving and having fun.
    Great news about the book, I’m going over my fourth draft now…catching all the little things I missed before!
    Enjoy plotting!

  10. Jessica
    Feb 6, 2014

    Hello DFQ! You have been sorely missed but I am so glad to hear about the progress you’ve made in your own life! It’s so true that distractions abound on the interwebz and can take every moment of your life if you’re not careful. I hope to see you back in some form soon but keep on going if it’s what makes you happy!

  11. Becky Fyfe
    Feb 6, 2014

    I have MISSED you! It’s so good to hear from you and to know you are enjoying your break from social media. I am excited about your book! I need to take a break from, if not social media as a whole, at least Facebook and Twitter for a while, but I can never seem to make the break. Although, if I wasn’t procrastinating by going on Facebook, I’d probably be procrastinating by reading books, watching TV shows, etc.

  12. Jackie Castle
    Feb 6, 2014

    Have missed you but cheering you on in getting your life on track. You’re so right about the scrolling and time blowing. Yay for you!

  13. Nick Johns
    Feb 6, 2014

    Glad things are working out the way you want them to :-)

  14. Laura Benedict
    Feb 6, 2014

    So glad to hear all this! Thrilled your novel is coming together. And now that the wedding pic is on the wall, you’re stuck together forever. Keep healing, my dear. xoxo

  15. Miranda Kate
    Feb 6, 2014

    The sparkle is gone from the DFQ page, not as many jokes or laughter or silliness, we need to be ‘shepherded’ properly. But I suppose that means I don’t hang out there as much and get other stuff done!

    I am perturbed but understanding in the slew of people taking breaks, and have trained myself into reducing my time here too, to tend to my children properly and be more ‘present’. Writing ‘morning pages’ this years has helped me enormously.

    Currently over anxious about entering my book into a book award competition (deadline end of this month! YIKES) Running about like a banana-less minion, thinking I have lost all coherent thought when trying to pull together a synopsis, and convinced it will never be good enough and that I’m crazy for thinking I’m worthy of consideration!

    But on the flipside, I am hugely grateful for the incredible support network I have found here on social media – particularly inside the DFQ group – that are available at all hours to bolster me and help me with my litany of inane questions.

    We miss you Anna, look forward to seeing you back soon.
    M xxx

  16. Alissa
    Feb 6, 2014

    Yay, Anna! I’m so glad that it has been a fruitful time off! We’ve missed your zany craziness and your all-calls (even the wombat cannons). So excited about your writing news! *tosses confetti and glitter and jellybeans* And now I want to go watch Anne of Green Gables…LOVE it! *hugs* (I’m glad you’re healing – thanks for the update)

  17. Josie
    Feb 6, 2014

    Yay, Anna! So glad to hear things are going well for you! I’ve sent my first book of to an editor, too. It’s probably not ready for one, but I’ve scoured it so many times, and I’m just too close to it to actually see it any more… I know it has huge flaws, and I just need a pro’s eyes on it now. It’s so awfully exciting! So I’m right there with ya in that boat!

    My carpal tunnel is driving me bonkers, so I’ve been banned from crafting, and from my laptop computer, which means I’m on my desktop computer using the mouse left-handed (which is okay, I’m ambidextrous, but can’t seem to use the laptop touch-pad mouse left-handed). But my computer chair hurts my hips. Sigh. There’s no happy way to use the computer! But there are many, many ideas for stories bouncing around in my brain, so use it I must…

    Hope to see you back on fb in good time, but I sure understand taking the break. I have a friend who gave up social media for Lent one year… and we don’t live in the same t0wn. I missed her so much! It was terrible! Feel better soon!

    Josie

  18. J. Whitworth Hazzard
    Feb 7, 2014

    Wow. I LOVE the new website look. It’s beautiful and elegant. Nice job, Anna. As for the self-imposed exile, I’m glad it’s working out for you and I can’t wait to read that long-awaited murder mystery.

    When you’re ready, you’ll be welcome back with open arms … filled with wombats and aardvarks. But don’t let that dissuade you!

  19. Olif
    Feb 7, 2014

    Oh Anna, I’ve never been jealous of Anne of Green Gables before! I miss you terrible, but I’m pleased your absence has been worthwhile! Feel free to shoot me any of those wonderful pages you’ve been writing if you want another pair of eyes on them! xxx

  20. Dasia
    Feb 7, 2014

    I send you lovely squishy healing rainbow vibes, Annabanana! Nobody knows about social media addiction better than me – and I’m proud of you for taking your free time back into your own hands :)

    ♥ ♥ ♥

  21. giselle marks
    Feb 7, 2014

    We are missing you, do you really have to go through with this experiment? We will find you chocolate covered wombat droppings and sugar icing coated minions and lots of anti-acid for you to eat. Please please come back, because I’m going to have really interesting things to tell you that I want you to know!

  22. Cory
    Feb 8, 2014

    ANNA! I had no idea you had been in an accident! I hope you are ok, it seems that you are getting there. I have a new Blog now, and hope all of my Fairy friends keep in touch! I wish you all the very best with your recovery!

  23. Mark Ethridge
    Feb 8, 2014

    Oh, Anna. You do what you believe. Sometimes, a break is good. Sometimes a change is good. And it is good to hear you are doing better, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

    As others have commented, lots of people are taking breaks from their social media personae. It’s a difficult thing to achieve that balance in life, isn’t it.

    Hope you reach that balance, and find a way to maintain it so you can always feel alive, and not drained, or buried.

  24. Mary Mac
    Feb 8, 2014

    I am so glad you have been having a lovely time off and are resting well! Quite a few minions have copied you and are limiting time on social media, but the land of the Dark Fairy Queen is still alive and well.

    There aren’t so many dips in the sea of queso or firing of the wombat cannon as there were when I joined, but the glitter is still abounding and the ferengi is still conducting questionable business! We miss you sorely, but your success in living life in the real world is truly inspirational. ^^

    Love, Elfie

  25. Marilyn Dieckmann
    Feb 11, 2014

    Oh, lovely fairy queen… I’ve missed you!
    You brought joy into my weary world!
    However, your healing is first & foremost…
    Those of us still out here will continue to carry your banner & proudly wave it for the world to see!
    We are the minions!
    So, my dear queen… be well.
    You are LOVED!
    ღ •˚ ˚… sprinkling a little MAGIC on your day. ~♥~˚ ✰* ★˚. ★ *˛ ˚♥* ✰。˚ ˚ღ。* ˛˚ ♥ 。✰˚* ˚ ★ღ

  26. Christina Esdon
    Feb 12, 2014

    Social media breaks look good on you, my dear!
    Of course, I miss you, but am really proud of you. You are an inspiration and I have taken a step back from obsessively checking, posting, and liking…and it’s wonderful!
    Sending you lots of love.
    xoxo

  27. Sarah Aisling
    Feb 12, 2014

    It’s wonderful to hear from you and to know you’re doing so well! Congrats on… all of it! I look forward to finding out what’s up your sleeve. It’s sure to be something spectacular and unexpected. :-) <3 Be well.

  28. Sarah Nicholson
    Feb 16, 2014

    Oh Anna how I have missed you. So glad to hear you are doing well in the “real” world. Looking forward to your return but always make time for the kissing! ;-) xx

  29. GayleCochrane
    Feb 19, 2014

    Glad to have happened upon this post, as I was wondering how you were doing. Sorry to hear about the accident. Hugs to Oscar.

  30. Sorcha
    Feb 20, 2014

    So lovely to hear how well everything is going for you! *sends you a big minion hug* I myself am on a little writing retreat in rural England and have kept my mobile turned off. So therapeutic! I feel tempted to do so all the time now! :) X

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