A Draft From My Fleeting Thoughts

Jenny looking out the windowI tried writing a blog post today and ended up floating through social media sites, adhering to the parameters of my short attention span.

On Twitter, I attempted to write 140 characters of prose for the 1st-line Wednesday hashtag game. Instead, I wrote 116 characters, which included the hashtag #1linewed, falling short of my 500-word goal.

Writing is hard. I know this and have accepted it, embraced the work ethic required that I haven’t yet mustered.

I castigate myself every time I get distracted and end up on the Internet. “You’re better than this,” I say.

If only I listened to myself.

I know I should disconnect when I’m sitting at the computer or use a distraction blocker to keep my focus on the screen, but I don’t. I allow the allure of whimsy to attract me.

I allow my thoughts to get stuck in the dusty light of fleeting things and end up writing something only 116 characters long, not worthy of the word “accomplishment.”

Why do I let myself slip into this redundant behavior of idling nothingness, the place self-control gives in to a quick digital fix? Why do I embrace the instant gratification of a social media high after which I drop into a hole so deep I can’t climb out?

Why do I allow my attention to mindlessly float in a sphere of whimsy? A conscious coma in which my thoughts slip into a montage of talk show appearances where I promote that book I never wrote.

Fantastical mind-wandering thoughts that float in my head like pond scum, eventually get stuck in the drain suck of inertia where passion nods off.

A sudden reflexive jerk snaps me back to another meaningless hashtag game, the rush of instant gratification gone as soon as I leave the page.

Nothing gained from my mindless wandering. Just fleeting thoughts of fancy that embrace you while you drift, then slip away.

Drifting is pleasant. Writing is painful. It’s black and blue. Dark and light.

It’s acceptable human torture when you’re not in the zone. Getting there requires discipline and a workable routine. That’s hard to harness when you’ve got time to squander on a week off (without pay).

A rigid time-constrained schedule keeps you within the designated lines on which you need to write. Without them, you fall off the document into the gray moat around the page.

How do you discipline yourself?

Do you have a regular writing routine?

That Awkward Moment – Writing A Blog Post Then Promoting It.

PERFECTION IS A FANTASY

Once you finish writing a blog post and then publish it, you panic.

You see a word or two you want to change, a sentence that could be phrased differently.

And you think. Who would want to read this? It’s crap! It needs another revision. You backslide into “this isn’t good enough syndrome,” and get stuck in the weeds.

Literally and figuratively.

Writing IS like weeding. You’ll always find something you want to pull and toss.

Stop oppressive gardeningAfter bagging hundreds of dandelions you caught choking the life from your somewhat greenish lawn, you’re ready to drag the bag to the curb. You grab it, then stop.

You spot a dandelion at two o’clock. It taunts you. “Come and get me, plucker!”

“Me, too!” another one screams.

“And me!” laughs Dandelion #3.

You drop to your knees and continue yanking and bagging. Every time you think you’re done, more dandelions appear.

The same is true with writing. You’ll always find a weedy word you want to extricate from the page.

But don’t let your proclivity for perfection paralyze you.

Your post may not be perfect. But, Damn it! It’s close enough.

Restrain the obsessive beast in your brain by setting a deadline before you start to write. When you reach the deadline, stop and say, “I’m done! Really done. Now, what?”

It’s time to promote your post.

CLIMB OUT OF YOUR SHELF

The brain

The brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How does a writer reprogram their brain from writing to promoting?

For a writer who’s thrilled when anyone reads her work, the thought of promoting it can be terrifying.

But don’t give in to your fears. Push past that fluttery feeling in your gut and seek out other like-minded souls on the Internet.

Join Twitter, FacebookPinterest and other social media sites.

Find your tribe: people you want to hangout with. Join a writer’s group on Facebook.

After you find your tribe, don’t bore them by only talking about your writing. Join the conversation.

Just like at a cocktail party, if you meet someone who talks at you, not with you, you make excuses and walk away. You avoid self-absorbed people who tell you how great they are. The same is true with social media.

Don’t monopolize your tribe mate’s time by promoting your work. Promotion is NOT one-sided. Promotion IS interactive. Make friends. Say hello. Share a post. Ask them about their day.

Then something amazing happens. Your tribemate cracks a joke. You LOL. And someone shares your post.

The more you meet people and engage them, the more comfortable you’ll become with social media. After a while it will be fun… maybe too much fun, maybe a bit addictive. That’s when you need to take a breath.

Learn to manage your time, so you don’t stay online for hours, or days, and lose focus of your passion. Take a break. Quit the Internet. Reboot your brain and write!

 

This post is based upon the recent Twitter chat, “How to Overcome Self-Promotion Anxiety As A Writer,” hosted by Amanda Chiu of Atomic Reach #AtomicChat.

Thanks again for inviting me to be a guest on the last chat of the year.