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Tuesday, January 22 2019 @ 04:41 AM EST

Shouldn't You Be Writing? Creativity & the Pressure of Social Media.

Shouldn't you be writing? Maybe you should be. Or maybe, the words aren't coming today and you can't bear another moment staring at a blank page. You need a break from torturing yourself. You need to find creative ideas elsewhere, maybe some reassurance from others? Maybe your best writing time is at night not day, or day not night, or maybe you're on your lunchbreak? Perhaps you're one of those disciplined people who can avoid the lure of social media, and this is the only short break you allow yourself between writing chapters.

Whatever way you look at it, the last thing you want to see in those moments is someone else thinking they're being inspirational, when in fact all they're doing is making people feel guilty and anxious about not doing what *they* think you should be doing.


Writing isn't like that, at least not for everybody. For some, discipline is the key. Wake up, sit at the keyboard, minimum 1,000 words before your second coffee is done. Rinse, repeat. 10,000 words by the end of the day. And don't worry about the quality; you can always fix it in second draft.


I'd love to be able to work like that, but it's just not for me. I've tried, and I just end up anxious, because somedays I just can't produce. And that leads me into a spiral of questioning and doubting myself. I start focussing on "why am I not writing!?" instead of my usual method of just letting the story grow organically in my mind. If I can dispense with all that worry about daily word counts, I find that the story is more willing to show itself. The words come whenever they do, and often in great quantities.


I'm one of those people whose creative mind baulks at any suggestion of you *must* do THIS. Tell me that I have to produce an illustration by 3pm tomorrow, and I'll be more inclined to pick up my guitar and write a song, or those words I've been looking for all week will suddenly spring forth like a gushing oil well. But you know what? By the time I've finished with my guitar, or the words and story have run out, I'll find that illustration there in the back of my mind, fully formed and ready to make the leap into reality.


Whenever I'm stuck on one thing, I shift my creative focus to some other discipline, and that frees up whatever was blocking me.


Creativity is a fickle thing, and I think we all have our methods for coaxing our Muse out of hiding. Long showers, long walks, exercise workouts, tv binges, talking it out with others. Some don't coax their Muse, but drag her kicking and screaming each day to their writing desk. All good, whatever works. But my method may not be the same as yours.


So, when I'm on FB, or Twitter, or Tumblr, it's not always because I'm a lazy, undisciplined slob. Not always. A lot of the time it is because I'm a bit lost with my writing. I'm frustrated and looking for something social that will help free my mind a little, help me relax, let me laugh at a cat pic or two. Only then will the words come.


Which brings me back to those "SHOULDN'T YOU BE WRITING?" memes. They don't help me, and I'm sure there are many others who feel this too. All they do is remind me that YES I SHOULD BE FUCKING WRITING BUT MY BRAIN JUST ISN'T COOPERATING TODAY!


To be honest, they make me feel a little bit shit about myself.


So, all I ask is, before you post those memes, have a think about *why* you're posting it, and *for whom*? Is it meant to be Inspirational, because it is a rather passive aggressive message if it is. Is it for someone in particular? Someone who has asked you to kick their writerly butt every day or two? If so, tag them, so others don't see it as a blanket guilt trip on every writer who isn't currently writing.


But mainly, before you post a meme telling others what they should be doing, maybe you should ask yourself, "SHOULDN'T YOU BE WRITING?"




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