12.27.2014

My Little No Social Media Experiment (LNSME): Week 4

Part of my writing process in December is supposed to be reflective on the process of not using any social media. I haven’t done a very good job of that in the past week or so, but that's mostly due to holiday celebrations. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been noticing the continual changes since this little experiment began, however.

And there have been changes. Good things that have made my life happier, easier, and even a little more whole. Here's my attempt at capturing the best of the best:

1. Purposeful living — one of my main goals in the past couple of months has been to be much more intentional about the way I spend my time. I think the phrase, “I just don’t have the time to…” may be the biggest cop-out in our fast-paced society. I know I am guilty of filling up far too many minutes in a day with mindless FaceBook scrolling, pointless Google searches, and ye grande old Time Suck otherwise known as Pinterest. And let's not even mention craptastic TV shows. Yikes. 

But with less than a week to go before my self-imposed social media hiatus ends, I’m finding so much enjoyment out of the things I do have time for, and am possibly just a little amazed at all the things I’ve accomplished this month. I’m choosing how I spend my time, not simply letting time slip by in a haze of digital noise.


2. One of the major benefits I’ve noticed from chucking my social media habit is how my relationships with people have changed. To me, this is far more significant than all the writing I’ve made time for this month. Because I’m not tweeting quick thoughts about what’s happening in my classroom or updating FaceBook to let the world know what I’m having for dinner, I have to actually reach out and talk to individual humans if I want any interaction. Instead of sharing a video or article via FaceBook, I’ll text or tell the person I know would be interested about it when we're face to face. I’ve talked more on the phone and even managed to see more people in person this month. 

This slant toward a more personal style of communication has been even more evident in my own home. I’m more apt to work on a project with my husband or sit down and help one of the Littles with a craft now that I don’t feel so tied to my phone, iPad, or laptop. It’s embarrassing to admit how stuck to these devices I had been, but I’m thankful that I chose to put them aside for awhile. I’m a better wife, mom, and friend because of it. And interestingly, my typical angsty-anxious restless feeling I get when I'm at home has mostly gone away.

3. The writing. Oh, the writing! Ideas come easier, words flow onto the page faster, and I’ve spent nearly every day writing. In fact, I think I’ve only missed three days so far. Not bad, considering my writing life before December was incredibly hit and miss, other than things I had to write for grad school. I still find it difficult to sink into one project and work through the hard parts; I’m more likely to flit between two or three projects depending on how much time I have to write and what mood I’m in.

I’m also noticing a new writing style popping up, and although it’s completely surprised me, I’m enjoying what it’s doing for my revision skills. Revision has always been my biggest struggle as a writer. I actually have two complete novel drafts that I have never reopened to revise. Sad, sad, sad. But I’m hoping this new process will help with that. I’m no longer forcing myself to write from beginning to end — instead, I write whatever scene is in my head, skipping around in the story to write the parts that help me keep writing daily. This has done wonders for my ability to stick with a manuscript longer. I also write first by hand and then on the same day type what I’ve written into my Day One app, revising as I go. Eventually I’ll transfer what I have in the app to Pages, revising a third time. Because I’m revising such small pieces at a time, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming, and I feel like I’m getting a lot more accomplished as a draft and in revisions. All good things!

4. I notice more. I’m more mindful of how I’m feeling — whether I’m bored, tired, frustrated, content — I seem to pick up on my downward spirals before I find myself wholly in a funk, and make changes before I’m sitting around angry at nothing in particular. And I notice the things around me more. My house is cleaner than it has been in a long time because I’m noticing little things that need to be tended to and actually doing something about it. Not only is the house more spic and span, I’m finally getting around to some of the projects that should have been done months ago … little by little, our house is becoming more like a home. I feel plugged into my life now that I’ve unplugged from the Internet.

5. My reading life is alive and well again. I’ve had a rough time getting interested in a book for a while now. I read a ton of books for grad school, and thankfully they aren’t textbooks. And of course, I’m always reading something professionally to keep growing as a teacher. But in the past few weeks I’ve read several books just for fun. I try to keep at least one book on my Kindle app for when I’m out and about, and have several books at home that I’ve torn through this month. I know I need to be reading every day just as much as I’m writing, and finally I feel like I’m actually headed in the right direction in my reading life.

There are far more benefits to letting go of the constant online feed of information and prattle than I’ve listed here, but these are the most rewarding for me. Perhaps as the days continue to tick by, more benefits will rise to the top, but for now I’m happy just to notice these few changes that are bringing so much more joy and creativity to my life. Only four days left in December, and I'm strongly considering continuing my social media hiatus. Turns out, it's not so lonely after all.

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