My writing life has continued apace, but Daily (w)rite has gone through a long spell of silence. I took a two-month hiatus from online existence, and in some ways, it has felt like a vacation. I missed you all, my online friends, but I also realized the cost of social media to my mental health.
I’ve always been overwhelmed by the kindness of blogging and social media friends, and striven (inadequately) to return the favor. June this year, covid had already taken its toll amongst family and friends, and amidst unexpected losses, I decided that I needed some time to heal and recoup. It has been two months of editing, writing, long walks, reading, yoga, cooking, and cartoons on Netflix. I’m now back to online life, but I think I need to make some changes. I used to be online every day other than Sundays, but that will change. I’ll now keep away from Saturday to Monday, and on other days, I’ll be even more mindful of what hours I stay online, switching off the phone for all but 2-3 hours a day.
I was discussing this curtailed social media existence with a friend yesterday and she said, well, don’t you need to stay on social media for your writing career? Which brings me to the September 1 question for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?
To me, all of the above is a corollary to writing success.
My Recipe for Success in the Writing Life
If I write often, making time for writing in my life and giving it priority, continue to learn to write better, strive to be a better craftswoman and storyteller, and do not give up in the face of the usual barrage of rejections, that’s success. Too often, in our writing life, we give in to self-doubt. Let ourselves get distracted and then feeling guilty, self-flagellate. To me, guilt has no place in the writing life, nor does self-blame. All of us get distracted, and given the covid times, all of us are going through collective and personal trauma. We need to forgive ourselves and each other more.
Success is continuing to write–whether we manage to get books and stories out or not. Yes, of course we need to make money and each of us decides the paths we take towards that. Success in writing life is focusing on the journey as much as the destination. If we feel bitter and frustrated, that’s natural. But after a good vent (preferably in a private journal), it is time to try and fix what we can in our stories. Figure out why some things worked, while others didn’t. One of the things I do not miss about social media is the incessant bickering, the public venting, the toxicity. I get it. I get mad, sometimes, too. For some people, it helps to work out their anger, frustrations, disappointments and success all in the public sphere.
Personally, I’ve figured out that the introvert in me needs more silence. It craves retreat. My subconscious is at peace when left alone. This hiatus wasn’t my first and won’t be my last, though I’m not yet ready for the monastic life. Success is also about cheering others on, taking joy in their successes, and one of the aspects of social media I’ve missed in the past eight weeks is shouting out about the books and panels and awards my friends have surely been involved in. i did a bit of it on twitter today, so in case you’re looking for interesting reads, take a look.
So here’s what the rest of this year will look like: less appearances on social media, mostly to share good news from others, reading experiences, and any writing advice I pick up on the way. A deeper engagement with my writing life. Not chasing external success (letting it chase me, instead? ). Success in the writing life for me is: writing as often as I can, getting better all the time, and shouting about my writing peers.
If you’re a writer, what does success mean in your writing life? If you’re not concerned with the writing life, what does success in general mean to you? What have you been up to in the past two months?
Today is the first Wednesday of the month post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
Founded by the Ninja Cap’n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share their fears and insecurities without being judged. This is a wonderful group–if you aren’t a part of it, I urge you to join in!
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