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Balance in Writing

Last week, I read a blog post about the clinic that John Mayer did in the Berklee series. During the clinic he talked about about how social media changed his song writing and why he eventually stopped writing on social media sites.

And possibly more alarming, Mayer realized that pouring creativity into smaller, less important, promotional outlets like twitter not only distracted him from focusing on more critical endeavors like his career, it also narrowed his mental capacity for music and writing intelligent songs…

“You got the distraction of being able to publish yourself immediately, and it is a distraction if you’re not done producing what the product is going to be that you’re going to someday use the promotion to sell…I had to go through the same thing I’m talking to you about – what you have to go through – which is to completely manage all the distraction. Manage the temptation of publishing yourself.”

So, to avoid the temptation of publishing himself and to increase his mental capacity for creativity, Mayer deleted his twitter, stopped blogging, and created a strict regime for recording his next album.

Mayer’s advice to new artists as he told his own story paralleled something I have been thinking about for awhile. For a long time, I have been feeling like Twitter steals my time and thoughts from longer writing. Things I used to write in this space, I put up on Twitter.

This happens for a few reasons, the largest being that I have very little, very precious time to actually be on the computer these days. With two adorable and young sons, my alone time on the computer is almost nonexistent. Writing this post has been days in the making and suffered uncountable interruptions. I use my phone to respond to email, send Twitter updates, and look at Google+. I do not like composing longer pieces on my phone and so blogging takes a backseat, well more like the trunk, complete with duck taped mouth and hands tied.

When I do save something for a longer piece, like the Mayer quote above, it often languishes for days or weeks before I can look at it and then it is too late. I have often wondered if I should just ignore Twitter completely in the same way I ignore Facebook.

Then, last night I was reading my Twitter stream from Friday and saw this post by Jason Griffey echoing, for different reasons, a possible movement to disengage. Jason says this about the change in his writing:

What I don’t like is that my writing, thoughts, interests… the comprehensive set of my online self, really… are distributed and scattered. I was ok with it for a long time, and I’m becoming very much not ok with it anymore. In the past, I’ve dabbled with pulling things from those other networks back here, but that doesn’t actually bring any of the reasons I use them here….it just brings the content. Which isn’t always what it’s about.

Jason says that he thinks the possible solution, for him, may be a disengagement from some things, including the demise of Pattern Recognition. I understand his problem, that his identity and content has become disparate. I am interested to see how he solves this problem, as the issue still baffles me.

I think the ability to post things quickly sometimes steals my time to write longer things later. For me, this is the last outlet I would get rid of because it suits my writing needs better than anything else. I need this longer writing space, even if I do not get to utilize it as much as I would like.

Other social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, have duplicate content between the three for me, mostly. I would love to see facebook go by the wayside. I disagree with the practices at facebook, which I have written about at ALA TechSource. I stay on facebook so I can have access to other people and events there, but I rarely check my account. I know it will not go away until people stop using it but I can not stop using it until people go away from it. It is a cycle that is hard to break. For now, I will keep my access to facebook, but I have a feeling that may change soon.

I do not know what the solution is for me or how I will find more time to write here. I think of things to write all day long, but by the time I am able to sit down, the thoughts are gone or I am simply to tired to make sense of them. As always, life is a delicate balance, and the scales are not always even. What the balance is for this space is always evolving. I know I both need and want this space, whether anyone reads it or not. I also need and want Twitter because when I do get a chance to read it, I always learn something new. Every day should contain a new thing learned.

1 comment to Balance in Writing

  • Miranda Bennett

    Good thoughts, as usual! I *love* the line about not just taking a backseat. I, too, find that it is well nigh impossible to pull together the time and concentration necessary to write at length, and I’m alarmed to discover how tempted I am to use bullet points in place of complete sentences. There seems to be a fair amount of conversation going on about the potential demise of long-form reading, so maybe this is another angle on that issue. Of course, it’s also interesting to think about how many people using short-form social media now wouldn’t write at all without it.

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