Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Musings on Writing

I just downloaded a free eBook thanks to Lysa TerKeurst called "The 7 Secrets You Need to Know As a New Writer: Wisdom from 30 Authors and Bloggers Who Have Been Where You Are."

Early on, one of the pieces of advice is to write daily - that writing is a discipline.  That you don't have to crank out lots of words each day, but that you do need to write words of substance daily.  Some days you'll feel like it, other days you won't - like the way some of us (myself included) relate to exercise.  And speaking of exercise, writing daily is about exercising the "writing muscles" in my brain.  I also think writing more often is important for me, because it keeps me from drying up & from getting shallow.  I wrestle with Facebook these days.  I'm in a place where I'll take huge chunks of time away from it (up to 40 days), return for just a few days, and then go away for 40 more days.  As I've been recovering sensitivity and peace in my soul, I find that social media grates those qualities and covertly funnels them out of me.  After my first 40-day social media fast in years - this past summer, June 19-July 28 - I had made radical changes in less than 24 hours.  Reintroducing my social media apps into the routine I'd developed in those 40 days felt like my inner quiet was being attacked, and I knew quite quickly that I neither needed nor wanted my Twitter or Instagram accounts.  I deleted them.  On Facebook I can post statuses as short as I want them to be (or as long) and I can do pictures.  Twitter & Instagram are simply unnecessary, technically, but they do serve to pose as extra sources of getting attention & affirmation and boy can you lose hours getting mindlessly distracted in their labyrinths.  My husband calls it "getting caught in 'the scroll.'"  He can tell when I'm scrolling mindlessly on my phone or on my laptop - when I'm not actively thinking (or when I'm avoiding actively thinking?).  A part of me resents when he gets on my case, but these days I just need to choose which resentment will let me sleep at night, because if Russell doesn't get on my case & I scroll until I feel literally fried, then I'm upset at myself and resent that I wasted those fistfuls of minutes (sometimes hours!) being "caught in the scroll," accomplishing nothing.

One thing I know is that as social media became more important to me (especially after I finally got my first smartphone), I began to journal less and process less on paper, in private.  I was processing with the rest of the world on Facebook.  Yet, on Facebook there's this unspoken filter where you have to keep in mind that people will read what you post, see what you "like" and make judgment calls about who you are and comment however freely they desire (sometimes this freedom is still shocking).

Facebook simply is not free territory.

I'm much more aware than I ever have been of a pressure I feel in relating to Facebook.  Sometimes when I'm away from it and life happens, I have a strong urge to go and post about whatever the ripple was (or the insight the ripple caused), rather than processing more freely in private like I used to.  It's as if Facebook began replacing my journal, but instead of cathartically articulating with the authenticity of being in a safe environment (on the pages of a private journal), I was cultivating statuses calculated to sound quippy, snappy, quotable & well.......likeable (pun intended).  I think that spending lots of time on social media siphoned depth out of me at a time when I needed it badly to deal with some emotional traumas in 2011 that gave me C-PTSD, because it drew me so constantly to be shaping and sharing my thoughts with others in mind, rather than with no one in mind but myself and God.

I can remember when prayer journaling gave me a clarity that empowered me to not need others' approval, that gave me strength to internally rebuff their disapproval if necessary.  But now...all the recent years of social media overuse has only breastfed my tendencies towards codependency.  And if you know anything about codependency, you know it's a brutal and unforgiving, predictable cycle that you can only combat by simply cutting ties with it.  Some of those ties can be so old and strong that they're like tree trunks, but they can still be cut out of you, but the healing will take a great deal of time.  I'm in touch with too many overseas & long distance friendships through Facebook to get rid of my account entirely, but I'm in a season where I'm on social media less than I ever have been & when I get on, I'm acutely aware of my impulses to bury myself in it, to get lost in it.

On positive notes, though, these spurts of getting away from Facebook and only using my FB Messenger app (like a texting app) have helped me re-dig some new depth and get back into reading and writing.  I have an independent study that I've begun and it has nothing to do with school.  I'm between undergrad & grad school - I am enrolled nowhere.  This independent study is just for me (though I'd like to see if it could go somewhere when it's finished).  I have several written irons in the fire that I work on a little at a time.  I'm combatting old habits by making charts for myself and scheduling a certain amount of chapters to read every day from the Bible and elsewhere.  I'm really enjoying the self-imposed structure!  It feels like it's adding a bit more personal purpose to my life underneath being a pastor's wife, and it's not too ambitious or too miniscule.  I've lived so much of these last few years without structure from the inside out (vs. structure given to me by being in school or having a job) that pursuing it now feels stabilizing & healing.

So... I'll tie off here because it's 10:35p and my husband and I are getting up to exercise with the students at 6:30a (as in we need to be there at 6:30a, so we have to get up closer to 6), and I am not a fan of mornings and I tend to need more sleep than Russell.  But that's another topic for another time.


  1. I can resonate with the idea of shaping and sharing thoughts with others in mind (after all, this is what writing is), but there's definitely a line to be drawn somewhere! Thought-provoking post.