As a writer, my life revolves around deadlines. It’s kind of like a game of Tetris, but – instead of colorful blocks – I’m stacking a combination of due dates, word counts, and coffee cups to make every element fit together and cross entries off of the Big List of Projects that hangs above my desk.
It takes concentration and flexibility… and, lately, I feel a little like I’m in over my head with the pieces stacking up too quick for me to place them effectively. The old 8 bit music and playing faster and faster and I’m starting to get nervous. And I know why. One word: Twitter.
I tweet a lot. As a writer, I’ve found a profoundly encouraging community through the social network. I’ve made great friends, learned a lot about the craft of writing, and even landed a couple of contracts… but, it’s also dangerous because it can be a near-constant source of distraction.
So, in an effort to balance my time tweeting and my time writing, I’ve come up with three surefire signs that indicate you (and I) need to turn off Twitter for a bit:
(1) You’re spending more time coming up with clever tweets than clever headlines
If your writer’s brain is focused more on tweets relating to writing than what’s going on in the piece you’re creating, it’s time to take a Twitter hiatus. Refocus that energy on your work.
(2) You’re hearing phantom Twitter notifications
It’s late and you’re having a staring contest with your blinking cursor and you SWEAR you just heard TweetDeck chirp. You check… and nothing. And then check again just to be sure. Turn off your Twitter client, turn up the music, and start writing.
(3) You’ve gone hashtag crazy
The way you communicate on Twitter is different than anywhere else. If you spend enough time thinking in 140 characters, it eventually affects the way you write. All of a sudden, instead of inserting a parenthetical observation or piece of internal monologue, you find yourself inserting a hashtag in the next line of your manuscript… and it’s pages before you notice what you’ve done. It’s time to tear your words away from Twitter.
It’s easy to rely on Twitter as the way to get a break or help you overcome your writer’s block, but – all too often – it can become the ill-placed Tetris block that leaves you scrambling. So, today, I’m going to make the most of my time at the computer. But, first, I think I’ll let my friends know that I’m off to pound the keys. #amwriting