The Importance of Reconnecting with Your World

As writers, we are constantly told that writing is not enough. We have to market ourselves. To be interactive. To be visible. To be available. Online.

I agree an online presence matters. But there has to be a balance between our online life and our offline life.

Something I clearly lacked in the spring when I was on my laptop or Ipad 12-15 hours a day.

Last week, I went shopping with my girl friend, Linds. Something I used to do all the time in college and grad school. Something I’d nixed for a while as non-essential and a detractor from my writing life.

But the fun of trying on dresses and giving each other instant-in-person opinions. Of darting between our dressing rooms. I missed this. The laughing and giggling over bad fits and the boost of real compliments when something flattered our figures.

We talked through our doors about how we were both annoyed that the dress we were trying on was impossible to zip up alone. We both liked the fit though. When we opened the door and saw each other, we doubled over laughing. She had on the green version and I had on the blue version of the very same dress!

I missed spending time with someone because I enjoyed being with them.

I adore my online friends and I want to keep up all our relationships, but I want to make time for offline life and friends I’ve known for decades.

My new goal is to make the most of my moments in each realm.

Any suggestions?

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32 Responses to The Importance of Reconnecting with Your World

  1. It’s the elusive “balance” everyone is always talking about. Being aware of the need for it is the first step. Then, just continually practicing getting the balance right. Some days/weeks/months it will be off–just try again. And, wherever you are, savor being there instead of wishing to be somewhere else.

    Good luck with it!

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    No suggestions, but please share the ever-elusive answer once you’ve found it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. klynwurth says:

    Other than the obvious advice of “shop more with your friend,” I would suggest that you take a few hours each month to seek out people who couldn’t be more unlike yourself. You could do this as a volunteer or by joining a social organization. I know you write YA, so maybe you could volunteer at a school or youth club. When I wandered away from writing, into medicine, I almost couldn’t blink from the excitement and interesting things I observed. I met and cared for people I never would have imagined. Of course, you’ll have to draw firm lines on your involvement, to keep the prime time for writing. Just a thought.

    • Great advance Kelly! I love my local library, perhaps I can look into volunteering there. I’m thinking I could do some tutoring to make cash and interact with high schoolers more. It’s funny how the offline life fuels the writing life. I’ve been mining experiences from years ago, but perhaps it’s time to add some more experiences to the mix. A really terrific thought! Thanks!

  4. CC MacKenzie says:

    I think this has to be one of the hardest things to manage. When I’m in full creative mode I’m like a hermit, totally immersed in the story. The thing I find the most stressful is trying to deal with social networking AND writing. The only way to do that is to write first and network later.

    But over the last week I’ve been outlining a new series and a new book which is always a blast and since I do that by hand on index cards and pads and pens I’ve been with family and friends.

    Finding the balance is an ongoing issue. James Scott Bell says take one full day off a week and I think he might be right – Again!

    Great post, Kourtney!

    • I 100% agree with you. When I’m drafting, I can’t remember anything outside my story world. I can’t really step away from it and I’m always distracted by it. But this makes sense (to me anyway) and I kinda enjoy it. Social networking is harder because you can’t quantify how much it is helping your writing career, especially as an unpublished author. Writing has to be #1, then blogging, and then networking at this stage for me.

      Aw that’s cool that you get periods of family and friend time interspersed with outlining. JSB is a genius. I’m going to try disconnecting one full day a week. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for stopping by CC. Always a pleasure to hear from you!

  5. Elliot says:

    I’ve cut my blogging time down to work on other projects, but also my blog reading time with it. It might mean reading less posts, but you cannot spend all day on a computer (well unless you really want to). Something has to give somewhere.

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    If there’s one word that seems to crop up everywhere in the 21st century, it’s “balance.” Everyone’s looking for it in every aspect of life. I think it’s a symptom that we’re all doing a lot of things wrong. We recognize it at some level, but we don’t know how to fix it.

    We need to interact with the physical world more. And we need to work on our works-in-progress. The internet and social media have to take a backseat to that. Two posts per week is probably the most I will ever manage. And if the books ever become popular, I’ll probably drop down to once a week!

    • Very true. I think it’s important to find the right balance for yourself. Everyone is different. Some people can do Twitter a few hours a day and still get all their other stuff done. I can’t.

      I think of that commercial where the girl is saying how anti-social her parents are because they have 19 friends on FB, but then the commercial flashes to them out with friends bike riding in the mountains. I’ve done 1-5 posts a week, experimenting with what drew more readers and what worked for me. Right now I’ve settled into 3. I think if my books got popular I’d probably drop to once or twice a week. Though I have to confess blogging is my favorite form of onlineness. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • jmmcdowell says:

        Mine, too. I’ll be kicking and screaming if I “have” to do others someday. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve got 34 FB friendsโ€”all real friends and family!

        • LOL. I’m on others because I wanted to test them out. But that’s how I leaned the blog works best for me. It feeds to FB and Twitter.
          I think when we are signed authors it makes sense to have the author page and market the heck out of it, but until then I’m content to focus my energies here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. EllaDee says:

    Your words are relevant for us all, writers or no. The shopping expedition was a fantastic idea. Last year I emerged from a work project that consumed my life, moved apartments, and lost my bearings in life. To get them back, first I started blogging, then after being consumed by the keyboard & screen for a while, thought there must be more… So, first thing 6 days a week after a coffee, I’m out for a 30/40 minute walk in the park “greeting the day”. I joined a book club, a footy tipping competition, non-essential work projects & signed up for some volunteering. Each night the G.O. & I spend [at least] half an hour with a glass of wine chatting about our day, and life. Sunday’s also are our days, and I spend little time at the laptop. Having a house 6 hours drive away where there’s no internet or mobile coverage, where we need to make periodic visits gives me time out. I catch up with family/friends when we can but we all have busy, geographical disparate lives. Add a chunk of my day at the office, domestic goddess concerns, and it’s a busy busy life but looking back to the dull I emerged from, at least it has colour & life ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It’s funny how hours spent doing things is our main measure of productivity and dedication. I’d rather write 5 pages in an hour than in 5 hours. I think having a well rounded life makes me a better writer and a happier overall person too. I think you do an amazing job balancing it all!

      • EllaDee says:

        Thnx. I don’t know how people with kids, who are carers, or have businesses manage. My life is simple…

        • I don’t either. Kids require so much attention and love. I have a dog and I have to remind myself to make sure he gets time with me. I’ve tried to simplify my life a lot over the past two years. Writing is my main priority but I’m slowly reintroducing things that matter to me outside of writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. 4amWriter says:

    I hear you about the balance, that’s even the tagline on my blog. Every day is a different challenge trying to “balance” kids, WIP, house, hubs, pets, freelance jobs, friends and family, social media — something always gives to something else. I can’t give full attention to everything I need to do every day.

    I have learned to base non essential tasks on a week’s or a month’s span, rather than a daily necessity.

    For instance, going out with a girlfriend is important, but I only do it once a week, a couple of hours for a coffee or a cocktail.

    Family outside of my core household also is a once a week, once a month a few times a year, or just the yearly Christmas card, depending on which family members are in question.

    I post on my blog–my fave form of social media–twice a week. I post on Limebird about 2-3 times a month.Composing posts along with replying, commenting on and visiting other blogs takes up about 20 hours a week. I whittled it down from 30–and I still think 20 is too much.

    But I still have to look at each day as it begins and ask myself what MUST happen today (i.e., doctor appointments, errands, play dates for the kids, volunteering, freelance work, housework, etc.) Then around all the necessary tasks I work in 2 hours for my writing, and get about 2 hours of blogging in.

    It’s the best I can do at this stage in the game.

    Your time with your friend sounds heavenly. I miss those kinds of fun, spirited moments, too.

    • I don’t know how you do it. But I love your tip about taking it on a weekly/monthly basis with prioritizing things. When I used to work full time, I didn’t do nearly as much social media. My blog Hittage was abysmal. Bu there is only so much time in a day/week/month. And I do not embrace the American ideal that your job is your life and you should spend 80-100 hours a week there.

      Balancing all my priorities is a constant struggle. I’m shifting things around. It all feels like trial and error. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I rock. But no matter what I try. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. So happy to hear you made time to have fun with your gal pal, Kourtney, and that you’re prioritizing in-person connections. Writers conferences helped show me how important REAL face time (not just FaceTime) is.

    Meeting online friends in person and vice versa is the best of both worlds. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I also try to work some kind of volunteer work into my life. Oh, and total work-free vacations, even short ones, rock. I love my writing cave, but too much time spent inside it turns me into an alien ogre!

    • I realized most of my experiences were from at least a year ago in terms of the well of memories I draw from. I thought I’d lived so much for a while, it was okay to go all hermit. But I need those real life moments. They inspire things in my fiction and replenish my well! ๐Ÿ™‚ lol at you being an alien ogre!

  10. Sounds fun, I love a good shop! I agree, you need balance!

  11. Pete Denton says:

    It is good to get out and spend time with people. The rest is a difficult balance. I don’t seem to be able to manage the consistency I would like, but you have to go with the flow and get what’s right for you. I look forward to the blog post with some helpful answers ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I think life happens and we have to live it while still meeting as many of our commitments as we can. Importance and urgency fluctuate. We have to allow ourselves to adapt to them.

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