This post shows writers the hidden dangers of social media and shows how social media can hijack your creativity. It also offers you an exercise to break free from its influence.
Social media offers you a great platform as a writer. It gives you a way to connect with readers, publishers, agents, and even other writers.
But, when you’re living and breathing and writing under the influence of social media, you’re perhaps falling victim to the following three ways that it can hijack your creativity (without you even realising it).
In no way am I saying you must give it up. But, like everything in life, a bit of balance is never a bad thing.
3 Ways Too Much Social Media Can Hijack Your Creativity
1. Social media can create ubiquity.
We all know that the algorithms on social media sway, shape, influence, and reinforce our tastes as readers (and writers).
Are you writing in an echo chamber?
This creates an ‘echo chamber’, where your tastes, likes, beliefs and values are fed back to you in a continuous loop. We think we hear it as comforting and familiar music, but it is actually a distorted feedback screech.
Now, let’s be honest. Influence is not a bad thing, as long as it’s diverse and you keep an open mind to new ideas. Ubiquity, on the other hand, is the enemy of creativity.
2. Social media can create (literary) anxiety.
When we’re following top-selling writers and celebrities, we are constantly comparing ourselves to them – we don’t give ourselves the freedom to follow our own journey.
As writers, we’re also chasing trends on Amazon and other platforms. The hot new genre, the magic breakout bestseller. Where will this get you? More often than not, nowhere. You’ll end up producing copycat writing and superficial fiction. And we end up as colourless clones.
Yes, it’s good to know the trends, but don’t be a slave to the whims of today. Get offline long enough to find an authentic niche in the market.
3. Social media creates distraction.
If you are always online and on social media, you don’t fully get to the page with your whole mind and imagination. You don’t go into the story. Writing is hard enough as it is, so we welcome any distraction and our social media feed is the ultimate distraction.
You can’t ‘feel’ your story if you are always online, on your phone, on Instagram. There you are reminded of what others are doing, what you should be doing. In short, there’s a world of expectations – you are waiting for the next alert, Tweet, picture and so forth.
Social media can ruin your focus. No, you can’t cut it out of your life – in fact, you shouldn’t – but you can take a break from it now and then.
Try this: Take a ‘time out’
This week, switch off your laptop and phone for a whole day. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Think about what has hijacked your creativity.
Take note. When you’re alone, what are the things that creep up on you – that shock you, make you feel scared? What excites you or takes you deeper and deeper into your imagination?
You just need a quiet place, maybe a pen or blank page, a sketch pad. But, really, just space. And you don’t even have to write a single word. But, be alone with your thoughts and images and ideas.
This is probably where your power lies. This is the place where you may hear the first whisper of a great idea, story, or character.