"See you on Monday," I informed my friends and followers on Facebook and Instagram. I had three days in front of me without posting or checking on what's up with everybody lives and successes; 72 hours of just me, my dog, my notebooks and word files on my computer. I call it social media fasting.
I fasted several times throughout my life and the most successful retreats were those of 2 weeks or longer, in a beautiful setting, together with other health nuts and under professional supervision. My social media fast was spontaneous, not planned and not guided by any other guru than myself. Basically I was winging it. One thing I knew was that I really needed this. A break, a breather and to feel the beauty of my writer self without distractions. To see straight. My goal is to finish my book be June, how the heck could I get there feeling like ten people on 100 different parties....?
My body was tired from my emotional reactions to the various feelings other people's posts evoked. My brain felt frazzled and my cells buzzed, lit up by opposing view points and world views I couldn't possibly "get" or condone. The many marketing suggestions, when did I sign up for all these emails? caused panic that I needed to be into 7 figures by now or at least have the fail-safe plan set up. I hadn't. I had a migraine attack instead and was "stupid" for one hour, a rather unpleasant knowing that you don't know your son's name, can't understand text or speak coherently. My brain said enough is enough! No more trying not to judge, responding wisely, being politically correct and fitting in. No more "monetizing the book when its done" strategies, I needed to get back to the story, my book baby and the reasons I loved writing about resistance and how she can liberate but also crush us. I needed to empower myself, stand up for my dream and re - belle, get back to the passion and beauty of words against all business coaching and 7 figure marketing plans.
It was not quite a fast, more like the time after one finishes a fast when "normal" is reintroduced; those little bites and sips of easy digestible food and drink like dry sourdough rolls and almond milk. I had peeked into FB, as two of my friends and business partners communicate with me only on messenger and checked how many likes my "last" picture, a quick hi from my abstinence had gotten. I quickly hit a couple of likes but proud of myself I disconnected within 5 minutes. Still, I had cheated.
I wanted to write five glorious chapters, tripling what I usually produce in three days, by being fully focused on the adventures of my rebelling past. Murmuring mantras and repeating affirmations I managed to manipulate my brain to wake up on day 2 happily thinking of the next paragraph not a like-winning photo for Instagram.
The book Rebelle is about the power of No and I had to exercise it vigorously; No, don't open Google Chrome, no, I'm not powering up the Iphone and no, I'm not checking my emails.
The outcome of my little experiment was two glorious chapters, only one more than what I usually produce in three days with distractions. But I also prepared the next three chapters and felt balanced, clean and calm. Not engaging with other people's opinions and feelings was a cleanse of my emotions. I got back to what is important and essential to me and what I can give without reacting to others and their take on life or success. I am as authentic and vibrant as I can be at this level of my life and see myself as a mindful gift.
I love synchronicities; on day two I met a new friend who told me her journey into compassion. If she could be compassionate with a man who hid his mental illness from her and betrayed her I could be compassionate with letting myself be pulled into too many directions and loose my compassionate cool. Nobody is responsible for my feelings, I am. So I changed them. I am where I am supposed to be. I chose my friends, my groups and with whom or what I love to engage. I will never please everybody.
I am glad I went through the moments of social media withdrawal. After my four writing hours I put my legs up, and, phone in hand listened to the birds chirping in the huge pepper tree in front on my home. I did not give in to the temptation to have an Instagram peek. The ivy leaves covering the window in my meditation corner let a few sun rays through dancing over my black dress..... Now what? I was taken by complete surprise; without my fashion and life style stories I felt - bored. I missed the engagement, the comments, even the mini dramas of my emotional reactions. My followers and friends are part of my world, my mirror, my creativity and even my guru. I don't want to live without them.
The answer is balance.
From now on I will turn social media off for half of the day and prepare my next social media fasting as described above. Maybe I'll even find a monastery or those three or four real life people who want to do a self guided writer's retreat.
Tips for writers and bloggers
Less distractions means more writing
- get a dog sitter, baby sitter, responsibility sitter...
- find a place to write outside of your usual surroundings
- if you stay at home, have the house cleaned before and prepare your meals.
2. Less emotions and reactions to other people's posts means more peace; a cleanse of reactive emotions and more writing from our truth
- brain storm in morning pages about your reactions to past news, posts, friend's opinions, find the message of your reaction, use it for motivation and writing ideas and with that get rid of left over emotional residues
3. Less engagement means getting back from the outside to the inside
- Less noise lets us go deeper, it's best to also avoid TV and newspapers
4. Being with ourselves means more insights.
I realized that a regular human being can't produce creative work for more than 4 or 5 hours. My desire to create twelve hour writing marathons is utopia at least in regular not threatening circumstances. I am sure that, when my deadline is close I can power up to writing night and day.
- mix it up
- be creative around your goal, meditate, play with it, look at it from different angles
- prepare writing exercises
- use a chapter of your book to write a blog post
- expand your theme, add new nuances to it
- write a poem to the theme
- walk with your heroine through town and feel her feelings about what she sees
In my experience a ten hour writing day is easy to achieve in a writer's retreat when prompts, exercise and free writing are mixed up. Finding two or three other writers and renting an AirBnb in a peaceful setting is much easier - and less expensive - then booking a high powered writing retreat. Viva mini think tanks.
To sum it up; a social media fast is a serene step to get more organized, it adds motivation, depth and authenticity and increases creativity and self love.
I feel refreshed and happy to be back.