Posted in Blog, Writing

What I learned during my week-long digital detox

You may or may not have noticed the lack of posts this past week. This was not by accident. I spent all of last week in gorgeous Napa County at the annual summer camp my kids attend and I chaperone at – a place where phone service and internet cease to exist. And instead of scrambling ahead of time to post a few new blog entries, schedule some Tweets and Facebook posts, or do anything else to pretend like I was here the whole time, I decided to do something totally wild – enjoy my vacation.

I needed the past 7 days to get back to center and detox from technology. What am I doing? What’s important to me? How can I ensure I don’t suffer from premature burnout? For the most part, I thought of nothing but enjoying myself at camp and away from the computer. But I did have some time to reflect and came to a few decisions.

The sequel to A Symphony of Cicadas: I have been struggling with the story I’ve been writing. By now you probably know that this next novel tells the story of Joey and where he was during Rachel’s journey through the afterlife. I know where I want the story to end up, and a few of the details I want included in his story. But for the most part, this book is a story totally different from the first book. And the direction I had it leading was not one I was happy with. It was turning darker than I wanted it to, and I wasn’t fully connecting with the characters. I’d wake up early each morning, and would struggle to get in at least 1,000 words (an extremely low goal for me), and many times would fall short of that number. The book was feeling like a chore. I had a quick chat with my teenage daughter (who has read and loved A Symphony of Cicadas), and together we hashed out a new plan for the sequel. I’m scrapping a good 2/3 of what I’ve already written and starting over. And I’m totally re-energized about the storyline and all the stuff that’s about to happen to my characters.

This author blog: Every week I post 3 entries to this blog – two informational or inspirational posts, and one sneak peek into A Symphony of Cicadas. To do this, I spend a few hours every Saturday morning and sometimes Sunday writing blog entries. This takes away from prime writing time I should be spending on the novel. So I am now going to limit myself to just one blog entry every Monday (unless inspiration hits and I have to post something midweek). And I am ceasing the sneak peek blog, since I’m not certain they’re attracting the attention I want. Plus, going further will only result in telling more of the story than I want to share. You’re just going to have to buy the book now. If you’re really dying for a few spoilers, you can also check out my book club discussion guide.

Focus: This month has been kind of abysmal as far as sales go. Like, I’ve sold two books. Before I left for camp, this number stressed me out. Now? I realize that it doesn’t make much difference at this point in the game. This is only my first book. I have done everything I can think of to advertise it, and sometimes it feels like I’m selling my soul for a few downloads. Moneywise, this book is not going to make me rich – at least not now. I know that. So whether I sell two books or fifteen books this month, the difference isn’t that much. Would I like to sell more? Absolutely. But when I’m spending more energy on social media, advertising, and whoring out my friends to share, share, share the news, and less energy on actual writing…something is wrong. So while I’m not throwing in the towel on spreading the word about this first book, I am going to focus way more energy on what I love – WRITING.

Quality time: I spend way too much time on my iPhone, attached to the computer, obsessing over sales numbers, posting Tweets….. Before I left for camp, I was fully engrossed in social media and stressing over the story that wasn’t writing itself yet. At the same time, I was completely distant from my family. A week away from all that, and I realized just how much I was immersing myself in things that shouldn’t have been as consuming as they were. It’s not that social media and the like are bad, it’s just that I forgot to keep a healthy balance between computer time and family time. So I am going back to making sure I use my scheduled computer time wisely, and putting the iPhone and computer down when family needs to come first. No book or sale is more important than keeping the family bonds good and strong.

At any rate, it’s great to be back. I’m looking forward to these few changes, and to managing my online and offline time better.

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Author:

Author, writer, blogger. Follow me at crissilangwell.com.

7 thoughts on “What I learned during my week-long digital detox

  1. This post rings so true – it’s so easy to let the social media/marketing overwhelm everything else and, as you say, often it is not actually producing the results you want. I am taking a break at the end of this week and I’m hoping it will inspire me to maintain a more appropriate approach to social media activities. I’m sure there is a better use for my time!
    I wish you well in your efforts to get back to what matters most.

    1. Good luck in your detox! I think I might need to make it a more regular thing – not so much that I miss out on what I need it for, but enough so it doesn’t become my crutch during time I could be spending much better. Hope you get everything you need out of your time offline!

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