It is noon. Time to break for lunch, which consists of a bag of mackerel and a dill pickle. I have added 1,500 words to my new novel-in-progress, which I started at the beginning of the month. With a single day left in January, I will be over 10,000 words into this manuscript when I shut down tomorrow afternoon. I have eliminated resistance.
In his 2002 self-help standard The War of Art, best-selling author Steven Pressfield offers us a close-up and personal look at “Resistance” with a capitol ‘R:’ those things that interfere with our ability to get things done. His book originally targeted writers, but over the years, people from all venues find great value in his book. I have been unable to find the key to my resistance until this month.
I last published in 2014, Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ, which experienced a mini-run in sales this month with the always present The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas, my best-seller, though not my personal favorite. Since Gaspar nearly four years ago, I’ve started and shelved no fewer than four manuscripts including a sequel to The Sixth Day. The short of it… for four years, I have been unable to focus. Without the focus, I lacked commitment, without commitment, the stories simply would not come. Resistance was omni-present, but I was unable to identify it. I floundered, even to the point of telling myself I would never complete another manuscript.
A Lot of Help from My Friend
That changed two months ago when I received an email from a young friend in St. Louis who I originally met through my daughter and middle son. Greg was two years younger than my daughter Stef and a year older than my middle son Brad. Their common interest was soccer, and it bloomed into friendship. As a coach, I went along for the ride. Twenty-five years later, I still communicate regularly with Greg. He is one of the wisest young people I know, and I have learned much from him over the course of the past two decades.
In his ‘mass communication,’ he informed the recipients that he would no longer participate in social media on a personal level. “You have my email address,” he wrote, “if you wish to communicate with me, you can contact me with an email.” Intrigued, I asked him for more details. He responded with a lengthy email – which I still have on my desk – which began, “Hey, Geno! Here’s some of my thoughts in no particular order. I won’t be brief because I have a lot of thoughts on this subject… I’ve never written this down, so it’s also for me to keep and reference…”
Greg’s email was compelling. After I digested it, I called, and we chatted about it for an hour. Within the week, I backed away from social media and sent an email like Greg’s initial missive to my contacts. Like Greg, I made the ‘announcement’ on Facebook and Twitter over a month ago and have returned to neither since.
The benefits I reap from my disengagement with social media go well beyond my writing, but since this website is about writing, I will limit my comments to ‘the war of art’ as Mr. Pressfield refers to it. My compulsion to get on my computer early every morning to check Facebook and Twitter died the very day I made the decision to abandon them, as has the craving to check social media every 10 to 15 minutes I sit at my desk. Similarly, I removed FB and Twitter from my smartphone and am no longer disturbed and distracted by dings and dongs calling me to see what inane posts and tweets are directed at me by well-intentioned friends, and by less well-intentioned media ‘experts’ who are paid big bucks to see that I cannot overcome my addiction to social media. Guess what? I have.
I am liberated. And with that liberation come two keys essential to my renewed energy and commitment to my new manuscript:
- I am focused as I once was when I turned out six novels over a dozen years from 2002 through 2014, from The Olympian through Gaspar.
- I have far more undisturbed time that I look forward to each day, time to direct toward this new story.
Resistance be damned.
I thank my young friend Greg for giving me the courage to do what he did, and I strongly recommend that you disengage from the distraction of social media. If you are a writer or would-be writer, it is mandatory. Regardless of who you are and what you do, living life in the real world is far more rewarding than living it in the world of social media.