Why writers need to get off the internet.

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Today, I have a video newsletter to share with you.

It’s all about why I’m changing the way we do things on social media.

My most honest writing comes from deep noticing. To write something that transports me, I cannot be distracted. Deep noticing feels like insight. In this state of mind, I can more easily receive true scenes, instead of thinking stuff up with my busy mind.

If you’ve noticed that you’re more distracted lately—that your focus is leaking, or dissolving—please watch:

Video notes:

Do you like this video blog format? It’s something I want to experiment with more. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

xo,


ps. The end of August is always exciting for me, because it’s the time of year when our students and teachers come together to start the The Story Intensive. We might be able to squeeze in a few last-minute students, if you’re interested. Please email support@sarahseleckywritingschool.com to find out more.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something using one of these links, I may earn a commission. I only recommend books or products I trust.


An invitation to publish your work.
What to do when the zest wanes.

25 comments

Yes! I often get chastised by my Facebook friends for not participating more. I am a "lurker". I like to keep up with everyone's day to day. I actually left Facebook for a year. I have since gone back, but only once a day, usually in the morning. I un-followed those that regularly post negative items. It is good to hear that I am not alone.
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Meredith Rutter (pen name Marple)

Enjoyed this video very much, just joined the FB group, and want to recommend the book Euphoria by Lily King as a unique and memorable reading experience for your consideration. Cheers!
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Thank you for this, Sarah. I just went off Facebook for the month of August while I'm traveling and on vacation. While on a layover in the Calgary airport yesterday, I read for a solid hour I ate dinner and people-watched, and I called friends and family rather than sending texts. I feel like I've left a bad relationship - one I didn't know was taking such a toll on me. I'm relieved. I will probably go back in September to inform friends I won't be back, at least not in the capacity I was before. Until then, I'm going to have a blast at the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival with my daughter, eat my mom's blueberry pie, visit friends, and not disturb any of those moments by grabbing my phone and sticking it it front of my face so Facebook can see which ad I might like to be distracted by tomorrow. Happy August!
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Julia Lowther

Beautiful and timely, as always with you :). Since you asked what we are reading: I've been re-reading Gerald Durrell's books about his family in Corfu. I loved these as a pre-teen (growing up in an exotic locale myself) for the stories of animals and eccentric family. A few weeks ago, I recommended them to a middle school student of mine, and decided I should re-read them myself. Elated to find the writing just as beautiful as the stories. I am besotted, again. His descriptions are just so satisfying - zithering cicadas, chinless mantids, and something utterly perfect that described tiny waves arriving gratefully on shore - which I have forgotten and consequently am butchering. Meanwhile, I was introduced to Carson McCullers' work probably around the same time as I was first reading Durrell. My first McCullers was "Ballad of the Sad Cafe". Brilliant all the way down. I've never read _The Heart is a Lonely Hunter_, so thank you for inspiring me to reserve it at the library! xoxo
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This really chimed with me. I've just had a week's holiday camping with no social media at all and spent the time reading and talking to friends. It made me realise how much I've got out of the habit of engaging fully with books. It feels much better to have a conversation with someone in real life than to spend the time clicking 'like' on their latest update.
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Rachael Herron

As a pro writer, I have to say, don't leap too quickly into deleting your FB account, no matter how attractive it is - I did it, and then regretted it, since FB really is the place readers go to find us. I had to eventually restart my FB because my publisher required it (which made the people I'd unfollowed to delete the account think that I'd just unfriended them - no matter how much you warn people that you're shutting your account, because of the algorithm there will be some who miss the announcements) and I'm still recovering from that, three years later. My solution: I post to FB (like you, I try to keep the inspirational quality high), and I go in once a day and check all my notifications and like/love the comments and respond, but I never ever read from my feed. Definitely no FB on my phone. I count it a task, and cross it off each day when I'm done clearing notifications. My brain is much happier now, and fans can still get hold of me. Thanks for a thoughtful video!
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Love this new format and hope you do more of these Sarah. It feels intimate. I am reading H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald and highly recommend it - the writing is lyrical and exquisite, not to mention the intriguing subject.
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Love the video, Sarah! I've been having a Ferrante summer and I'm loving it. I read book one of her Neapolitan novels a year ago and, while I couldn't stop reading it, I sort of hated it (but at the same time I was intrigued by it and thought about it often). I read book two earlier this summer and actually LOVED it. Now I'm a little more than halfway through book three and already requested book four from the library so it's ready for me when I finish. I haven't read anything else this summer and I'm finding that with a baby, I'm reading fewer books in general, but it's ok. I'm enjoying my Ferrante-fest!
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Have you read The Marriage of Opposites? I read it last month and absolutely loved it. I found it on a list called "Books about Women Who Changed History" because I wanted to be inspired by strong women. I agree about FB, I find myself twitching while in a line-up now if I don't look at social media so I took that as a signal to be on it less. It helped that we went to the U.S. for a week and I didn't buy any roaming data!
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MichelleFlythe

Lily King had a beautiful short story published by One Story magazine in 2015, "When in the Dordogne." It received an honourable mention in Junot Diaz's 2016 anthology, but wasn't published there. Drat! It's available on Kindle, I believe. It's exemplary.
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MichelleFlythe

I prefer the written format over the videos. It's a lovely video, but I like any opportunity to see good technique convey an idea clearly and your written letters always give me that. I am biased. I hate the current push to make writers more visible, especially women. Almost every article about Zadie Smith's most recent book started with a line about how pretty she was. Kudos for staying on Facebook. Self care is essential, but lately it seems like the internet has become a digital version of everyone fleeing the cities for the suburbs. We need positive voices to stay if positivity is to prevail.
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Every five weeks I have an unplugged week. I have been doing this for about a year now although it used to be every seven weeks. At first I found my fingers twitching, but now it is wonderful, especially as I devote some energy to planning them. Sometimes unplugged weeks are for concentrated writing, sometimes for a complete break, sometimes for something I haven't been able to devote time to. I love the space it gives me, the feeling of timelessness. My favourite book of the month is Heather Rose's Museum of Modern Love that draws its inspiration from Marina Abramovic's retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art - during which she spends months sitting at a table opposite people - now there's a woman who can concentrate with intensity and awareness!
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I agree with this ... I only use Facebook for my business. I permanently deleted my personal account about 8 months ago and I am so happy not to use it personally anymore. However, for business purposes, it can be really useful. I also consider posting to Facebook for my business a 'task' now, but I'm no longer habituated to checking people's profiles/photos/posts/shares ... Ugh! Too much stuff! And definitely NOT on the phone. Having a personal Facebook account felt like having a perpetually full inbox. Never mind Twitter ... Can't go there! :)
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Hi Brenda! Oh, you're definitely not alone. I love some of the connections I make through FB, so it's also been important to find ways to make it work for me.
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Thank you, Meredith! Noted. I will look it up!
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Hi Elaine! I love how you articulated that -- like leaving a bad relationship you didn't know was taking a toll on you. Your August sounds absolutely amazing! And REAL.
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Hi Julia!! I've noted Gerald Durrell on my list -- his descriptions sound enchanting. I love good YA and I'm going to look him up! Thank you. xo
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Yes yes yes, Caroline! I'm going on a canoe trip soon and will be utterly without wifi or cell service. I can't wait.
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Thank you, Rachael and Candice! I installed a FB newsfeed blocker a few years ago, and that helped me cut down on the noise significantly. That actually calmed me down so much, I stopped "hating" Facebook. I'm not going to delete my FB account -- but oh, Rachael, I didn't even know what the ramifications would be from doing that! I agree, it's where people find each other. And I appreciate having the resource. I'm just not using it to pass the time. Most importantly, my hope is that our school's presence on FB is going to facilitate more real-time connection for the incredible writers in our community. Thank you again for commenting!
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Thanks Gayatri! That book is on my list. You're the third person to recommend it to me!
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Ahh, Kristin! I hated/loved the first one, too, took a break, and then LOVED book two. I'm bringing the 4th and final book of the series with me on my canoe trip at the end of August -- I've been saving it until now! Let's ping each other when we both finish. :)
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Ha, Amy! I do the same thing when I go to the US -- I turn my phone on airplane mode and I feel like a new person after about 2 days of not having access to cell data. Thank you for the book recommendation! It's now on my list.
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Michelle THANK YOU for saying this -- all of it. Your points landed. Years ago, I remember reading an interview with Margaret Atwood, and her advice to emerging women writers was this: don't include an author photo on your book jacket. Admittedly, I did flee the city for the country. But I'm staying on FB, and I'm going to try to keep the conversation real.
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Every five weeks an unplugged week! That honestly sounds like heaven. Does it take much planning/structuring? Do you tell people you're leaving for that week, or set up an autoresponder, or do you just... go and come back? I would love to try this. I was captivated by Marina Abramovic's piece, and I'm interested in reading the book by Heather Rose. Thank you for the recommendation.
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I'm often disturbed by how much my attention span has slipped in the last few years. I have no doubt it is because of my growing use of technology. Right now I have about 15 tabs open on two different browsers because I won't just finish one thing before starting another. Sometimes I'm better at unplugging than others. Thanks for the video and I will check out the facebook group! Below are two books I've read for book club. I would highly recommend them both. Whitethorn Woods Author: Maeve Binchy Whitethorn Woods is a complete story told in a series of short stories focused on different characters. They all intertwine with each other though. The Devil in the White City Author: Erik Larson This is a true crime story set in the late 1800's. The story shifts between the building of the first world's fair in Chicago and the exploits of the Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes. It is the most fascinating book I've read in a while. If you are interested in history, I cannot recommend it highly enough. P.S. You have a very calming voice. Great video.
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