The Sacred and the Secretarial

Yesterday on Writers and Company (CBC Radio) they brought in two authors to talk about a writer’s changing role when it comes to self-promotion and marketing… specifically in relation to social media. I didn’t hear the entire interview and it hasn’t been posted quite yet, but it struck a tragic chord with me.

You see, I discovered that the two authors were experiencing exactly the same problems that I have.

The best work of any artist is created when we enter this sacred “trance” or “zone” of creativity. When I wasn’t pregnant I generally forgot about the world once I entered in this zone. I forgot to eat, I skipped showers. I didn’t return phone calls… and I could write 4500 a day, easily.

But that was really before I was published, before there was any real need for me to be online for any other reason than reference materials.

As it was pointed out in the interview, writers are famous procrastinators. We used to have to leave the house and go looking for a coffee shop to find distraction, but now, thanks to instant messaging, we don’t even have to leave our desk.

Facebook, twitter, even email provide a type of instant gratification rush that’s similar to pulling the lever on a slot machine. Just hit refresh and who knows what type of distracting email/message/tweet you may have. What’s worse, emptying the email box makes us feel like we’re accomplishing something. It lets us go on to other tasks without feeling too guilty about not actually working on our book.

Being social media savvy is also a quality that agents/ editors/ publishers tend to evaluate. They probably will google your name and take a peek at just how successful you are when it comes to self-promotion. Any why not? The less work that they have to do gets your book that much faster onto the shelf, and it means a cheaper product for them.

The problem is the secretarial realm DOES NOT mix well with the sacred realm of deep creativity. At least not for me. I work from home as well and trying to switch back and forth between writing a fantasy manuscript, blogging about outdoor gear (my day job), and keeping on top of my social media demands… well honestly, it’s often my manuscript that suffers the most.

Because of this, the two writers on CBC suggested that writing is getting worse. Unless writers have hours and hours of lonely space to dig down and commune with their soul, the writing we produce only really scratches the surface of what could be… or so I have heard.

Which I guess is why I like to write in the middle of the night, when I can. Sadly to say it doesn’t happen near enough but I did get up an extra two hours early this morning just to work on my manuscript.

What’s your solution? How do you push back the secretarial realm and make space for the sacred?

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About cjgosling

I paint, I sing, I walk in the rain. I'm clumsy and I love the smell of campfire. My head is full of imaginary things and the only thing I ever really want to do in life is write. My first book "Shadowlands: The Guardian" was released in Feb. 2011. The sequel is coming in 2012! View all posts by cjgosling

One response to “The Sacred and the Secretarial

  • Arianne

    I heard an interview with (I think I remember correctly) Anne Rice who said she deals with that problem by having two computers- one for writing and the other with an internet connection for all the other things that need to be done. It’s a good idea if you can afford two computers and have two separate work spaces to use for the different aspects of the job. I still haven’t found my way past having a three year old who seems to know that the best time to desperately need something is as soon as mommy sits down at the computer to write (funnily he doesn’t do it when I am dealing with e-mails or doing online banking). Go figure!

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