What 2 weeks away from Facebook taught me

I am not sure what the turning point was, but two weeks ago I decided I would take a break from Facebook. Perhaps I was finally being honest with myself about how much time it was taking away from my writing. Minutes would turn into hours and I was constantly refreshing my feed while my writing stagnated.

So I went cold turkey and signed out from the app on my phone and laptop. The first few hours was nerve wrecking as I constantly felt like I was missing out on something and I had to stop myself numerous times from logging in. I felt like a junkie who needed a fix. The next morning when I woke up it took a great amount of effort to stop myself to check in and for the first time I knew I had a problem. I realized that Facebook was chipping away my capacity to concentrate and contemplate on issues. I realized that I was scared to be alone with my thoughts and worse still it was taking away my ability to write. Perhaps I am being melodramatic but this is what happened in the 2 weeks way from Facebook.

  • My ideas started following

When I stopped thinking about poeple’s status’s and silly comments I actually had a few writing ideas. I often thought that Facebook was perhpas the place to get ideas. I was wrong. And these were not pie in a sky ideas they were creative inspirations I could actually flesh out and start working on immediately. (including this one)

  • My thoughts were coherent and clearer

So even when I was not on Facebook, somehow the constant flow of mostly negativety on my newsfeed affected my thought process. I never had a chance to be bored and be alone with my thoughts. The minute I had a free moment I would be checking my feed. When I took away that need, my boredom forced to think more clearly and deeper. I was not distracted or annoyed by petty arguments on Facebook. For the first time in a long time I was excited about my writing. I started thinking more and more about what I wanted to do and my thoughts felt a lot clearer.

I found myself in the Deep Work state more often

In his book Deep Work Rules, Cal Newport defines deep work as; “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” As a writer who is looking for every oppurtunity to procrastinate, I found this new found skill to be quite refreshing. Becuase I had banished my need to constantly refresh my feed I was wholly focused on my work. I was averaging over 1000 words a day and I started to direct my creative energy into a book.

  • I found myself reading more

As a writer I read quite a bit. Whether it is for research or leisure, the sure fire away of increasing your writing ability is to read as often and as much as you can. But I found myself being distracted and after a short while i would put the book down or I would just skim through an article. During my hiatus from Facebook I averaged a book every other day and according to my records I completed six novels during that period. I would actually read for a good few hours in the evening before bed and in the early mornings.

Once the two weeks was done I did contemplate whether I should let go of Facebook completely. The only problem is that I sometimes find some freelance work and I chat to some editors via Facebook. But if I did have a choice I would deactivate. When I logged on after the two weeks it felt like a didn’t belong there anymore and I felt out of place. I realized that I grew substantially with my writing in just two weeks while people on Facebook were still muttering about the same things. I was scared to lose my flow of thought and the rythym I had built with my writing. I did not want my book to stagnate, so I just logged out again. I log in once in a while but now that I am aware of what I am capable of, Facebook has lost it’s appeal. My work had a greater appeal.

When poeple say that writing is a solitary occupation, I am guessing this is what they mean.