I’ve been on a pretty good roll the past month, writing my way through this memoir with an outline that’s tethered to a narrative arc that feels right. I’ve done some of my best work in local coffee shops!
But I was still spending too much time on social media and reading the news. I had the NPR, Washington Post, and New York Times apps on my phone, along with Facebook and Instagram (the last of which I don’t really check much anyway.) But the news and Facebook… I find it hard to resist them. First thing in the morning, I was reaching for my phone to find out what horrible federal public policy disaster had unfolded in the past eight hours, or whether anyone had joined or departed the Democratic presidential field overnight. On social media, news of actual family and friends has become buried under anxiety-driven news posts.
So I deleted WaPo, NYT, and FB for a week. No surprise: my own anxiety went way down. I took walks without reaching for my phone. I read more of the books I’ve been plodding through. I ate meals without also ingesting the frantic energy that is pulsing through the world. As someone who has been prone to just pushing my way through things in the past, I am trying to be more mindful of my own physiological responses to stress. I am coming to understand self-care — how to take care of my self.
This does not mean that I was not checking the news and checking on my friends and family on FB. It just meant that I had to be at my desktop to do it. I wasn’t completely checking out. Just setting limits and taking care of myself. This also coincided with writing some difficult scenes in my book. I have only so much emotional strength to go around.
But after about a week, I re-installed the NYT and FB apps, for a few days anyway… and my writing has stalled for a few days. I’m getting ready to remove them again. After all, I’ve got a story to finish.