Do creative writers rely on social media for self-validation?

One year ago I canceled my Twitter account, and all it took was a few taps on the keyboard.  Gone were the throngs of “Lit Chicks” from my life who somehow pounded out five novels each afternoon—and still had time to boast about it.

In the months following, I slowly removed myself from the majority of writing communities on Facebook and Google+.  Those abundant “Literary Agents” and “YA Authors” started to quietly fade into the background.  Words like “Thriller” and “Manuscript” etched in my mind’s eye were slowly erased.

It wasn’t long after that I then un-publicized my personal WordPress site—and stopped checking the response count hourly after each new post of a short story for the reply that would come from an agent to pluck me out of obscurity.  In fact, I even went so far as putting my site behind password-protection as to remove its content from the eyes of the general public.

I suspect in retrospect, I was subconsciously using social media to validate myself as a writer.  If I ran with that crowd, I was a writer.  If I was followed by writers, then I was a successful writer.  In reality, it was doing nothing more than hurting my writing by encouraging me to measure my writing achievements against a false yardstick.

Today I mostly keep my online explorations to the Today’s Author community—partly because I helped stand up the site, but mostly because I believe in the mission to foster a community of creative writers.

In childhood, we were forced to measure ourselves by comparison to our peers.  How many of us have thought, I’m a junior in Chemistry class, yet there are three sophomores in this class.  What did I do wrong?  They’re ahead of me!  It wasn’t until I was out of college that I had the epiphany that we’re all on our own journey, at different paces, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  And it applies to everything in life, whether education or our passion for creative writing.

For me, canceling Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts was the right decision for the path I wanted to travel.  And largely, it has afforded me the opportunity to write instead of thinking about writing.  Now when I’m stuck on dialogue or want to learn more how to balance exposition in my writing, I’ll search for content when I’m ready to consume it.

By no means am I trying to persuade you to take the same actions I have taken, but I would encourage you to self-evaluate whether, as a result of social media, you’re finding yourself in the middle of a marathon that you didn’t choose to run in.