Early this month, several writers that I follow on social media were making vague references to "that one article about Twitter." Because I'm an unrepentant snoop with an unhealthy interest in drama that does not involve me, I went in search of the article—which just so happened to be this beauty by Nicole Brinkley.
The essay—aptly titled "Did Twitter break YA?"—is long and probably unimportant to those of you who a) are not writers, or b) do not care about social media. Unfortunately, I fit in both of those categories. I don't write YA, and probably never will, but much of Brinkley's argument rang true to me as an upcoming author (?) who struggles with social media.
To summarize, Brinkley blames parasocial relationships between author and reader for the changes in the genre. Marginalized authors are being forced off Twitter because of "bookish rage." As Brinkley states so eloquently, "The nature of the rage-loving algorithm of Twitter isn't going to change. ... Even if it has broken authors. Even if it has lost its intended audience. Even if, at the end of the day, the water cooler that the industry is forced to gather around no longer brings anybody joy. No longer quenches anyone's thirst."
I've been working on my social media for over a year. And I think I'm doing better. I have room to improve, but at the very least, I'm engaging with the people I follow; I'm taking pride in my Instagram feed. I've come a long way, and there are days where all the time and energy I've sunk into the internet actually pays off.
Still, I'm anxious. I never feel like I'm doing enough—I'm too inactive, or my posts aren't aesthetic enough, or no one liked my tweet, so what's the point? I know that social media is a shitty reflection of an author's worth, but that doesn't stop me from running the rat race, winded on the hamster wheel.
Every couple of months, I consider leaving Twitter. My gut check is an enthusiastic yes, complete with serotonin, dopamine, and no small amount of relief. I want to leave Twitter. I want to focus on Instagram or TikTok or, hell, even Tumblr. It seems like every other week another author pivots to Instagram, adding "updates" to their Twitter name.
But I'm scared of missing out. Of losing followers. Of disappointing an agent—for all I know, an active Twitter could be exactly what I need. (This isn't how querying actually works, but my brain refuses to accept that.) The therapist in me knows that I'm self-sabotaging by sticking with something that steals not only my joy but my energy and focus. And yet.
I decided against a career in counseling because I realized that, as much as I love psychology, I'm not cut out for that kind of career. My body wouldn't be able to keep up with the demands of therapy; my boundaries aren't firm enough to keep me from becoming an emotional sponge. A career in mental health counseling wasn't sustainable, and it killed me to walk away, but I know in my heart that it was the right decision.
I'm making it sound like I'm leaving Twitter. I'm not. But I'm meditating on the concept of sustainability, because at the end of the day, stories are my life. Writing is what I do. There is no version of me that doesn't want to write books for a living. If I'm serious about this, and I am, I need to ensure that my creative life—including my presence on social media—is sustainable.
I'm still figuring out what that looks like. I'm indecisive as hell, so it may take me a while, but I know I'll get there eventually. I'm in this for the long haul.
💛 August is SMA Awareness Month in the U.S., and I'm going all out. I have an entire month of content scheduled, and will even be posting some Reels on Instagram. If you have questions about SMA, reply to this email or leave a comment below!
🐺 I'm still writing weekly columns for SMA News Today! You can keep up with "The Wolf Finally Frees Itself" here.
⏰ This article by Oliver Burkeman about time is short but powerful. I've been trying to lean into my rhythm of productivity, to embrace the cadence of it. My body has enough problems; I don't need to aggravate my laundry list of illnesses by chasing the unachievable.
The core trouble in our modern relationship with time, I think – made worse by most productivity advice – is that we've come to see it as something we need to try to master or conquer. First, we think of time as a separate "thing" (unlike, say, medieval peasants, who'd have had no such abstract notion). Then, we feel we've got to make the most of it, or squeeze the most work from it, or use it to get on top of things, or do enough with it to feel a sense of self-worth. And our economic system makes things worse, making many feel as though they need to achieve this mastery simply to stay afloat.
Sadly, though, no finite human being has ever won a fight against time. We just get the limited time we get, and the limited control over it that we get. And if you spend your life fighting the truth of this situation, all that happens is that you feel more rushed and overwhelmed and impatient – until one day time decisively wins the fight, as it was always destined to do. (In other words: you die.)
🎖️ I keep coming back to this list of competitive advantages by Sahil Bloom. Number three is especially applicable as I experiment with social media and virtual communities.
🎶 A playlist for summer. Songs #15 through #19 are on repeat.
As always, thanks for being here, and for letting me ramble (yet again) about social media. If I end up leaving Twitter, I'll probably create a Patreon with content similar to this newsletter, but more in-depth, and more skewed towards craft. If that interests you, I'd love to know what content you'd like to see! Feel free to reply to this email or leave a comment below.
Flower crowns, aesthetically-pleasing Instagram feeds, and sustainability schemes,