Point/Counterpoint: Should writers fear missing out on other things?

Point: Why Write About Events When You Can Live Them?

Something big is happening tonight. It’s the mixer of the season. The gathering to end all gatherings. So, why are you staying in?

Didn’t you hear? They have the best musical lineup you could ever hope to listen to, the best film screenings you could ever want to see, and the best dance floor you could ever feel beneath your feet. They have seven of the most delicious courses you’ve ever tasted, paired with the finest wines that will ever pass through your lips, and just wait until you see what’s for dessert.

The people that are usually too attractive to mix with your social circle will be there. Bottles will spin. Numbers will exchange hands. Magic will happen behind drawn shower curtains. Tonight is that once in a blue moon when all the gorgeous people feel like humoring you. You don’t want to be stuck at home in your PJs when their desire changes phase.

There’s just six degrees separating you from the right networking connections. They’re listening to pitches, shopping for exactly the kind of story you’re selling. Better get here soon. Their window is already closing with the changing of the trends.

You’re at home writing when you could be out experiencing something worth documenting, doing something worth humble bragging, taking the kind of selfie worth posting on Match.com. There are so many incredible places to checkin to, so many beautiful sights to put a low-fi filter on, and so many interesting people to name drop when you update your status. Yet you’re busy coaxing dialogue out of people who don’t exist.

No one is forcing you to make a decision. Just say, “Yes!” to all of your options.

Put down your pen. Check your notifications. You might still have an in. Put down that notepad and pick up your phone. Come on no one wants to be alone. Quit your writing application and refresh that Facebook button.

Doesn’t your fortress of solitude put you in a foul mood? Go out and see the night’s sky. The moon is eclipsed. There’s aurora borealis. There are fireworks and comets. There’s a wall of water on the horizon and UFOs are ushering in the arrival of the four horsemen.

How can you keep writing when there’s so much happening?

Okay, fine, stay in, but shouldn’t you be watching television? Shouldn’t you at least have other voices in the room? If you caught up on that popular serial series you’d have conversation material for the water cooler on Monday. If you caught up on what’s trending you might just have a social in. Embrace someone else’s fiction for a change.

Go on, your characters won’t mind.

Fear of Missing Out

Counter Point: How Artistic Endeavors Can Be More Rewarding than Fleeting Experiences

Writing isn’t a waste of time. Endlessly cycling through your options is. Playing eeny, meeny, miny, moe with your schedule is. Fantasizing about what else might be happening is a waste of time and your imagination. Ask yourself: how much time do you spend contemplating the best way to spend it? Just imagine how much more you would have accomplished had you been writing.

The average person gets more satisfaction from spending money on experiences than they do on items, but the average person rarely gets to experience crafting items of their own. A well written story has the power to last longer than the memory of another night on the town.

Writing takes dedication. Alternatives are always trying to test your resolve. They want you to put off working on your novel until you call your characters by the wrong names, until you forget what folder the document is in, until it’s forever a work ‘in progress.’

There are well laid plans, then there are excuses to avoid what you ought to be doing. Stop confusing new atmospheres with adventures. Stop confusing interruptions with interactions. Stop confusing options with obligations. You could have a flexible schedule or you could flex your self-motivation muscles.

Writing can feel repetitive, but repetition takes many forms. You’ve been out dancing recently. Have you picked up any new moves since then? You could go to another concert or you could give your ears time to stop ringing from the last one. You could go out to the bar and talk about the same things you did last night, or you could give your friends time to develop new topics of conversation.

point-counterpoint

Boredom doesn’t care if you’re home alone or in public. It will hunt you down. You’ll find yourself at the karaoke bar thinking, “I’d rather be writing.”

At home it’s tempting to stop typing and go looking for a party on the same screen. Instagram need not be a menu of foods you should’ve eaten or a guided tour of places you should’ve been. You can’t afford to eat out every night and you’re still getting over your last round of bug bites. So your ‘notifications’ tab has a big number next to it. It will get even bigger if you stave off checking it until you’re done for the night. Then it will feel even more rewarding.

Writing might seem like a lonely vocation. The slower the words come the more it seems like there’s a party that you’re missing. Abandoning your work in progress might feel freeing, until you fail to find a creative outlet in any of the other options.

There’s far more satisfaction in following through than there is tapping your phone, looking for something else to do.

•••

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15 thoughts on “Point/Counterpoint: Should writers fear missing out on other things?”

  1. I must be turning into a boring old fart, but don’t want to do anything else. When I need a break, I just do a jigsaw puzzle!
    We should all be able to do whatever rocks our boat, and that’s what I wish for everyone…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree with most all of this second part. Writing (for me) is more rewarding than going out. I’m always thinking “I’d rather be writing” while I’m out. But I am writing while I’m out. Constantly writing in my head as I people-watch. We do have to get out sometimes, otherwise we’d have nothing to draw on, nothing that resonates or is realistic. Or did I miss your point? Because that is entirely possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I might actually do most of my writing out in coffee shops throughout the evening. Great for people watching, eavesdropping and getting some typing in.

      Writers should absolutely live a life worth commenting on. You need to have experiences. Something I should waste less time doing is cycling through all my options and doing nothing. That’s time that could better be spent writing.

      Thanks a lot for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. See, I knew you did your share of people-watching (and eavesdropping). I’ve read your other posts about that. Okay, I misread this one. Back to re-read it. Yes, on the wasted time trying to figure out what option to choose. But, for me, I’d stay in all the time unfortunately but my kids are evil and make me leave the house so…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. From the blogs and comments I read, it seems as if the majority of writers are introverts who seem happy to stay at home and write. I often feel like the oddball extrovert in the bunch, so it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one having this battle in my head! Though there wasn’t a battle at all in my 20s when I went out five nights a week. I told myself it was good networking! My agent actually told me I needed to stay home more and write. That didn’t happen until my 30s, when I focused my writing goals and then panicked over how long they were going to take me to achieve. Now I’m the person happily staying in to write, though it’s still pretty much impossible to say “no” when someone invites me out. Good thing my friends have all mellowed out too. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Enjoyed the post as well as the comments. I love when people get to thinking and wondering if they agree. I took the hyperbole and facetious tone to convey not that we should never do anything but write, but that we should stop finding “anything and everything else to do” as an excuse for why we aren’t writing. If you’re setting goals and keeping to them, by all means, go see that movie, dance if you feel like it. Celebrate what you are accomplishing in your writing. Take a break. But you actually have to be doing enough to warrant that break and celebration.

    Like

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