Write On Wednesday: Connectivity

Most writers would probably agree that the internet is both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing is that it puts a world of information, resources, and opportunities to connect with like minded people at our fingertips.

The curse is that it puts a world of information, resources, and opportunities to connect with like minded people at our fingertips.

It requires a lot of discipline for a writer  to refrain from constantly taking a refreshing dip into the waters of the world wide web. And once you’ve taken that first small step, it’s hard to pull back before the tide pulls you right in and you’re floating happily down the current of blogs, chats, tweets, and status posts. I’m as guilty as anyone, and it’s an ongoing battle to keep my mind on my work and not click on the Internet Explorer icon at the first sign of brain blockage.

Two_Women_Having_Coffee_Together_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_090819-142847-602009But I’m wondering if the internet doesn’t deprive us of more than just time. I think we’re often substituting our online connections with people for the real thing, thinking that because we share our status on FB or post our opinions in pithy 140 character offerings on Twitter we’ve “connected” with our friends and colleagues in a meaningful way.

I’m beginning to believe that those connections aren’t as meaningful as we’ve led ourselves to believe, and that writers especially need the kind of give and take that only can occur in real conversations with real live people. Although I’m an introvert through and through and do my best work when I’m alone in a quiet room with no distractions – human or otherwise – I’ve found myself recently craving the company of another writer, someone I could sit down with over a cup of coffee and “talk shop” –  brainstorm ideas about our writing projects, bemoan those days when the muse fails to call and wonder why she always does when we have nine million other things on the calendar. We could discuss the future of publishing, and dish about the way our favorite writers do what they do.

A lot of the writers I follow on Twitter carry on these kinds of conversations in their Twitter-feeds. Maybe it’s my age – after all, I grew up when the only way to communicate electronically was via a rotary landline telephone – but that’s just not as satisfying in any way as hearing the person’s voice or catching the expression on their face.

I’ve never been part of a writers group, or even had one real-life writing friend, at least not since middle school when my friend Raine Beaser and I spent one summer working side by side on our respective “novels.” But I’ve belonged to enough musical groups to know that artists working in tandem produce a lot of creative energy. There’s something about the shared experience that boosts everyone’s enthusiasm and inspires them to move forward.

I’m craving that experience in my writing world. I’m craving that old-school kind of connection where people sit in the same room together and talk out loud to one another. I think my writing would benefit from it, and so would my soul.

How about you? Do you find your online connections a little lacking at times? Are you able to connect on a personal level with other writers, or other artists who work in your field? If so, is this beneficial?

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10 thoughts on “Write On Wednesday: Connectivity

  1. Try as I may, I can’t seem to connect with Twitter. If I have to tweet at work, I do because it is part of my job. But I can’t understand for the world why anyone would follow the enormous influx of tweets for anything viable — even if links are attached. I don’t see it as relationships; I see it as news. Garbage in, garbage out. I confess the part of my job I hate most is media relations — calling the reporters, actually trying to convince them to care or even worse, attend something. But at least it makes sense to me. FB gives me more information and better connection simply because you can actually message and/or “chat” with someone and via blogs, I feel like I’ve developed real connections because I know the things we share. Reaching out and communicating via email (or maybe even phone or in person) is easy because we “know” one another. With writers, that feedback may be harder. Definitely not tweety! But still, I think it’s possible via blogs. Probably nothing is better than face to face, though.

    • I enjoy Facebooking, because it allows me to keep up with so many people from different areas of my life. It’s fun to follow the high school kids I used to work with, and see them grown up and pursuing their lives. Also, my friend and family who are out of state and out of the country – it keeps us in touch in an easy way. One of my Facebook friends commented on this post that she loves having someone who speaks her “passion language” and that’s the kind of connection I’m looking for!

  2. I agree with you Becca. There is something to be said for the human connection that is made in real life and missing in the cyberworlds we travel. Thanks to the Internet and social media apps it is easier to keep connected with family and friends which is nice. When it comes to collaborating it does seem to be more beneficial when folks can sit down and stare at the whites of your eyes when you talk. As for Twitter, I have it, have used it for a long time and really do not like it that much. One thing it has forced me to do however is to be more concise in my communications. Most of my twitter stream is just people and companies advertising their goods and services. Most of them TRY to make a personal connection so they can do that but most of them fail miserably. I turn it on every once in a blue moon to see what is trending with my friends. G+ seems to have become my social media portal that I use the most. I love the G+ communities that you can set up and the hang outs.

    • I’ve only dabbled in the G+ thing, but I know more and more people are getting into that. I’m trying to stay clear of anything else to chew up my time!

  3. Facebook is a huge time soak, and yet I do feel it fosters real connections. Most of my FB “friends” are also friends in real life, or at least people I am likely to meet in person someday, because we share the same field or interests. It is always a pleasure to meet someone for the first time in real life, when I already feel we know each other through FB. But FB has hurt my blogging, and it sometimes pulls me away from larger, slower projects – two big negatives. I am still working out the balance of all that. And I agree with you – no substitute for a real, in-person connection!

  4. I use Twitter as a news feed – and when I remember, I publicize my posts there. As you know, I tried Facebook, but simply don’t have the time or inclination for it.

    I would suggest that the internet has value in a way that hasn’t been mentioned. When we find someone online with whom we feel “sympatico”, the conversation can be carried on without the distractions of every day life. The people who get my creative juices flowing most are online, and I suspect it may be due to the fact that its an “ideal” relationship – that is, focused on ideas.

    In a way, it’s the old argument about “real world’ vs. “virtual world”. You ask the question, are we able to connect on a personal level with other writers. I suspect you mean “in person”, but it’s a fact that I connect quite personally online with people I’ve never met. It’s an interesting and great experience.

  5. I’ve been thinking a lot about connectivity as well and wonder if we are really getting the connection we crave when we use certain social media. I am lucky, just recently, to have found some people who enjoy laptop parties (taking the creative work to a coffee shop together.) But I recently found a true connection in a writing friend who lives far away and she and I have begun talking shop ‘face to face’…through skype. We talk. Sign off and write. Then re-group to talk again. Perhaps it is not the same as being in someone’s actual presence but it has been a really beautiful experience for me.

  6. Hi Becca, like you, I think there is something very powerful about ‘real-time’ shared connections. I have always come away from writing group, writing conferences, my recent writing retreat and anything else that involves writing and writers, feeling filled up and more creative than ever.
    Have you ever searched for a writing group meetup in your area? Maybe you could start one? I think meetup is a great way to bring like-minded people together. Might be worth a try.
    I know this…if I lived nearby, I’d be calling you up to meet and do some writing in a coffee shop right now!
    Great post. Thanks!

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