Tag Archives: Reading

How to Write

I have often wondered how to write. Ever since I was a little girl, ever since I knew how to read and could consume stories, I wanted to be a writer, an author. But how to do that? There were no instruction manuals, were there? No steps to follow like how to become a vet or an accountant or a gym teacher. Or was there? Authors knew how to write. Why not ask them? They’ve written books about how to write! So I’ve been reading them ever since.

I actually probably haven’t read that many, compared to some aspiring authors. Mostly, I read stories. I couldn’t stay away from stories. Adventuresome stories, funny stories, educational stories. I wanted to be taken to worlds away. I wanted to go there myself. I wanted to bring others with me.

Right now I’m reading Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury because it has found its way into my life from several different angles lately. I was so excited to be inspired by this thin little volume, for it to give me what I needed to be the writer I wanted to be.

So far, I’m disappointed. I haven’t finished it yet, but it is, so far, not what I expected. It seems to be more memoir than writing manual. But! Alas! Maybe that’s what writing IS! It isn’t a skill to be learned through the study of a manual, but a lifestyle to be discovered through living! Zen in the Art of Writing can be a bit repetitive, as it is a collection of essays from over decades, but something that Bradbury mentioned again and again is how he wrote 1,000 words every day.

Monday, he wrote. Tuesday, he wrote. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, he wrote. He mailed off his stories every Saturday to be published in magazines. Sunday he let all of the ideas bubble up and excite him before the next week of writing.

And look at me. Here I am, sitting at my computer (using a typewriter app because no distractions), writing. This is what I need to do. My stories will never be like his. My process won’t be the same as his, either. But the pure passion he writes with… That is inspiring. It doesn’t really matter what he’s saying, I guess, but just the fact that he is saying it with gusto.

My whole life I have wondered how to be a writer, but I’ve done it. I’ve been writing my whole life. Not perfectly consistently, not exactly what I wish I had been writing, but I’ve written. I have this hang-up that to be considered a writer, I have to publish something. Like, professionally, officially publish something. I’ve tried to convince myself that no, that is authorship, not being a writer, but really my head refuses to separate the two.

I am a writer because I write. Have I not “published” things on my own website? Have I not won prizes and recognition with my poetry and short stories? Have I not kept a diary or journal for over 18 years of my life? Have I not entertained and enthralled my mother, husband, and children with my stories? I write so I am a writer.

So, how to write, then? It is akin to asking one how to live. No one answer is the correct answer for everyone. Contrarily, no two answers will probably ever be the same for any two people. We must live each day to live our lives, even if we’re not sure what we are doing as we do it. The same with writing. Write every day. Share it if we want. (Do we find it beneficial to share our lives with friends and family, for example?) As we write, as we live, we discover, we experience, and we figure out how. A new adventure, every day.

Edited later to add:

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.” – Ray Bradbury, 1965

Some Book Club Thoughts

I joined a book club about a year and a half ago and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I really enjoy the people and their company. It is mostly women, but men come irregularly, too. (About 6 women and 4 men total.) We usually meet at just the one couple’s house, although I did host it at my house one time. We usually have very little snacks, maybe some coffee, tea, or wine. And we talk about the book however we want — no discussion questions or set themes or anything. We just read, meet, chat. A lot of times, we get off on big tangents. We are supposed to meet monthly, but sometimes life gets in the way.

As you can tell, we are pretty flexible. Everyone suggests books titles that we write on slips of paper and pick at random out of a bowl. We all generally agree on the book or else we pick a new title. Lately, we’ve been pulling an optional book to read as well. We pick books a month ahead of time so we actually have 2 months to read any given title, even though we meet monthly. (Still averages out to reading one book per month, but if something is a heavier read, we have some time to get our minds around it.)

Again, I really enjoy the people and their company and hanging out and talking. I enjoy talking about books and I enjoy talking about the other life subjects we inevitably get to while discussing literature and stories and history and current events.

The thing is… I don’t think I actually like the books. I really liked very few. I could stand others, but didn’t enjoy them. One was very readable, and I’m glad it opened my eyes to that subject, but I can’t say it was enjoyable to experience — more shocking, really. And others I just couldn’t get through.

Maybe book clubs help some people to read, by setting a date and being accountable and following through, no matter what. But I have no problem with reading. Maybe some people like the varied genres and authors they are exposed to in such an open book club, but mostly I just like reading what I like reading. Maybe some people like the intellectual stimulation and discussion and debate, and I like that, too, but that’s not why I read — I just like to read for fun.

So I guess I know how I feel about it. I like getting together to hang out with these people and I like talking about books, but I generally don’t like reading the books chosen for discussion. I want to stay in the group, but I’ve gotten less committed to reading the books if I’m not interested — and that makes me feel bad. I mean, no one has gotten in trouble for not reading a book, no one has gotten mad that they were one of the few people to have read a book, no one has seemed upset if everyone else vetoed a book title they wrote on a slip for the bowl. We are all understanding and forgiving and just want to get together and have a good time. We all still read, so we always have books to discuss. And, failing that, we talk about tv, ha.

I’ve been honest with myself about what I like to read, and I’ve been honest with the club about it, too. I always give the books a shot, so I have something to add to the conversation, even if it’s just why I didn’t like it or couldn’t finish it.

It’s a little stretch from my goals of reading slower — reading a little less and reading better for me. But I do think it’s worth it to open myself up to new stories and discussions, even for just a little while each month. I’m going to stick with the club. For now. We’ll see how crazy my life gets once there’s a third baby in the mix.

Buying vs. Borrowing Books

I love to read. I love books. And I love to read books. To me, those are all different statements. And the fact that they are all true for me create a bit of a paradox for my minimalist lifestyle.

I know minimalism is a completely individual experience — finding what sparks joy for me, figuring out what is essential for me to be both calm and productive, figuring out what I enjoy most — but sometimes that can be kind of a long and arduous process. I do still think it’s worth it. Even if I have to a lot of internal debate first.

A topic that has plagued me for years is whether I should buy or borrow books. Although, realistically, it’s pretty obvious to me now that it’s going to be some mix of the two. I just had to figure out how, exactly, to mix it up.

I love to read. I enjoy perusing magazines, learning from non-fiction text, and experiencing a really great story. It is my favorite hobby and form of entertainment. Now, if I only go by my love of reading, borrowing books makes perfect sense. I get all the knowledge and story without spending any money or accumulating any clutter. I absorb the information and then return the medium. But…

I love books. I think books are beautiful. I think they smell wonderful. I think they are lovely and I love having them around. I like to re-read books. I like that I form a type of relationship with the physical book as I form relationships with the characters. I like the memories that get soaked up in the pages as I read — like where I was, how I was feeling, what the weather was like, and how I changed. I also like to support authors for creating art that moves me. So it makes sense for me to buy books, too, because I appreciate more than just the stories — it’s the experience the book brings about as a whole as well as the world the author creates. But books can be expensive when you read a lot. And they can be big and heavy and take up lots of space. What about an eReader then? Well…

I love to read books. I have an eReader that I use occasionally and I do like it. It stores a lot of books, there are a wide range of books to download, it’s easy to use, and it’s very small and light. I can even borrow ebooks from my library. But it’s also missing that je ne sais quoi. It doesn’t provide a look, feel, and weight unique to each book. It may have a slight smell, but it’s electronic-y and not book-y. It just seems a bit… impersonal. It’s like having a very knowledgable robot that can tell me things all day long instead of me meeting actual people and learning about them from them. And as with all technology, it will become obsolete — the hardware will get old and the software won’t be supported anymore. Plus, I have to make sure the battery is charged. (I usually realize it needs charging when the screen blanks out in the middle of my reading.) So although an eReader seems like it would be the perfect minimal solution for an avid book reader, it’s just not for me.

My solution? Compromise. Maybe this is a no-brainer for some people, but I just wanted an easy go-to answer. Like, I only borrow books to save money (and space) or I only buy books to support authors and keep my reading slow or I love my eReader! It’s perfect for everything! but it’s more complicated than that. Although, when I stop really thinking about it, I know in my heart what to do in each situation. I would just over-think it and muss it all up. But if I go with my gut…

  • I know when I truly want to buy a book — to support the author, to have the beautiful artifact on my shelf, to be able to revisit the story whenever I want, to be able to share it with my friends and family.
  • I know when I’d be fine borrowing a book — if it’s an author or story I’m not sure of, whether I’m reading it just because of a book club or recommendation, if I only foresee myself reading it once, or if it’s not available as an ebook.
  • I know when to get it (borrow it) on my eReader — if it’s an author or story I’m not sure of, if the physical book is overly huge or hugely expensive, if it’s a recommendation, if I’ll only read it once, or if it’s only available as an ebook.

Being a minimalist doesn’t mean needing to set up strict rules to govern ourselves and what we consume if that’s not what will actually work with our lives. The purpose of minimalism is to remind us to be mindful of how and why and what we consume. Life is diverse and imperfect and malleable, just like us. And I think that is beautiful and interesting, just like all of our stories.

Practicing minimalism does encourage me to step back and analyze myself when needed, but I appreciate how I can still be flexible enough to just go with my gut sometimes, too.

Check In – 2017 Reading Resolutions

In the beginning of this year, I laid out some Reading Resolutions for myself. After less than a month, it already impacted my reading experience. Now that we’re almost half-way through the year and I’ve hit an “end”, I have some more updates on the experiment.

Summary:

  • Books Bought – 3
  • Books Read – 22
  • Books Abandoned – 9
  • Books Listened To – 1
  • Books Borrowed – 7
  • Book Club Reads – 4
  • Books Owned Left Unread – 1

Books Bought. I have bought 3 books so far in 2017 and was generally happy with all of them. One I foresee myself re-reading over and over throughout my life. The other, my husband and a friend also read (3 reads for the price of 1!) and would like my sons to read it as they get older as well. The other was fun and interesting, but honestly I could’ve borrowed it from the library because I doubt I’ll ever read it again (although I do want to continue with the series).

Books Read. If you  care to see all the books I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my Goodreads. Some have been for pleasure, some for book clubs, some for research, and some out of curiosity. I’ve loved some, liked some, found some to be okay, and hated some. I don’t give books star ratings because I don’t think it is a complex enough review and doesn’t enhance my reading experience at all (I just don’t like doing it).

Book Abandoned. There were 9 books on my shelves at home (mostly “Andrew’s books”) that I attempted to read this year and gave up on. I abandoned each for different reasons, most of which can be summed up with “not my cup of tea”. That’s probably why I’ve never tried to read them before, but now I can say that I’ve given them a fair shot.

Books Listened To. I did listen to 1 audiobook version of a book I had not yet read on our shelf. I listened at work, but it was a quick book and not too intrusive. It was easy to listen to and I enjoyed it. I don’t think I would have kept with it if I had to put in the effort to read it myself, though. It may have been abridged, but oh well, I got the story.

Books Borrowed. These were books I still had out from last year, were for book clubs, or for my own personal research. Namely, the research was for potty training Wingnut and I’m so glad I borrowed that book. It was exactly what I needed, when I needed it.

Book Club Reads. I only enjoyed 1 out of 4 book I’ve read for clubs so far this year. There are 3 more books that are scheduled and in which I’m just not interested. I love books and discussing books, but I honestly don’t know if book clubs are for me. I may do another post entirely about this.

Books Owned Left Unread. I acquired this one this year as a free give-away (darn free stuff clutter). I haven’t read it yet and I’m not sure if I want to. I may keep it around, though, because it’s a classic. Maybe one day I’ll want to read it? (Doubtful, but defo possible.) Maybe my children will need to read it for school? (Our school district usually provides all books.) I don’t know. Maybe I should just get rid of it — like I never even free-stuff-clutter-collected it in the first place.

My Resolutions were originally designed to last the whole year, but I’ve read through all of my unread books much faster than I anticipated. (Granted, abandoning books is a very speedy way to get through them.) Therefore, I don’t think I will continue the resolution of not borrowing books for the rest of the year. I will continue to read my shelves — there are a few books I want to re-read before the new release in the series comes out — but I will allow myself to borrow books now, too.

I will only check-out ONE book from the library at a time, to continue with my slow, enjoyable pace. I will only read what I really want to read. And I will buy books if our budget allows it. I have deep inner contention between whether I should buy or borrow books — perhaps that can be another post in and of itself.

I feel like this experiment has gone very well. I feel very free knowing I’ve experienced all the books on the shelves in my house. It opens a lot of possibilities for what to read next. …Almost too many possibilities. We’ll see how it plays out for the rest of the year.

For now, let’s try this:

  • Read only 1 book at a time.
  • If the budget allows, only buy a book when I am ready to read it.

I’ve always wanted to be at this point — where I have no TBR (to-be-read) at home so if I feel like going to the bookstore, I can buy a book and start reading it right away with no guilt! Amazing. I’m here! I’ve done it! After years and years and years. I’ve finally successfully minimized to-do clutter when it comes to books and it feels amazing. 🙂

 

Life Is A Series of Unfortunate Events, But It Can Still Be Enjoyed

Back in college, I read Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events for the first time. They are aptly named. Unfair things happen, people make bad decisions, there is a lot of disagreement. It is sad and depressing and, well, just all around unfortunate.

From the description, these books really don’t sound like my cup of tea. I usually like light-hearted romance and adventure. But while A Series of Unfortunate Events deals with serious issues (like kidnapping, child marriage, murder, identity theft, disability, etc), it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I am able to enjoy reading (and watching) the series because although the general theme throughout is negative, there are plenty of happy surprises along the way. The series is funny — in a somewhat subtle and ridiculously clever way. The main characters learn and grow and support each other and have several small triumphs. And the series is smart — smarter than your average middle-grade book, some might say.

That’s the parallel I draw to life. Life can be tragic and depressing, unfair things happen, and people make bad decisions and disagree with each other all the time. But there are still plenty of things to enjoy about life along the way. Finding the humor in situations, being a good friend, supporting family, and striving for the goodness you believe in can make life so, so enjoyable.

I know some people who won’t read past the first book (The Bad Beginning)in the series. I am definitely not suggesting that the parallel here is that they have lost the will to live their lives — they just don’t want to read about all the strife the three young main characters must deal with. But if the books are read for those small, hilarious, joyous, triumphant moments, I think they can be so much fun to read. Just like life can be so much fun to live, if we focus on the things about it that bring us joy.

Not Reading Less, But Reading Better

My 2017 Reading Resolutions were designed with the idea that I wanted to try to read less. If I read slower, I would read less, right? I wanted to try to take a more minimalistic approach to my reading so I assumed in order to do that, I would need to read less.

Now, it’s only been about a month, but I’m already beginning to realize that I was mistaken. It’s not about reading less, it’s about reading better.

Which makes total sense when we really think about the point of minimalism. It’s not about having or doing as little as humanly possible, it’s about only having and doing the things that benefit and bring joy to us. It’s about removing the excess, but definitely keeping the things that we value most.

Reading is a thing that I value a lot. And as I’ve followed these Resolutions* to read more slowly, i.e. more mindfully, I’ve been really, really enjoying it. It feels great!

In less than a month, I’ve read 3 books (finished 2 that were already started), but I’ve also abandoned 3 more. I’ve gone to the book shop several times and enjoyed my time there, though I still haven’t bought another book. I’ve re-read a favorite author. And I’m currently discovering a new gem that’s been sitting on my shelf for months already.

It’s great. I want to read a lot. But here’s the distinction now — I don’t want to read A LOT, I want to READ a lot. Reading mindfully has rekindled my passion for books and stories. I’ve cut out the endless search for and acquisition of more more more and have come to simply enjoy the activity of reading.

Mind, I realize it’s only been a month. But I’ll keep the Resolutions in mind and I’ll keep this blog updated with my progress and experiences. Now, go on — read a book!

 

*The Resolutions

  • Do not borrow any books.
  • Read only 1 book at a time.
  • Be very mindful of the monthly budget when considering buying a book.

2017 Reading Resolutions

These resolutions are designed to help me read slower. I’m going to challenge myself to follow (or experiment with, if you will) all of these rules for the entire year to see how it effects my relationships with books. Hopefully they will help me be less stressed by books and enjoy reading more.

I’ve already written about slow reading, but honestly I was a bit crap at following those rules. I still read more than one book at a time, listened to audiobooks (while working), wasn’t choosy enough (only certain books are available on audio), and didn’t abandon one or two that I probably should have.

This year I’m going to go quite extreme (for me) and not let myself borrow any books. I work in a library. The largest library system in the entire state. This is going to be verrrrry hard for me.

I’m going to try this because I think it is the best way for me to actually SLOW my reading. Having access to millions of books all the time has just gotten to be too much. I see so many books, then I want to read so many books, I check so many books out, and they pile up. And then I have to lug them all back and forth from the library. I get ahead of myself because it’s free. Accepting free stuff is probably my worst clutter habit.

Not allowing myself to borrow, I hope, will make me better appreciate my own bookshelf. We have over 100 books at home, maybe even 200. Some I’ve never read (mostly “Andrew’s books”), some are favorites that I’ve nearly completely forgotten, and others are stories I like to read over and over again. But my own books have fallen to the wayside in comparison to all the NEW! and FREE! books at the library. This year, I will give my own books the love they deserve. And I already know that I like them!

This year’s resolution also still allows me to buy a book if I really want to. I’ve tried book-buying-bans before and it makes me feel a bit deprived, if only temporarily. Going to the bookstore and picking out a book to buy is a pleasure for me. So I’ll still get to do that this year! But, honestly, not that often because there isn’t a lot of room in our budget for books. So maybe a book or two per season.

So. In a nutshell, like a Grimm’s fairytale dress, the Resolutions:

  • Do not borrow any books.
  • Read only 1 book at a time.
  • Be very mindful of the monthly budget when considering buying a book.

And, of course, the Exceptions:

  • I may finish the 1 library book that I have checked out now since I am half-way through.
  • I may still borrow books or audiobooks for the book clubs in which I participate. This year, I expect 18 book discussions between 2 book clubs. There’s defo not enough money in our budget for that.

I’m excited — this should be interesting.

Slow Reading

I have a confession to make. I’m back on Goodreads.

I know I went on and on about my love/hate relationship with it here. And then explained why I was leaving it here (I’m back on Facebook, too, ha). And those reasons are still valid.

But I found out that I just like Goodreads. I have fun on it. And getting caught up in a TBR or yearly reading goal are things that I need to control. I need to make the choice to not participate in aspects that don’t serve me and stick by those choices. It’s not the responsibility of the website to make sure I don’t get overwhelmed. The website exists to offer lots of ways to enable readers to enjoy reading. Leaving the entire community because certain things didn’t work well for me seems a bit extreme now.

Reading tracker website or not, I’m still trying to enjoy “slow reading”. Slow reading is a “movement” similar to slow food, slow fashion, etc. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the more-is-better attitude when it comes to reading books. Reading books is good for me and I like it, so it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that more would be better. But as I’ve learned with minimalism, that’s not always the case.

I’ve learned that it wasn’t Goodreads’ fault that I felt bogged down by TBR lists or stressed out by reading goals. I was doing it to myself. I felt like I should be reading all the time, whenever I got the chance. I would try to finish books I wasn’t enjoying just to check it off my list. I was listening to audiobooks while working, hindering me from truly focusing on either. I would read classics on my phone, basically torturing myself, instead of letting my mind wander for 10 or 15 minutes.

But this year I have tried to read more slowly. Not necessarily slower word-by-word, but not rushing through books, either. It can be a challenge, so I need to be mindful and guided. I’ve made a few rules for myself:

  1. Only read 1 book at a time. For a little while I let myself read one and listen to another at the same time, but then even that felt like too much…
  2. Do not listen to audiobooks. Over the years, I’ve come around to audiobooks, especially when they’re read well (that can really make or break an audiobook). But I am not the type of person to just sit and listen to an audiobook. I want to be doing something else at the same time and that goes against why I want to embrace slow reading. I’d rather just sit and read the book myself, focusing on one thing at a time and immersing myself in it.
  3. Be choosier about what I read. Only read things I’m truly excited about, when I’m truly excited about it.
  4. Abandon books that loose my interest. I actually don’t even think I’ve had to do this since embracing #3. Often I will finish a book I’m not loving, but only if there is something, anything, that still holds my interest, not just because I feel I have to.
  5. Don’t compare myself to other readers. I used to try to keep up with the word-by-word speed of my husband, but it was moot. Besides, without comparing, I feel quite comfortable at the rate I digest books. I don’t look at other people’s reading goal progress. I don’t try to keep up with what everyone else is reading. I enjoy reading most when I read for myself. It’s my pleasure.
  6. Take my time. A generality of slow reading. I don’t rush through just to get to the next one. I don’t read if I don’t feel like reading. I don’t worry if reading a book takes me 4 days or 4 weeks.
  7. Don’t hold back. If a book grabs my attention and doesn’t let go, I will read as much as I can whenever I can because wow. What an experience. Sometimes I just can’t help myself from devouring a story. A rare gem amongst thousands of beautiful stones.
  8. Reread whatever, whenever I want. It slows reading progress down by backing up to re-experience, re-appreciate, and re-ponder. It doubles (or triples or quadruples or…) time spent on a particular book, and usually multiplies the enjoyment and impact of the book just as much.

These rules won’t fit everyone, obviously. But they are working pretty well for me right now, especially numbers 1, 3, and 6. Though I still need practice and to remind myself that reading isn’t a race, books aren’t checkboxes. Reading is a pleasure; It deserves my composed attention.

Remember: More isn’t always better. Better is better.

Cheers!

Why You Should Read Less

I was originally going to write a version of this post as part of a two-parter; the first being why you should read more, and then the second being about reading less.

I’ve decided not to write about why you should read more, because if you ask a search engine that question, there is no shortage of articles, blog posts, and lists extolling the reasons of why reading books is great for you. Some are scientifically based, others are more commonsense, and others are friendly encouragement (I like this Buzzfeed list quite a bit).

But what about the case for reading less? How can reading less improve our lives, especially if we love reading already or perhaps took the information about why we should read more a bit too close to heart?

Reasons Why Reading Less May Improve Your Life

Reduce Reading Clutter

Stacks of unread books overflowing from bookcases or piled up on tables or the floor is physical clutter. It encroaches on your living space giving you less space to move and less air to breathe. Even standing still with the windows open, all of those tomes with their colorful covers and wordy titles contribute to visual noise, distracting you from what you would otherwise be focusing on.

If you don’t have books sitting in your home waiting to be read, keeping a to-be-read (TBR) list is still clutter — it’s just mental clutter. A long running to-do list is stressful, even if what’s on it is supposed to be enjoyed in recreational time. (I’ve found TBR lists don’t work for me because I frequently add but rarely subtract, steadily increasing the stress factor.)

Read More Consciously

You can be more discerning about what you read, reading what you want when you want, even if that means reading nothing at all for a while. If you’re not trying to read as much as you can as fast as you can, you will be able to digest and enjoy what you read more fully, thus getting MORE enjoyment from doing LESS. If you’re not continually trying to knock down the number on your TBR or keep up with the bestseller lists, you’re left with more time to do other things as well, enriching your life with other (actual) experiences.

Simplify Reading Habits

Instead of feeling pressure to read more of certain types of books (like award winners, classics, “higher literature”, or book club picks) as well as what you actually want to read, you can give yourself more freedom. By choosing to read less, you have an excuse to only read your favorite types of books. This, again, will increase the amount of enjoyment you get from the time you do spend reading.

One of my favorite authors, Meg Cabot, wrote a great blog post back in 2009 on How to Foster a Hatred For Reading. Giving in to pressure about what — or how much — to read from others — or yourself! — is a recipe for discontent. Don’t worry about what other people may think of what or how much you’re reading and simply read for yourself.

You don’t necessarily have to read more, just read as much that is enough for you. You’ll recognize the right amount because it will be fun. 🙂

There’s no denying that reading is good for your brain, but taking a minimalistic approach to reading may just prove to be good for your soul.

Enjoy.

Why I Am Leaving Certain Social Media

Facebook

I’ve been on the fence about Facebook for a while. An old friend had actually started my original account years ago. I had it for a while and then deleted it. I didn’t miss the website, but created a new account more recently to stay connected with friends and family. There were some invites and news I wasn’t receiving and wanted to have access to more photos.

Some invitations amongst my friends are still sent via Facebook, but they also make sure to mention it in person as well. This is because these invitations are coming from friends that really matter and whom I see regularly. Also, a few more people of this group of friends also don’t have Facebook accounts, so others are being more mindful of getting the message out there.

I realized the news that really mattered to me would get to me in the real world as well.

I’ve noticed people don’t actually share that many photos on Facebook anymore. Or perhaps that’s just the people with whom I’m Facebook friends. Or perhaps they are keeping the photos private. Either way, I am at a point in my life where I have too many photos already and want to be more selective about the photos I surround myself with. So I am finding myself content with taking and having (and culling) my own photos.

Sometimes I like to share links about articles or videos I find interesting on Facebook. But I notice that is what a lot of other people use Facebook for, too, and I’m usually not all that interested in what they post. Am I also just clogging up other people’s feeds with irrelevant links? Maybe someone has been interested in something I’ve posted, but maybe they would have found it another way, if that is where their mind’s journey was heading anyway. And I still don’t need Facebook specifically as a means of sharing the things I’ve learned from articles or videos or the experiences they embody.

I also don’t care for the whole “liking” system. I find online approval to be vapid and fleeting. I think it simply distracts from knowing what I really want/like versus what others may want/like (who might just be making decisions on what they think others may want/like), and thus is a distraction to being content with life as it is for myself.

Just as there is the Fear of Missing Out, there can be the actual feeling of missing out when you see something through someone else on Facebook that you didn’t experience or have yourself. I was recently scrolling through my News Feed and saw a photo of someone watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I usually make a point to watch the parade every year, but this year it completely slipped my mind. Without Facebook, I didn’t miss it, because, as I said, I didn’t even think about it. But when I saw that I didn’t get to watch the broadcast this year, I got quite upset for a while. I’ve since gotten over it, but was the crying and grief necessary? Of course not. But I had supposedly “missed out” on something somebody else enjoyed.

Finally, I’ve been finding myself getting more easily distracted by scrolling through feeds and clicking on links as opposed to focusing and using my internet time wisely for things I really appreciate and value.

Goodreads

I’ve already written a whole back-and-forth post on the Goodreads website here. Going back to that post to add the link today, I again saw my reasoning for keeping it through the end of this year. But even now, only a month later, I just don’t care anymore about my reading stats or tracking my books for the year.

I’ve been using Goodreads less and less within the last month (and mostly have just been using it as a distraction or boredom time-waster) and have found that my reading life is less stressful. If I’m not into a book, I put it down and don’t feel guilty. I browse the library or a store or blogs for what to read next.

And I’ve been reading less, which is a good thing for me because in the past I had only read more because I had felt pressure to read more. I had also felt more pressure to read more of what others liked than what I knew I’d like. Now I’m spending more time doing other things that I love besides just reading. Or making lists about reading or working towards reading goals or seeing what other are reading or… you get the picture.

Social Media I Am Keeping

Twitter – I basically only use this one month out of the year, during November for NaNoWriMo. I find the NaNoWordSprints extremely motivating and the general atmosphere very inspiring during that month. Perhaps without Facebook, I will share more article or video links there instead; we’ll see.

YouTube – I hardly count this site as social media at all because of how I’ve naturally come to use it. I find this website, or rather the individual content creators on it to which I subscribe, extremely valuable and entertaining. And I find it easy to avoid distractions there.

And that’s it.

Enjoy.