A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Being a writer can be a solitary job and yet at the same time, writers can be such avid students of human nature, that, perhaps more than others we are easily distracted by social media.
I can spend hours, on Facebook in particular; catching up with friends, networking with the publishing community and keeping apprised of what is going on in the world. With the news cycle the way it is at present, car-crash viewing, I often find that Facebook is the first place I hear about things.
But social media isn’t my only writing distraction and while I’m the first to admit, that I am easily led by click bait (I wonder what 15 interesting things I can find out about The Princess Bride), or a bit of online shopping (are those shoes really only £20?), I wouldn’t turn off my Internet connection as others might.
I am a research nut and perhaps my greatest writing distraction is when I get dragged down the rabbit hole. I might start out doing a quick check on the most common wildlife in the Shetland Islands, to make sure my characters don’t spot a bird or a flower that would never be seen in that area, then I’ve followed a fascinating side note about the iron age broch just unearthed and end up happily reading about Stone Age burial rituals, or human sacrifice in Aztec Mexico. Before I know it, it’s time to pick up the kids.
I have to remind myself to stick to the facts I need.
But then, I’m a writer and I need to get my ideas from somewhere. If my brain has snagged on something interesting, that could be my next book.
If I spend time on social media I’m learning how people react to world events, what they consider important, how they think about things, how they speak, the tone they take, the slang they’re using. Instagram and Twitter show me what teens are interested in, what’s hot among the groups I’m writing for. If I follow click bait, I’m finding out what other people consider interesting. If I follow a lead while doing research I’m filling up my repository of ‘story ingredients’ ready for the blender in my mind to start mixing.
Yes, I can be distracted from my word count, but I’m always working, always being a writer. And distractions can turn into the best writing possible.
I can’t excuse the online shopping though …