The 40 Days Thing

2018-agenda-black-273011So somewhere along the line, I missed the biblical heads up about forty days.

I mean, I knew about Jesus going out into the desert for forty days to fast and I knew that Lent lasted forty days. But I did not get the memo about the floods for Noah and company lasting 40 days and 40 nights or that Moses was up on that mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, waiting for the commandments. That whole 40 days thing just registered with me recently.

Though honestly, I’m sure the nuns must’ve mentioned it a couple of hundred times during my school years; I’m just not good at remembering details like numbers. Especially when there’s other more interesting things to think about…like old Noah and how he and the gang  survived for 40 days, floating around out there.

I’ll bet I was busy worrying about Rabbits Three, Four, Five, and Six, who just about the time they were thanking their lucky stars that they were snatched up and brought on board the ark, Noah’s wife threw ’em in a pot!

Anyway, the point is, 40 days comes up a number of times (no pun intended) in the Bible and possibly there are other references in other religions. And the more I thought about 40 days, the more I thought that six weeks must make a difference. Maybe that’s the time it takes to break a bad habit or form a new, healthy habit. Perhaps 40 days is the exact time we need to reflect in order to transform our lives.

Or maybe just five minutes is enough to figure it out. Because as I began to think about what needed to change in my life this Lent, I knew it had to start with how I use my time. And so I decided on the Five Minute Facebook Fast (for Forty Days).

There are lots of good things for me on Facebook…I love hearing about friends’ great news and I am a sucker for a punny cartoon. I like the company–most of the time–and some mighty prayers get answered, thanks to Facebook requests.

But on the other side of Facebook is the not-so-good, falling into those rabbit holes of toxic discussions or articles or conversations. Even when I don’t engage–and I rarely do–I still will look up from my laptop and blink: Is it really possible that I’ve spent an hour and twenty minutes on something that’s only served to upset me?

It’s not that I have such a busy life, but at the end of the day–and I mean literally at the end of the day–I like to feel that I’ve used the time the Lord gave me in a positive way. So I’ve been keeping to five minutes on Facebook and I’m not going to lie. Every time I sit down to work on my laptop,  I have to stay my hand on that mouse. My fingers just automatically go to click on Facebook. But on the plus side, I’ve become super intentional about what I read there, zipping along at a meaningful clip. And it feels as if I’ve added a ton of time to my day. A ton of time where I’m accomplishing good things.

So that’s my revelation on the whole 40 days thing. And what do you think? What might you accomplish in 40 days? Tell me all about it, ’cause honestly, I have plenty of time to listen. (At least until Lent is over when we’ll find out if six weeks really can break a bad habit.)

Poking a Stick at Facebook

ImageSo I might be biting the hand that feeds me. Or maybe messing with Sasquatch. Both metaphors probably work, when you start poking a stick, so to speak, at Facebook.

Which is sort of what I do today in my Muffin post. But mostly, I’m just curious if others on Facebook are noticing the same trend that I’ve noticed when it comes to author Pages. So if you’re a Facebook user, I’d appreciate a little feedback on that topic.

And if you’re a Facebook user and suddenly notice that I’m not anywhere to be found over there, it’s probably just because I’m taking a break. Probably I haven’t been kicked off and told never to come back.

Probably.

 

If You Give a Writer an Interesting Link…

Before I considered what I wanted to accomplish in 2014, I took a look back to assess 2013, to see what I’d accomplished. And friends, I had a moment.

It was not a good moment. What, I said (probably “screamed” would be a more accurate word choice), happened here? Because not a whole lot, in fact, did happen in my own little writing world. There had to be a reason, I figured, and it wasn’t long before I figured it out.

Facebook. I shouted to the heavens, with my arm upraised, gripping blank pages. FACEBOOK!! (It was an Oscar worthy moment.)

Facebook itself is not a bad thing. I rather like keeping up with friends and seeing pics of the family. I enjoy a little social networking as much as the next guy. But I’m a writer and I have this ridiculously overdeveloped curiosity. So if a friend posts a link to “The Six Worst Crimes in History That Happened in January”…well, I have to stop and read that juicy tidbit. It’ll only take a few minutes.

But at the end of that article, I find a link to “Serial Killers of the Renaissance–Who Knew?” and I click on that link, too, because come on, people, it’s the Renaissance. And I gobble up a few more minutes of my writing time.

Many of my writer friends are on Facebook, too, and they share the most interesting links about writing (click!) or something in their field of interest (click!) or just the most absolutely fascinating random subject ever (click! click! click!). Well, you can see where this is going.

Unfortunately, I did not until the end of the year. That’s when I realized I’d spent a ton of time clicking and not so much on writing. And though I now know an awful lot about Famous Horror Movie Scenes that Landed on the Cutting Room Floor not to mention Famous Duels and How They Backfired, I do not, as far as actual words-on-paper, have much to show for the year.

So for the first week of 2014, I limited myself to a daily seven minutes on Facebook. Seven minutes to quickly scan, to check on messages. And by January 5th, I’d submitted two pieces of writing.

I love you, interesting, fascinating, glorious links. But this little writer has learned her lesson.

(How about you? How do you tame Facebook? Inquiring and curious writers want to know!)

Friday’s Fun Find: WOW! Blogging and Social Media

Whenever I go to writer’s conferences, an attendee will ALWAYS ask, “Do I need to have a blog?” and “Do I need to be on Facebook? Or Twitter?”

And the professional–editor, agent, publisher or author–will say, “It’s not absolutely necessary, but it’s a very good idea.”

That’s the short answer. The long answer is that first, what you write needs to be good. All the blogging and social media in the world is not going to make stinky writing smell nicer. But if you have sweet writing, then blogging and social media will give you a step up, will show professionals that you are a savvy writer as well as a good writer.

WOW!Women-on-writing’s issue this month is all about blogging and social media. What that means for you, dear writer, is a fun way to get all the info about this topic, whether you’re just getting started or you haven’t begun. Or even if you’ve been at it for a while and think you know everything (ahem) because now there’s Pinterest and really, shouldn’t you at least have an idea what that’s all about?

So.  The next time you’re at a conference, you can sit there, nice and smugly and in the know and skip the lecture about “Why Blogging and Social Media Are a Good Idea.”  Maybe you can pass notes to your friends instead (I recommend sitting on the back row).

Getting Personal on the Web

Yesterday was my birthday (and coincidentally, Cathy-on-a-Stick’s birthday) and since life never goes exactly the way we plan it, I happened to spend most of the day on the road, returning from a weekend taking care of a family member (Okay, it was Mom. She slipped while trying to pick up a dead roach from the bathroom floor. I believe the lesson she learned was, “Let sleeping/dead roaches lie.” Not to worry, though. She’s okay.) Anyway, I got home just in time to meet all the Junior Halls for a nice birthday dinner. So it was late last night by the time I read all the birthday greetings on Facebook.

Goodness, that was a lovely way to end the day! Even a simple “Happy Birthday” said someone took the time to wish me joy. It’s moments like that when I truly appreciate the wonder of Facebook.

And it was a little ironic, considering my post on The Muffin today where I discussed getting personal on social media. The thing is, there’s getting personal in a lovely, appropriate way and getting personal in a not-so-lovely and inappropriate way. And I’m afraid that, at least with folks who use social media to build a platform, to help grow an audience, that there are times when getting too personal can have a deleterious effect.

So I suppose I shared a little advice about sharing personal opinions on social media (or anywhere, really, on the wide world of the web). And now I’m thinking of that quote about giving advice: Fools won’t heed it, and wise men don’t need it.

But I’ll always need a little joy, birthday or any old day. (BIG thank you to all y’all for that!)