But at the end of the day (the end of my life) I want to have written all the fiction and nonfiction there is in me to write. I don’t know when that end will be. And will that end question then be: Do you wish you’d spent more time on Twitter? Not for me. — Laraine Herring

The conversations about Annie Dillard that Shawn Smucker initiated this week and that I continued yesterday have gotten me thinking a lot about what I need as a writer.

Sometimes, when thinking through things like this, I find it easier to state what I don’t need.
* Twitter
* Facebook
* Google+
* Pinterest
* FourSquare
* Reality Television
* Email

That said, the nature of publishing these days makes these things a near necessity IF I want to publish and have a broader swath of people read my work than those I can reach face to face. Writers must also be promoters. I don’t really like this, but that’s a post for another day.

I do need a few things as a writer, the same things most writers need, I expect.
* Books
* Paper
* People to Converse With
* Solitude
* Silence
* Time
* Perseverance
* Discipline
* Nature

Two of those things, of course, I can achieve – at least in some form – through social media: books (i.e. things to read like great blog posts) and people to converse with. It is for these things that I appreciate social media – fresh ideas and great people. So don’t think I’m saying social media is a bad thing in and of itself.

But the other elements on this list – especially silence, solitude, and time – those things are antithetical to the very nature of social media which is loud, people-focused, and busy, oh so busy.

There are two other things about social media that make it harmful to my writing – first, it’s easy. I can “like” a page, read a blog post, watch three Twitter streams and not, really, have to think at all. Secondly, it’s instant gratification – the more I post, comment, like, tweet; the more response I get, even if what I’ve said is nonsense . . . the ease makes the commentary plentiful, if sometimes less meaningful. I crave that interaction. That’s a good thing . . . sometimes.

Writing, however, isn’t easy and instant. It’s like cracking open my chest each morning to see what’s inside, scooping the words out onto the page, living with them for days and months, and then hoping – someday – someone else will find them meaningful. Most days, I’d rather tweet.

So I’m making a public declaration today, and I hope you’ll join in if you desire and hold me accountable if you will. I am going to limit my social media consumption – i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc. to less than two hours a day. For some of you that may sound like a lot of time to be on those forums, but let me say that I can easily lose 8 hours there if I’m not careful.

Starting today, October 1, I’m scaling back and “closing the doors” (to use another phrase of Laraine’s) on social media for most of my time. I truly hope I won’t lose good reading and good people in the process, but I know I will gain writing time and glorious silence – that’s a guarantee. It’s what I need to do for my writing . . . and, thus, it’s what I need to do for me. I expect most of you will understand.

What about you? What are your thoughts on social media? Is it a blessing? A curse? A loathed necessity? Does it hurt your writing, help it? Both?

I wrote recently about this for Ken over at Inkling Media – “Doing Our Real Work: Balancing Promotion and What We Promote