Headfirst: The Blind Thrill of Becoming a Writer in the Social Media Age

Photo: Anita Glesta’s CENSUS art project


Is “emotional whiplash” a real thing? Because I think that’s what I’ve been going through.

After a decade of manual labour and almost five years of university life, I am at a crossroads. Or more like an elaborate freeway offramp system in which turning one direction leads to another set of critical choices that will determine my ultimate destination. In my heart of hearts I want that destination to involve my being a writer. The trouble is that the world of professional writing is almost entirely new to me.

Over the past several weeks I’ve been introduced to a variety of networking and freelancing websites, each yielding a dizzying array of possibilities. An intimidation factor sets in when I look at the potentials and opportunities. It’s a thrill; it’s a rush.

It’s mine for the taking.

But therein lies the problem – it’s all up to me to take any given bull by the horn, to hold on tight and see where the ride goes. But when you have no frame of reference for any of this, it can be superbly freaky.

In terms of income, all I’ve known up to this point has been: “Here’s my resume. Where would you like your boxes put? Biweekly paycheque, please.” The world of writing is far more abstract in comparison. Freelancing, contracts, one-off projects, selling myself as an appealing brand-entity with intellectual skills beyond being able to drive a forklift… where do I even start?

Setting myself up within social networking has been exciting in and of itself. If anything it feels like dressing up for the part. Rather than being ready equipped with steel-toed boots and non-ripped work clothes and an able back, the new name of the game seems to be a strong, professional social media appearance. And this is fairly new to me. Apart from toying with Myspace and Facebook (for personal rather than formal purposes) as well as music-based artist sites such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp, I’m not overly adept with more consistently active social media. I don’t define my social life by Facebook status updates and friend lists. I honestly cannot wrap my head around the tweeting and re-tweeting formatting of Twitter. At best I’m somewhat addicted to Instagram.

All that being said, there’s no reason for me to dive headfirst into the deep end of all this, let alone out of some misguided sense of necessity. I should be able to strike a balance of maintaining a respectable online presence without having to be, or even feel, bogged down by trying to keep up with everyone else’s. At the least, I should see what it’s like. I rationalize my way out of it sometimes by saying to myself, “You waste enough time online to begin with, are you sure you want to get that much more digitally involved?” But rather than simply adding on more web activities, I should look at it as an opportunity to do away with unnecessary ones.

I’ve defined this whole university/writing thing as an adventure from day one. So what’s an adventure without trying a few weird new roads along the way?

– Andrew Hall, May 2016

© 2016 Andrew Hall Writes


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