Hi Elle, I'm a couple of months behind with your posts for all the reasons you enumerated. To write fiction I've had to "quit" a lot of things. I don't have any idea what's going on in pop culture. I don't watch TV shows or very many movies. I watch some sports mainly to maintain solidarity with my family (my wife and my son are avid basketball fans) but sometimes those games do run pretty long and I find myself pining to get back to "work." Reading and writing and daydreaming are my default activities and I wish my everyday existence could settle permanently among them. I don't involve myself in social media. I've never cared for the yipping and yapping of the oceanic peanut gallery and, even in the real world, it seems best to resist the pull of an unwinnable argument. In short, I applaud your attempts at retreat, just remember to keep a notebook near at hand.

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Thanks, Elle. What you’ve written in your post has been on & off in my mind. It reminded me to check in on where I am, where I’m going, and what I’m doing!

So far, I’ve culled my daily posting on IG to once a week or so. I’m not cutting IG out yet as I value the new connections I form with other artists. Also, it’s a way to keep in casual contact with friends I usually won’t get to meet in real life.

As for Twitter, it remains a mystery to me...hahaha.

I'm also culling content consumption as increasingly, I find lesser headspace to give quality attention to process what I'm reading. It's kinda new and scary to me. To let go. To recognise and accept that, after I've given energy to my daily writing and drawing work, I don't have huge room left to read many articles, comment on various Discord channels, scroll through feed after feed, etc. I can only select a few where I can mindfully read and engage with. What's enough for the day is—enough.

Now, taking a cue from you, I want to extend it to a longer period where I'm freer to create.

Last but not least, thanks for sharing my article in your post. We inspire each other! 🌟

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Thank you for sharing all of this Elle. As a Substack sister, one of the most encouraging aspects of being in the Substack community is hearing from writers on this platform that they feel they are WRITERS first, and curators of conversation, second. Many of us are introverts and have to be in some really quiet spaces to indulge that creativity - but yet the community and conversation is also such a joy. This kind of sharing and dialogue really helps us to navigate it all in a healthy, productive - and artistic - way. Thanks, and please do not feel obligated to reply to this comment, lol - hope you are away somewhere reading!

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"Today, it feels unending. Like I need to become a Twitter celebrity and a Discord networking guru and put a newsletter out every weekend to become the next great American novelist—because that’s what it takes to get noticed by readers and garner the attention of The New York Times and sell the film rights to Hello Sunshine. And I do believe that is true to some extent."

100%. The one not-so-great aspect of all of this is that when you post new chapters and other content and then don't see an enormous increase in comments/subscribers/likes/followers, it gets really discouraging! Then I need to remind myself that, however trite it sounds, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

In terms of giving things up while book writing, I try to just block out time (it used to be first thing in the morning at a coffee shop near my office) where I only write and don't check anything else. That's become harder to do now that I work from home.

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I hope that you find complete peace and complete creativity!

As you think about fandom, this is one of my favorite stories. In the late 1990s, Mariah Carey made the bold decision to hire Bree Nguyen, a 16-year-old superfan, to join her team.


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This was so inspiring. Social media, connecting, throwing myself out there...it feels so heavy sometimes. I find it comforting to know other creatives feel the same way. This has given me the push to dive back into writing on my own schedule, without the pressure to share every facet of it. ❤️

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This is an incredibly healthy strategy and outlook. Trying to do it all continually is a recipe for burnout or an unfulfilling life. Artists need breaks to thrive and create. The current accepted "path to writing success" doesn't allow breaks. So I reject it. A good life is a far better pursuit than a best-seller list.

Another great newsletter. Quality over quantity is fine with me.

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I love this essay! I'm an introvert and can work on long writing projects, but it really tires me when communicating on social media. Super envious that you are working remotely from Costa Rica!! Think of us when you are there :)

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Thank you for this, Elle! I'm embarking on a 12-day silent meditation retreat this December. No talking, no eye contact, no technology, no writing, no reading. Nothing but 11 hours a day of meditation. I can't wait. And I can't wait to see what you create.

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Wishing you well during this next season of writing. If you’re up to reading, Wintering by Katherine May is beautiful. Helped me reframe winter from a noun, to a verb.

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Enjoy the stillness!

I think of finding time to write as less about what do I give up and more about how do I prioritize. I create a regular schedule for myself, because writing is high priority, and other leisure activities happen around writing. But I also check-in with myself regularly to make sure my priorities haven’t changed.

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Hi Elle,

I missed your regular posts, it seems like you have disappeared forever into the void.

Good to see you pop in and post.

I must say you sure have a lot you want to achieve ! are you sure will not burn out trying to achieve all those goals?

I take a different approach, I focus on 2 things only, so I do not give up anything - and it works, no stress, no change of heart, you just cruise along. I do not want to give up the internet - now way mam

With writing, I write every day for an hour, it is the best way to connect to your subconscious and the material you write down is amazing - did I really write that ? and so entertaining too. The challenege is collate all the material and connect the dots and revise/edit - a different skill to writing, in fact there is always a layer to add, whern reviewing every day and the possibilities are endless.

I recently saw this: Eternal Truths , very profound and moving.


If you love writing , just write forget about marketing 101.

Your success has it own timeline, so why stress ?



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Oh, one other thought: I used to think that I would try and write two or three masterpieces, rather than lots of lots of books. Then I wrote two or three books, and I realised I had lots more to learn. So now, following advice and mentoring from writers, I am trying to write lots a lots. In fact, have you heard the advice that you need to write 1,000,000 words of crap before you get good? I've taken it to heart, so I'm trying to write a 1,000,000 word webnovel (which, while I am trying to make it as good as it can possibly be, may well be crap), and then I'll have a go at writing some masterpieces. That seems to be the way that things work for most people in today's writing world, unless you're a Tolkien or a Rowling. But fair play to you if you manage the small number of masterpieces approach! I don't know; maybe the trick is to write millions of words behind the scenes, and only show people the masterpeices......

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Hi Elle,

Thanks for the newsletter. My secret for maintaining writing output in a digital age is to block ALL internet for certain times of the day when I have decided to be writing. I do this through an app you may have heard of Cold Turkey--it's absolutely brilliant. One-off payment (£30, not sure what that is in dollars) and you have it for life, it can block any and everything and is extremely hard to get round.

In the same vein, I remember reading that Margaret Attwood has two computers/laptops--one with internet access (and Twitter!) and one without, for writing.

In other news, when I read that in two weeks you’ll be interviewing an author who works part-time to pay the bills so that he can work the other part-time writing webnovels, I did a double-take--because I do that! Are you going to be interviewing me?? In seriousness, let me know if you do ever want to interview me... I do exactly that too, AND I have a wife and a kid to support (though it does help that in this season my wife works full-time and her job comes with a house, and as well as working and writing part-time I am also a part-time househusband...)

Best wishes,

Faenon (Luke)

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Good! I don't subscribe to the 'suffering artist' mentality, whereby everything has to be hard for anything to be worthwhile. Being a healthy writer is important.

Glad to hear you won't be disappearing entirely, though. I think the newsletter concept is ideal for staying connected to a community without needing to be sucked into the social media whirlpool.

As I've committed increasingly to my writing I've primarily cut down on entertainment: games, movies, TV. Often if I'm not doing it with the family, I won't do it at all, whereas a half decade ago I'd have really struggled with that rebalancing. I've also made sure that I keep the reason I write clear in my head: ie, that I want to write. Getting readers is a (big, significant) bonus. Getting paid would be great, but is never the actual goal. I think that's helped me stay on target and not get stressed by less creative targets.

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You have no idea how much I love and needed this newsletter, Elle. Thank you for articulating my thoughts so beautifully - every part of it resonated. As an author with my second book released a couple of months ago, I am exactly in the throes of book marketing and trying to get the world to notice me and my book (as narcissistic as that sounds). Sometimes, at best, I felt like I was yelling into the void and putting too much of myself out there. At the worst, it took up so much headspace - all that planning and strategising and marketing and promoting and posting on social media - that I found myself unable to focus on the deep work of writing. This post is a wonderful reminder to retreat from the buzz and return to a space where it's just me and my writing. I hope you find the peace and quiet to discover and create new worlds!

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