“If you have time to scroll on social media, you have time to write.”
I say, “No” to that.
This quote and others like it often made me feel bad about spending my time on social media, mindlessly scrolling through the lives of others. Or sitting in front of the television watching whatever show was on that night.
I thought, maybe I am not meant to be a writer. Maybe I don’t want it bad enough. Maybe I am one of those people who dreams of being a writer but who doesn’t really want to write.
These thoughts were the kerosene that fueled the flames of self-doubt, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, and procrastination, the Four Horsemen of creatives. They all burned deep, searing into my bones.
It seems plausible. Of course, I have the time to write instead of completely zoning out in front of the TV. I have the time, but do I have the energy? So, while this quote, this idea is correct in theory, it is much more nuanced than it appears.
A while ago I wrote a piece about how inspirational or motivational quotes can be harmful. Though these quotes are meant to be inspiring, they are sometimes disguising painful sentiments. On the surface, they seem harmless, but when you dig a little deeper, they are anything but.
When I wrote the first piece, I received feedback from people who questioned why I thought motivational quotes could be harmful. To be clear: I am a fan of motivational and inspirational quotes in general. If considered thoughtfully, they can do just what they are intended to do. I went through a dark night of the soul with them and came out the other side with a new appreciation.
But I will not turn a blind eye to the harm that some of them can cause. And, while I was and am speaking from personal experience, more people out there might agree. Most of the time, these quotes are written and shared by people of tremendous privilege. They don’t have a lot of obstacles in their way, either physically or mentally, so they don’t need to consider how these quotes might affect someone who does.
This quote is harmful because it doesn’t consider how draining life can be for some. It is easy to think that if you have time to watch TV or scroll social media, then you have time to write because you do, in theory. However, these two activities use different energy levels. It takes a lot less mental energy to sit in front of a TV than it does to come up with new worlds and engaging characters.
After working a full day being pulled in several directions and taking care of family, sometimes it is all someone can do to sit on the couch and hit a button on the TV. It was all I could do some days. At the end of a demanding day, energy was scarce, and I couldn’t create without recharging. Yet, once I rested, it was time to start hustling again.
I commend people who can do it all. Work full time (sometimes at more than one job), take care of kids, run errands, fix dinner, and all the life things and still find energy to create. Sitting up late after their kids are in bed to scribble out a few lines or 500 words of their work in progress.
Not everyone can. And they don’t need the judgment that comes with quotes like, “You make time for what you love.” If I don’t have time now to prioritize my creating, that doesn’t mean I won’t sometime in the future. I made the conscious decision to make time for writing, but I was in a position that I was able to make some sacrifices to do it. A lot of people don’t have the privilege of cutting things out of their life because everything they are doing is in service to surviving.
It took a while to get back into a pleasant relationship with motivation quotes. I still love them as long as they are mindfully shared. The impact it could have on others could be opposite to what you want to share.