SelfControl, Actions and Escape

- 2 comments - writing

For the last several years, I’ve been linked into social media for most of my waking hours. Sometimes I worried about whether I was too linked in, but mostly I enjoyed the connection too much to worry about it.

This weekend, though, I finally downloaded the SelfControl app to cut the link, because in a time when a LOT of us are feeling anxious, that constant feed of (completely justified) anxiety was sending my own emotions skyrocketing out of control.

Now I’m using SelfControl to turn off Twitter and Facebook for all but half an hour a day. Half an hour is long enough for me to check in; it’s enough time for me to see most of my friends’ activities online and also keep up with the serious issues that people are bringing up for our attention.

(I’m also trying not to let myself rely on social media for my news, as I’ve done too often in the past. Here in Wales, I’m reading The Guardian. If I were in the US, I’d personally be reading The New York Times. No matter where you get your news, there’s a really useful list that’s recently been posted – you can read it about it here – of “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources”. It’s definitely worth checking – and it includes both right- and left-wing sites, including some that I’ve read in the past.)

Every day by the end of that session, I try to take at least one positive action (whether that’s phoning my congressman, donating to a cause, signal-boosting a petition, or…) to fight against my biggest fears.

But then I turn off the feed, because otherwise, I get so overwhelmed that I can’t do anything but worry. And that’s no good to anyone.

The next time I buy a piece of jewelry with words on it, the words may well be: Write Your Own Escape. Writing has been what’s saved me this past week. I’m over a third of the way through my novella Snowspelled, which has the fun, frothy feel of a grown-up Kat story (although it’s set in a different, alternate historical version of Regency England with completely different characters). It’s full of powerful women, magic, sisterhood, families, romance, and hope. I’m trying to write as much as possible of it before the edits for my next MG book arrive.

I hope that when it’s ready for you guys to read (sometime next year), it’ll give you a feeling of escape and hope as well.

And when it comes to the book of mine that just came out – Congress of Secrets was reviewed in Paul DiFilippo’s column for Barnes & Noble, and it’s a wonderful review! He called it “The Count of Monte Cristo meets Darth Vader,” which of course made me happy – and here’s a snippet from the review:

Burgis’s recreation of period Vienna is sensual and vivid, stemming from much good research and from personal familiarity with the modern city. She does not betray the authenticity of her historical figures, and renders her imagined folks thickly enough to go toe-to-toe with the big guys. The reunion and subsequent love-hate relationship between Carolina and Michael is sweet and teasingly well done. Suspense and thrills abound in what is essentially a caper novel. But Burgis also layers in some potent subtext about authoritarianism and the freedoms we take for granted.

You can read the full review here.

And if you’re in the UK, you can enter to win an advance copy of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart here.


  1. Thank you for what you said about the Self-control app. I had realised I’d become obsessive about constantly looking for news and updates on my phone, and that all that news-watching wasn’t healthy for me – all that negativity that I can’t do anything about was making me stressed and causing me to have trouble sleeping.
    I’d already set my screen to grayscale instead of colour, and removed the favorite link to my internet news-site, but I was still having a lot of trouble sticking to my resolve to look less.
    I’ve now used the app for a week, and it’s really helping, though the pattern of not-looking isn’t internalised yet.
    My stress-level is going down, and my sleep is starting to improve a bit.

    • Oh, I’m so glad that it’s helping!

      (And sorry that it took me so long to reply. I only just saw this comment! It’s been a lovely but chaotic week with two family visits and a big holiday in the middle of it.)

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