In the last five days, I have been on a social media diet, trying to figure out what is most important to me. What feeds my soul. What makes me jump out of bed itching to start my day, ‘with bells on,’ as Mama used to say.
An unexpected change in my plans to attend the New Media Expo Conference, coupled with Mr. bobWP being out of town, gave me the thinking time I needed. That is when it all fell together.
Time is your most precious resource when you are writing a book. And the hours you spend online are subtracted from your daily page count. As I moved from blogging coach to author, I picked up this insight. I knew I was wasting time, but didn’t realize just how much.
So in the last five days, I cut down my presence on Facebook by 75 percent. I opened up my TweetDeck just two times a day. And I took a break from blogging (actually, for two weeks).
Strange things happen when you decide that nothing is going to stop you from writing your book.
What I learned on my 5-day social media diet
Social media encourages me to talk about things, not do things.
It’s a fact of life in the writing world. There are the talkers and the doers. I confess that for a long time, I was in the first category. I spent so much time talking about writing that there was no time left to write.
And it makes sense. Because talking about the writing life is easier than doing the work. If it wasn’t, every wanna be writer in the world would be published.
What it means for me: The realization that talking about writing doesn’t earn me as many points as the writing does.
Cats in sunglasses, political rants and pics of Dim Sum sap my energy.
If you are a curious person, if you enjoy engaging people and hearing what they think about things, Facebook is the ultimate distracter. An interesting discussion starts and, well, I have something important to say about that. And before I know it, I’ve wasted 15 minutes and worse, those message notifications keep pinging me.
Someone else has something to say! I wonder what it is!
Unlike a blog post, where I can consume the content and run, social media platforms like Facebook keep me above the ground, on the grass , when I should be below, deep down under, thinking about my story, plotting how my character will react to what just happened to her in the scene before.
As Kristen Lamb, one of my favorite writer-bloggers said recently,
“I hope these tips help. Now back in your hole.”
What it means for me: I will immerse myself in at least three hours of uninterrupted writing a day and spend no more than 30 minutes on Facebook and Twitter during writing hours, no more than 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at the end of the day.
I don’t need another inspirational quote to remind me to go for my dream.
I say this even though I own the fully annotated, Third Edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. But inspiration for me comes not from reading other people’s words about how I should live my life, but in getting in there, showing up and writing my own words.
What it means for me: I will strive to read fewer quotes and make my own writing inspiring enough that other people will quote me.
My blog won’t get me a publishing contract.
I know, I know. “What about Julie and Julia?,” you say. “That started out as a simple blog and then it became a book and then it became an Oscar-nominated movie with Meryl Streep.”
Oh yeah. That’s right. Like out of a zillion blogs, a couple went on to become best selling books. And they are the ones we talk about. Truth be known, most blogs do not have the potential to become a book.
What it means for me: My blog will continue to be the home base for my author platform. It can be used to attract interest from agents and editors, but the completed manuscript will sell the book.
Marketing works better when you have something to market.
A book is like any other product. To sell it, it needs to exist first. Sometimes, for authors, social media tempts us to get the whole thing backwards.
What it means for me: Writing is the number one priority. Always.
Introverts who write need time, space, focus— and solitude.
This one is huge for me. I know that I am a hard-core introvert, with all the baggage that comes with that. Telling a book-length story requires that I dive deep into the characters’ worlds, that I spend quality time with them, even though, in memoir, I already know them.
What it means for me: I will honor my introvert self by carving out uninterrupted time to think and create.
Doing the work is the hard part.
The phenomenal authors make it look easy. Well, I say, they just must have a natural born talent for this stuff. But this past year has taught me one thing: doing the work is the best predictor of success. They may have talent (or not), but it is the hard work and discipline that got them there.
This Stephen King quote says it all:
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented from the successful is a lot of hard work.”
Is that stitched on a pillow somewhere? It should be.
What it means for me: ‘Talent’ (and ‘luck’) often manifest themselves through work. The more I write, the more ‘talented’ I get.
Okay. This post was for you. But it was also tough love for me. A little self-directed kick in the pants. (Wait a minute. Is it even physically possible to kick your self in the seat of your pants?)
2013 is going to be a big year. But only if I make it so.
How do you manage the social media madness?
Does the multi-tasking it requires ever wear you out?
How to you make time for yourself and your own goals?