Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How to keep social media from taking over your life

There's a lot of talk among indie authors about how important it is to be active on social media, get on Facebook, Twitter, Wattpad, etc - but in my opinion, it's vital to keep the following in mind: what makes us writers isn't Tweets, or Facebook updates, or participating in "write 10,000 words about X" contests. What makes a writer is writing. Actually sitting down and working on a serious, ambitious writing project for a portion - even a small portion - of every day.

It's easy to get swamped in the social media. Perhaps, if you have plenty of leisure, it's OK with you. For people who are busy, however - people who work full time at day jobs, or people who, like me, are full-time caretakers of small children - this can a disaster. I get on Facebook and give about fifty likes to people. I get on Wattpad and there are a dozen threads on the forums I'd like to extensively comment upon. And then the baby wakes up, and it's time to make lunch, then fold the laundry, then make dinner... and another day has drawn to a close and, though I've definitely typed away quite a bit,  I haven't added a single new line to my novel.

So what do I do?

1. I've decided on the One Login A Day policy. I'm allowed to login once to Wattpad, post/edit what I need, respond to comments, briefly check the forums and respond to one or two threads, and log off. That's it. No more "just one little peek" that day, or I get sucked in again and am unable to stop. Same goes for Facebook - one login a day, check on 3 friends each day (I make a rotation), log off. Same thing for my emails. I'm not allowed to check on my emails 10 times a day, even if I'm waiting for a response from a literary agent or whatever.

2. Cut down on the sources of social media. I know of authors who have a YouTube account, Facebook and Twitter pages, Wattpad, Instagram, their website/blog, and more, all dedicated to promoting their writing. I, however, know I won't be able to handle this much, and handle it well (with regular updates, etc). So for now I've decided not to open a Twitter account. Because if I stop writing, I will soon run out of anything to promote.

3. I read very little these days. I know this is a real drawback. To advance as a writer, ideally you should read a lot. A lot of good stuff, some mediocre, and even some lame stuff - to realize more clearly what you shouldn't do. Also, it's good to review people's work so they'll review your work in return. All that is true. But I am literally starved for time. I cram in the basic things, such as eating, writing and an occasional shower, and there's very little left over. So I read a bit on my phone while breastfeeding the baby, or pick up one of my favorite classics. At this season of my life, it will have to do.

Again: social media is good, but if it draws you in so much that you have no time left for writing, you are losing your actual purpose.

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