Every writer needs to be out there on social media. We hear it time and time again. Build that platform. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. A personal writer’s website. Blogging. And what about those online writing classes? And then the online groups which inevitably spring from those online classes? Maintaining your social media presence as a writer is important. It's helps with networking, honing your craft, getting advice and support from other writers, and marketing. But online presence often has a domino effect. It can send you flailing into a black hole of tweets and posts and blogs…and far, far away from your manuscript.
That’s right. Your manuscript. Remember that? The one you mention in those hashtag comments? The one you joined that online writers’ group for so you could get some feedback? That work-in-progress? Have you been working on it? Or just tweeting about it?
How much social media is too much? I’m not really sure, to be honest, and it’s certainly different for every writer depending upon where you are in your writing journey. But I’d venture to say if you’ve spent time checking your Twitter and Facebook accounts today and haven’t touched your manuscript then it’s too much, because it’s keeping you from writing.
Don’t neglect your online presence. Most agents and editors want to see writers have some established social media platform. But try to balance it, placing a priority on your writing. Some tips:
- Write FIRST. This is a strategy that works for a lot of writers because, let’s face it: Social media can suck you in and hold onto you for hours. So work on your writing before you log on to see what’s happening in your kid lit group. Get it done, people.
- Set a time limit for online activity. Fifteen minutes a day. Thirty. An hour. Maybe even set a timer. When it goes off, then write. No hitting that snooze button!
- Dedicate specific blocks of time to your social media if you know you’ve got an online project that will need a significant amount of attention: It’s your turn to write the blog. You have a webinar to watch for your writing class. There's a Twitter pitch party you want to participate in. Schedule it and adjust your writing time accordingly.
- Taking an online writing course? Go for it. But use that day’s lesson as a springboard for your writing. Let one flow into the next. Don’t check your Facebook group in between. If you need a break, vacuum. Or do yoga. Or contemplate the universe. Then use what you learned in your writing lesson in a writing exercise. Or try what was discussed in that class with your work-in-progress. Your FB group will be there later. Promise.
- “As a courtesy to others, please silence your cell phones now.” I can hear that movie voice, can’t you? As a courtesy to your manuscript, silence those cellular devices! Because if that DING goes off when you’re in the middle of a sentence, can you resist checking to see if it was a favorite on your last tweet? Or a response to a comment in your kidlit group? Or an email from that agent you sent a query to last week? NO! You won’t! Don’t lie to me. I do it, too! So turn those ringers off. Lock your phone in your car. Have your child hide your phone for you. (Not your toddler, though, ‘cause you’ll never see it again. Or you’ll find it floating in the toilet.)
Writing and social media: It’s a balancing act. Try to maintain your equilibrium. Keep your mind on your writing goals, first and foremost. You’re going to teeter. You’re going to totter. And, yes, you’re going to fall. Just remember: you’re building a social media platform to enhance your writing, not to smother it. So head up and eyes focused on that manuscript. And find your balance.
And before you ask...YES! The irony of presenting this topic on this blog, Twitter and Facebook is not lost on me! ;)