The Writer and An Addiction to Social Media

GoldenEarsWriters

A comment left on my previous post reminded me why I began my venture into social media, AND why I have ever-so-slowly backed away again. Wendy Love said,

I love reading ideas that concur with my own as this one does. As a writer/blogger I keep reading that I have to spread myself all over the internet. But as someone who is challenged by bipolar disorder, I only have so much energy to go around. At one point I cut myself off of everything but now that I am back to writing online I realize I should probably be reaching out more. Can anyone suggest a select few that they would recommend?

Part of my reply: “I began blogging chiefly because I heard the same thing: that to be a successful author you need to establish a tribe…a crowd of online followers. There’s a certain benefit to being part of the social media community, but if we become obsessed with developing numbers to the detriment of our personal growth and writing time, we counteract the value.”

Also detrimental is the subtle addiction to social media. It’s too easy to get hung up on being a courteous communicator — checking online conversations and making sure we reply promptly. One week I discovered I had spent more time trying to react to comments and other people’s articles, and to provide thoughtful responses, than I did working on my own writing project.

Most of my early writing years were spent in cognito as far as any online presence was concerned. I stalked popular agents’ and editors’ blogs while reading ‘how to’ books on the craft of writing. I was in learning mode, and I stayed there until one day the urge to respond to something prodded me into visibility. (I think my first comment was on Rachelle Gardner‘s blog, and I was almost in a cold sweat as I fearfully pressed the SEND key that first time.)

At one point I had well over a hundred blogs and websites bookmarked — all interesting and useful, but, of course, I couldn’t visit each of them every day. A pattern developed, and I found a way to code my favourite, more favourite and most favourite sites. Later I joined Facebook, then also Twitter and Google+, but managed to withstand the temptation of everything else. As I mentioned last week, in conjunction with my blogging, even those few have become too time consuming.

I’ve come to believe that establishing a specific online community is desirable for gathering personal support and industry information, but trying to be present everywhere and “do it all” will eventually drain my energy and shift the focus of my writing towards maintenance rather than creativity. And before having published books to promote, the creative writing aspect is what I need to pursue.

The question of which social media sites are most useful has no single correct answer. I qualify that by adding it depends on what genre you write, how experienced you are, and what your goals are. It also depends on what ignites your passions. I’ll share some of mine in the next edition of my Musings.

I’ve been reading Jeff Goins’ YOU ARE A WRITER (SO START ACTING LIKE ONE). One of his observations struck home:

You know what most of this crazy, social media platform maintenance is? Stalling. Procrastinating the real work you need to do, which is writing. I don’t play that game anymore. I pick a few networks that work for me and I say ‘good riddance’ to the rest. If you’re going to be a real writer, you’ll have to make similar sacrifices.

I hadn’t read that when I decided to jump ship from Google+, but I think he would approve. I’ll be back here on Friday to share what social media I haven’t abandoned and which blogs and websites get the majority of my attention.

In the meantime, in Jeff’s words, “do a little purging and get to work.”

~  ~  ~

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3 thoughts on “The Writer and An Addiction to Social Media

  1. Wendy Love says:

    Thank you so much for this, it is just what I needed! Personally I don’t like social media and I don’t do social media but figured it was something I ‘should’ do to get my blog out there.

    I had just spent an hour or so setting up a facebook page for my blog and then you posted this. It helped me to realize that social media was going to be of no help at all if I didn’t actually participate in it and so I may just delete… again! I couldn’t count the number of those sights I have set up and given up on.

    I am an extreme introvert, even online and so that sort of thing holds no appeal whatsoever and yet I hear so much about it I kind of figured I would be completely out of the loop if I didn’t at least try.

    But your ideas on this have substantiated my decision to follow my gut instead of the trend and stay away from the whole thing.

    Your post was timely for me.

    • Carol says:

      Wendy, I wasn’t suggesting you should “stay away from the whole thing”, but rather choose wisely how and where you spend your online time. I checked your blog and see it focusses on “encouragement, information, inspiration and hope” for people coping with depression. If blogging is what you prefer, the best way to make your blog known and build a comfortable local community is to visit others with a similar focus. Google “blogs with depression topic” and lots of suggestions come up. Do a little exploration to select a few quality blogs with a good following, make thoughtful comments on their posts and eventually their readers may reciprocate and visit you. 🙂

  2. I start social media for the same reason. It wasn’t long before I realized it was the friends, the fellowshipping that I needed. Like you, those early years were lonely. I feel blessed having so many friends I can reach out to. I decided this year that I would blog more about depression and how to get through it. Sadly, I’ve grown to realize there is no cure, but one can use every facet of every available avenue. We need each other; some of us more than others.

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