I hear the same excuse from aspiring authors—and from published authors—when I tell them they should use social networking to build platform and promote themselves and their work. They always say, “It’s one more thing to do that takes me away from my writing.” This statement is closely followed by, “Social networking is a waste of time,” “It’s a time sink,” and “I just don’t have the time.” The bottom line? They don’t want to get involved with social networking. They want to write.
Today I’ve asked someone else to take up the cause. Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, explains how writers can fit social networking into their busy writing schedule and busy lives. Listen up, and take her advice…please!
How Writers Can Make Time for Social Media
By Kristen Lamb
One thing I keep hearing over and over is how writers complain they simply do not have time to do social media. So today we are going to do some myth-busting. All writers need social media, but for the aspiring non-fiction author social media can mean the difference between life and death. A massive part of your book proposal is going to be dedicated to demonstrating to an editor that people actually care about what you have to say. On to myth-busting…
Myth #1–I have to spend hours on Twitter and Facebook to be effective.
Um…that would be a negative. Total myth. In fact, if we do? An angry clown will jump out of our computer and bite off our face. Kidding! Though that would be cool. No, the angry clown is a total lie. But, it is likely people will unfollow us because we never shut up. Do you like hanging around people who have this itching need to fill the air with words, no matter how vapid? I don’t care for people who talk to hear themselves talk, namely because they are interrupting me by doing all the talking. But seriously. I want people who offer a great conversation. We all do.
Quality trumps quantity every time.
Think back to when you were a kid. Who do you remember most? Often the people who made the most impact on our lives weren’t there 24/7. It was a teacher we had for 9 months of our childhood or a grandparent who lived 5 states away whom we only saw on special occasions. So this idea that we have to smother people to be memorable is flawed.
Myth #2–I just won’t have the discipline to write.
There are a lot of reasons that this job is not for everyone. Writing for a career takes an incredible amount of discipline. I firmly believe that the arts have such a tremendously high failure rate due to one simple reality—we artsy types have the attention span of a fruit bat on crack. We love chasing shiny objects. Don’t believe me? Just turn on a pen light and dance it across the wall at a Starbucks. Guarantee you will lure at least two writers and a musician.
As I was saying….OOOH SQUIRREL!
Oh, sorry. Hey, I can be honest. The personality that makes us creative also tends to make us flaky. Those of us who can learn to get our stuff done despite our nature are the ones who will eventually make it to the tipping point where everything falls into place, and we can finally make a real job out of what we love.
Social media gives us much better odds of success, and I cannot emphasize enough how important building a platform is. But, at the end of the day, we are in control. Okay well, the aliens are really in control, so put on your tin foil hat and minimize Twitter.
I use social media as a reward. I minimize everything until I make certain goals, and then I can go spend 5-10 minutes on Twitter and Facebook…three times a day. Morning, afternoon, and evening. I spend 30 minutes MAX on my social media. Little efforts over time add up for big returns.
Myth #3–I have to be self-disciplined to do social media.
Yes….and no. Is it wonderful to develop will power? Yes. It is a skill that can help in many other areas of our lives, like with cookies and credit cards. But sometimes we are wise to realize when we just lack what it takes to back away from the shiny thing.
It is okay for us to admit that we are lacking. Admitting we can’t do something on our own frees us to look for outside help. For instance, you could hire one of those really scary looking clowns to chase you around the computer if you hang out on Twitter too long.
OR…Writer Or Die, Freedom, or Ommwriter are there to shut everything down and MAKE us be disciplined. These services will block out any Internet capability for a set amount of time and you have to REBOOT the computer to get back on-line.
Hey, sometimes we have to delegate the discipline to others.
At the end on the day, we are often capable of far more than we believe. By nature, many of us (me included) are lazy slackers who, if given the choice, will take the path of least resistance (it has margaritas and cupcakes). But here is the thing. I freely admit that I am the reigning queen of Do It Later Land, so I know that I can’t let my feelings have a vote. Here is a horrible truth. If something is contrary to our nature, then that is likely what needs doing. Blech…I know. Like walking up stairs that go nowhere for an hour a day. Trust me, that is NOT my nature to do. I would rather play video games until I slip into a coma from sugar and lack of sleep.
Same with social media. We can do far more than we believe. Small, consistent, effective steps. Many writers are spending too much time on social media, namely because they have no plan. They don’t understand branding and how search engines work, so they are like hamsters running in a wheel…a lot of running but no forward progress. My book, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is designed to help writers work smarter, not harder.
So what are some tactics you guys use to keep social media from taking over your life? How do you carve out time to write? How do you make yourself be disciplined? Can you recommend an affordable angry clown service?
About the Author
Kristen Lamb is the author of the #1 best selling books, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer?
She is currently represented by Russell Galen of SGG Literary NYC. In her free time, Kristen trains sea monkeys for the purposes of world domination….when she isn’t trying to saw through her ankle monitor. www.kristenlamb.org