I’m not gonna lie: I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to social media. This is probably not something I need to explicitly say; the eleven-month silence on this blog speaks for itself. But I’ve made a New Years’ resolution to “put myself out there” and while, yes, it’s already February, I’ll remind you that the Year of the Monkey is still several days away. So, if you look at it that way, I’m getting a head start.
Distractions, Distractions, Distractions
To finish a novel, you’ve usually got to hunker down and concentrate, sometimes for hours at a time. And when you’re trying diligently to meet a deadline, social media can seem like a needless distraction. Do you know how easy it is to fritter a day away down the rabbit hole of Twitter hashtags? Last week, I lost twenty precious minutes to reading the tweets of a pop star who’s convinced the moon landing was a hoax. That’s twenty minutes I could’ve been writing. Though, admittedly, I got a great idea for a conspiracy theorist character that I dropped in my “Plot Bunnies” folder for later, I would’ve been far happier with myself had I made a significant dent in my word count.
Social Media as Lifeline
Then again, there is such a thing as being too single-minded. By nature, I’m an introvert, and writing is a solitary pursuit that feeds my reticence. If I’m cooped up in my office, day after day, doing nothing but churning out words, by the end of the week I start acting like a castaway, holding conversations with the can of compressed air perched next to my keyboard. With social media, I can at least be reminded that I’m not totally alone in the world. That other writers and readers and introverts are only one tweet away.
My first foray into social media was Twitter. 140 characters seemed like a manageable chunk of interaction, not hard to sustain over the long-term. Plus, I liked the challenge of thinking up bite-size witticisms, miniature stories, ways to hook a reader in a single sentence. What I didn’t realize was how fantastic it was for connecting with other people in the industry. Without Twitter, I never would’ve found out about — or finaled in! — Pitch Madness, which helped me build relationships with other writers and publishing professionals. Twitter is also how I found my agent; I queried her on the basis of one of her #MSWL requests. Now, it’s just a fun way to chat with other people who share similar interests. Or, of course, to investigate the wacky conspiracy theories of the rich and famous.
Pinterest is another social media account I can get behind, mostly because I can convince myself I’m actually being productive as I’m pinning. “Look, this panorama of Big Sur is totally a great setting for the road trip scene in my next book!” or “Let me see if I can find a picture of what my hero might look like without a shirt on.” I’m finding it’s a good way to connect with others while getting my creative juices flowing.
The one platform I’ve been hesitant to join is Instagram. I’m not a picture-taker; when I’ve been writing for days on end, not only do I act like a castaway, but I sort of resemble one, too. Scraggly hair, tattered sweatpants, days of accumulated leg stubble. Not exactly the type of selfie I want plastered all over the Internet. But for February, Dahlia Adler started the #AuthorLifeMonth hashtag, encouraging authors to share photos with a different theme each day. I figured this was a good way for me to start connecting with other writers in the Instagram world.
So, if you’re on any of these three platforms, let’s follow each other!