“Build your author platform; be active on social media.”
When you hear this advice as an aspiring author, you may head off to the online world to build that all-important platform. You spend time learning, reading posts, following others, posting, and joining online communities.
Time passes, and you build a social media following and presence. You learn from and connect with others, and have made online friends.
But something is missing …. what is it?
Oh yes — writing.
Social media has a way of consuming our attention, focus and time, often at the expense of other, important parts of our lives.
Social media cuts both ways for writers. It helps us get our work out into the world, but also prevents us from writing.
Understand Its Power Over You
The pull of social media is strong.
First, there’s the constant, instant attraction of the media: watching clips from the late night comedy shows, examining incredible photographs, and reading click-bait articles.
However, the social aspect of of the equation is what really hooks us. Humans are social animals. On Facebook, something is always happening, and if we’re not there, we’re potentially missing it. You’ve heard of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). We are all subject to this fear.
Time spent on social media can easily displace time spent thinking, reading, researching, writing, and revising — the essential activities of a writer.
Here are a few tactics for making sure that the author platform you’re trying to build on social media doesn’t displace the work itself.
Create a Strategy and Schedule It
The first defense is to plan ahead. Understand what you’re trying to achieve with social media, then plan and schedule that activity.
Differentiate between the intentional, purposeful social media engagement and the recreational kind (watching those cat videos, chatting with family, etc.)
Use social media scheduling tools to plan out a basic level of online activity on the platforms you frequent. Buffer and HootSuite both let you schedule posts ahead of time.
Create lists of people that you follow so that you can always find relevant content to share and ways to support the people that you interact with.
Decide how much time each day or week you’re willing to spend working toward those social media goals. Then set aside that time to make it happen.
Put Your Writing First
Because time disappears rapidly down the social media whirlpool, do your writing first. Don’t let yourself get on social media until you’ve done at least the first stretch of writing each day.
Considering using recreational social media time as an incentive to getting the work done. “Once I’ve written 1000 words, I can spend 30 minutes on Facebook.”
Find Social Support Online
Some of the wisest writers I know turn social media into a support system instead of a drain. They find groups of like-minded writers, who will hold them accountable for your writing and will understand when they check out during a crunch.
For more inspiration, check out the book Sell More Books With Less Social Media by Chris Syme. Chris really understands nuances of using social media to market your books. (Read my review of her book here.)
The Writer’s Process includes a chapter on self-discipline and procrastination, in case you need it.
Originally published at annejanzer.com on March 1, 2017.