Social media is a mixed blessing. It's enticing, offering unfettered access to just about everything, everywhere. A chance to open minds and meet fascinating people. It’s also dangerous, especially to an Indie writer. Like a kid in a candy store.
And like it was for me on Friday.
Somewhere, hiding in one of my dozen or so social media accounts, is a wonderful article that explains the importance of having a creative ‘side project’ as a way to break from the routine and rejuvenate. As an Indie children’s book writer, that speaks to me. I want to share it. But I can’t get my virtual fingers on that article after searching inboxes, outboxes, posts, and googling keywords.
Did I make a hard copy and store it? Nope. Nowhere on my hard drive, Dropbox or Google Drive folders.
Maybe I pinned it? (Pinterest? Danger, Will Robinson! Red alert!) I start scrolling through my Pinterest account. What a beautiful cottage garden pin. Must like it. Oooo. A very cool new author. Must follow him. Hooray! Image of a tiny sprout surviving between steely train tracks just reached 1000 pins. Ouch. An auto-correct typo in my last pin’s text. Must fix.
Must share that creativity article when I find it with my writer's circle on Google+. Maybe Kid Lit authors, too.
Must shorten its link once I find it, so I can Tweet it in less than 140 characters.
Must refocus article for my author Facebook page to share the importance of outlets in a writerly life. Would friends on my ‘personal’ FB account find it interesting, too? I’d like to hear their creative sidelines.
Once I find that article, maybe I should add a graphic to my post. After all, visual-centric content gets a gazillion times more reader engagement. Must find a free, open source graphic that shows creativity. Search MorgueFile, Wiki commons photos. Nothing. Photography pal M. Leigh Emery miles away in upstate NY comes to my rescue with her shot of approaching super-storm Sandy.
I’ve been up since 6:30 a.m., having breakfast, watching Charlie, Nora and Gayle fill me in on what’s happened in the world. I can do this. I am an extrovert who needs background noise. But dead stop on the hour, when CBS cuts to its 90-second Eye Opener. (Thanks goodness that montage of current events ends with uplifting stories about sports, entertainment, or pets because world news is dreadful these days.)
So, with one ear to the telly, I scan social media accounts and more news feeds on my tablet. (Guardians of the Galaxy and Boyhood score rave reviews. Must schedule a trip to the Cineplex with my gal pals.) I eat breakfast with my right hand while swiping and tapping the tablet with the left. Then switching over to dig deeper on my laptop once breakfast is digested.
It’s 9:00 a.m. Charlie says farewell and my local CBS team tells me it will rain all weekend. Where did the time go?
I haven’t done anything except answer my 100 or so tweets that twittered up since last night. Such wonderful connections on Twitter. Must support them.
And responded to email messages from my three personal and author accounts.
Browsed author and personal Facebook pages to see what’s happening with family, friends, and writerly folk. Liked and commented on pet, kid, food, vacation, and new book updates.
Then hopped on the hopeless search for the article on creative sidelines, about which I wanted to write a blog post and still haven’t found, that started this folly hours ago.
Goodreads and Linkedin, I just can't get to you today. Plus, it’s my week for grocery shopping and housecleaning. Also must exercise to banish writer's spread from sitting and keyboarding. Must get back to penning my third chapter book for young readers.
Must post, tweet, pin, like, share, send, friend.
Must, must, must……
Where is this insistent, slightly manic voice coming from? I write chapter books for early readers: calm, sweet, and gentle. Where’s my patient, sotto voce honed from years of working with ADHD and Asperger’s students?
I feel as if I’ve been flung through a rip in the time-space continuum, with a fleet of Daleks on my tail. Doctor, where are you?!?
ARGHHH! Then it hits me: the Social Media Time-Suck Vortex strikes again!
We’ve all been there, if you're a writer or 9-5 warrior. Let’s get it out of our system. Please say with me:
Social media is a time suck.
I don’t have time to write____INSERT other occupation because I spend so much time on ____ INSERT the social media platform(s) of your choice.
Thanks. I feel better now. Hope you do, too.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE social media. I spend happy minutes lost in Pinterest and catching up with amazing people I’ve met from Australia to the Jersey shore and the US Left Coast.
How did I get this way? How did I morph into this wild, social media beastie?
It started innocently, more than a year ago, when I built a website and added an author Facebook business page. Every seasoned indie author I followed warned me to go slow. And I tried. Except I needed to add more platforms if my books were to be featured on x, y, or z marketing approach. It even took a whole year before I plopped onto the Twittosphere. (And I have yet to find my way through that maze of sound-bytes).
But as I advised my college students: don’t spend time bemoaning the fact that the computer crashed or you lost your USB stick with your term paper on it (today’s digital equivalent of the ole dog-ate-my-homework excuse).
Instead, find positive, do-able steps to regain control. Following my own advice, here’s what I’ll do to escape the trap of the Social Media Vortex:
To demonstrate I'm truly balanced outside the Vortex and to help me feel better about not finding that elusive article, I want to share a creative outlet that nourishes me: dabbling in digital photography and graphic design. I discovered Canva --- a free design program for non-artists like me --- which I adore and would adopt and take home with me if it were a human child. I spend happy moments designing PG-13, make-ya-happy memes about kids, writing, books, gardens, and such.
I'm starting my vortex-control regime without delay. And I’ll post soon about a different approach to social media from an Indie author who knows how to manage it without being sucked in by the Vortex. K. Lamb, author of the middle-grade children's book series, Dani P Mystery, shares her secret.
In the meantime, if you come across that lost article, can you please message me with the link?
How do you avoid the social media Time-Suck Vortex? Don’t be shy. Please share in the comment section.
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