An author friend recently told me that facebook has been throwing her off after about five minutes. I said: "Good!" This is an author whose face appears on my facebook feeds in one long line every time I check facebook on my phone (the only time I use facebook, twitter or google+). My author friend is amazed at how much more writing she is getting done -- she has two books published and is working on her third. Social media definitely interferes with our writing schedules...and lots, lots more.
Facebook and other social media -- let's face it -- are fun! Usually! (If we put aside the cyber bullying, trolling, hacking etc). But social media robs us of writing time, reading time and interacting with 'real' people time, doesn't it? Here are my observations for what they're worth...
I go to a cafe with my husband and one or two of our children or friends -- we sit, we pour water, we discuss the menu, decide what to eat and drink -- then, powie! We all get out our smartphones, log onto the free wi-fi and...
a) check facebook/twitter/instagram/google+ etc updates
b) update facebook/twitter/instagram/google+
c) take a photo of the marvellous meals when they arrive, play with photo art, then post updates
d) are inundated with tweeting birds, bells and so forth as the notifications come in -- what do our 'friends' think of our status/photos/witty comments...then we reluctantly put our phones down and laugh at how silly we all are before proceeding to sip, eat and chat. We slip seamlessly between 'virtual' friends and 'real' friends.
What's wrong with the above scenario? Some would say nothing -- it's modern life. But it niggles at me how we often put our 'virtual' friends before our 'real' friends and family. I think we're kidding ourselves if we think our 'virtual' friends really care for us except on a very shallow level; they're not going to be there for us in an emergency. We could drop off the planet, drop off facebook, drop off our blog/s and most of us really wouldn't be missed, would we, except by a precious few who we've made a deep 'virtual' connection with? If we don't post updates, our 'virtual' friends just think we're having a social media break, or our phone fell in the ocean, our computer broke down...or they may not notice our absence at all :(
'Our new ways of communicating are making us more likely to forget others...' according to New York novelist Jonathan Safran Foer (quoted in the Queensland Weekend today -- it's okay to read amongst friends, isn't it?). Foer goes on to say we are less likely to give our undivided attention to the people around us when our focus is on social media. He argues that we use technology to save time, yet it makes the time 'less intimate'. Foer scarily says (and he's probably right), that with each new communication technology, we move further away from each other, we are losing the bonds that make us human. Connection to the world via technology instead of lived life makes us sadder, not happier, he claims.
Have you ever tried withdrawing from technology -- except from your writing, of course? It's like giving up coffee, tea or Mars Bars...you end up with a headache and become all twitchy...well, I do anyway. What happens when the internet crashes? Eek! Fix it quick!! What happens when blogger isn't working properly? Bad blogger! So much time is spent fixing technology. (Took me months to fix my blogger feed). Yes, I was blogging, but you wouldn't have known -- no updates were appearing and few noticed.
As a traveller, one of the first things I check when booking online is -- is there wi-fi? We've just got to stay connected! No longer do we have to wait to get home from holidays to bore our family and friends with our marvellous pics -- we upload them daily and bore them while we're on the move. We do live in the age of instant gratification, after all.
So I try to limit my social networking -- try to write first, and often mull over which social media I could delete (linked in first I'm currently thinking). Here is a post from an author who has just deleted his Twitter account, deciding it's just a waste of time. As he says: Twitter wants your life. Don’t give it up so easily. Think about it -- most of us are bloggers, have at least one facebook account, a twitter account, a Google+ account, are on linked in, instagram, goodreads...authors have Amazon Author pages, separate Author pages on facebook and goodreads that they ask us to 'like' or follow -- plus, plus, plus...
We really don't have the time for it all, but writing books means marketing and we've been convinced we need all these networks to sell our books, but even this makes us less human if it all becomes about selling our book and not caring or returning favours to others who're trying to do the same. We obviously need some social media, but which is the most effective? If we spend too much time social networking, soon we'll have nothing finished to network about.
Twitter is one of my favourites. I'll blog about it another time..
Facebook is only updating our status to 10% of our followers. If you want all your followers to see your posts, you have to pay to promote!!
- Authors, what do you consider the best social network tool?
- Everybody, how important is social media to you?
I finish about 6 books a week. I don't need much sleep so I read well into the morning. So I'm going to start jotting down some of those I finish each week...e-books and print books, fiction and non-fiction.
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What I learnt about writing: Readers may be involved with more than the main character. Reassure them occasionally.
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What I learnt about writing: Good research pays off. Know your topic.
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What I learnt about writing: Keep the reader saying: 'No! Don't!'
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What I learnt about writing: Keep the disasters coming, but eventually have good things happen!
- What have you been reading lately? Tell me about it.
- Seen any good movies lately? Do you agree/disagree with my quick reviews?
Front Porch Romance has a Special Call for Submissions. You have until October 2013. Novellas, novels, themed writing...I'm in!
Quirk Books "Looking for Love" contest. A $10,000 prize for the best quirky love story of 50,000 + words. Visit the Quirk Books website to download the entry form or for further information. Quirk Books was founded in 2002 and publishes around 25 books each year. Their bestselling titles include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. (Soon to be a major motion picture)Entries close October 1, 2013. GOOD LUCK!
Escargot Books is expanding its catalogue and are now accepting submissions. Crime fiction (dark thrillers to cozies), women’s fiction, wealth and fitness, children’s, sci-fi and dystopian. All books will be published in digital format. Some books will be chosen for print and/or audio as well. Escargot Books does not offer an advance, but they offer higher royalties than traditional publishers, especially for direct sales from their website, as well as editing, formatting, promotion, and the company of bestselling authors. They have some big name authors and a good track record. Here’s their online submission form