Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Social Networking and Writing: Is There a Perfect Balance?


When I signed with my publisher, Jolly Fish Press (JFP), they made one requirement of me (okay, more than one but this caused the most internal upheaval). What they said was, and I paraphrase: “Ann Marie, you need to do social networking. That’s a must.”  Now this was asked of me, the woman who for years had been avoiding blogging and interacting on FB. Twitter was for the birds, literally.

The first few months were the hardest. The hours I spent deliberating over what to say and how to say it. The hours I spent obsessing over what people might be thinking of what I said and how I said it. The hours I spent NOT WRITING!!!!!  Social Networking had taken over my brain with an abandon I had never considered. That was all I could think about. For months I couldn’t come up with a single new story idea. I could barely even work on my works in progress (WIP’s).

Luckily, over time, and I have to admit, loads of encouragement not only from JFP but from my fellow JFP authors, I was able to ‘calm down’ (my daughter’s words) and put things in perspective. I am happy to say that I have found my muse again. I am writing.

The temptation is always there though to get lost in FB (which I have come to love and through which I have met, and am still meeting, some truly awesome people, some of whom are old friends). Blogging has become somewhat easier, and tweeting isn’t all that bad either. My priority, though, is to create stories people will enjoy. So what I do now is set aside a certain amount of hours per week to interact on the various social media (without going crazy) and devote the bulk of my time to family, writing, friends, life...

I haven’t as yet found a perfect balance. That, in itself, is a work in progress. Is it even possible?

Here is what some other writers have to say about this topic.   




Amie Borst's first children's middle grade novel, 'Cinderskella', Book 1 of the 'Scarily Ever Laughter' series, will be released by Jolly Fish Press on October 26, 2013. Check her out on her website or on Facebook 

I wish I had the perfect formula, something simple and basic: 1+1=2.  Unfortunately I haven't figured out this perfect formula.  Yet.  I also haven't found the magic one, though I'm betting magic is easier found than perfection!  For now, I still spend way too much time on social networks and not enough time writing.  But when I do find a day that somehow seems to have just the right amount of balance, it usually entails up to an hour of social networking on my three favorite sites (twitter, facebook and pinterest) in the morning, followed by household duties (unfortunately my fairy godmother hasn't made an appearance yet) and a few hours of writing in the afternoon.  I close out the day with about another hour of social networking after my kids are in bed.  It's not perfect and I know there are ways to be more efficient, but for now it's the closest thing I've found to balance.






F.J.R. Titchenell's debut novel,’ Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)’, will be available summer of 2014. In the meantime, you can follow her blog, Confessions of the One and Only F.J.R. Titchenell (That I Know of), find anthologies featuring her short stories under the "books" tab, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

In the admittedly short time I’ve spent as a blogger, on top of being a fiction writer, these are the most vital things I’ve learned: You have to set a schedule. One to two blog posts and one chapter a week works for me. I try to have the posts planned at least a month in advance and written about a week in advance so I have a grace period if I start to slip. Let ideas do double duty. If I have a blog post to announce through Facebook and Twitter on a given day, I’ll usually save up any quick, random Facebook-appropriate musings for the next day. It saves me from too many “I had toast for breakfast” filler posts. Don’t turn down help. Welcome guests and collaborative projects (Like this one!). You’ll be doing other bloggers a favor, and you’ll get more material and traffic for a smaller time investment. Finally, write what you love. The same rule that applies to fiction applies to blogging. The more passion you have, the quicker and easier the writing process will be, and the more fun the result will be to read. Not everything you post has to be Aristotle. Write about what inspires you to do your “real” writing.






 Janet Kay Jensen is the author of ‘The Book Lover’s Cookbook’ and ‘Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys’. Her next book, ‘Gabriel’s Daughters’ will be released on September 21, 2013. You can reach her through her website or on Facebook.

Here are my goals:

1) Learn to use Hoot Suite to my advantage for
a. posting at optimum times
b. filtering so I follow only the posts that interest me

2) Blogs: Follow only a few of the best blogs re writing and publishing.
a. Write provocative posts that produce more reader responses
b. Take opportunities to guest post
c. Understand how to maximize a blog tour

3) Pinterest: Optimize my presence as an author (I have boards for my books and JFP)

4) Remember to link, link, link with all of the above

5) When I’m writing:
a. Set aside specific blocks of writing time when I pretend the internet isn’t available.
        b. Take my phone off the hook. We have an answering machine. It  
        works. 




Sarah Kriger writes middle grade and young adult books as well as plays. Her new play ‘Bitch of the Baskervilles’ will be performed in Toronto this May. As details become available, they will be posted on www.socratictheatre.com. You can also find out more about Sarah here.

For me, managing the balance between social networking and writing is a matter of time. I love to blog, because sometimes, I like to analyse the problems I'm having with my creative projects or share my thoughts about writing. Other times, I just want to develop a funny idea I had or rant about a TV show plot that bothered me, and it's nice to have somewhere I can do that, too. And a lot of the time, I blog about things that I need to get out in print, written down, so I can free my mental energy for other work. But I need to be careful not to let those jokes and rants and essays take over my schedule. So, I budget myself 15 minutes per weekday to blog or Tweet. That's usually enough to write and revise a weekly blog entry and have some time leftover to start next week's.  




  
Dan Levinson’s first novel, 'Psionic Earth', will be released in Spring 2014. Dan can be found on Facebook and Twitter. His blog will be up and running soon.

For me, the most important way of finding balance has been first to find a concrete writing process. My teacher Jake Krueger once advised me to set a goal for what I thought I could accomplish on a daily basis, and then cut that goal in half. It's all about tackling it in manageable pieces. And once you've figured out how to do that, the rest of day magically opens up. When you already know the when, and how, and how much of writing, you can plan for anything else you need to accomplish. A great deal of time can be spent worrying about when you're going to have a chance to write, so if you can remove that concern from the equation, it becomes easier to allocate time toward marketing and self-promotion.





  
Erika Mailman is the author of two historical novels, The Witch’s Trinity (Random House 2007) and Woman of Ill Fame (Heyday Books 2007). She teaches writing through www.mediabistro.com and can be reached at www.erikamailman.com.

Writers have a hard time finding balance between writing and social networking. It can be easy to be distracted from your writing, so my tactic is to write first, then take care of the easier work of networking.  Commenting on others' blogs on a daily basis can be time-consuming: be mentally prepared to join the community of writers and make sure to keep your own blog updated at least twice a week, the recommended minimum to build and maintain readership. Of course this is easier said than done, and I need to more fervently practice what I preach!





Elsie Park, author of medieval fiction, Shadows of Valor - release date 27 July, 2013 through Jolly Fish Press. You can learn more about Elsie via her website, twitter or on Facebook.

Individual authors must decide what they are able to do on any given day depending on their unique circumstances. A good balance for one author may not be right for another. Some authors write first and then network afterward. Other authors network first, sometimes spending hours a day on it, and still have a fresh mind for creative writing. And still others (including myself) have to juggle a myriad of things other than writing and networking. These include children, chores, spouses, jobs, emergencies, and whatever else life sees fit to hand out. I wish I could say I was an authority on this subject. I still struggle to find the perfect balance between family, writing and networking, but I can tell you that first and foremost my children and husband come first. In the early morning, however, when one child is at school and the others are still asleep, I take advantage of that time. First I exercise for an hour, and then I set a time limit of 1-2 hours for networking, getting it done first thing. The rest of the day I dedicate to my manuscript (broken up as needed by family needs, chores and errands). For now, this seems to work for me. 





  
Jennifer Wardell’s first novel, "Fairy Godmothers, Inc." will hit the shelves April 27. Check out her blog for more information.

I have a lot more fun writing than I do on social media – the
characters’ days are a lot more interesting than mine tend to be. In a
perfect world, I’d make them responsible for writing all my Facebook
and Twitter posts. If nothing else, it would make up for some of the
time I lose by constantly arguing with them.



Well, there you have it. Eight authors and their take on the balance involved in social networking and writing. Any additional advice or suggestions are welcome as we are always willing and ready to learn.





4 comments:

  1. Nice post and good perspectives. Enjoyed hearing all the different struggles. Wish one of you had come up with the perfect balance though :)

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  2. Thanks Destiny. I think many people struggle with finding such a balance. Hopefully others will comment on their solutions (or perspectives)here.

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  3. Ann Marie, I know it's been weeks since you posted this, but I appreciate the organization and work you put into it. Great job and well done! I've retweeted and shared this link again just today (a month later) because I think it's full of great advice for anyone struggling to balance their social networking with busy schedules. Thanks again, Ann Marie! :)

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  4. Thanks Elsie. I appreciate this. Glad you liked the post too. :)

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