You want to hear some hard truth? Do you promise not to get mad at me? Promise?
Okay then. Here it is. Your social networking habit? It’s hurting you.
The above quote is from this thought-provoking post by JT Ellison. So much of it echoes conversations I’ve been having recently with a couple of writer friends. It’s such a conundrum writers find ourselves in with this social media thing. I can’t even put into words how much I love Twitter. I LOVE TWITTER. There. I said it. I’m less a fan of Facebook. I just don’t like the interface, while I love the way Twitter invites conversation. Not to mention ALL the LINKS to so many amazing and inspiring articles! It is truly the best place I’ve found to keep up with the publishing industry. And yet …
Because here’s the heart of the matter. Writers? Our job is to write. And I don’t mean pithy status updates and 140 character gems that astonish the world. I mean create. I mean writing stories. I mean taking all that energy and time you’re spending online playing and refocusing it into your work.
Yes social media and other publicity vehicles have become integral to our jobs, but if we don’t write, we have no job, nothing to promote, and being social is just about the fun. Twitter tells me I’ve made over 33K tweets since joining in 2007. I know that typing out 140 characters unrelated to other sets of 140 characters isn’t comparable to writing a book, but those 140 characters 33K times means distraction. In other words, my brain was elsewhere being thoughtful and witty instead of putting that creativity into my book. Of course the very fact that I’ve made over 33K tweets proves that I have a bit of an addiction to the service. But I think that’s what makes it most effective as a promotional tool. I get to know readers and other writers. I don’t just broadcast out my book information, but I engage and share all manner of things that have nothing to do with the work. That’s why it’s called being social. And why us hermit types find it so addictive.
At the end of the six weeks, I added things up. I wrote 60,000 words during my enforced social media vacation. That was enough of an indicator to me that it was taking time away from my job, which is to write.
Of course on day one of my hiatus, I didn’t count my words. I was working between projects, snipping and nipping here and there, moving text from Google Docs (where the husband and I are writing together) into Scrivener for better formatting and editing. But imagine 60,000 extra words in 6 weeks just by typing story instead of posts and tweets. I don’t plan to hit that number. Ten thousand a week is beyond me most of the time anyway. But if I could use my social internet hiatus to write a 25,000 word novella for my readers, well… I could be wrong, but I’m thinking you guys might like reading that more than my tweets?