Thursday, 28 February 2013

Procrastination - I blame it all on the Social Media - by Hywela Lyn

Coincidences don’t have any place in fiction (or  so we’re always told) but when I was desperately trying to think of a theme for this month’s post, one thought kept creeping in. "If I didn’t have to spend so much time on Facebook, Twitter, and – dare I say it – blogging. I would be able to concentrate more on my writing." Then I realised that Ros said pretty much the same thing in her post yesterday. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy blogging and it is an exercise in writing after all.  I have my own blog, a blog I run with friends, and of course 'Authors Electric' and I love them all dearly, but all this 'social networking' lark does tend to run away with the time, sometimes.

The trouble is, as Ros says, in order to sell your books, people have to know who you are, or at least what your books are, and where they are.  These days, whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, or with a ‘small press’, paperback, hardback or E-book,  the problem is the same. Once the book is ‘out there’ you have to put yourself ‘out there ‘ too,  so that you can ‘promote’ your work. It’s not even that easy, though. There are thousands of authors out there, all willing the readers to purchase their books, and readers very quickly get tired of the same old ‘this is my book, it’s fantastic – really, please buy it.’ So we have to find some other way to capture their interest and hopefully get them to remember our name. We resort to the aforementioned Blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, Good-Reads, Linked-in, and a myriad loops and groups out there, we try to 'chat' and be friendly, and support each other, but even so, sales are not guaranteed. Is it any wonder we become exhausted, dispirited and discouraged, and allow our muse to go to sleep or worse, wither away from neglect?
It occurred to me a while ago that the reason my Work In Progress is still a WiP and not a finished manuscript, revised within an inch of its life and ready to be sent to an editor , is because I spend far too much time on the internet.  Not being a morning person, my first hour or so is spent wading through the two hundred or so emails I get daily (my husband and I also have a small on-line business  so not all the emails are mine, but they still have to be dealt with. )  Emails are about the only thing my half asleep brain can cope with first thing in the morning.  Then, in between walking the dog, housework, seeing to the horses, etc. etc. there is Facebook to be checked out, My  Triberr stream to be approved (I’m really not much of a Tweeter but I do my best) Blog posts to be prepared,other people's blogs to be visited and commented on (it’s only polite to visit someone’s blog if they’ve been kind enough to comment on yours) and before I know it the day’s gone and I haven’t written or revised a word of my novel.  

After some further thought, I have concluded that I need  a deadline in order to ‘kick my butt into gear’ and actually do what I enjoy and want to be doing.  I can manage to write 50,000 words in a month for National Novel Writing Month by forcing myself away from the Social Media circuit and making myself write for an hour or two or how ever long it takes to get those 1,700 words a day written (and 1,700 words a day is not really all that many).  So why can’t I do it every day?  There is an American group called the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood, and every February they hold a ‘Writing Festival’ for six weeks, where anyone can register and set their own goals, gaining a point for every day they achieve the goals.  It’s very casual, you are encouraged to award yourself a point just for making an effort to write on a difficult day.  There are prize draws for those who achieve their goals each week and daily ‘sprints’ where members meet in a ‘chat room’ and write together for sprints of 20 to 40 minutes.  There is something about working on-line in the company of others doing the same thing that is very empowering and encouraging and the support when we get to chat, in between sprints, helps to motivate us to further efforts.

So – if I can get away from the internet and force myself to work on ‘the novel’ for four weeks, or even six weeks, and still manage to keep my blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts up to date, and not neglect my online friends too much, I should be able to do it every day, shouldn’t I? 

Only time will tell, but I’m certainly going to try.Get thee behind me, Procrastination!


You can find out more about Lyn and her books on her  WEBSITE
She also blogs at her own BLOG, and THE AUTHOR ROAST AND TOAST

13 comments:

CallyPhillips said...

Yes, the zeitgeist of the time does seem to suggest that we are all suffering from social media fatigue at the moment. I would like to throw my hat in the ring and say that my theory (backed I believe by experience) is that we are actually all only talking to a very small, or a number of very small circles/groups and not really cracking it out there into the larger world. So we feel like we're doing a lot but actually all we are doing is bugging the same people again and again (mostly ourselves) and we get bored and stop listening or start blocking. I've long been advocating for looking for ways to break out of this cycle (because it is in fact the model that has always dogged self/vanity/indie (whatever you want to call it) non mainstream publishing - it's a huge world and we think we're engaging with it but really we are just revisiting our own small world. I hope this might spark some debate - although I see the irony of time wasted on it - but unless we can find individually or jointly ways to actually get OUT THERE properly I fear we are stuck in the catch 22 of all catch 22's. I am minded to say that we should perhaps remember that we are all totally insignificant in the wider world, but we think we are important in our own little world, and that may be why people don't like to address these hard truths. Why should anyone else be interested?
I'll be totally honest and say that my 'active' circle is probably no more than 30 and of that only 10 people really engaging with me - well, that's not really what one expected from the WORLD WIDE WEB now was it? But maybe we need to wake up and think about 'what the social media ever did for us' question. Thanks for the post Hywela and I hope this sparks some serious debate.

Hywela Lyn said...

Thanks Cally - and I think you've hit the nail right on the head - what we perceive to be a huge 'outreach' in reality is a much smaller circle of actual contacts than we would care to admit - even to ourselves!

Dennis Hamley said...

Hywela, whoever told you that coincidence has no place in fiction? Whoever it was hasn't told me. Fiction couldn't work without coincidences. It would be just one damned thing after another. Even life has coincidences. Having got that off my chest, I can tell you how many bells your post rang in my mind. There is a definite correlation between my inactivity in social media and the paltry £16 a time payments I get from Amazon. Oh, if only someone could think of a kind of Holy Grail which would sort it all out for us. But my small outreach is composed of people I value so I guess I can't have I both ways.

Lydia Bennet said...

yes there is always a time problem, the earth rotates a bit too fast... however perhaps you can cut yourself a little more slack. NaNoWriMo is like running a marathon, people train for those and then do them in a few hours, it doesn't mean you can run 26 miles to work every single day. outreach is a big problem and none of us yet has found the way. going on yet more blogs, forums, etc just uses up more writing time. perhaps have an affair with a footballer? that's a way of getting known to the wider world!

Mark Chisnell said...

I've started getting up at 5am and doing an hour before breakfast, and not opening any other software but Scrivener on the computer during that time. I've got over 4,000 words in the first week. Way to go...

Lee said...

Cally's got a good point about the scope of our online interaction, but I'd like to ask why everyone seems to think we need to be 'out there' at all. So what if I only have a handful of readers? Maximising exposure is not why I do this.

Hywela Lyn said...

Dennis you're right about coincidences - although it's true every article I've ever read on writing fiction says coincidences should never happen - there should always be a reason why two people who've never met before, just happen to meet at a certain place etc. I suppose the secret is to provide a rationale for the coincidence, so that it doesn't seem like a 'cheat'. Of course in real life, coincidences do happen, hence my mention of Ros's post. It's definitely a coincidence that her post just happened to reflect what I had been mulling over in my own mind.

I so agree with the small 'outreach' being comprised of people who are valued - that's definitely my own case, too.

Lydia - what a brilliant idea. Only problem is 1) I'm already married and 2) I can't stand football! LOL.

Oh Mark, I wish! As I said in my post I'm SO not a morning person. I could do it the other end of the day quite happily, but said husband (above) the real one, not the rich footballer, objects to me staying up all night! :)

Hywela Lyn said...

Lee you're right, in as much as most of us write for the sheer love of it.However, it is nice to have some recognition of our hard work, and yes, if only one reader buys and enjoys our work, that's very satisfying, but I suppose most writers have a secret wish to reach as many readers as possible, not so much for the money a bestseller would bring (although that would be handy) but because, after all, we want to share our words with the world, otherwise we wouldn't bother publishing them in the first place.

Lee said...

Hywela (how do you pronounce it?), you're probably right about that secret wish, but as with all such wishes, we can reason with ourselves. If the effort isn't worth the return, then I'm happy to consign the wish to the same place winning the lottery or meeting a visitor from another galaxy or living forever belongs. And I'm pretty sure that chance/luck/whatever plays an awfully big role in the readership numbers game, so whatever I do is not going to make much difference anyway. Much better to spend more time reading & writing - & oh yes, living!

Hywela Lyn said...

I definitely think you have a point there, Lee!

My first name is Welsh and is pronounced 'HOO-WEL-AH' I've always been called by my second Christian name, Lyn, though, and it is easier to pronounce!

Reb MacRath said...

I'm with Dennis re the numbers going off from the great opening post to the ensuing dialog. The exceptions always rule the proved: and Cally's point about the diminutive size of our actual groups couldn't be truer. But Claude Bouchard's Twitter following of some 350,000 account for a good deal of his success--not because he knows these folks or will interact with most of them but because: his presence is PERCEIVED as huge...his name gets around constantly...and even the tiniest percentage of clicks that turn into 'conversions' results in significant sales and helps keep the ball rolling. At the same time, CB is to write on a regular basis--not turning out novels in six weeks like Russell Blake (another savvy social media user) but writing daily, at his own pace. So, keeping all the fine points made here in mind, I still work at producing my lowly 500-700 words daily while working to improve my sosh media presence and skills. Fingers crossed!

Lee said...

Good point about CB and exceptions, Reb. The thing is, why is he popular? (I never heard of him before, but that proves nothing.) Is it really his savviness with social media or some other combination of factors? In other words, I wonder if there are plenty of other writers who are just as savvy yet who never seem to take off in the same degree.

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