Myth-Busting–Yes, Writers Can Make Time for Social Media

Made it home from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention on Monday night. What an amazing time, and we will talk more about the conference later. I traveled to L.A. to participate on the social media panel. One thing I kept hearing over and over was how writers complain they simply do not have tiiiiiiiiime to do social media. So today we are going to do some myth-busting.

I have to spend hours on Twitter and Facebook to be effective.

Um…that would be a negative. Total myth. In fact, if we do? An angry clown will jump out of our computer and bite off our face. Kidding! Though that would be cool. No, the angry clown is a total lie. But, it is likely people will unfollow us because we never shut up.

Do you like hanging around people who have this itching need to fill the air with words, no matter how vapid? I don’t care for people who talk to hear themselves talk, namely because they are interrupting me doing all the talking. But seriously. I want people who offer a great conversation. We all do.

Quality trumps quantity every time.

Think back to when you were a kid. Who do you remember most? Often the people who made the most impact on our lives weren’t there 24/7. It was a teacher we had for 9 months of our childhood or a grandparent who lived 5 states away whom we only saw on special occasions. So this idea that we have to smother people to be memorable is flawed.

I just won’t have the discipline to write.

There are a lot of reasons that this job is not for everyone. Writing for a career takes an incredible amount of discipline. I firmly believe that the arts have such a tremendously high failure rate due to one simple reality—we artsy types have the attention span of a fruit bat on crack. We love chasing shiny objects. Don’t believe me? Just turn on a pen light and dance it across the wall at a Starbucks. Guarantee you will lure at least two writers and a musician.

As I was saying….OOOH SQUIRREL!

Oh, sorry. Hey, I can be honest. The personality that makes us creative also tends to make us flaky. Those of us who can learn to get our stuff done despite our nature are the ones who will eventually make it to the tipping point where everything falls into place and we can finally make a real job out of what we love.

Social media gives us much better odds of success, and I cannot emphasize enough how important building a platform is. But, at the end of the day, we are in control. Okay well, the aliens are really in control so put on your tin foil hat and minimize Twitter.

I use social media as a reward. I minimize everything until I make certain goals and then I can go spend 5-10 minutes on Twitter and Facebook…3 times a day. Morning, afternoon, and evening. I spend 30 minutes MAX on my social media. Little efforts over time add up for big returns.

I have to be self-disciplined to do social media.

Yes….and no. Is it wonderful to develop will power? Yes. It is a skill that can help in many other areas of our lives, like with cookies and credit cards. But sometimes we are wise to realize when we just lack what it takes to back away from the shiny thing.

It is okay for us to admit that we are lacking. Admitting we can’t do something on our own frees us to look for outside help. For instance, you could hire one of those really scary looking clowns to chase you around the computer if you hang out on Twitter too long.

OR…Writer Or Die, Freedom, or Ommwriter are there to shut everything down and MAKE us be disciplined. These services will block out any Internet capability for a set amount of time and you have to REBOOT the computer to get back on-line.

Hey, sometimes we have to delegate the discipline to others.

At the end on the day, we are often capable of far more than we believe. By nature, many of us (me included) are lazy slackers who, if given the choice, will take the path of least resistance (it has margaritas and cupcakes). But here is the thing. I freely admit that I am the reigning queen of Do It Later Land, so I know that I can’t let my feelings have a vote. Here is a horrible truth. If something is contrary to our nature? Then that is likely what needs doing. Blech…I know.

Like walking up stairs that go nowhere for an hour a day. Trust me, that is NOT my nature to do. I would rather play video games until I slip into a coma from sugar and lack of sleep.

Same with social media. We can do far more than we believe. Small, consistent, effective steps. Many writers are spending too much time on social media, namely because they have no plan. They don’t understand branding and how search engines work, so they are like hamsters running in a wheel…a lot of running but no forward progress. My book, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is designed to help writers work smarter, not harder.

So what are some tactics you guys use to keep social media from taking over your life? How do you carve out time to write? How do you make yourself be disciplined? Can you recommend an affordable angry clown service?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Stay tuned for March’s winners. Yes, I am behind. I just turned in the final edits of my new book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Between that and a week in L.A. I am swamped. But trust that I will catch up. I figured you guys would rather I delay announcing winners than I suspend the contest for a month😀.

Will post soon. I have to get unpacked and run off the names for last week, too. So expect a number of winners to be announced simultaneously.

Happy writing!

Until next time….

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

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  1. #1 by Bob Mayer on April 13, 2011 - 3:46 pm

    If I showed you my Excel spreadsheet I use to keep track of my posts on twitter, various boards and blogs it would probably explode most people’s brains. It took a lot of time for me to figure out an organizational system– or SOP Standing Operations Procedure– for all that, but the front end work was worth it as I can get up and spend ten minutes and cover a considerable amount of social media before diving into writing. Being organized is key using social media effectively.

    • #2 by Patrick Thunstrom on April 13, 2011 - 7:03 pm

      Any chance someone could convince you to share this sort of thing on your blog sometime? I’d love some examples of systems that work.

    • #3 by Marilag Lubag on April 14, 2011 - 6:19 am

      Wow, I’m so impressed!

  2. #4 by Terri Dryden on April 13, 2011 - 3:48 pm

    Excellent post!!! And I am definitely that fruit bat!!! I jump around worse than any kangaroo you have ever laid your eyes on!!!

  3. #5 by Christine Ashworth on April 13, 2011 - 3:55 pm

    I don’t know what I’d do without your kick in the pants every week, I truly don’t. I can’t do the spreadsheet thing that Bob does, but I have my own little list and I just realized I haven’t been following it while writing – which is why my current story is a bit – um – aimless, shall we say? I will get back on that list and work it, sister! Thanks!

  4. #6 by educlaytion on April 13, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    Good reenforcement. Discipline sucks but is necessary suckage. At a recent writer’s conference, Jonathan Maberry described a bit of his schedule. He said he writes about 10 hours a day and stops for about 10 minutes every hour. He also mentioned an egg timer which probably wasn’t a joke. Now I see how structured Bob is and feel the push to get better. I’ll try to keep focusing on you pros, but I wish these stupid squirrels would go away.

    • #7 by kerrymeacham on April 13, 2011 - 5:32 pm

      Necessary Suckage. Man, that just begs for a blog, short story, or, yes I’ll say it, a novel to be written around it. You’re warped Clay…but in a good way.

  5. #8 by writerwellness on April 13, 2011 - 4:08 pm

    OK. I want your spreadsheet, Bob, exploding head or not.

    I use my daughter’s dogs as a timer. They will only sit at my feet for so long then they have to go out and so do I. Plus, I schedule the classes I teach in the late afternoons so I HAVE to get up from the desk at least four days a week, otherwise…

  6. #9 by D J Harrison on April 13, 2011 - 4:09 pm

    I was going to post a comment but I became distracted by ..

    Anyway it’s gone now, I think. Where was I?

    Ah, yes your blog. Delightful, funny, full of good sense. I would put a link from my blog if only I knew how, not so I win a prize, but merely because everyone should get the chance to read your stuff.

    You Americans, such a way with words, even if most of them aren’t actually English!

  7. #10 by Tiffany A White on April 13, 2011 - 4:14 pm

    My decade in corporate America created a monster when it comes to calendar reminders. This habit is exactly what keeps me disciplined. I put daily reminders on my calendar as to when to eat, because trust me — I forget!; when to do social media, research and read blogs, write, and read. It seems to work so far…yet I’m still annoyed when my reminders pop up and I’m in the middle of something good.

  8. #11 by Caroline Clemmons on April 13, 2011 - 5:07 pm

    I’m in there with the “Oh, look, a squirrel” group, but I’m learning from you. I’ll get your book on the 30th. Hope to meet you then.

  9. #12 by Abigail on April 13, 2011 - 5:15 pm

    The fact that I’m reading this post in the middle of a writing day proves my inability to focus. Great, great post, Kristen. That clown scared the hell outta me, which should allow for another hour of productivity. I temporarily bequeath my anthem song to you:

  10. #13 by Jess Witkins on April 13, 2011 - 5:19 pm

    I would so be one of those writers staring at the pen light. Busted!

    Your book is at home waiting for me so I know I’ll feel I’ve got a better handle on my new medias after I’ve dived in to your book. This post was a reaffirming because being new to twitter I thought maybe I wasn’t posting enough. But I didn’t want to send blatant crap out in the world just to post. @jesswitkins likes ice cream! @jesswitkins just sneezed SUPER LOUD! who gives a crap? lol. The good things I’ve learned (besides tweetdeck which I wanted to do asap per your recommendation) are finding new posts and re-tweeting those to encourage other writers who’ve written thought provoking posts. Where I’m still struggling is getting more subscribers/comments. I have several steady ones that I LOVE in an obsessively thankful way. I hear that lots of people are reading my blog, but the number of comments does not reflect that. Can you write a post helping with that? Please, pretty please with a cherry on top that I didn’t sneeze on I promise!

  11. #14 by pk Hrezo on April 13, 2011 - 6:12 pm

    A fruit bat on crack. I love it!

  12. #15 by amyshojai on April 13, 2011 - 6:20 pm

    Shiny objects? did you say…SHINY OBJECTS? Where? Oh, and the laser toy I got for the cat, that’s right, it’s for the cat, not me, why would you think otherwise? *vbg*

    I tweet each morning at 9:30, do FB at 9, noon, and “after writing work” (could be anytime after 7 pm). Still need to be more disciplined about answering the FB thread/posts.

    But shoot, I’ve turned the bling-a-ling into branding so my shiny object fixation actually fuels the platform with my “Bing, Bitches & Blood” blog (thanks Kristen for the suggestion!) At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. That, and an unhealthy obsession with cat and dog poo…er, productivity.

    But that’s enough for now…gotta go wrestle the laser toy away from the cat.

    • #16 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 13, 2011 - 6:22 pm

      The laser toy is for the CAT???? *tucks laser toy in pocket*

  13. #17 by Danib on April 13, 2011 - 6:21 pm

    Creepy clown for sure. Delightful distraction most definitely.🙂

  14. #18 by Nigel Blackwell on April 13, 2011 - 6:26 pm

    Good points. If you know somewhere that does a crash course in discipline and patience I’d be glad to know. I get so distracted I turn lots of things off. Airport is easy to turn off (er … and back on again, but I try to resist). I even turn off spell check (at least to start with) so I dont get distracted by dotted lines and menu options. But twitter and blogs are so easy to get lost in, click, click, click, oh look, its eleven already.
    Cheers.

  15. #19 by Piper Bayard on April 13, 2011 - 7:00 pm

    Good point about quality over quantity. I have a question, though. How much time do you spend each day keeping up with other people’s blogs? I find the more writers I keep in touch with, the more the blog support of others starts taking over my life. Thanks for your great advice. Bweep, bweep.

    • #20 by Amanda Hoving on April 14, 2011 - 12:24 pm

      Good question, Piper. I have the same issue. I love connecting with other bloggers, but the more readers I get, the more blogs I read and comment on, and so on — a lot of time goes into those relationships.

      • #21 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 14, 2011 - 1:03 pm

        Yes, but those bloggers are your best investment of social media time. There are bloggers who have thousands of followers. That means potentially hundreds if not thousands of people are seeing your name every time you comment. Also, you are gaining the friendship of people who have a lot of influence. Last year, when I promoted Jody Hedlund, this blog was much smaller. But that review had 600 hits just the day I posted. That is a lot of exposure and I was just one of many bloggers who volunteered to help Jody launch her debut book. Jody’s influence was multiplied exponentially and I believe that is a large part of why she landed on the best-selling list with her debut novel.

  16. #22 by andrewmocete on April 13, 2011 - 7:04 pm

    Hey, I know an angry clown by the name of Pennywise from Maine. He comes highly recommended.

  17. #23 by Delorfinde on April 13, 2011 - 8:13 pm

    As a writer AND a musician …
    Wow, lights!
    Sorry, what was I saying?

  18. #24 by Jenny Hansen on April 13, 2011 - 8:59 pm

    Great blog. I ROFL to see that there are tools for shiny object people like me that shut off the internet. That’s fantastic.

    I love Social Oomph. That and my phone let me work almost full time, tweet, Facebook and write. Oh, and spend time with baby and hubby. He’s be irked if I left him out.

    I schedule my tweets a day or two in advance, especially when I need to stay off social media (like when I’m working). Plus, WordPress lets me approve comments, etc. through email, which comes to my phone.

    If I lost my phone….I’d be like a fruit bat on crack.🙂

  19. #25 by K.B. Owen on April 13, 2011 - 9:47 pm

    Piper has a great point about keeping up with other blogs. I can’t very well expect other people – most of them either other writers or my mother – to be keeping up with my blog if I’m not reciprocating with theirs. Plus I’ve benefited from cool info or just stress-relieving chuckles. But I did have to find a rhythm and a discipline. Tues/Thurs are all about writing, with very little check-in on e-mail, Fb and Twitter (at least until the kids come home and I can’t focus anyway). M/W are more blog-involved, writing mine and reading others, and Friday’s a crap-shoot of internet and errands. Not a perfect system, but it’s evolving. Weekends I try to catch up with reading WWBC files (I really am reading them, don’t have much to say yet!). Kristen, I just don’t know how you do it without your head exploding.

    *squirrel!*

    • #26 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 13, 2011 - 9:54 pm

      I am a massive multi-tasker and I work 12 hours six days a week. I literally work almost every waking hour. I probably could work less if I would get organized, but that is something I have always struggled with, so I have to make up for it with effort and time. I write about 4,000 words a day. I focus on writing in the mornings. The rest of the day, I catch up with family on the phone while I clean the house. I fold laundry in between word count. I mop a floor then sit down to read a blog and do a handful of tweets. I am moving all the time. And, frankly, I have to get better at prioritizing and organization. I am rereading some time-management books right now to see if something willl STICK. I promise to share any revelations.

      I think the single biggest hurdle writers need to get over is that small efforts add up. We might not have six hours straight to do anything BUT, we can steal 5 minutes here and ten minutes there. Consistent effort, even small efforts, can pay off BIG.

  20. #27 by Stina Lindenblatt on April 13, 2011 - 11:09 pm

    Okay, if that clown was chasing after me, the last thing I’d be worried about was my word count.😉

    I linked you to my blog last week: http://www.stinalindenblatt.com/2011/04/branding-is-your-power.html

  21. #28 by Cynthia Robertson on April 14, 2011 - 12:39 am

    Kristen, I’m gonna have nightmares about that clown! LOL!
    You are funny, girl.
    Love the post, as always.

  22. #29 by Sonia M. on April 14, 2011 - 12:48 am

    I am also one of the fruit bats on crack, dr pepper, and brownies…and maybe tacos…mmmm….What was I saying? Oh yeah.

    Kristen, I love the way you tell us what we need to hear with a little humor. I don’t always want to hear what you have to say, but I know you’re right. Sigh. I’m learning the balance. I haven’t quite got it all yet, but I’m getting there.

    Now, about the tacos…

  23. #30 by Leigh D'Ansey on April 14, 2011 - 4:38 am

    I feel much weightier than a fruit bat – but your description is spot on. I’m in the thick of figuring out the social media stuff – trying to find a balance and your three times a day is a really good point. Thanks so much.

  24. #31 by Marilag Lubag on April 14, 2011 - 6:22 am

    It’s true. The person who made the most impact on my life was my music teachers and my drama/writing teacher. I’m so into writing and singing because of them.

  25. #32 by Amanda Hoving on April 14, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    Great post, Kristen, but I will now have nightmares about that clown.

  26. #33 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on April 14, 2011 - 10:02 pm

    I firmly believe that the arts have such a tremendously high failure rate due to one simple reality—we artsy types have the attention span of a fruit bat on crack. We love chasing shiny objects. Don’t believe me? Just turn on a pen light and dance it across the wall at a Starbucks. Guarantee you will lure at least two writers and a musician.

    Yeah, most of us are the ones who were considered space cadets in school. And still are. On my latest big story I messed up big time because I was so focused on the numbers, I didn’t take the human side into account, and ended up messing someone else up badly. Learned out of it, but the damaged is still done.

    Wayne

  27. #34 by Diana Murdock on April 15, 2011 - 4:44 am

    I LIVE for getting distracted. I feel there is somehow something wrong with me if my mind is not going in at least ten different directions at once. I am a great multi-tasker. I know, though, this is my greatest downfall. The only thing that works for me is to just have Word open and nothing else. That way it isn’t so tempting to just take a peek at whatever is going on out there in Twitterland or even in my inbox. I do, however, reward myself every couple of hours – only if I have been able to focus for that short duration. Still a challenge for me, but at least a step in the right direction.

  28. #35 by Jami Gold on April 15, 2011 - 5:42 am

    Yes! And I’m finally getting my Twitter followers into lists to make this more manageable. *whew*

    • #36 by K.B. Owen on April 15, 2011 - 10:51 am

      Jami, I’m STILL trying to figure out those lists. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I just can’t get them created, edited, and fed into my tweetdeck. Any “how to” sites you can point me to, or tips you know?

      Thanks,
      Kathy

  29. #37 by Mary Ann Peden-Coviello on April 16, 2011 - 12:33 am

    I have just discovered this blog. What a terrific site it is, too. Sometimes I feel as if I’m a gerbil on a wheel, just running and running and getting exactly nowhere.

    And now I have another blog to check every day. Gee, thanks. *grin* And, seriously, there is a world of information here. I love it.

    • #38 by Author Kristen Lamb on April 16, 2011 - 12:46 am

      Thanks. So happy you found my blog, and happy you’re finding it helpful. The comments section is usually far more interesting than me. Pull up. Have a beverage😀.

  1. Mind Sieve 4/25/11 « Gloria Oliver

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