A writer selling a book has no better friends than Twitter and Facebook. But what about a writer trying to write a book? As I typed away recently–struggling to meet a deadline for handing a manuscript to a reader–I wondered: how on earth do people maintain an online presence while writing books?
I asked the Twitterverse.
One tweeter, @AC_is_ON, immediately pointed out that social media can be a source of inspiration and an important tool for getting a writer out of his or her own head.
OK, good point. But what if you’re writing fiction (and you’re not Margaret Atwood, that prodigious tweeter and Booker Prize winner)? Or, what if–whatever you’re writing–the siren song of social media distracts you and lowers your productivity? You need a containment strategy.
“I’m most productive in the library,” wrote writer and translator, @Qerese, “I do all my serious work there.” And she leaves Twitter at home. I agree: leaving the house to write can help. But since my last laptop was stolen, no daily trips to the library or café for me. I had to go all the way to a writer’s retreat, and stop tweeting for a week. When I returned, the writing momentum stayed with me. I wrote more and tweeted less. The downside of this small triumph was feeling less connected on social media.
Another tweeter, @SocialJeremy suggested setting a time limit of around 30 minutes. I also try to follow that rule, but I had to add an extra caveat for my own routine. Since I wake up with the greatest creative energy of my day, I tried putting off my news-surfing and Twitter time until afternoon or evening. This helped my productivity and the quality of my writing, although I occasionally just didn’t get around to social media (and got a lot of writing done instead).
As discussed by short story writer and blogger, Nina Badzin, fiction writing and social media can be particularly antithetical. One is a very internal process; the other is external and social. Every day is a choice.
What’s your choice? What’s your strategy?