Now don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy many aspects of Social Media. It connects me with my friends and raises social and business networking to a whole new level. Above that, this series of tools has a scope of influence that, 30 years ago, would have been like the Holy Grail to anyone wishing to increase their visibility or market a product. And now it’s at my fingertips. So I use it. A lot.
But there is a conflict. Like a good number of writers (and most other people on the planet), I have a day job. Yet what is unique to many artists, our true calling takes hold of us in the evening hours, once we have attended to the necessity of earning a living during the day. So this is the time that I use to write, revise, research, compose queries, and jot notes. It is a time that I look forward to, and which is absolutely essential if I am expecting to get anywhere at all with my writing.
However, something else has now eaten up that precious evening time. Social media. I understand the necessities of the thing; after all, a writer without readers is like an actor without an audience. I need to market my name as much as I need to market my writing. I know that social media, if utilized properly, can make this possible. But I also know that it demands much of my time if it is to be at all effective. And herein lies the conflict.
Social media has become like a needy child, constantly needing to be fed and attended to. It will not lie quietly. If I neglect it for a day, the messages pile up, demanding my attention. If I leave it for a longer time period, its effectiveness wanes, and I risk losing some of that visibility that I had been working so hard to establish.
So even though social media does help me, it also sucks the life from the very thing I am using it to promote. My writing. My evenings, which were once the domain of my writing hours, are now filled with responding to messages, blogging, tweeting and other forms of networking. When I finally finish with these tools, I find that I have no time left. My writing lays neglected.
The irony of this has not been lost on me.
I am sure that there is something I can do. There are any number of experts out there that can take over certain aspects of promotion for me. But there is a cost, of course, and I’m not certain I can afford it at this juncture. Additionally, I can look at how I manage my time, scheduling out my evening hours to ensure I always have time set aside for my writing. Naturally, that would require me actually sticking to the plan, and would necessitate letting some of my social media routines slip. Although it’ll mean that I’ll lose some visibility on the web, this plan seems like my most viable option.
In any case, it’s an interesting problem, and one that I’m certain is not unique to my situation. I often wonder how pervasive this is, and what other writers do to work around the time demands of social media.
But as for myself, I continue to compose just one more message or respond to just one more tweet, as I watch the last minutes of my evenings silently drain away. Then when I sleep, I dream of writing, and it’s always with the knowledge that one day soon, we will be reunited. I just have to make the choice.
In the meantime, I must remind myself that social media is my tool and writing is my passion; not the other way around.