Social Media: Responsible for More Dead Novels than a Nazi Book Burning

The other day on the Facebook I had a chat with a friend about how social media sucks away time from writing. No, the irony didn't escape us. We agreed that social media is responsible for more dead novels than a Nazi book burning. (Or rather, I agreed with myself, which happens a lot on social media.)

 

Shiste, the brown shirts couldn't dream of a way to stifle creativity more effectively. Social media is as addictive as it is required in the author world. You can network all manner of opportunities...at the cost of your author soul. For all the time spent on Facebook, Twitter and even CrimeSpace, you may as well be at the rally tossing your own books in the fire. But hey, at least a lot of people showed up. Go talk to them. Roast marshmallows in the flames of your words.

 

I'd be a hypocrite to not point out I use social media all the time. It's helped rocket 5 Funny Detective Stories to number 1 on Amazon Kindle for political humor. Not once. Not twice. Thrice. In four countries.

 

You can't get those results without soaking social media in your promotional goo. It wouldn't matter if I channeled the ghostly spirit of Oscar Wilde through my fingertips. If no one knows what you're doing, no one's going to read it.

 

The trick is to find a balance. Much easier said than done.

 

What tips do you have for keeping social media in check while you write?

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IDK, unless somebody is online to talk to, I can never stay long on social media. That doesn't mean I am writing all the time. I don't write often at all. But I think I got myself a good amount of work done. Once I make some progress with publishing, I'll probably write more. Anyway, I guess that's besides the point. If social media is becoming a problem, I'd say set yourself a reasonable goal for a given day or week and make sure you finish it no matter what. That might help. (But again, this is coming from somebody who never was hindered too much by social media. It might've distracted me a lot, but I still got a novel draft finished within a few months. So I think I did well.)

Oh, I thought this was going to be about how the sheer number of books available has resulted in so many "dead" novels sitting unread at number two million on the Amazon charts (or is that just mine? ;).

Don't you sometimes need a distraction from writing? A couple of minutes to see what's going on in the world and with the people you know?

And I can't be the only one who thinks about (dreams about?) never writing another word and then coming online and remembering that writing is what connected me to so many interesting people.

Everything in moderation, right?

 

This sort of thing is getting depressing.  I hate seeing the huge numbers others are selling. Things have slowed down a lot for me.  And I cannot get on Facebook any longer.  Every time I click my page or anybody else's I get a blank screen. I waste time fighting that sort of thing, and I don't have time.

Is one really supposed to stay there to chat?  Dear God!

You do need a break every now and then. But for most writers, this is called, "a full-time job." What little time you have for writing is competing with social media.

I've got a hardback edition at over 6 million, so you're a bestseller, John.

I scope out a certain amount of time every day to write. (When I'm writing. I'm pretty much taking the summer off.) once I start my block of writing time, no social media, though I usually check Google Reader, Facebook, and Crimespace before I start, to prime the pump. For me, social media takes time away from things other than writing. Reading sometimes, or watching television. (Or getting household chores done.) I don;t spend as much time writing as a lot of people who write, but that time is well-protected.

A lot of good writers are obsessive.  If the obsession is not writing and not social media, it's the bottle or drugs or gambling or sex or religion.  As obsessions goes, it's not as destructive as some. I think you have to set a time limit on use or give it up entirely.  As you say, though, it's good for making connections and getting word out about your writing.

We may all be OCD, or at least mildly so. I'm not joking here, this could be a real thing. You need to focus for long periods of time.

I absolutely cannot work on a computer connected to the internet. I turn off my modem and take the laptop onto the porch when I actually want to make some headway.

However, I think everything we do is grist for the mill, even seemingly "meaningless" stuff like farting around on Bookface. The brain never stops. I can't tell you the number of times that some miniscule little memory of something completely innocuous has proved valuable in something I'm writing. It's almost spooky.

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