Tag Archives: Facebook for Writers

Social Media: it’s not all bad!

Standard

Social media gets a lot of bad press (often, paradoxically, in posts on social media!). Rather like television or violent computer games, it seems to now be held responsible for many of our social ills. Too much time on Facebook, we are warned, leads to our making negative comparisons with our compatriots, lowered self-esteem and a rising sense of isolation. Irresponsible sharing of unsubstantiated posts engenders the perpetuation of lies, negative bias or discriminatory and inflammatory social trends. Spending too much time embedded in the virtual world of your phone means you might miss out on valuable real life experiences. You’d be forgiven for thinking that everything in the social media world is poisonous.

But this sinister view is not the whole truth. For writers in particular, the online world provides a wealth of timely information, news and social comment which not only assists you in keeping up with industry trends, but also keeps you in touch with the zeitgeist. You simply could not replicate this through TV, books, or magazines/newspapers alone.

Social media also provides a platform for finding your “tribe”, for linking up with other like-minded people (unconstrained by geographical location), sharing ideas and supporting one another. For writers, who are usually (by necessity) lonesome creatures, it’s particularly invaluable – as I’ve found this week.

You’ll probably notice I’ve not posted here for a while. And you might deduce (quite correctly) that there is a positive correlation between the number of posts on this blog and my writing output in general. So yes, for a number of reasons I’ve shied away from all things writing-related for a few months. And, as you’ll probably know, the longer you’ve not written, the harder it is to get back into it.

What has made matters worse is that I started off at the beginning of the year in a burst of creativity and wrote thousands of words in the first couple of months. I had a schedule and I stuck to it. I was disciplined. Then I decided to take a break to recharge my batteries – thinking I would go back to it later with a fresh eye.

Hmm…

Roll on seven months and there’s me finding myself unable to pick up a pen (or open the laptop) – frankly even to consider myself as a writer at all. My attendance on Twitter’s #WritingChat (8pm every Wednesday evening) had dwindled as I felt too shame-faced to take part. This week’s topic was the quarterly reviewing of goals.

Oh, goals. Those things crafted in a burst of New Year optimism which I’ve not dared look at for months? So I sent a brief apologetic tweet – feeling unable to take part. But the “tribe” weren’t having that. A host of positive responses began pinging into my feed – I should draw a line under the last few months, accept them for what they were, re-frame my goals and move on. If I was too scared to go back to the big project, I should start small. Just a line or two.

Later I had a sneaky peek at my original goals list. Yes, it was bad. But actually it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. I’d made positive steps towards a few of the items on the list. Perhaps some things were salvageable.

And the following evening I was ‘direct messaged’ by a fellow writer – just gently checking up on me to see if I’d written anything that day. It was just the nudge I needed. Granted, I didn’t write anything new that evening, but I did start typing up and editing a story I’d drafted longhand a while back.

So I’d like to say a huge thank you to the #WritingChat community, and to the writer who contacted me directly (you know who you are!) – it was hugely appreciated. Because social media is not just there for all the bad things in life – it can also bring people together in a positive, supportive way.

While I can’t guarantee a sudden burst of creativity, I don’t now feel quite so intimidated by the thought of sitting at my desk. Just looking back through my file of unfinished drafts has reminded me of embryonic stories I’d forgotten all about. I’m still a writer, even if a little lapsed right now!

And hey, at least I’ve written this post! 😉

Smart Phones for Smart Writers

Standard

img_0318

One of the great conundrums of the modern age is that despite all the technology which has been developed, and despite all the labour-saving devices we have in our homes, we appear to have less and less time. How can this be?

Well of course, we still have exactly the same amount of time as we’ve always had. Those 24 hours won’t grow or shrink. It’s what you do with them that counts. So, yes you can get up at ridiculous-o’clock to squeeze in a few more useful hours. You can multi-task up to a point. You can choose to stop doing certain tasks to devote the time to something more important (see Kath McGurl’s Give Up Ironing book for more ideas on this approach!). And you can stop getting distracted.

I’m not a big TV fan – and you’ll absolutely never hear the words “box set” pass my lips in the context of losing a whole weekend watching 400 episodes of some show or other. (I am the person who can’t take part in office discussions about Game of Thrones etc.) But I am totally addicted to the internet, particularly because of my smart phone. I love YouTube videos which help me improve the way I ride my horse. I can lose hours googling random facts, or watching amusing or tear-jerking videos on Facebook. I’m also plagued by a kazillion emails (many from all the great writing-related websites I’ve signed up to). And I think this is the route of the time problem we all face. Whether smart-phone-related or not, there is simply too much information out there for our brains to process. So, I’ve decided I need to be more selective.

Before I had a smart phone, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. People had managed perfectly well for centuries without such a gadget. It was just a silly fad. Now? It’s an integral part of pretty well every aspect of my life. Its alarm gets me up in the morning, and the sleep app tells me how long and how well I’ve slept the night before (last night was amazing – 8h 4mins – almost a record!). My running podcast takes me through my morning’s run, and the health app monitors my steps/distance travelled. On my way to and from work, I listen to a writing (or sometimes horse riding) related podcast – at the moment, I’m checking out the backlist of The Creative Penn which is amazingly informative about the indie author world – and also very entertaining.

This week is National Short Story week, and my smart phone has been invaluable in helping me advertise my two short story ebooks The Camel in the Garden and Beyond Words, which have been on special offer. Using my phone has enabled me to access Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, post photos and links, join in discussions, to post and comment on this blog and, of course, keep track of downloads – at any time, not just when I’m at home at my writing desk.

But I need to get better at sifting online information, saving the important bits (such as story competition info) and managing it in a way which means I won’t overlook it later.

If you have any top tips on the way you manage this process, please share them in the comments below.  I will be eternally grateful!

And if you’re the sort of really organised person who has arranged their life so efficiently that you have an afternoon free for a spot of reading, Beyond Words is still half-price for the remainder of this weekend. 🙂