Following on from my previous post I need a strategy to make better use of my time: to produce work that is the very best it can be whilst making the most of the resources and opportunities social media have to offer.
I have three needs as a writer:
- knowledge, skills, and stimulation to become a better writer
- individualised advice and guidance to help me shape my career
- emotional support and friendship
How best to meet these needs?
Facebook (@hannahhulmehunter) is like a huge, ramshackle hotel. The entrance hall is full of drunks all shouting over the tv but there are hidden rooms where people gather in the hope of meeting like-minded folks. There are hundreds – nay, thousands – of writers’ Groups on Facebook. I’ve done the rounds but am invariably left dissatisfied. The conversations are too noisy and the contact too superficial. I feel battered by other people’s problems and disappointments and find no answers to my own.
If Facebook is Hotel California then Twitter (@mountainhares) is a vast, eclectic party. As I wander around the party I eavesdrop on heated debates on history and politics and sneak off to the library to follow links and check references. Sometimes I spot someone I know and we talk but usually I’m sitting on the sidelines chatting about The Archers and looking at photographs of Cillian Murphy and war graves. Twitter is the scruffy staff sitting room, my newspaper, and my remote control. I’ve learned a lot about writing from Twitter and attended some amazing events.
Instagram (@hannahonbrillhill, @gardenonthehill) is a peaceful gallery full of modern art and mountains, gorgeous gardens and portraits of family and friends wherein I wander with a cup of tea. For more sustained refreshment, personal and professional, I turn to my curated list of blogs and websites; well-written, thoughtful places of abiding interest and quiet engagement. I think it is these that really feed my writer’s soul.
So, what is my strategy? How do I quiet the anxious worm that keeps me “chasing someone else’s path to success” on social media and distracts me from the discipline of writing – yet still expose myself to the unknown unknowns of life, those life-changing, life-affirming Black Swan events?
Let’s try this for starters:
Farewell Facebook. Yes, I mean it – except for a weekly visit to dust the shelves on the two charity pages I manage and catch up with village gossip. Refer family and close friends to WhatsApp.
Go cold turkey on Twitter’s drip-drip-drip of dopamine and check my feed just once, in the evening as a reward for a productive day.
Build real-life support. Make application to WoMentoring and consider that if this fails I may have to pay for editing and/or mentoring. Look for opportunities to meet with other writers and expand engagement with readers.
Choose learning resources carefully:
- don’t re-visit old tips and tricks; have confidence in my skills and move on
- push the boundaries: look for resources that offer something new and prioritise real-life opportunities
- challenge myself: try short stories, flash fiction, writing prompts
Work to a timetable. Write early and late when distractions are minimal and inspiration highest. Set aside time in the middle of the day for research and other reading including blogs and emails. Measure and log actual writing time.
How’s that for starters?
PS Whilst writing this post I downloaded and completed an excellent workbook called Write with Purpose on from well-storied.com. Highly recommended to help one identify priorities and formulate a writing plan. (Pay what you can afford.)