7 Things I’ve Learned About Myself from Social Media

Last spring I, along with others, took a Lenten break from social media. When I returned, I wanted to know more about my presence on social media, including my blog. That’s when I turned to Frances Caballo and engaged her to check my social media sites as well as my website.
The results of Frances’s assessment provided good information, both positive and some not so positive. Eager to see what I could do with her suggestions, I moved ahead full tilt. And as reported in this post, I noticed some rising numbers and growth changes.

Frances even provided a schematic or schedule for posting to the social media sites I use. I have worked hard at prescheduling using Buffer and Hoot Suite. Of course, before you start scheduling, there is the step called curation, which also takes time. After curating and prescheduling, I felt an overwhelming strike against my writing time. Not only against my writing time but against my ability to keep up with certain blogs where I believe my community contacts are strong.

As a result, I’ve learned some things about myself. Most of them I already knew; some of them I didn’t realize until now.

Flickr via Sagle
Flickr via Sagle

1. I don’t like numbers, and I dislike counting them even less. I never liked math in any form growing up. I still don’t care for math which leads me to my newest discovery about self: it’s all about numbers. Not only do I not like numbers, I like analyzing and counting them even less.

I have heard all the arguments about numbers of followers, social analytics, and platform building. But I’m not sure I agree totally with their arguments. It seems those who enjoy social media and do well at it, and therefore accumulate the necessary numbers for a proper platform, are number lovers and counters. They enjoy the thrill of the chase. Everyone seems in the big race to see who can get the most followers, friends, likes, shares, and on and on and on. None of this holds any great interest for me.

I want to spend my days writing, not counting and analyzing numbers.

2. I’m an introvert who does not like crowds any better online than at a social gathering. Yes, I am an introvert. I’m happily married to an introvert. The good news is I can make myself “perform” at a social gathering doing the mix and mingle dance, but I don’t like it. My husband says I’m better at this than he is. On social media, the party or gathering includes people who follow you who have no profile info posted, the ones who want to sell you Twitter followers, SEO and marketing experts, software application outlets, and the beat goes on. I equate these to the dinner hour marketing phone calls we receive. I prefer to spend any time I have beyond writing communicating with those writers and readers I’ve come to know blog-to-blog outside the confines and requirements of social media. Lately, I feel I have lost touch with these fellow writers. And yes, spending time with them means I’m safely hidden away in my writing corner at home with my laptop and my kitty.

Dragonfly Coffee House
Dragonfly Coffee House

3. Lest you worry about me socially, I do have a few writing friends I gather with personally here in Portland and workshops I enjoy attending. Through the time social media extracts from my days, I had less time to spend with these people. I quickly learned I preferred being with these few than with the masses on social media. Sometimes it’s over lunch, over coffee, or browsing one of our great bookstores in Portland. We talk writing, share our work, and even give time over to fostering friendship between us. It’s the way I like to do business and friendship.

4. Some of the time I spend on social media detracts from my continuing education in the art of writing, and I consider ongoing education prime to my efforts. With the writing community available to me here and just down I-5 South, I have so many opportunities. It is often difficult to choose which one to take advantage of first. There are multiple Meetup Groups for writers in Portland, as well as Willamette Writers and Oregon Writers Colony, with Indigo Editing and PDX Writers offering workshops and classes, and people like Gigi Rosenberg, author and artist coach, who have found Portland to be the place they want to craft and teach (more about Gigi in #5 below). With all these entities offering so much, how can I spend time on social media and not increase my knowledge of my craft? Personally, I can’t, and I won’t.

5. A short time ago Gigi Rosenberg wrote an eye-opening and inspiring blog post, Be Your Own CEO. This post made an impact on my feelings about how I spend my days. In the post, Gigi talks about one of the assignments she gives when coaching artists. The assignment comes in two parts as you’ll see when reading her post. I decided to work through the assignment, knowing already what the answer would be.  Mine is the same as Gigi’s. And this is what she had to say:

For me, the one thing is to finish this revision of my memoir. Everything else in my life needs to support that one mission. Because I am the CEO of Me, Inc., and what I say, goes. …

Everything else is going to revolve around that one thing I want. Because I want it and I’m the boss of what I want.

Now, I know what you’re saying: That’s pretty selfish. Not really. We all want something, and most often we want it badly. So badly we are willing to do almost anything to get it. Why shouldn’t a writer, musician, artist, aspiring doctor or lawyer, other professionals, star athletes not do the same?

6. None of the above have mentioned my life outside of writing.  In order to cram everything into a 24-hour period with 5-6 hours of sleep each night, I have ignored my husband, necessary work on our small businesses, cleaning our home, cooking at my best level for two meals each day, making proper time for personal devotionals and prayers, forsaken my music participation with my husband, and for the most part have given up my love of needlework (quilting and knitting). Cutting out these things meant I had enough time for social media, the blog, and some of the book. Nothing about that seems quite fair, at least to me. There should be an hour or two each day to enjoy another creative outlet. And I’m going to do just that. Let’s not forget we should all be committed to our health and physical well-being, and I’ll admit I’ve been neglectful of mine of late.

7. The decision is made, and no one can change it. I am going to spend the bulk of my waking hours writing–my memoir, short creative nonfiction, blog posts. Also, I will take back my domestic duties (which I enjoy) and clean my home, do the laundry, and cook decent meals and in good weather help Farmer Meyer with the outdoor work. I intend to make sure nothing is left undone about the two small businesses Bob and I run. Church and daily prayer and devotion will take a greater priority. This is what I want to do, and I choose to do it.

Via QuotesCover
Via QuotesCover

I know there will be naysayers about the time needed for social media. Others will debate whether or not a person has to count numbers or not. Some will argue that I’ll never sell a single book without platform based in a grand social media presence. Even more will disagree with the time I spent on social media providing enough time to pick back up the chores at home and the things I do for others. And there may be some who will find something to say I haven’t even thought about yet.

They are entitled to their opinions. That’s why we choose to do all we can to keep this country free. However, as we used to say when we were kids, “Nobody is the boss of me!”

No, I’m the boss in this office, and I get to choose what priorities I set. I’m also allowed to choose which tasks I don’t need or want to do, especially if I find them hindering my best efforts in my chosen creative outlet, writing.

I hope you’ll find a moment to join in discussion and conversation below.

30 thoughts on “7 Things I’ve Learned About Myself from Social Media

  1. Thank you, Sherrey, for your thoughtful and inspiring post. I can see from the comments how so many of us are learning right alongside you! I sometimes see articles about social media in just 15 minutes a day or some other reasonably short chunk of time, but as you point out, there’s the time needed for curation and other tasks that are part of our social media engagement. That all adds up and eats into our writing time too. Like you and my fellow commenters, I’m learning to balance all of that with real life, which also explains why my comment is several days after you published this post! All the best as you continue in this direction.

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    1. April, balancing is what it’s all about in this writing life we love. I’m so glad you found your way here despite all you do. As I wrote this post, I felt I was stepping outside a box all others understood and enjoyed. Yet, I find myself surrounded by fellow writers seeking the same balance in life. What a good feeling these comments have been! Thank you for yours.

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  2. Great post, Sherrey. It’s one that resonates with me. I’ve practically abandoned social media for the last six weeks in order to finish a novella that I’ll publish this week. I realized that in order to finish it on schedule (I’m still a couple of days behind) I had to limit my time on Facebook, Twitter, reading blogs, etc. Working full time limits my time to write and as you say there are other things – spending time with my husband, Church, devotion and prayer time (and the dreaded house cleaning.)
    I may be marching to the beat of my own drum, but what good does social media do if we don’t have books written to sell? I also plan to focus more on writing and less on social media. (Coming from an introverted extrovert.)

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    1. Joan, your second paragraph resonates with me! Life beckons us in so many ways to be the people we were before social media, and those wanting to sell books on platforms and social media and other tools relative to the same want us to be the new, techy, social media savvy soul who wants to write a book. The operative word in that last sentence being “wants.” I don’t just want to write a book. I want to get it out there among the people I feel driven to write it for. Oh, well, if I don’t get down off my stump and get to work, I want get any writing done today. Loved your words and felt embraced by them!

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      1. Sherrey – glad my comment resonated with you. I realize writers need to be active on social media and I enjoy it to a degree. I think its the “rules” that many people lay down that bothers me.
        At the same time, I want to attract readers, but to be on social media just for the sake of “being there” isn’t my cup of tea.

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  3. This topic is one I’m sure all writers wrestle with. I wrote my book and then thought I would publish it and promote it. When I realized I needed a platform before I did any of this, I put my book on the back burner and began blogging. Now I’m torn. I do feel the need to get back to the business of publishing my book. Blogging (and social media) will have to wait.

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    1. Cathy, I started this a few minutes ago and decided to take a look at your blog and learn a bit more about you and your writing. So glad I did! We have many things in common, but those are for another day. Let’s get our books finished while letting social media take a rest. Then we can toast to one another with a cuppa Starbucks or whatever!

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  4. Sherrey, I commend you for stepping forward with your commitment to yourself and your priorities. We can all spend endless hours of distraction and frustration trying to “keep up” with it all if we choose. I am always trying to strike that balance and some days are better than others. But I’m right there with you in making a commitment to priorities and adapting my schedule around them. I agree about the futility of the numbers and , like , Susan mentioned, I place great value in my one-on-one, in-person contact with readers and writers. Great post, one I needed!

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    1. Today’s post has been a bit of a heady experience–applause, clanging cymbals–and now a commendation! Thank you, Kathy, for your understanding words. Not every day will always be balanced, but we can do the best we can to focus on what is importantn to our happiness and satisfaction.

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  5. Sherrey, I agree that social media/the blogosphere, etc. can be exhausting and time-consuming. I have found my primary gratification in meeting people and my readers one-on-one. I just read some BookBub post about 5 strategies to promote your ebook. A couple of those strategies require a technical expertise I don’t possess nor have the time or interest to learn. It’s one thing to be entrepreneurial, it’s another, like you say, to devote endless hours to figuring out how to improve stats, develop email strategies, promote books AND create your own promotional tools, merchandising and marketing ads . . . just ridiculous. So good for you to keep sight of what REALLY matters.

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    1. Susan, when I read your comments, I breathed a deep sigh. The words “she understands” came to me, and I thanked you at that moment and I thank you here. Friends one-on-one can’t be beat!

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  6. I applaud your decision. You have been doing more than enough social media for the past 3-4? years. At least that’s the impression I have of you. Social media battles writing for first place in my life and regularly wins, so I imagine that happens with you. What’s more, you have a husband and businesses to run. Don’t know how you do all of that and still find time to write. Simply put, if you don’t put your writing first, you’ll never finish or you will not do a good job. You can pick up social media when you publish your book. You’ve established yourself enough in the social media world. At least that’s the way I see it.

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    1. Introverts shall rise up with their clanging cymbals! Thanks Dolores for your words of support. FYI, as a native Nashvillian now Oregonian, I remember a family of Siegenthalers who owned and operated one of the Nashville newspapers. Any relation? And I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.

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    1. Shirley, I’ve enjoyed our hummingbird day today. Thanks for getting us started. And thanks for joining me in my choices. You sort of started this too with your Lenten sabbatical from social media. 🙂

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  7. Good for you for sorting out your priorities Sherrey. It’s a jungle all of us writers face. I commend you. And I’m especially with you on #6. We all need to figure out a way that works best for us. I’m still juggling. 🙂

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  8. Well said, Sherrey. We all have to make choices about how we send the gift of every day. For me, my writing fulfills, but so does caring for my home and tending my garden. Worrying about myTwitter numbers? Not so much.

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    1. Hello Linda! So good to have a visit from you. So many things in the life of women today are fulfilling. Why take on something that doesn’t? Hope all’s well with you and your family.

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  9. Many people tell me they want to start blogging and do more on FB and Twitter as they perceive that I do. I always emphasize not to blog just for a platform. If you love it for the blogging and would do it whether you wanted a platform or not, if you enjoy the conversations with people and writing the post, and are eager to hear what your readers have to say about your subjects, then do it, but not because you “have” to. I never look at numbers or count. I just keep doing what I want to do, and that is how I will always do it. Why would I want to take the FUN OUT OF THE WRITING??? So I SO agree with you!!!

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    1. Blogging just for platform will soon grow boring and burdensome. There has to be joy and happiness in any thing you undertake. We always told our kids we didn’t get care what job or career they landed in as long as they had a passion for it. Even a passion for garbage collecting would bring happiness whereas a lack of passion could make the most exciting choice sheer drudgery. Thanks for the supportive comments.

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  10. You are an inspiration! I am the boss of me too AND I support and agree with your seven points. As we say at our house, “Get ‘er done!” 🙂

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