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.

What Happened to Yesterday?

Often I find myself asking this question:  What happened to yesterday?

I wonder where the time went and why I didn’t carry out what I set out to do yesterday. I look at the work I needed to do, and it’s all still waiting for me. So, I usually sit down with a cup of coffee and start sorting through my to do’s from yesterday as well as today’s. Trying to figure out how to get it all done in this 24 hours I’ve been given.

And you know what? It’s likely impossible to get two days’ worth of tasks done in one day. I know that. You know that. And yet we sit and try to juggle things into one day, maybe 24 hours, maybe less if you like to sleep.

Attribution: Gigi Meyer
Attribution: Gigi Meyer

A couple of weeks ago we were driving by a church in our neighborhood and saw the quote on this image. It struck me I’m guilty of doing just that.

I’ve been letting yesterday use up today’s time.

Fretting over what I didn’t do. Worrying over what is left to be done on my to do list. Make that plural — lists!

What if I took that energy spent letting yesterday interfere with today and just got on with it, whatever it might be?

I might get some things done. I might even get that memoir written I’ve been working on for how long now? I’d rather not talk about that.

But that is what it boils down to, isn’t it? Fussing about what didn’t happen 24 hours ago, what those hours didn’t see completed, isn’t going to add anything to today.

Instead, the fussing, fretting, hassling over yesterday’s unfinished work only hinders the completion of anything today.

Here’s my new course of action:

  1. If yesterday didn’t go as planned, let go of it.
  2. Take a brief look at what didn’t get done yesterday, prioritize it and move the most important items to the top of today’s list.
  3. Start working down the list, making the most of today to catch up.
  4. At the end of the day, whether I worked through every single item or not, repeat steps 1-3.

~~~~~~~

“Today expect something good to happen to you no matter what occurred
yesterday. Realize the past no longer holds you captive. It can only
continue to hurt you
if you hold on to it. Let the past go.
A simply abundant world awaits. (January 11)”

― Sarah Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

An April Reflection

Sue Mitchell, The Memoir Muse at An Untold Story
Sue Mitchell, The Memoir Muse at An Untold Story

During the month of April, I challenged myself to carry out two major constructive changes in my writing.  First, I signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge , a challenge which requires 26 posts during the month of April (every day but Sunday) on any topic you choose.  I chose to write about the development of a character’s emotions and feelings.

The second challenge I took on was to write at least ten minutes each day before looking at emails or social media.  My hope was to break a habit. Research has shown that it takes 30 days to break a habit, and that same 30 days can train a new habit.  This challenge had its genesis with Sue Mitchell, writing coach at An Untold Story.

The last letter of the alphabet, Z, is written and posted, and the 30th day of April has come and (almost) gone.  I survived both challenges and I’m a better writer for it.

Writing blog posts for 26 out of 30 days kept me on my toes and my fingers tapping.  Of course, some of my posts were written ahead and scheduled to post, but some days I wrote more than one post, or about 1,000 words.  Just think if those cumulative words had been for my memoir.  A few more days and I could complete my first draft!

With each letter and post, I could feel my writing skills improving daily.  I suppose you could say I felt I was finding my groove!  And I met some incredible writers and bloggers widening my writing community.  A win/win.

The real high comes from the fact that after 30 days (OK, almost 30 here in the Pacific NW) I no longer sit down at the computer and head first for emails, Facebook, Twitter or anything other than to WRITE FIRST. Priorities have shifted.  Oh, yes, they have!  I feel more in control now.  And if I don’t make it to Facebook or Twitter until later in the day or at all on a single day, I’m comfortable with that.

So, I challenge each of you to think about what I’ve accomplished in 30 days.  I know many of you don’t struggle with these issues of managing time for writing, but some of us do.  And when you get a handle on it, you just can’t help but brag a bit.

Q4U: What are you doing to make the most of your writing time?  I’d love to hear how you manage your time and challenge yourself to stay above the fray of everyday life.

Click on images for attributions.