Are You a Social Media Addict?

Social networking back in the day, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration
Social networking back in the day, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

Today I welcome author and blogger Tam Francis, who muses about the addictive nature of social media for platform building.  Tam’s experience is one many of us have shared (still share?), and this humorous look at her “problem” made me laugh. Take it away, Tam:

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When Candace invited me to guest blog, I was grateful and thrilled. I have been blogging for years but mostly about subjects that reflect the content of my novel, The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress: vintage clothing, swing dancing, cocktails, vintage sewing, and WWII memorabilia. In keeping with the themes of Candace’s blog, I wanted to share my writerly (really love this new-for-me word) experience. Lately, I’ve been on a crash course to catch up to the social media standard for writers.

Do you feel like your real life is an interruption to your writer life?

Do you ever feel like your “real life” (dinner, friends, dishes, laundry, soccer games, even television) is an interruption to your “writer life”?

So much of the writer life is in our heads. Even as we physically read these words, we are in our heads. Cyberspace isn’t a real place, though real people are at the end of the tangled tapestry; they are in their heads at their computers.

When I began building my writer platform, I couldn’t wait to check my inbox to see who followed me today or if anyone commented on my comments.

I was an addict, and social media was my drug.

I became so distracted making new cyber friends and trying to figure out how each medium worked that I brushed off real-life friends and quit cooking, telling the kids, “You can eat cereal for dinner.” Sound familiar to anyone?

Am I the only nut job out here?

My husband is a patient man; my kids had Instagram and Minecraft so they didn’t notice Mom slipping into the abyss . . . at first. But when everyone ran out of socks and cereal, it was time for an intervention. Luckily, all it took was getting Mom away from the laptop for more than thirty minutes out of the house for happy hour with the girls.

The spell was broken. The Internet didn’t collapse without me, and my website didn’t get buried under spam boulders. Once I got back into the real word, I remembered why I liked writing, why I started writing, and how much I needed the real world to write.

Don’t get caught in a cyber-trap

Now, because I tend to be a bit obsessive and (what’s the new buzz word, hyperfocused), I imposed some rules on myself. I have a list of thing I must accomplish before I check my inbox or log on to any of my social media sites.

  • I must do one house chore: laundry, dishes, dust, make beds, etc.
  • I must feed all the animals (including the human ones)
  • I must do one garden/outside project/chore
  • I must do 30 to 60 minutes of exercise (okay, it’s on the list; I might not nail this one, but hey, I’m trying)
  • I must make sure we have household inventory stocked, (i.e. toilet paper, food, toothpaste)
  • I must bathe (oh yeah, madness will do that to ya)
  • I must write: blog, short story, or novel sequel for an hour

After talking to a couple of friends who are artists (a painter, a weaver), I realize this applies not only to the frenzy of social media, but to all artistic pursuits. If you find yourself obsessing about your daily writing, think about making your own “before to-do” list. Balance your real life with your writing life—or let’s call them your “inner life” and your “outer life.” Both are real, both are necessary, and you can’t have one without the other.

Hmmm . . . maybe I should start a 12-step support group. “Hi, my name is Tam, and I’m a social media addict.”

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Tam Francis is the author of The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress,the parallel story of two young women struggling with budding sensuality, new independence, and recent loss, who are united across generations by a 1940s swing dress. Tam has taught swing dancing with her husband for fifteen years and is an avid collector of vintage patterns, vintage clothing, and antiques. She began blogging her dance adventures years ago on MySpace and started her novel when her husband shipped out for Iraq and she was alone with two small children.

Tam has published two indie magazines—From the Ashes and Swivel: Vintage Living (about all things related to swing dancing and vintage lifestyle culture). She is a poet (two-time National Poetry Slam city finalist, Scottsdale Center for the Arts Poetry Art Walk Featured Poet, New Times feature poet, Visual Voices featured writer) and short-story writer (two-time finalist for Scare the Dickens Out of Us contest).

She now lives in a 1908 home in Lockhart, Texas, which is not only the BBQ capital of Texas, but has the oldest, continuous working library in the state. Tam is currently querying agents for The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress. Learn more at http://www.girlinthejitterbugdress.com and connect with her on Twitter @tamfrancis.

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Thanks for sharing your story, Tam! Fellow bloggers, how do you manage social media? Do you have a to-do list (like Tam), or do you set schedule or use Internet-blocking software to protect yourself from peeking? I’d love to hear about your challenges as you tame the social-media monster, so please share in the comments below.

Happy Writing!

—Candace

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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.

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12 thoughts on “Are You a Social Media Addict?”

  1. Guilty! It goes in cycles for me, but there are definitely times when I’m so focused on my “inner life” (whether that’s social media, writing, or characters having conversations in my head) is real life seems to be an inconvenience that pulls me away from these very important things.

    It gets scary, and then I manage to pull back. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    (PS- I really want to read The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress! Sounds amazing)

    1. Thanks Kate, it is always nice to be in good (crazy) company! I know what you mean about cycles. I’m a bit hyper-focused, so I’ll have “baking” frenzies, “sewing” frenzies. The key is striving for balance. I’d love you to read it too. Still shopping agents. I have this crazy idea to publish traditionally, but have many people pushing me to self-pub. Thanks for the post.

  2. No, Tam, you’re not the only “nut job” out here. I could have written this post myself. I was the same way, totally addicted. Like you, I now have a list of things I must accomplish before checking the in box. Thankfully, I’m not hooked on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, just blogging, otherwise I’d never get anything written. I’m headed over to Amazon now to purchase The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress, it sounds great!

    1. Jill, so nice to no I’m not alone in my crazy. LOL. Thank you for heading to Amazon, but the novel is not yet published. Join my site list and you’ll be updated when its available. And stick to you list!

  3. I’m not particularly hooked on social media, but I can find lots of ways to waste time. My draw is reading blogs. I’ve loved connecting with other writers through this medium. But I’ve learned to limit it to an hour a day (or so I try…)

    Something that makes me crazy are the bloggers who are addicted to blogging. It’s usually the newest bloggers, pumped up by watching the number of followers grow. I get irritated when I log in to my Reader and find 5 posts from the same blogger. What else are they doing all day? What’s their agenda? When this happens, I unfollow them. Same goes with Twitter. Can’t stand the people who are compelled to tweet several times an hour. Get a life!

    1. Gwen, I know exactly what you mean. I get exasperated at tweets which are the same thing over and over…buy my book, buy my book, buy my book. But I have met some genuine nice supportive people and that’s where I have to watch or my time flies by, looking out for a reply to a conversation. Sounds like you have it under control, though.

  4. Some great insights. I always start my day with social media, and go back to it throughout the day for little “mini-breaks” from writing, market research, query development, etc. But I am not a social person in “real” life, so I can never get myself to devote too much obsession to Twitter, Facebook, etc.

  5. Great post, Tam. I take Sundays off from all computer work and social media–Saturdays, too, if I can manage it. And I don’t get on the Internet at all in the mornings until my writing time is done. Those two limits have helped a lot, but it’s a constant balancing act.

  6. Thanks Kate, it is always nice to be in good (crazy) company! I know what you mean about cycles. I’m a bit hyper-focused, so I’ll have “baking” frenzies, “sewing” frenzies. The key is striving for balance.

  7. Brilliant post – I’m a fellow nut job. I’ve dived into social media and ‘building a platform’ since launching a business, a blog and beginning to write a book and am only learning how it all works and what it all means as I go along (mostly from other people sharing their experiences, like you!). At the beginning, I felt like I was drowning and I was addicted to updates – how on earth to keep up with everything that’s happening online in all these different spheres? If I leave the Twittersphere, blogosphere and Facebookspheres alone while I do stuff in the ‘real’ world, am I missing out? The answer is definitely no, I’m not. If you have a list of things to do in all worlds and become a little bit obsessed with time-management, everything is possible. The most important buzzword for this whole new world I’ve discovered is ‘balance’! We ‘writerly’ types (love it) need to stay connected – not just online and to each other, but to all the worlds that make up our lives, inside and out!

    1. Nice to meetcha fellow nut job! It sounds like you have it figured out. My mania not only applies to social media, but I can get tunnel vision when I write a new story or start a novel. It’s good to stay the course, but you’ve got to find that balance 🙂

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