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:
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.”
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.
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.
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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.