I can’t believe 2017 is already nearing the finish line. Soon, bubbly-fueled, pitchy renditions of Auld Lang Syne will fill the air, and I’ll feign familiarity with the lyrics by humming and grunting the melody with my family and friends, poised to hit the ground running in 2018.
Actually, I’m already itching to get this show on the road. After taking a multi-month respite from social media, I feel refreshed and focused with a close-to-crystal vision of where I’m headed and how I’m aiming to get there.
Going off-grid wasn’t something I initially had any intention of sticking out for more than a spell. I simply wanted to spend a bit of concentrated time in manuscript-immersion mode as opposed to perpetually stuck in the eyes-to-the-phone-screen position.
One day unplugged would be doable, I thought. Two, tops.
But one day became one week, which had somehow morphed into three months. Three months fully present and finally—yes, finally—hitting my authorly stride. I wrote books…plural. And outlined others. And tweaked my business plan. And established a second brand for my mature adult fiction. It was like a whole new me had surfaced and taken over— the frantic, urgent, impassioned writer I always knew was buried inside.
I’d have been crazy to fight it.
The words kept coming and I wasn’t about to disinvite them by answering my phone’s seduction call and becoming lost in an abyss of selfies, subtweets, and hashtagery.
Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t miss those things. Because I did. A lot. Nor am I condemning social media, smartphones, or the internet at large. Because I love ’em! I do! Heck, if it weren’t for a little platform called Wattpad.com and the encouragement and support I’d received there when I was starting out, I would never have published my first book.
However, the lessons learned during my time offline have been invaluable, leaving me indelibly prepared for a more fulfilling and productive New Year and beyond. Especially this golden nugget of wisdom…
Writing comes first—always.
(Side note: We all know that family in fact comes first, but within the context of this blogspace I’m strictly talking from a career-longevity standpoint. Okay, I’m glad I got that off my chest.)
So, writing, eh? What a revelation! Not.
I mean, really—it couldn’t be more obvious. Yet we still tend to forget, don’t we? How many of us have poured our blood, sweat and tears into writing and publishing that one book only to become consumed immediately thereafter with things like algorithms, sales rankings, sponsored ads, page likes, social media shares, and wondering if one needs to sacrifice their first born in order to get reviews?
Just me? Well, never mind then. 😉
In all seriousness, though, nothing is more vital—more necessary—than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and churning out those stories. Its importance is paramount. It has to be. Otherwise, word counts remain stagnant, which is a real mood killer. Trust me.
Try to think of it this way: The more time you spend online, the less time you spend writing, and the longer it takes to build a loyal readership. You want followers? Great! Retweets? Fantastic! Shares? Who wouldn’t!?
But if you want to experience steady career growth, touch the lives of others with your stories, and find readers in increasing numbers who’ll stick with you for the long haul…
Then write more books.
Speaking from my own experience, I knew the only way I was ever going to get my groove back was to forget trying to be everywhere all at once. To stop obsessing over rankings. To reunite with my phone only after I’d met my daily word count goal and not a moment before.
It was challenging at first. We are, after all, creatures of habit. But gradually, the more I left the phone aside, the more it freed up my imagination, and the more words filled my pages. The result is three books I’ll be bringing to you in 2018.
Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not me!
Maintaining a social media presence while keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the publishing industry should be a part of every writer’s platform-building and marketing strategy. Not to mention that it’s also a wonderful way to engage with readers and show support for other writers whose work you enjoy.
But if you’re a writer who spends more than a fair amount of time online (don’t we all?) while consistently drifting in and out of states of creative inertia, then scaling back on scrolling-n-posting, even just a little, could make all the difference in your bookish output.
So that might mean updating your Facebook status 2-3 times a week instead of daily. Or scheduling your tweets ahead of time so that they’ll automatically post at chosen intervals (there are many useful apps for this purpose). This is perfectly acceptable and more than sufficient. Because honestly, when it comes right down to it, your posting frequency won’t translate to much if you’re not actively expanding your catalog of work by…
Say it with me…
And if you need to go off-grid like I did to get those creative juices flowing, then that’s okay too. Just keep in mind that when you lay low for a stretch of time, people will unfollow you. That’s to be expected. But don’t worry. Your genuine internet friends and supporters will not only have your back, they’ll be right there waiting upon your return.
So write first, scroll-n-post later. Your career (and your readers!) will thank you for it.
Oh, and Happy Holidays to you and yours! 🙂
Copyright © S. A. Healey
Image source: pixabay.com