A New Writer’s Dilemma: Social Networking

Many people believe that writing is a solitary effort. Well, if that’s the case then I must be doing it wrong. Between the voices of the characters in my head and the countless tweets and blogs I read I feel as if I’m being crowded with people. I guess in the days before Twitter, Facebook and well, the internet in general, writing was a solitary effort. An idea popped into your head, you sat down in front of your typewriter (yes, I know what they are…) and you wrote until you made a mistake and then brought out the white-out to fix it. No delete buttons, no advice blogs, no outside interruptions other than the ring of the doorbell or phone.

Instead of Pandora pumping out of your computer’s speakers the sound of your typewriter’s keys and the little zing at the end of the line kept you company. You hunch your shoulders and focus on the white page in front of you, determined to get the characters onto the page and out of your head. You smoke three packs of cigarettes a day. You drink coffee until your fingers are typing so fast that they are no longer typing what you want them to type. But none of that matters; all you need is you, your typewriter and your characters, and well, plenty of paper.

But I digress.

When I first hinted to Sparky that I wanted to try writing he was a little hesitant. Not because he didn’t think I could do it, remember he was one who has always encouraged me to write. His hesitation stemmed from his intimate knowledge of me…I am a people person. I need people. I need to be around them. I need to hear them talk, hear their stories. I need to study their mannerisms, their facial expressions. In short, I just need people.

A writer to him, and to many people, is a person locked in an almost solitary confinement. Stowed away in their cramped offices with overstuffed bookshelves, ashtrays overflowing with week old cigarette butts, coffee cups with brown sludge stuck to the bottom of them and days old sandwiches littered everywhere.

However, what we were both quick to learn is that as that may be the case for some, there is this new emerging writer. A writer that divides her time between reading blog posts, tweets from other authors or aspiring writers, keeping up to date on her own blog all while writing her own work. Honestly, I don’t know how writers find time for anything else in their lives other than writing. Hell, most days I’m so caught up with the media aspect of it I forget about the actual writing!

Sparky will come home wanting to catch up on each other’s days and I can’t string two words together.  Most days I’m so tired from going from blog to blog thinking up useful comments or retweeting someone else’s brilliant quote or, surprise, writing my own story that my brain is total mush.

I no longer think that one must be a hermit in order to be a writer. What I think is that I need to hire a personal assistant just keep everything and everyone straight and I’m not even published!

Don’t get me wrong, I like this new aspect of writing. I get to meet new people from the comfort of my own home and learn about my craft at the same time. My worry lies in the dilemma of finding the balance between social networking and actually writing.

Which brings up the question: are writers who are just getting started putting too much emphasis on creating their platform before they have anything worthy of displaying? Should new authors just concentrate on getting their stories written? Or should they tweet, and blog, and post, sell their firstborn (she’s potty trained!) all with the hope that this will actually make a difference when it comes time to search out agents and publishers?

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About Karen DeLabar

A writer who divides her time between her family and her computer while sparing some time to her other loves of theatre, books and scotch.
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11 Responses to A New Writer’s Dilemma: Social Networking

  1. jcbenes says:

    Love the post. I think that it’s different for everyone. Though, striking a balance between the two would be the best, in my opinion. Having that market presence is a definite plus, but if you have nothing to show for it then it’s all somewhat of a waste. The really hard part is trying to create that balance. It is really really easy to jump from blog to blog to twitter and so on; I know, I end up doing it most of the time myself.

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Thanks for the comment! I try to remember that I’m a writer first and if I don’t write anything then being a part of the social network really doesn’t make any sense. It is way too easy to get caught up in all the blogging and posting.

  2. Ana Quinn says:

    I completely agree with you, it is easy to get overwhelmed. There are days that I get nothing done because I am so engrossed in Twitter, Blogs, etc. There are other days where I get a lot of writing done, then realize I haven’t been on Twitter all day, nor have I read a single blog post.

    I am sure there is a way to find a balance, but I haven’t found it yet. I would love some advice from those that have, though!

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Do you think its necessary to go on blogs and Twitter everyday? (Especially in the beginning) I mean, I know I’ve read blogs by published authors that said they started their blogs after they have written a couple of books and were on the path to finding an agent or publisher. They used their blogs to help support their efforts and their book.

      Since I am still working on my novel is it imperative that I be on twitter and blogs and other networks everyday? That’s my question. I think I want, actually need, to focus on my writing more than my networking – at least where I feel I’m at in the game.

    • Ana,

      Exactly! There are days when I don’t write, because I am too “busy” reading blogs, Facebooking, and Tweeting. I think my biggest problem though is that I think of it as getting my work out there, and as a way of inspiration.

      I would love to find a balance, because my goal for myself for my first book to be finished is on March 18th, my 30th birthday! It’s a gift to myself, saying that I will be a writer!

      Happy Writing, Blogging and Tweeting!

  3. Kaye,

    Thank you for this post! I found it to be SO true, and often wondered if there were people out there like me. I also loved the humor and could relate to most of all what you wrote!

    Once again, thank your for sharing this! Have a great day!

    • Kaye Peters says:

      And thank you for commenting! I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one trying to find a balance between writing and networking.

      I hope you have a great birthday (I know I’m a little early!) and best of luck on your book!

  4. Tori Nelson says:

    Came across your bog via Hilary and I love it 🙂
    I had the same picture of a writer: alone, angst ridden, and probably not appreciated by the public until his/her work was found in a dusty old box decades later. Not exactly enticing.
    Blogging has been a gift and a total revelation for me, that I can be a writer, a mom, a talker, and a nutcase- so long as I keep those characters talking and those stories flowing. It is more of a community than most, well, communities!

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Excellent point. The old saying about how it takes a village to raise a child, I guess the same could be said about being a writer. It is nice to have a community of fellow writers that I can turn to for advice, inspiration and to visit me in the insane asylum when the voices in my head finally take over.

      I’m so glad that you found our blog and I hope you continue to visit!

  5. Helene says:

    When I think of writers, the first image that pops in my head is Chevy Chase in the movie Funny Farm or Collin Firth’s character in Love Actually…they sit in their offices, isolated from others, typing away….Whats funny to me is that they travel away from home only to what I assume is “get away from the distractions of everyday life” and focus primarily on their writing…and yet they still end up being distracted and in most cases more so than they were before traveling… but don’t they always end up with a great story?!?
    Im the farthest thing from a writer, a biochemist actually…but after my first pregnancy/child…I fell in love with blogging and social networking…I loved reading that other people were experiencing the same issues, probs etc…there was empathy and laughter and that along with a glass of wine was the greatest combo a girl could ask for! With that I say tweet, facebook, blog etc..it may intially be for distraction…but you may just get inspired 😉

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Great to hear from you Helene! Thanks for the comment. You’re right it starts of being a distraction, may end that way as well, but I do find motivation and support in it.

      And can I just say how I love the fact that a biochemist reads our blog! I feel so intelligent just saying that. 🙂

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