I was browsing through some tweets this afternoon when I found a link to a post from The Bookshelf Muse, a site that I have referenced on many different occasions for their indispensable entries in the setting thesaurus, as well as the emotion thesaurus, two things that make the site an essential for all writers just by themselves, but they also post tons more useful stuff. If you’ve never visited, now is a great time. The setting thesaurus, as the name suggests, is hugely helpful to writers of all levels simply because it delivers on what its name promises. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a scene, or about to write it and stuck, thinking “What the hell is there on a beach besides sand and the ocean?” The setting thesaurus is for you; it has all sorts of helpful tips like sounds, smells, and sights that will help make your description that much more vivid.
And the emotion thesaurus is fantastic for when you’re stuck, as well, thinking “Apart from frowning and crying, what the hell happens to people when they get sad?” It has a wide variety of actions to choose from, even more thesauri since my last visit (the ‘character thesaurus’ seems interesting) and the comments sections also sometimes contain useful tidbits.
A post went up this afternoon about social media burnout (click here for the link to the article), something I’m convinced that most, if not all, writers who are trying to build or maintain a platform suffer from. It’s always about how to get known before the book deal. Writing magazines and books seem to have a laser-pointed focus on writers who need to get out there on social media, to be more active, to be on a million different sites in addition to Facebook and Twitter, to blog incessantly, and to let as may people out there know that your book exists.
While there are certainly useful elements of that approach, one of the article’s main points that resonated with me was that it’s better to be good at a few things, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, rather than to try to be good at all of the social media platforms and do a so-so or not so great job at it. The whole point of blogging and social networking is to make yourself seem engaged with your audience and readership, and it becomes very apparent early on if you’re not into a particular medium. Blogs aren’t for everyone. Some writers prefer to post updates on a more sporadic schedule that isn’t set, some don’t like blogging or simply can’t afford to take the time out to do it as often as they would like to, some people are better on Facebook but not so much on Twitter (or vice versa)…it all depends on the individual writer.
But I’ve noticed a growing sense of frustration and malaise as more and more platforms like Google+ emerge, trying to be the next Facebook or the next Tumblr. Writers get fed up and I don’t blame them, because there are so many other things competing for our time and attention, and having to prioritize every day can be a real struggle. The saddest part about all of the time spent on social media and promotions is that it zaps away real writing time. It’s a tricky balance to achieve and one that few writers do (and most of them are, with few exceptions, full-time writers, i.e. they don’t have to worry about the demands of a day job, but most of us aren’t so fortunate and will probably never be).
The suggestions outlined in the article are fantastic; it’s not about quitting or completely eliminating things or having to start from square one all over again. It takes time and dedication to build a platform, but the best point of the article was that it doesn’t make sense to put in that much time and promote something that doesn’t even exist yet, and thus can’t be translated into sales (this applies to those of us who still have WIPs and not published novels).
I think that in this age of confirmation bias where people mostly log on to websites and blogs and look only for those posts that support what they already think, rather than getting a second or alternating opinion, it’s refreshing to see articles like this that offer solutions to the daunting and frustrating tone that several books and articles promising to deliver info on how to be a “social media god when it comes to promoting your writing” unfortunately continue to perpetuate.
Don’t get me wrong–social media is vitally important for writers to use as a marketing tool and to promote our work, and it has many benefits when used correctly and to the best of its potential, but as with most things in life, balance is necessary for the best outcome.