The 15-Minute Writer: Taming the Social Media Monster

file0002062790027 This is part five of a series. Read parts 1-4 here.

Ever wonder how top authors (especially those with families) do it all–write, read, speak, tweet, pin, travel, correspond and more? I’ve got a hunch that they choose what they’re best at, and hire talented people to do the rest.

There are simply not enough hours in the day to do it all. In addition, since new social media platforms pop up regularly, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Over the past few years as a writer-mom, I’ve made more than a few mistakes, but I’ve also learned to prayerfully make (sometimes tough) choices. With God’s help, I’m taming the social media monster–instead of letting it wreck my schedule and family life.

  • First, I regularly revisit my priorities. As seasons of life change, so do my family’s needs and schedule. When my children were small, I wrote during Mother’s Day Out and nap times. Now, I write, research, and update my blog and Twitter or Instagram accounts during their school hours and activities. I try to be available to them after dinner and while they’re doing homework, keeping certain times free of online distraction. So far, it’s working well for us.     OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Second,realize where I’m strong–and weak. I began blogging in 2004, and last year, I admitted to myself that I’m simply burned out. Bleh. Meh. Etcetera. However, giving myself permission to blog less often, and do other things I enjoy more (keeping an active Facebook and Pinterest presence, for instance) has helped my attitude about online promotion. I also love my work as an editor at an online magazine, and the curating I do for The High Calling helps me build my own platform. Score!
  • Third, I recognize my addictive tendencies. Recently, I discovered that with a few handy-dandy apps on my Iphone, I could tweet, chirp and pin while waiting for doctor’s appointments, eating by myself at fast food restaurants, and even in bed. The only problem? I had used those times previously to read, daydream or think. No down-time for Dena makes her a grumpy girl–and a boring writer. So, I decided to delete the apps. I already feel more peaceful and balanced.
  • Fourth, I reign in my expectations. Someday, when the kids are grown, I will have more quiet/alone time. (Please, God?) And I don’t want to have a ton of regrets later in life. This creative, crazy family is where the Lord has placed me. He has also chosen to give me wonderful writing opportunities. Such a precarious balancing act means I can’t pursue every single marketing or promotion lead that comes my way. I won’t be able to accept every speaking engagement I’m offered. And I can’t attend every platform-enhancing conference that looks interesting. This both helps and hinders our family financially, but God has always honored my commitment by providing everything we need (and most of what we want). As my dad told me many times, “Honor God, and He’ll honor you.”

Hopefully, my experiences will encourage you in your own efforts to mollify the online marketing beast. What are YOUR tips for handling this potential monster?

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22 thoughts on “The 15-Minute Writer: Taming the Social Media Monster

  1. Thank you so much for this. I had one of those days when I felt like social media was pulling my focus away from where it should be (my two boys). Alas, I’ve just discovered the fun of Goodreads, which is like catnip for a book lover like me! Must … develop … discipline …..

    Your #3 is so true. Thinking as a mom, I don’t want my kids to be constantly focused on a screen. I want them to have downtime to reflect/doodle/dream/etc. Shouldn’t the same be true for me? It’s amazing how easy it is to forget that.

    Thanks again for this great article. (Is it totally ironic if I now go share it on FB?). 🙂

    • Ha! No–I think it’s great. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing, and for revealing your own struggles. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, and I’m grateful for a place where I can encourage those who are dealing with the same things. Blessings to you today!

  2. I love the invention of the smart phone. It means I can do an odd tweet or so and be “active” while moving about and being incredibly busy 🙂

    • Rebecca, I love my smartphone, too! I just have WAY too much fun with it. LOL. Thanks for reading and especially for taking time to comment.

  3. Dena—thanks for this! I have to say, I feel a lot less pressure about social media than I used to. I still do it all, but spend less time than previously. It feels like that whirlpool suck has just lost some of its allure. (But as soon as I say this I will post my weekly blog and then be suckered to the screen for a day . .. Ah well.) (AND—I can’t believe you have blogged since 2004. That’s incredible! Yes, please do take a long long break from it!!

    • Leslie, it was a joy to sketch out my feelings/experiences about this important topic. Thanks for your kind words. You know what? Now that the pressure is off to blog, I actually find more to say when I do write a post. And I enjoy it more! 🙂

  4. “The only problem? I had used those times previously to read, daydream or think.” I just recently realized this, too. Funny…hardly anyone tells us this is important anymore, but it is. It so is.

    • It is EXTREMELY important, JoAnne. How else can we be creative? How else can we hear God saying new things? I am sad that so few people realize this, and sad that I too often get sucked into “never-still” land. 🙂

      • Sounds heavenly, JoAnne! 🙂 I’m glad you were able to get away. I love going to Laity Lodge, which is down in a canyon in the Hill Country of Texas. No cellphone reception or wi-fi, nature’s glory, and wonderfully restful schedule of retreats. It’s heavenly, as well.

  5. I loved this. I’m SO here. Between tweeting, pinning, fbing and instagram and blogging… all I can say is I am SO thankful my co-author daughter Rachel is such a great partner in PR for our upcoming book We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook. I don’t think I could do all that is expected of an author these days, solo. We’re also doing this PR as we’re writing a second book. And my grandson lives with us now. Overwhelmed seems to be the state I live in, and I really need to pause and assign priorities … Perfect timing. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

    • Thanks, Becky. You are in such a busy season; it’s no wonder you’re overwhelmed. I didn’t touch on my experience with co-authoring, but it does help tremendously in social media (though it takes more time in other ways), because you can “divide and conquer.” 🙂 Thanks for chiming in, and sharing the post on FB. I’m praying big blessings over you and Rachel as you get set to release the first of what I hope will be MANY books.

  6. That last one–“rein in the expectations”–is key for me. Well, actually, all of them are, as I recognized myself in almost everything you said. But my world consists of four children, one of whom has special needs, all of whom are elementary-and-younger. Put that together with an extremely diverse portfolio of work–fiction, nonfiction, music–and it is very, very difficult to balance it all. Especially during the summer, but at all times, I have to give myself permission not to accomplish as much as I want to. Because the kids are so precious to me, and although everything I do is important, and hopefully will impact the world, nothing is eternal the way the formation of a soul is.

    • Oh, Kathleen. That’s so, so true. NOTHING is more important that ministry God has called us to first: our family. Thanks for your comments. I think you’re exactly right to give yourself grace, especially in the summer. And four kids in the elementary-and-younger years? Being productive at all is amazing! And inspirational. God bless you in your writing journey.

  7. Great essay, Dena. Thanks for it. I still don’t know how to do this very well – it’s hard for me to pass up any blog post that lands in my inbox, but I’m working on it!!

  8. Love this post! It is exactly what I needed to read as I have been struggling with my writing for the last little while! Thank you! 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing your lessons learned, Dena! I find I need to shut down all social media when it’s time to write. I realized, when I want to work, I keep looking for places (coffee shops, libraries, etc.) that have wifi. But the better option for me is actually a place where I can’t get to the internet so easily!

  10. Hi Dena, I’ve always admired your resolution to keep your priorities in order. Good for you for keeping in focus that your kids will be grown someday–but right now they need you. Perhaps someday you will write with authority about what it takes to bear the burden of being a mom–imprinting and influencing your children when they are most likely to learn from you. Blessings and hugs,
    Linda

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