I will be the first to admit that I am way too involved in the internet side of writing. On any given day, I will have visited at least five social media sites that have absolutely nothing to do with what I should be working on. There are good and bad sides to social media that every writer should be aware of.
On the one hand, social media can be a great place to cultivate relationships with other writers, potential readers, and make important business connections. On the other hand, you can waste hours surfing facebook, updating twitter, checking tumblr or pinterest or whatever media du jour is out there.
Of course, the invention of the internet has made research for stories much easier than it ever has been before. There’s Wikipedia and Google and anything else you could possibly think to learn new information. You can even log onto any social media site and ask random people. It can be amazing what other people know.
The internet, however, is also one of the biggest time-wasters for people. I can go on and be stuck in an endless loop of tumblr-facebook-twitter-email for hours. Add in blogs and online comics and reading and you’re pretty much lost in a sea of information, deftly swimming away from any project you should be working on.
How do you find the balance then?
A lot of it has to do with time management. Despite the fact that I spent many hours each day online, I also manage to get all my work done on time as well as work on my individual projects. I’m sure if I cut out the internet, I would get even more done, but there comes a point when you need the internet for some piece of information or other. The trick is not getting caught in the endless cycle.
Deciding what takes priority for you can make a big difference as well. This year, I’m trying to do that each month. At the beginning of a new month, I decide what projects of mine are most important to accomplish and then I work on those. These blogs posts are some of my top priorities, so I work on them first.
Prioritizing can help you focus your efforts. It doesn’t mean to forget everything else that you have to do, but figure out what is most important and work on that.
Social media can be a great tool, however, for helping your career and your social circle, and it can be important to cultivate a good online presence. Don’t just comment on a post. Comment with some sort of intent – to make friends, to integrate yourself into a circle, to applaud or argue a point. Building relationships can be one of the most important facets of becoming a successful business person, whether writer or not.
Personally, I love social media, and although I sometimes feel as if I have too many accounts and want to cut them down, I know they can be helpful in the long run as long as I use them properly or for my own enjoyment. You should at least enjoy using them. Otherwise, you may just be causing unnecessary stress.