The other night on Twitter, a writer vented her frustration with building her author platform via social media and how that activity takes energy from the same pool as her energy for writing. She said that she feels less able to do the slow thinking and creative work necessary in first drafts and in deep revisions.
People offered suggestions: set aside a narrow window for social media promotion and then move on; hire someone to do it; and some said not to even bother with it at all. Several people complained about their publisher pressuring them to keep building their platforms.
I don’t have that kind of pressure, but it doesn’t mean I’m unaffected by the way that social media can drain my energy (whether I’m using it to actual promote my writing, or using it mindlessly, or mostly mindlessly). With the proficiency and time-management skills that I have now in my early forties, I wish had the distractions of twenty-some years ago when there were no social media platforms. No smartphones.
I do try to differentiate the writing itself from the “business” of writing. The former involves all the elements commonly associated with writing: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, etc. The latter involves sending submissions, looking for markets, using social media to promote the writing, dealing with writing-related email. Yet, the pressure that the aforementioned writer addresses (with which I identify) is that there is only so much time in each week and in each day.
I started writing because I wanted to write. I’m still writing decades later because I love writing. All the different stages. Yes, it’s thrilling to have a poem, essay, or story published, or as has been the case recently, a book published and another forthcoming. Yes, it’s wonderful to have people reading my work.
But I also believe that if my writing never found an audience again, I would still find writing to be one of the most enjoyable and satisfying aspects of my life.