[NETWORKING FOR INTROVERTS] How to prevent social media from taking over your life

If you're like me...

You remember that you never RSVP'd to your friend's book launch, so you log onto Facebook to search for the invitation and you see that another friend finally gave birth to her long overdue baby. You congratulate her. Then you notice that a third friend has posted a fascinating article about orcas and having just watched Blackfish, you can't help but click the link. Oddly, you recognize the name of the author of the orca article, so you click on that, which takes you to the author's blog and you see that oh, yes! She is the next door neighbor of a boy who goes to kindergarten with your daughter. You met at a bounce house party. You see that she has a new book coming out, one about...kindergartners! So you click the link and pre-order a copy from Amazon, which suggests that you also read this other parenting book you've been meaning to check out for months, but wait...shouldn't you be supporting independent bookstores? And you have a gift card for Powell's Books. So you search "Powells" and Colin Powell pops up too and you see that it's his birthday and that he...what a coincidence...was born on the same day as your father! Which means that...oh crap...today is Dad's birthday, so you go to his Facebook page to post a message on his wall and...Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. Weren't you supposed to do something here? Something to do with a party, an invitation...but for what? A birthday party? A kindergarten class event? You can't remember, so you log off. Then you click on your Google calendar and realize that your friend's book launch party is this Friday and you haven't yet RSVP'd.

It's easy to get lost on social media—whether it's on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or blogs. It can take over your life, leaving you with time to do little else besides eat, sleep, and pay the bills. Definitely no time to write. But that's okay because no one cares if you write. No one's going to be disappointed if you don't finish that chapter of your novel by this weekend. Right? WRONG! I care! And you should care, too! Forget about everyone else. You and I—we're all that matters. But how do you shut out all the noise and hunker down to write?

Pay Yourself First

If you've read any personal finance books, you've probably heard the phrase "pay yourself first." The idea is that if you pay all your bills first, there will never be anything left to save—because your spending will always increase to meet your income. But if you "pay yourself first," put some money in savings BEFORE you pay your bills, then you will be forced to make ends meet AND you will save money.

The same goes for writing

DO NOT wait until you catch up on blogging and Twitter and cleaning your closets and making enough money to take that vacation to Hawaii before you sit down to write. Forget Hawaii. Ignore the closets. Write FIRST. Then, if you have any time left over, eat, sleep, mop the the floor, maybe pay a bill or two.

Because *I* care, and you should too!

Now here's a question: What are some things you tend to do before you sit down to write that could wait until after you finish that chapter?

MEGHAN WARD is the author of Runway: Confessions of a Not-So-Supermodel. Her work has been published in Mutha Magazine, 7x7 magazine, San Francisco magazine, and many more. Follow her on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and Writerland.com.

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Comment by Meghan Ward on July 13, 2014 at 9:04am

Catherine, hilarious! I think I need to take a class to get back in the writing groove again!

Comment by Catherine Marshall-Smith on July 12, 2014 at 8:21pm

What do I do before I write? Your opening paragraph described me down to the cell level. Oh, I also sharpen pencils obsessively and don't use them.Colorize my post its and then there are these Jerky Treats to stop my dog from barking at the mail carrier --those need to be put away. Where did those Mardi-Gras beads come from and why do I have that super ball on my desk? Ummm what was the question?

My antidote for the flotsam and jetsam of my mind is to take writing classes on line. Classes give me deadlines and an audience for my writing. They also cost a lot of money so I feel compelled to do the work. That was how I got my novel written and 2nd started. All of this got a lot harder when I had to edit and revise. Revision takes far greater concentration and the shimmer of new ideas has evaporated. And then . . .those pencils begin to look like they need a good sharpening .. .

Comment by Meghan Ward on May 7, 2014 at 2:45pm

Toi, I often tell myself I'll write in the evenings after the kids go to bed, but by then I'm too tired and don't have the energy to do anything but read myself to sleep. I also need to get back into a morning writing routine.

Comment by Meghan Ward on May 7, 2014 at 2:44pm

Go, Kate! I need to follow my own advice, too :)

Comment by Meghan Ward on May 7, 2014 at 2:44pm

Lucinda, I think that's true of all life's lessons. We know them, but we need to be reminded to follow them!

Comment by Meghan Ward on May 7, 2014 at 2:43pm

Meg, so true about choices. Sounds like you are making good ones. That's great that you write 2 hours every morning, 7 days a week! I need to get back on a writing schedule. And #amwriting is my favorite writing hashtag, too.

Comment by Meghan Ward on May 7, 2014 at 2:18pm

Katheleen-I have a love/hate relationship with caffeine. It makes me much more efficient, but it keeps me up at night, too. I sleep better when I don't drink it, but I'm cranky and exhausted by 4/5 p.m. I haven't found the right balance yet.

Comment by Toi Thomas on May 4, 2014 at 8:19am

I tend to spend too much time trying to read all the interesting blog posts of the day. After that I then spend some time updating my own blog. Then finally I try to sit down and write. Some days I'm able to jump right in, but most of the time I've tired myself out; usually all this takes place after I've alreay put in my 8-9 hours at work and commuting. I guess I need to put in a good hour of writing before pursuing some of those others things from now on. 

Comment by Kate Campbell on May 3, 2014 at 9:22pm

Thanks for this advice, Meghan. I'm wasting too much time farting around on social media. Your suggestion to write first, play later is very useful. People have stopped asking when my next book will be coming out. With all my fascinating Facebook friends to follow, the answer is Never. I don't like that answer. Pay myself first has got to be my commitment. Thanks again. 

Comment by Lucinda Sage-Midgorden on May 3, 2014 at 10:08am

Meghan, Thanks for reminding me what I've learned. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this simple practice.


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