Taming the Social Media Beast: Turning Distractions into Results

“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen destination.” Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)

Digital Distraction from Flickr

It took the wrath of a hurricane cutting a 500-mile swath of destruction across the Northeast to remind me that life can change in a heartbeat.  Irene was one powerful and destructive force the likes of which I have never witnessed. Although we were not personally affected, the damage in our surrounding area in Eastern New York and along the East Coast as the result of Irene’s fury was shattering. My thoughts and prayers go out to those people who have suffered devastating losses and are enduring many more serious repercussions. People lost their homes, their livelihood and in some cases , their lives. Disruption of this magnitude is hard to comprehend.

I am very grateful that the impact on our family was minimal.

Times of crisis can awaken us to new ways of thinking. Irene did jostle me into making some necessary changes in my daily activities, writerly and otherwise.

Power was disrupted, internet connections, phone lines and cables downed, forcing me to disconnect from my wired-in world of instant messages, constant interruptions and ready access to volumes of information about people, places and things from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, the web (though Facebook and Twitter did  eventually end up being main sources of information during the outage). To top it off my sweet husband,Wayne, bought me an iPad for my retirement. I wonder,did he realize what he was doing?

OK, Here’s my confession. Social media has become a major distraction in my life and in my writing.

I wasn’t always so wired-in. When I began seriously writing about two years ago, I balked at the suggestions to join social media groups.

I took Dan Blank’s Build Your Author Platform Course  (highly recommend to anyone wishing to establish themselves as an author) when agents at a writer’s conference I had attended started each conversation with ” tell me about your author’s platform.” Dan is offering a free webinar this Thursday reviewing this course.

I started this blog and joined Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, and Goodreads in an attempt to get established as a writer in a changing writer’s world.

The more I learn about  publishing in today’s environment, the more I realize I need to maintain and grow an author’s platform. Here’s what Jane Friedman had to say about today’s publishing world in this video interview with former Tom Nelson editor, Michael Hyatt:

“Authors need discoverability and  visibility on and offline.”

It has all been good and I have enjoyed it, but it has gotten out of hand…

It’s time to tame the social media beast who takes me on tangents and detours, as wonderful as they may be, all day long, eating up the time I need to be thinking, writing  and shaping my story.

This is what I know:

*I need social media to maintain my author platform- to identify, engage and connect. Just ask Dan Blank over at We Grow Media

*I need to rein in,set limits and manage the time I spend on social media  to align with my goals rather than be distracted from them.

Porter Anderson, former CNN journalist ,writer and Twitter guru often promotes Rescue Time a tracking system for improving productivity by managing social media distraction. I met Porter in Dan’s course and have enjoyed following him on Twitter @porter_anderson. If there is a system for dealing with all this distraction and Porter is tweeting about it, I must not be alone…

Consulting Editor and Publisher Alan Rinzler  of The Book Deal blog calls Twitter “the largest cocktail party in the world” and summons writers to actively participate in “strategic tweeting”.

I know I need social media. And I love it. I love connecting with other writers from all over the world who add so much to my writing and life.I have connected with so many incredible people. Writing is a lone endeavor and I welcome feedback, suggestions and the friendships of so many wonderful people from all over the world.

I just want to carve out the time and space I need to arrive at my destination, minimizing  daily social media distractions while maximizing the benefits. I want to tame the beast and mold him into a companion who enhances my writing life and helps me get results.

Next week, I’ll talk about my specific plan.

Guide from Flickr

How about you? How does social media impact on you and your writing? What strategies have you developed to use social media to your advantage?











  1. Libbye Morris says

    Kathy, isn’t it amazing how social media has become such a big part of your daily life when you were questioning it just a couple of years ago? It just goes to show how much you can progress when you keep you options and mind open to new possibilities! I am in awe of your grasp of social media. I am now the one who’s reluctant to embrace it!

    • says

      There are so many benefits to social media ,Libbye,but it can be addictive and obstructive to productivity. Therein lies the challenge, finding that elusive balance that works for you. I’ve been told social media is not optional these days. I can understand why you feel reluctant to take the plunge. My feeling is the only way you’ll know is to give it a whirl and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised where it will take you.:-) Thanks for weighing in and Good Luck!

  2. smita jagdale says

    Kathy, your next post will be more interesting; I will pick up some wealthy pearls. I always wondered how you did it..so far, and still going! Amazing! I have cut down on television a lot, instead I read NY Times. I have had subscribed to lots of newsletters; now I read just a few which help me in the deeper sense. Instead I have signed for more classes, and am enjoying them, so do the writer-friends, who have been amazed with my courage .
    That’s the essence, now, WriteOn!

    • says

      Smita,cutting down on TV is a great start and I like the idea of limiting subscriptions to the ones that provide “help in the deeper sense” I think we have to be able to be selective in how we spend our time so bravo to you for making these changes. So glad you are enjoying your classes and I’m not the least bit surprised that your writer-friends are amazed by your courage. You have an amazing story of courage that must be told. Yes, you are so right- we must Write On!

  3. says

    I can hardly wait for your next post, Kathy! This social media beast can be all-consuming, as we both know. Yes, it has its good points — connecting with folks all over the world, sharing ideas and news, and keeping up with our ever-changing world are some of its pluses. The time-wasting thing, though, is a definite drawback. I’ve tried a lot of strategies, but none seem to work ALL the time in ALL circumstances — I’m going to let you educate me!

    • says

      Oh, Deb, I’ll give it a whirl but I’m hoping to get ideas from everyone else too! And the best laid plans are worthless unless real action is taken. Since social media involvement is a given these days,there has got to be a way to tackle the time-drain aspect of it all. I’ll give it my best shot and hope for the best..TBA :-)

  4. says

    Kathy, you packed your blog post with information and wisdom. I, too, struggle with the amount of time it takes to network online, and just when I decide to cut back, I will stumble upon something so fabulous, so exciting, that I am glad I spent time hanging around the cyberspace realm. Balance is the key, but that’s hard to judge.

    Looking forward to your next post, Kathy!


    • says

      Wow, Linda, you really summed it all up in one word~balance. Therein lies the challenge. Given the fact being human equates with imperfection and we all seem to be struggling with the same issue of time and productivity, all I can do is develop my plan and give it a whirl..TBA. In the meantime, any further ideas are welcome:-) Thanks,as always,for stopping by.

  5. says

    Ah yes, taming the beast! I feel like I have returned to civilization after being disconnected from internet (&teaching career) during the summer & now feel like I am being devoured all over again. This post was perfect timing & I can’t wait to read your next post.

    • says

      Pat, HaHa! I’m beginning to think that civilization is the real jungle. Maybe if we get our heads together we can develop a surefire way to whip this beast into shape!!

  6. Joanne Currence says

    Kathy – It was so helpful to read what you shared – I’m finally ready to delve into this whole new world to me
    and just signed up for the “Building Your Social Media Platform” through the Christian Writer’s Guild and know I will be learning a ton – It’s so great to see all that you’ve done, and thanks again for being such an inspiration to me :- )

  7. says

    Joanne, I’m so happy to hear from you! Taking a platform-building course is a great way to get started. You’re doing the right thing. I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your progress. Enjoy. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting :-) Blessings,Kathy

  8. says

    I have a hard time with social media. I love it, but sometimes, most days in fact, I do more of that than writing. And I feel so fulfilled and satisfied, until I ask myself, Lynne, did you actually WORK today? It’s like clearing out your email inbox and patting yourself on the back. Does it really count?

    And yet, the joy that I get communicating with people about things that matter to them or to me (hopefully both!) is so great that it almost stands apart from the business of writing. It’s not really networking as much as just social. And I’m digging it. I can’t wait to read how you manage it, or any tips you have to help me discipline myself!

    Like Debbie (above) just did a post about going to see The Help with her mom, both Mississippians. That was like taking a coffee break with a friend. I don’t ever want to give it up.

    • says

      Aw, Lynne, what a sweet thing to say — thanks! I don’t want to give up those connections either, but I do have to find a way to “tame the beast” before it eliminates ALL my productivity!

      • says

        Amen Debbie.I agree with Lynne on those” coffee breaks with a friend”. Let’s keep working together on ways to” tame this beast.” Our connections are just too valuable to give up. Love the discussion!

    • says

      Wow,Lynne, you nailed this dilemma of loving the interaction but figuring a way to minimize the distractions. And in the end it’s all really about making meaningful connections. I am working on a plan which I will share but let me go on record in agreeing with you..”I don’t ever want to give up my coffee breaks with friends”:-)Keep your ideas flowing. I love the discussion. Thanks so much for weighing in.


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