black hole of book writing

Avoiding Social Media Outcome Obsession

This time known to me as author’s limbo can be tricky. Awaiting the return of a manuscript from my editor while starting on the next story in my Other Worldly series, my head immersed in a new challenge with new secondary characters and outer space adventures. You’d think I’d be used to it, as this is the fifth go-round.

Yet my head and heart must remain with the fifth novel, Alien Sensation, coming in June. Because I will soon need to be focused on fixing it up and following my editor’s sage advice to ready it for publication.

Meanwhile, it is important to promote, within this blog, the subjects and situations therein. And if the ever-forthcoming advice from the publishing world is to be heeded, social media activity is a must as well. With the aim being to sell more books, because numbers of books sold is apparently the only way to define success, if Facebook’s constant push to purchase advertising is any indication.

Except I’m not really feeling it this time around, and the reality is, Twitter and Facebook are inundated with scores of authors, both actual and wannabe, as well as others promoting themselves. It can be exasperating and exhausting just to scroll through a news feed, like you’ve been sucked into an internet black hole draining all your time and energy.

Black holes, or energy vortexes, are a focus of Altogether Alien, sixth book in the Other Worldly series, of which I’m only three first-draft chapters in, so perhaps it’s too soon to begin promoting it.

And, let’s face it, getting folks to read anything more than, say, 180 characters in venues like a blog post can be a challenge. Hence, I challenge myself to read what others have noted about this thing called social media self-promotion. Because when another writer says it so well that it resonates deeply, I’m inspired instead of tired.

Enter Jay Thornton, filmmaker and writer, one half of a creative team of brothers known as He wrote an online piece for Pipeline Artists titled “Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?” Essentially it was about social media obsessiveness, and it suggested that writers instead focus on “process over outcome.”

What is it about screenwriters that makes them give the best writing advice? Or maybe I just love the way this guy tangles words together. He’s excessively wordy, and in my world that’s a fabulous feast for my mind. How can I not embrace the words of a self-proclaimed gadfly?

Jay Thornton advised that finding things to do with your time that services others will make you feel better than striving to see your name on a silver screen. So here I am, already scrambling to find volunteer opportunities to write and engage with others.

Instead of grandstanding on or gaming Twitter, Jay Thornton said, focus more fully on the creative process itself—while remembering to engage the world around you in a meaningful manner.

And here’s the kicker. He said that if you don’t enjoy the process, quit. I was gobsmacked, realizing I did in fact quit something due to its tedious unproductive process.

I quit querying. Actually, I said goodbye to the entire gamut of self-absorbed angst associated with the quest for a literary agent in order to engage in the seemingly impossible process of traditional publishing. Because it absolutely made me no longer enjoy the process of writing itself.

And that was something I wasn’t going to let others take away from me. I need to write. It’s cathartic and energizing and keeps me connected to this crazy world without letting it entirely consume me. The news this week alone was so sickening it was nearly crippling. How many more times in my lifetime will I find myself writing about the maniacal obsession with trying to control women?

Sharing thoughts and ideas and outrage through the written word can and does make one feel less alone in this world, instilling hope that if integrity can triumph over corruption in a fictional story, there’s hope for us Earth dwellers not-so-nimbly navigating reality.

Instead of focusing on an outcome of “success” defined in someone else’s terms, of money, fame and bestsellers, I’ve kept right on writing. I’m now five books in on a speculative fiction series that others tried to define and diminish with unoriginal and uninformed comparison.

I’m still learning to weed out the good advice from the bad, but I’m not on Twitter asking thousands of strangers if I’m doing it right. Yes, I’ve created a website blog and I post regularly as part of the marketing process, but also because I have something to say, and writing is my medium.

I share my blog and my books on both Twitter and Facebook but haven’t felt it to be a particularly uplifting endeavor, and I don’t believe it actually sells books. In truth I wish to meaningfully engage with readers. I’d love to interact with kindred folks about issues raised in my novels, including the misogyny we’re seeing so much of lately. It’d be great to know what resonated. What made a reader laugh or cringe, or even feel heard themselves.

We all want to feel heard. Is that part of the process or the outcome? I’ll only know if I keep writing. If I keep creating my fantastical fictitious world for reasons other than monetary results or number of book reviews. And especially not to rack up a greater number of followers on social media.

Carl Sagan said, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” I’m going to follow Jay Thornton’s advice and avoid being obsessed with outcomes sought by the self-serving hordes on social media. The next black hole/energy vortex I jump into will be with my Other Worldly protagonist Rowan Layne. Who knows where it will take us?

2 thoughts on “Avoiding Social Media Outcome Obsession”

    1. Lauryne Wright

      Thanks Ellen. Stay tuned for more on this week’s insanity in an upcoming Mother’s Day post.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *