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February, 2011 | Keli Gwyn - Part 2
Keli Gwyn
Are You a Social Media Junkie?

Yammers, the Yakkity Yak

Do you race for the computer each morning eager to find out who’s saying what to whom?

Are there comments on my blog post?

Did anyone “like” my Facebook status?

Do I have any DMs on Twitter?

Or perhaps your focus is on others.

Whose birthday is listed on Facebook?

Who shouted out good news, and where’s the cyber celebration?

Which blog posts can I recommend to my friends and followers?

A Social Media Obsession is one of Twelve Troublemakers that plagues me as a writer. I’m exploring one a week. This is the third the series.

When I began writing, I spent two years in isolation and completed five novel-length stories. Then I finaled in a contest, was invited to be a blog guest, and discovered the wonderful world of cyberspace. I was no longer alone.

What fun it was to chat with other writers, people who shared my passion and didn’t think I was nuts for hearing voices. In a short time, I signed up for Facebook and Twitter, joined several Yahoo! loops, and launched two blogs. Reserved me had found a safe way to connect with others using the medium I find most comfortable: the written word. I had a blast making online friends.

But my productivity dropped. Ever since the day when former technophobe me crawled out of my cave, I’ve struggled to divvy my time between socializing and writing. And I have a strong suspicion I’m not alone.

I’d love to give you six sure-fire steps for striking a balance between social networking and story crafting, but in all honesty, I can’t. The truth is, I’m working to find mine. I can, however, share what’s helped me.

Three truths that help me combat my tendency to be too “talkative” online

I can’t do it all. It’s impossible for me to respond to every comment, tweet, or Facebook update, much as I’d like to. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. What’s more, no one expects me to.

It’s OK to prioritize. Writing has to come first. Responding to email comes next. Social networking, while important to me, follows these two. I wish I could say I’ve embraced this concept wholeheartedly and have my priorities in order, but there are days I forget and flip the list around.

Brief is better. I don’t write tight. I wish I did, but I’m one of those writers who has to perform liposuction on my stories during my revision passes. If I’m not careful, my blog  comments can turn into novellas. I’m learning to keep them lean. I console myself with the fact that leaving concise comments allows me to make more of them in my allotted time.

* * *

Your Struggles & Successes with Social Media . . . and a Drawing

Do you have trouble pulling yourself from social media sites?

How do you divide your precious time between chatting and writing?

One person who leaves a comment and answers one of these questions will win the yak pictured above. This little Folkmanis finger puppet might seem a silly item for an adult, but it could serve as a visual reminder to keeps tabs on your social networking time. If you win and don’t want the little guy, you could share it with a child or grandchild.

I’ll hold the drawing Sunday, February 27th and post the winner’s name in the post published the next day, when I’ll introduce the next of the Twelve Troublemakers.

Prickles, the Pressured Porcupine from last Monday’s drawing went to Dawn Alexander.

Odds of winning vary based on number of entrants.
I’ll ship to U.S. and Canadian addresses only.
Offer void where prohibited.
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Keli Gwyn
Productivity Tip: Break it up

photobucket image by lizzurd13

Do you want to get more done in a day?

Break your activity into pieces.

I learned this lesson when I was working as an assistant editor by day and taking college classes by night. We published textbooks, and my boss, the publisher, had a doctorate in education. One day when I mentioned how hard it was to get my studying done because I’d start to nod off after a while, she shared this tip.

My boss said the best way to re-energize was to change subjects every so often during my study sessions. She said the mind grows tired of one activity after a certain amount of time. Switching from one task to another would relieve the boredom that led to my lethargy.

The past couple of days my To-do List rivaled War and Peace, and the Pressure Porcupine was paying me a visit. I recalled my boss’s wise counsel and heeded it. I spent some time on tax prep, switched to blogging when I’d had my fill of finances, and shifted to editing for one of my critique partners after formatting an interview for a blog guest.

Breaking my day into blocks enabled me to get more done than usual. My productivity soared, and my stress was reduced. I plan to use this technique more often.

* * *

What tips do you have for getting more done in a day?

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Keli Gwyn
Living in Limbo Land

photobucket image by LoneLizard2

Limbo Land. A place writers know all too well.

We spend hours writing, waiting to reach The End.

We share our work with our critique partners and eagerly await their feedback.

We send out contest entries, queries, book proposals. And we wait.

Then comes that monumental day when we sign a contract, and we expect life to take off at warp speed. For those who have only a few months between contract and release that can be true, but others wait to find out what happens next.

During a call with my agent, I referred to this period of uncertainty as Limbo Land. Eager for assurance that I was heading in the right direction while I wait for the next step on my journey, I asked her to share some of her sage counsel.

What she gave me was a dose of reality. She told me waiting is part of the writing life and that doesn’t change after we sign a contract. She said a writer can plan to spend 90% of her time living in Limbo Land, waiting for something, waiting on someone.

My agent went on to give me some advice I’d heard before but which hadn’t sunk in.

The best way to deal with waiting time is to work on the next project. Keep writing so when we’re asked for a new story or another book proposal, we have one ready.

Heeding my agent’s advice worked wonders. I was transported from Limbo Land to Possibility Paradise. Ideas began to flow, and I couldn’t wait to get to work.

* * *

Have you spent time in Limbo Land, unsure how to proceed. How did you handle it?

What are your best tips for dealing with waiting time?

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Keli Gwyn
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