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5 things to do when you don’t love social media

I got this email from a friend this week and thought it was such a good question that we might like to explore it together.

I love writing on my blog, but unlike some people, I really dislike the social aspect of it mainly because it stresses me out.  I feel like I don’t have time for that part of it.  I also love reading other people’s blogs, but feel pressured to read so many a day, comment, follow-up, etc. in order to build a platform.  I have read that commenting and responding to comments is important in order to build your platform.  I do want a platform because I figure that if my writing’s not reaching people, then it’s not much of a ministry.

Anyway, do you have any suggestions about how to stay engaged in other people’s blogs, find time, build a platform, etc. when that’s not the part of blogging you love.  I just love to read and write!

As someone who has ridden the social media roller coaster for a few years now I can say with all honesty that I often feel the exact same way as my friend above.  In fact, one whole chapter of Notes to Aspiring Writers shares the story of what happened to me when I stepped onto the social media ride. Don’t get me wrong…social media has been good to me. As an Indie author, I wouldn’t have any platform at all without it. Twitter has brought me opportunities I would never have had otherwise and Facebook has given me a vibrant community of like-minded friends with similar goals and aspirations.

photo credit: stock.xchng

But sometimes I don’t love it.

Sometimes, I just want to write and not worry about posting links here or there, moderating comments, or entering keywords. But my friend above is right…if you have a heart to write for ministry to others, then “others” need to see what you’re writing. And if you’re self-published, you are going to have to do “platform-building” work at some point. At least some.

With that said, I also believe it’s important to note that God is sovereign over our platforms. I refuse to embrace the thought camp that says “if you build it, they will come.” I don’t believe that. What works for some, doesn’t work for others. Your sure-fire method of gaining followers and blog readers may work for your topic and niche, but it may scare people away from mine. That’s part of the reason Notes to Aspiring Writers is NOT a how-to book. God lifts up those He chooses to lift up. And His reasons for doing so belong to Him alone.  You just can’t get away from it.

So what do you do if you find yourself hating social media and community-building more and more by the second?  Here’s some food for thought:

1. Take a break.  A TOTAL break. Don’t write, don’t blog, don’t tweet or facebook or answer emails for at least a week, if not two. Jeff Goins wrote an excellent piece on this very topic, explaining why writers need REST. It’s vital for your health and long-term commitment to your calling. Read it. Don’t be afraid that you’ll disappear if you take a week or two off. That attitude could mean that you think you’re too important 😉

2. Only comment on blogs that mean something to you. I tried commenting on every blog I could find for a while, and it does bring traffic your way. But I burned out on this quickly (I have two small kids that like to see their mama every once in a while!) Now I rarely leave comments. If I comment on your blog it’s because you’ve touched me deeply with your post and it’s ignited something in me (or it could be because I feel led to be a blessing to you that day…either one). Pick two blogs you love and comment on them once a week or whenever you’re really inspired by the author’s article and call it done.

3. Promote someone else. Tired of tooting your own horn all the time? There are seasons when you just have to get a message out. I’m in one now as I’m preparing for the next 21 Days of Prayer for Sons challenge, but if you’re not in that season, stop promoting yourself more than once a day and decide to promote others instead.  And not just any others, but those who really inspire you. Those you would like to see succeed. Don’t have an agenda. Don’t do it because you want something in return. Just be a blessing.

4. Turn off your comments. I wrote an article after the 2010 Relevant Conference about how the Lord led me to turn mine off for a season at A Life in Need of Change. Maybe it will help you understand why this can be a good thing. I still turn mine off from time-to-time. It’s amazing how this one act can totally change your day.

5. Stop looking at your stats. Seriously…stop it. Take, dare I say it, a MONTH off from looking at your stats. Just walk away and decide you don’t care. You’ll have withdrawals for a week and then you’ll find that you really don’t care that much anymore.  Really.

Try these tips on for size and see how they feel.

Do you have other suggestions for overcoming the social media beast? I would love to hear them in the comments below.

A Deeper Study {Day Five}

{Welcome to a deeper study of the book Notes to Aspiring Writers; Your Dream, God’s Plan. Each day this week we’ll discuss what God is teaching us about having clean hands and a pure heart in our writing or blogging endeavors by highlighting things from the five chapters in the book. If you’re just joining us today, please read here to find out how to participate!}

The Last to be Chosen

Did you ever experience it? The gut-wrenching feeling of being the last one chosen during gym class because you just weren’t all that athletic? I did. Athletics were just never my thing. I was a good swimmer once upon a time…won a lot races…but no one in my school even knew about it because it was a summer-only league.

Do you trust that God knows what is best for you?

In the midst of rejections, watching others succeed and get opportunities you can only dream of, do you trust that God knows what is best for you?

Maybe you’re not ready to handle all of the pressures that come with your dreams?

Maybe your family isn’t ready to handle all of the pressures that come with your dreams?

And maybe, just maybe, God has not chosen you to bring the message of your heart to His people in the way you dream.

Maybe He wants you to live your dream and its message in front of your family and friends…making an immediate impact for His Kingdom. Can you be faithful with the mission He’s given you when it doesn’t measure up to your dreams?

Hard questions. Hard work to get to the answers. But it’s worth it.

“God is sovereign and He does what He pleases. Our life plans are less about us, and more about how He receives the greatest glory.”

Thoughts?

A Deeper Study {Day Four}

{Welcome to a deeper study of the book Notes to Aspiring Writers; Your Dream, God’s Plan. Each day this week we’ll discuss what God is teaching us about having clean hands and a pure heart in our writing or blogging endeavors by highlighting things from the five chapters in the book. If you’re just joining us today, please read here to find out how to participate!}

Can you truly be happy for the person who gets what you want?

Sometimes it feels like the answer is no.

It hurts to see someone try his or her hand at what you’ve already done and hit the ball out of the park, when you barely made it to first base.

I’ve known from the beginning that God would make of my books what He wanted, how He wanted. I’ve never bought into the thought that what works for one person works for another. My platform is different from yours. The time I can devote to marketing my books may be less or more than yours. God’s calling for me may look different than His calling for you.

A + B doesn’t always equal C.

For a brief season of my writing career, it seemed that every great idea I had God gave to someone else. I literally watched as people I approached to help me turned me down and helped others instead. It can really make you feel like you’re worthless. Like what you have to say doesn’t matter…isn’t important…isn’t worth investing in.

Being a writer isn’t easy.

I’m reading Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instruction on Writing.  In it, Ann describes the lifestyle that accompanied her father’s writing career and her own desire to write. This simple description of her father made me laugh out loud:

I suspect that he was a child who thought differently than his peers, who may have had serious conversations with grown-ups, who as a young person, like me, accepted being alone quite a lot. I think that this sort of person often becomes either a writer or a career criminal.

Why did I laugh? Because this describes me! All of my good friends growing up were around ten years older than me. I read all the time and loved being alone so that I could have the time to do it. And I have always thought that I must see the world through slightly different eyes than my peers. Glad the Lord saw fit to make me a writer and not a career criminal!

As if we didn’t already struggle enough just by feeling different, we also have to endure watching our peers hit a grand slam, while our efforts barely produce a base hit.

Being a writer isn’t easy.

Thankfully, the Bible’s instructions on how we ought to live when we love the Lord go across professions. When we’re told that jealousy and selfish ambition bring disorder and every vile practice, we can take heart that God is speaking to us as writers. Over time, as I’ve confessed my jealousy and bitterness over someone else’s success, brought my sin to the throne of God, He has allowed me a measure of victory over them. I won’t be consumed, but content to minister where God has me. Even if only one person hears.

Have you ever struggled with wanting what someone else has? What is God showing you about this through our study?

Going Deeper {Day Three}

{Welcome to a deeper study of the book Notes to Aspiring Writers; Your Dream, God’s Plan. Each day this week we’ll discuss what God is teaching us about having clean hands and a pure heart in our writing or blogging endeavors by highlighting things from the five chapters in the book. If you’re just joining us today, please read here to find out how to participate!}

I don’t have to do this…

When you’ve got nothin…

I sat down to write yesterday and just couldn’t do it. No inspiration. No nothing. So I closed my laptop and took a nap. How’s that for dealing with writer’s block?

The feeling I had as I stared at my laptop could best be described by one word: Yuck. It wasn’t that I couldn’t write…I just didn’t want to. I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to tweet. I didn’t want to Facebook, market, or build relationships with anyone except my family.

So I napped. And when I woke up streams of inspiration were coming at me from all directions.

There will be days in your writing career where you just have nothing to say. I personally think it’s ok for a writer to stop writing…for a time. There is wisdom that says that the more you write the better you get, and I know that some writers find weekly prompts to be great skill-building exercises. But sometimes, when we just don’t have any inspiration, we need to stop and fill our tank.

If you’re giving and giving and giving, and not putting anything back in, your well will run dry.

Marketing your book…

As I marketed my first eBook, Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most, I committed to seeking the Lord for each step. Do you believe that God cares about such things? Here’s an example…

I wanted very badly to advertise the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons challenge on a particular blog. But one month of advertising was $100 (for a small 125 x 125 button). I simply didn’t have the money, but I knew that advertising there would produce good return.  I could have spent my family’s hard-earned money on the ad, but we really didn’t have it that month to spend. I approached the owner of the blog, told her I wanted to advertise with her and that I was praying for the Lord to give me $100 within the next 24 hours so I could.

He did.

Now I’m not saying that God will respond this quickly or decisively every time we pray, but I had a sense that I needed to advertise with her and I pressed into that leading in prayer…and God moved.  I had thousands of hits from her page during the month 21 Days was listed there. In terms of marketing, there was only one decision I made that gave 21 Days more exposure. It was simply that good.

So what do these two totally different topics have to do with each other?

Two things…

  1. Sometimes God will lead you to a season of rest. Ask him to give you discernment, but commit to following His leading when you get it. Don’t strive when God says rest. Trust Him to do with your writing what He pleases and in His own way. He can move through your words in whatever way He desires and He doesn’t need a blog, Twitter or Facebook to do it.
  2. Commit the process of marketing your book to the Lord. Ask HIM for ideas on getting it to your audience. Ask HIM to show you the right places to advertise.  He’s faithful.

Live in God’s Leading.

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Discussion:

Answer the study questions in your book. Write your answers in a journal or printed out copy of Notes and then share below what concept of the book resonated most deeply with you at this point in your writing journey.

Extra! Extra!

I’m opening a brand new page here at Notes to Aspiring Writers to show off your books!  If you have a book (traditionally or self-published) that you want to show off do it here for just $10/mo! Email me at notestoaspiringwriters (at) gmail (dot) com. Offer includes space for a 250 x 250 button and elevator pitch. First come, first serve.