As a writer who is new to the world of online representation, I’ll admit: I feel more overwhelmed than productive these days.
At first, I thought I would post my work and the people who were meant to read it would find it. They would ask for more and pine for the book. The book I was (of course) working on meticulously during every spare moment.
Did you know that’s not how it works? That you don’t become an instant viral sensation from a few social media poems?!
Of course, I wasn’t expecting to become an Instagram star. There is nothing that I’m doing that is star worthy. At least not yet. But after talking to a few other writers from Moms Who Write, I realized the world of online writing was far more complicated and distracting than I anticipated.
I began, like most writers do, by setting up my professional profiles. Got my Instagram page moving along, daily activity plan in place: LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, LIKE, LIKE, SHARE, POST PHOTO, LIKE… LIKE, LIKE, LIKE…POST STORY, DELETE STORY, (research stories), POST STORY, HASHTAGS, MENTION, RE-MENTION, HEART, (notification overload), REPEAT.
I downloaded filters that were said to make my photos look more professional, but that’s only if your photo is semi-decent looking to begin with. So, I started snapping everything that could be considered content for the week and got to work: CROP, FILTER, REFILTER, REFILTER, REVERT TO ORIGINAL, FILTER, DELETE PHOTO, PICK NEW PHOTO, REPEAT.
But not even my existing friends on my personal Instagram page were following my new one—what the heck guys! I needed to promote.
I announced my new profiles and created Canva posts, messaged and enticed. I networked to get new writers to follow along. I jumped into all the mom chats and tried not to stay too long. Which, if you’re in there…you know the struggle. Moms are hilariously entertaining.
I quickly realized I couldn’t spend my whole day doing social media so I decided to download Buffer and schedule out my content for the week. Awesome…not awesome. It kicked back every post. Asked me to reconnect all accounts. More time, more research.
Now it was time to get my blog up and running. Make this baby look professional. Great photos, must search for great photos. Changed the font. Changed the background. Added categories and tags. Searched for taglines, something grabbing. Named the blog. Oh no—I couldn’t use my own name. It’s too boring! Unnamed blog.
Switched gears to researching pen names to determine what I should be called forever in the book world. Searched the family tree. Took a poll from my groups. Asked my next-door neighbor.
Finally found one: Shell Sherwood. Love it! Titled blog and changed all mentions of my previous name. Went back and changed all names on social media. Announced my new name. Explained my new name to confused friends and family.
Videos? Wait…you want to see videos? Okay! Followed the kids around and took 100 videos that I could cut and crop and make cute. Removed all the screaming and crying. Put in exciting music. Posted. Damn thing is cropped again. Deleted. Reposted. Promoted. Killin it.
Woah. One of the other writers on Instagram posted this amazing cover for her new book: I want it. Found the company she used and googled designs. I could do a little of this and take a little of that. The title has to be strong. Googled Best title for poetry books. I needed something not too sad, not too happy, not too obvious, not a riddle.
But who is going to publish this? Do I self-publish? Googled How to self-publish. Googled What is small press. Googled Will large press take all my money. Googled Best stain remover for when your kid spreads slime on carpet—typical.
I decided I should post a little teaser for one of my stories. Just to see if anyone is even interested. I’m going to promote the crap out of this. The story you won’t want to miss! Sparkles, elements, text that moves. Holy cow— people are messaging me to read this story when it’s out. It worked.
I did it! Wait, what did I do? I didn’t have a book. I forgot something—I forgot to write.
The modern world of writing is full of temptations to take you away from your work. Buy this, subscribe to this, promote this now. The whirlwind of online possibilities can pull you in and drag you under before you remember why you logged on in the first place.
What I can tell you from my experience is that getting involved and staying connected to a community that shares your passion is priceless. But overwhelming yourself with random online distractions and falling into the time warp that is social media? Not so helpful.
Find a group who is supportive and inspiring. Who keeps you going and will still be around when you take a hiatus to write your masterpiece. Who will cheer you on whether you just wrote 100K or 10 words…or nothing.
We know you love writing and distractions happen to us all. Now, get out of here and go write already! We’ll be here when you need a break.
About the Writer: Shell Sherwood is a poet, fiction writer, freelancer, and creator of silly children’s stories who could live on coffee, pastries, and romantic tragedies. She lives in Hudson Valley, NY with her fiancé and three boys, and aspires to own a small writing getaway in every climate. Learn more about Shell and follow her writing journey via her author blog and Instagram.