Authors, Don’t Ignore Your Family (and Friend) Time! ~ (Five Ways to Balance Life with Social Media)

multitasking_momAs authors we have learned to multitask on social media like pros. We write that novel, bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, promote our books out the yin-yang, all while keeping our readers thoroughly engaged. We’re on social media what seems like twenty-four seven. However, can we take on all the various duties intrinsic with being an author, and keep the home fires burning, too? Absolutely.

The technological era has furnished us with an astounding array of social media and writing tools, as well. Still, we are entangled by a readership that expects us to humanize ourselves by social media engagement (because honestly, readers don’t want to be bombarded with pleas to “buy my book,” without first knowing who you are and whether they like you or your writing enough to plunk down $5 for it). Technology has allowed us to routinely accomplish these feats, oftentimes in our pajamas, while waiting in line at the grocery story, and/or at some family event.

Our capacity for productivity may be at a level that keeps us relevant to readers more consistently, but when keeping up keeps us tied to our social media at the expense of our familial relationships and friendships, it goes against everything we hold dear. Because let’s be honest, while most readers, by and large are gracious, even when they don’t think your work is very stellar, for a minority of them (whom we tend to listen to more than that vast majority), we are only as good as our next book. And many are compelled to let you know it, and not so kindly sometimes I might add. So authors, I want to share with you what I am doing to strike more of a balance in my life.

Increased Engagement With Loved Ones

Sometime after publication of my first novel, I became increasingly less engaged with my family and friends. I was a wife who was less attentive to her husband, and a mother who sometimes didn’t see or speak to her children for days. Even though for the most part, my husband and I are empty nesters, I still have two children who live in the area that I need to cultivate adult relationships with. Contrary to what they believe, and how I have conducted myself since they have been out of the house, they need me, and I need them.

My dear daughter who lives farthest away is the one who rather inelegantly brought it to her mother’s attention that she was not present in the moment, even when having conversation with her long distance. “You’re preoccupied,” she said. “You must be working on your writing.” And she literally spat the word “writing,” like it was distasteful to her.

Let’s just say that, after that, I made a conscious effort and adopted an unwavering commitment to spending a reasonable percentage of the time I talked to my children or my husband, fully present and doing just one thing–talking to them. Even though the multitasking fairy on your shoulder will say you could be doing more.

Five Ways You Can Balance Life With Social Media

1.) Sacrifice Productivity Sometimes

Lost quality time with your family and friends is like lost sleep. You can never get it back, even when you try to sleep longer to recoup it, it’s just not the same. Embrace the fact that you could lose some time on social media that could result in a book sale, but that’s not always a given, and is certainly not the end of the world.

2.) Make Some Time in Each Day Sacrosanct

Before you begin those daily author activities that cry out to you like a siren’s song upon rising, do not make social media the first thing you gravitate to when you rise and when you retire. Take some time to debunk, to meditate, to pray, or whatever your morning or evening ritual would normally be were you not an author who has an adoring public waiting for you. Take a moment to be grateful for what you have. Make breakfast for that husband you’ve been neglecting. Read to your children at bedtime, or call those birdies that’ve flown the nest. Connect and reflect on what a great life you have.

3.) Give Your Undivided Attention to The Person In Front of You

Never underestimate the value of listening. The best gift you can give your children is your undivided attention. They have an intrinsic need to be heard, as do most humans. Stop having that riveting conversation on Facebook, or Twitter, and make eye contact with your husband, child, or friend. Make that person in front of you feel like they’re most important to you at that moment. There is nothing more disheartening than being made to feel like you don’t count. Writing your novel and readers on social media are not more important than your ever-present family and friends. Even if writing is your livelihood, don’t make it more important than those who will love you even if you aren’t wowing them with your next plot, or aren’t a NYT bestseller.

4.) Family Tradition Is King

Don’t eschew holiday meals, family meetings, movie weekends–anything you’ve always done with your family for your time on social media. Enthusiastically participate in these events just as you always have, and don’t fake it, or wish you were posting pictures of your characters on Pinterest. Your family will notice. So, keep your family connected through these traditional activities you’ve always done together. My children and I have always shared our love of books and movies. I discuss books we enjoy in common with my daughter, and the boys and I have had a long-standing tradition of going to openings of action movies together. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gone into work the next day sleep-deprived from a midnight movie showing. But every lost second of sleep was worth it to me.

5.) Stop and Smell The Roses

When was the last time you delighted in an afternoon of lying prone on a hammock, or even on the grass, allowing your senses to run amok? Engage in mindless relaxation and cultivate every detail. Be still and smell that fragrant rosebush, or that cluster of honeysuckle on the vine. Your senses should be savored, because they are the very essence of being alive. Live your life out in nature sometime, not always chained to your PC, smartphone, or iPad.

As an author myself, I know doing all these things all the time isn’t possible when deadlines are looming and you’re under a contract to produce a book. However, you’ve immersed yourself in social media because it is necessary, but you can set the standard for you own use, then model that behavior to your children, your husband and friends. When you choose to physically engage as a parent, spouse, or friend, you’re reminding them to not allow social media to be their substitute for live human interaction.

Social media has become a necessity for authors who want to stay connected, but we should always be mindful of striking a balance between being present electronically and in person. If you practice the five steps I’ve enumerated above to strike that balance, it will pay forward in dividends that should impact your family for generations to come.

Blogger Book Fair! (I’m Participating With 89 Other Authors, So Far!)

© Gkuchera | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
© Gkuchera | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Check in to the Blogger Book Fair,
and book your trip to far away places!

July 22-26, 2013

Authors and Book Bloggers,

Sign ups for the July 2013 Blogger Book Fair will close on June 15 at midnight central time, so get your registrations in to participate!

As of 5/31/2013, we have:

Authors: 89
Books: 233
Bloggers: 14

If you haven’t yet registered, you can find all of the information on the Blogger Book Fair page.

  1. Check out the Code of Conduct
  2. Fill out either the Author Sign Up form or the Blogger Sign Up form (Deadline June 15)
  3. Kayla will match everyone with hosts and send out this information to you after sign-ups close
  4. Check out the events–all authors are eligible to participate in the events, and if you have an event you’d like to host, just fill out the simple Event Sign Up Form–all of this information can be found on the Events! page (Deadline July 8).
  5. If you’re interested in hosting a giveaway to drive traffic to your site, sign up via the Giveaway Sign Up form (Deadline July 15).
  6. And if your book will be FREE or $0.99 for the duration of the Fair, you can sign up on the Free and $.99 Book Sign Up Forms (Deadline July 15).

Events:

as of 5/31/2013

Art Fiction Gala hosted by Lucie Smoker

Does your fiction promote the visual arts–through featuring an artist, painting, sculpture, performance art, etc? Then, consider entering Lucie’s Art Fiction Gala.
The Art Fiction Gala is a virtual celebration of fiction that highlights the visual arts. Dress up in your finest, pick up some friends–a bottle of wine–and sample mind-blowing fiction that crosses the line between literary and visual art. Plus a gallery of art featuring reading.
More information & entry instructions

Three Wishes hosted by Kirstin Pulioff

Introduce your characters to the world.
Kirstin Pulioff invites you to ask your main character, “If you found a magic genie lamp, what would be your three choices?
More information & entry instructions

Flash Fiction Challenge II hosted by Thomas Winship

Get ready to exercise your flash fiction muscles.
For the Flash Fiction Challenge II, Thomas Winship will provide an opening line.
From there, entrants will craft a flash fiction piece of approx 500 words. Entries will be displayed on Thomas’ blog Vaempires during the BBF, spread out evenly across the five days, in order of receipt.
More information & entry instructions

Snapshot Synopsis Contest hosted by Fel at The Peasants Revolt

Challenge: chisel your synopsis down to 50 words or less.
Voting will be open throughout the fair for visitors to vote on their favorite Snapshot Synopsis.
More information & entry instructions

Reader’s Choice Awards hosted by Sherri at Shut Up & Read

All books registered for the Blogger Book Fair are automatically entered into the running for the Reader’s Choice Awards. Voting will be open from July 22 to July 25.
More information

Indie Soap Box Files hosted by Shah Wharton

Take a turn on the Soap Box.
Shah invites speculative fiction writers to write a guest post about being an indie (or hybrid) writer.
More information & entry instructions
Restrictions: Speculative fiction writers only

Monster Menagerie hosted by Noree at Trip the Eclipse

What’s your favorite monster or supernatural creature?
Feature your creature in a flash fiction piece (500-800) words to be featured on Trip the Eclipse. Visitors will vote on their favorite piece.
More information & entry instructions

Ways to Help:

Blogger Book FairDonate to the Blogger Book Fair via the BBF Donation Fund. To help get the word out about BBF, we would like to place ads on Facebook, Goodreads and other places, but to do, so we need a little help. We’d also like to have some BBF sponsored giveaways, so money donated would also go toward prizes. NO MONEY WILL BE KEPT BY ANY ORGANIZER OR PARTICIPANT.

Spread the word! Share the Fair on your social media accounts and show off the Blogger Book Fair logo in your blog’s sidebar.

Join us on: