Monday, July 25, 2011

Food For Thought


I am supposed to be on hiatus still, but I was struck by a number of posts I read this week and wanted to share them with you guys.

The first was by blogger Jonathan Fields and talked about hyperconnectivity being creative kryptonite. For me, the two most important takeaways that have been reverberating for a week now were these:

But when we fill in all the organic in-betweens with texting, e-mailing, DMing and updating, we unintentionally kill the a critical step in the ideation process—percolation and contemplation—and along with it go creativity, innovation and despite your opposite intention, productivity.

And:

Hyperconnectivity gives us the perception of getting more done, it makes us feel like we’re doing more, because we’re using every free moment of every waking hour.

But the entire article is hugely worth reading. Check it out and see how it resonates with you.

This was followed by a fascinating experiment I read about conducted by author Monica Valentinelli, who signed off Twitter, FB, and IM, for a full 100 days. What made this experiment even so compelling was that she had a new book coming out during that time.

The results were fascinating. Again, you should really go read about the entire experiment, but here's a snippet:

The new release that I had hit a sales milestone on the retailer’s website, I continued to sell copies of my e-book, and I sold new stories. In terms of “success,” I encountered zero difference between being online-or-off.  
And:

MY CONCLUSION: Good content is more valuable to a writer’s career than social interaction.

And then you know how it is, when something really sticks in your mind, you start seeing reinforcement everywhere. Late in the week I came across this most excellent blog post by Allison Brennan on the unrealistic pressures associated with social media.

One of the things I thought she said, but I can't find it now so maybe it was someone in the comment section, was that at RWA National, a panel of editors was asked if they would rather have an author who was able to write three books a year, but not have time for social media, or an author who wrote fewer books a year but was highly active on social media. Three out of four preferred the former.

(Also, it’s not just writers who get sucked into this vortex, singer songwriter John Mayer had some eye-opening things to say about his own experiences with social media, and what it cost him creatively.)

So what about you? If you use social media to unwind after a productive day, much like a glass of wine after work, that’s different and probably nothing in this post applies to you.

But if you’re chasing the social media/blogging brass ring with a sense of panic of nipping at your heels, then maybe you need to reassess. What could you accomplish creatively if you weren’t chasing the social media brass ring?

Does using social media dilute your need to communicate through your work? Is it interrupting the big chunks of percolating and fermenting time your work needs? Is it recalibrating your attention span?

Food for thought, anyway…

And now for the fun stuff! We have TWO winners for last weeks post because Deborah and Wiley & Sons are just that awesome. And the winners are...#20 and #18*! TheArtGirl and LauraC! Please email me** so I can get your prize out to you.


* (As chosen by Random Number Generator)

**(Note, if the prizes aren't claimed within a week I will draw a second round of names.)

13 comments:

Michelle Gregory said...

very enlightening post. thanks for sharing.

MG Higgins said...

"Good content is more valuable to a writer’s career than social interaction." You've made my day.

storyqueen said...

Loved the post by Jonathon Fields. When I read it last week, I put a sign above my desk to the effect of: Busy does not equal Productive.

Trying to be less busy, but more productive, if that makes any sense.

I am limited on my SM. But still, some days it takes its toll.

Shelley

Anonymous said...

I have many thoughts on this. I agree with John Mayer that we should work on craft first, promotion second. Learning what we're doing must precede trying to sell it to someone else.

I have been very tired of hearing about writers who "aren't even on the internet!" and it would usually be some hugely famous author. I always wanted to say: but what about the results of disconnection for the rest of us, the mere mortals? The ones nobody would ever hear of if it weren't for our online presence?

The irony is that Fields finishes off his article by inviting us to subscribe to his newsletter, and Valentinelli spread the results of her social-media disconnection experiment over several blog posts. And I wouldn't have heard of either of them without this blog.

In fact, Valentinelli seems to have maintained a pretty hefty online presence during her designated offline time: she kept blogging, her blog fed to Facebook and Twitter, her Facebook page was still up and still accepting friends, and she stayed on email.

I'm coming to think that online social networking has had a high excitement rate and a high participation rate because it was so new. Now fatigue and overstimulation are setting in, and people are realizing they don't want to be everywhere all the time online. They're starting to pick and choose where to be, and for how long.

I don't think the ultimate answer is whether to be online or offline, but how and how much to be online.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks for these interesting links.
I totally agree on the importance of mulling time, and it's interesting to see that there are some studies on hyperconnectivity.
I also enjoyed Allison Brennan's post. Nevertheless, I can't help thinking that the best content in the universe is meaningless if nobody knows it's there...
As it happens, I'm not on Facebook or Twitter, and I blog more for its own sake than in expectation of selling my books through the blog... but I certainly have internalized that message out there that if I don't sell books it's because I haven't done enough. Really, as a self-published author, if I don't let people know about my books, how will that snowball of word of mouth get started? So isn't it in fact my fault if no one knows my books exist?
Keep up these thought-provoking posts!

Regina said...

Great post. Congratulations winners.

HeatherLambie said...

Great article by Fields... and great post by Anonymous! Regardless of the reason (promotion or otherwise) if I'm reading a tweet or a blog (as I am now), I'm not writing. So... back to the keyboard I go!

R.L. LaFevers said...

Anonymous, You make some good points! Especially this:

I'm coming to think that online social networking has had a high excitement rate and a high participation rate because it was so new. Now fatigue and overstimulation are setting in, and people are realizing they don't want to be everywhere all the time online. They're starting to pick and choose where to be, and for how long.

I don't think the ultimate answer is whether to be online or offline, but how and how much to be online.



I totally agree with that and one of our goals here at SVP is to help people find that balance and to act as a counterweight to all the voices urging us to be online more, do more social media, reach out more, connect more, and all those things that can drain an introvert.

I do think some of the famous names who ‘aren’t even on the internet’ got famous through writing really great books. (And by not on the internet, I mean not active in social media. I don’t know any authors who don’t at least have some sort of website). Kristin Cashore comes immediately to mind as a recent example of someone who was a debut author, had only a blog/website combo, and who has done very, very well simply through the excellence of her books.

I think it’s really easy to forget that there is a huge segment of the population out there who do NOT find their reading material through the internet. I would say over 80% of my book sales have happened outside of my online involvement, and I’m not alone in that.

Anne, I agree with you that in the case of a self published author, the need for online participation is probably greater. For one, so many of self published books sold are e-books, so your readers are more connected than perhaps readers of traditionally published (and printed!) books. However, even then, there are some schools of thought that say writing the next book is a better expenditure of your time. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend you read Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s article on promotion. http://kriswrites.com/2011/04/06/the-business-rusch-promotion/ And she is a huge advocate of indie publishing!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

R.L., thanks again for the Rusch article. What a pleasant surprise to hear someone arguing that the model that's most attractive to me is actually the most effective in the long run! And now, I'd better get off the internet and get back to work on the writing!

melissadecarlo.com said...

Timely and interesting. I just started a blog maybe a month ago and for me the jury is still out...

I started the blog just to figure out how to do in as much as anything--so if there came a time where I really "ought" to have one, I would. Now I have mixed emotions about it.

It's fun to have a creative outlet that's different than book I'm working on, so in a way it can be a nice break. And, I've made a few on-line friendships through it already and that's been fun.

But I've had moments of "Sheesh. I need to get something posted. Sigh" that leads me to wonder if it's draining rather than energizing. I'm almost at the point where I think it is both, if that's possible. Generally the more I have to do the more I get done--busy is happy for me. But this has made it awfully easy to put off work I ought to do on my WIP and still like I'm being productive.

C.K. said...

I'm extremely heartened (but not surprised) by the results of author Monica Valentinelli's experiment!

Jessica Snell said...

". . . a panel of editors was asked if they would rather have an author who was able to write three books a year, but not have time for social media, or an author who wrote fewer books a year but was highly active on social media. Three out of four preferred the former."

My guess is that three out of four readers would too!

Thanks for a good blog post and for all those good links. Lots to ponder.

Shari Green said...

Interesting links! I'm in the uses social media like a glass of wine group, but still this is interesting to think about. Thanks!