Is your social media time interfering with writing?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about social media time interfering with writing….

Many people tell me they don’t have the time to write.

Thirty years ago, I might have asked them how much time they spent watching TV. Now I ask them how much time they spend on social media.

Social media may be entertaining, but it’s often toxic to writing — for reasons that Nicole Avery explains in a recent post on the ProBlogger website. As Avery puts it, the need to constantly check social media leads to three main problems:

  1. The total time spent on social media is just too great.
  2. Multiple sessions on social media through out the day rack up significant “switching” costs. Research from the American Psychological Association has shown that switching tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.
  3. Constant-social-media checkers suffer from attention residue from their time on social media and it takes them much longer to work on a task like writing a blog post, because their mind is not 100% on the task.

If you worry that your social media time is interfering with writing, Avery suggests a group of useful and practical tips:

  • Figure out how much time per day or week you want to devote to social media. Then, work with a timer to constrain yourself to this limit.
  • Figure out which social media networks you want to be involved with. There’s no need to have a presence on all of them.
  • Determine your goal for each social media network. This goal should be more than achieving x number of followers. Instead, figure out what, specifically, you want to do and how you want to help people.
  • Figure out your posting frequency. You don’t need to post hourly! Instead, focus just as much on the quality of what you’re posting.
  • Track your progress and tweak your strategy. Don’t do exactly the same thing for months on end. Instead, analyze what is and isn’t achieving results for you — and do more of the former and less of the latter.
  • Create a social media batching process. This means you earmark a set amount of time (let’s say 30 minutes) and you do all of you tweets for the week. Then you can set it and forget it!

Social media has some value. But writing has more. Don’t let your focus on one cost you the benefits of the other!

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