There’s this tiny jolt that courses through me when I get a new blog comment or see the number “15” in that little, red Facebook box. Every time Twitter tells me I have a new follower, I feel it, too. It’s almost like those tools are saying, “Hey, Andi. You have a new friend.”
As much as I love social media (and I really do love it), as much as it has helped me make true, genuine friends, every new follower, every new “friend,” every commenter is not my friend. I have to work hard to remember that because if I don’t, I can easily begin to believe that I owe my best time and energy to social media, to my platform because that’s where my friends are.
The truth is, though, that I only have a few great friends in the world, a few people who carry part of my heart around with them, and I have to focus on those relationships to sustain them. I can’t give my heart to 3000 people. I won’t survive.
Similarly, I owe my best energy to creating amazing work that speaks the truth as I see it, not to building the platform that I will set that work on. It is the work that feeds me; talking about it does not.
Social media has amazing benefits, and as a writer, it’s a necessity, especially in the eyes of publishers. Plus, I really have met people who I truly love and trust through this medium. I’m a fan of all these tools, even StumbleUpon, the forgotten social media baby.
For this reason and because – if I’m honest – writing can be quite lonely at times, I have to fight really hard not to put social media ahead of my writing. I have to remember that I can tweet a million times and get 25,000 followers, but if I don’t have anything worthwhile to say, I’m not only wasting my own time but the time of those 25,000 people who follow me. Having a platform is a big responsibility.
To me, a platform is hollow and fragile if I’m not writing well, if I’m not putting my best work into the pages of my book. If I’m giving that time in the glen to Facebook, then I’m not honoring what it is I am truly called to do, and my failure to do that leaves me aching. If I’m not careful, not only will my work suffer, but my platform will collapse and crush my spirit, like a deck built without the right foundation and support.
I’m not very good at this, at turning off the tabs on my browser and focusing on my work, but I’m going to get better because I am not called to tweet. I am called to write.
How do you find that balance between your social media platform and your real work? Any suggestions on how I can be better?