Mythbusting—Three Lies That Could Sabotage Your Writing Success

I see somebody hasn’t made word count. This is gonna hurt…

Now that we are in the Digital Age, I hope it has become crystal clear that a strong social media platform drastically improves our odds of being successful authors. Yet, one thing I keep hearing over and over is how writers simply do not have tiiiiiiiiime to do social media. Yes, we do have time, but it is easy to buy into the lie that we don’t. So, today, we are going to do some myth-busting.

Myth #1—We have to spend hours on Twitter and Facebook to be effective.

Um…that would be a negative. Total myth. In fact, if we do? An angry clown will jump out of our computer and bite off our face. Kidding! No, the angry clown is a total lie. But, it is likely people will unfollow us because we never shut up.

Do you like hanging around people who have this itching need to fill the air with words, no matter how vapid? I don’t care for people who talk to hear themselves talk…namely because they are interrupting me doing all the talking. But seriously. I want people who offer a great conversation. We all do.

Quality trumps quantity every time.

Think back to when you were a kid. Who do you remember most? Often the people who made the most impact on our lives weren’t there 24/7. It was a teacher we had for 9 months of our childhood or a grandparent who lived 5 states away whom we only saw on special occasions. So this idea that we have to smother people to be memorable is flawed.

Myth #2—If we do social media, we just won’t have the discipline to get back to the writing.

There are a lot of reasons that this job is not for everyone. Writing for a career takes an incredible amount of discipline. I firmly believe that the arts have such a tremendously high failure rate due to one simple reality—we artsy types have the attention span of a fruit bat on crack. We love chasing shiny objects. Don’t believe me? Just turn on a pen light and dance it across the wall at a Starbucks. Guarantee you will lure at least two writers and a musician.

As I was saying….OOOH SQUIRREL!

Oh, sorry. Hey, I can be honest. The personality that makes us creative also tends to make us flaky. Those of us who can learn to get our stuff done despite our nature are the ones who will eventually make it to the tipping point where everything falls into place and we can finally make a real job out of what we love.

Social media gives us much better odds of success, and I cannot emphasize enough how important building a platform is. But, at the end of the day, we are in control. Okay well, the aliens are really in control so put on your tin foil hat and minimize Twitter.

I use social media as a reward for hard work. I minimize everything until I make certain goals and then I can go spend 5-10 minutes on Twitter and Facebook (and now WANATribe–the new social site for writers)…3-5 times a day. Morning, afternoon, and evening. I spend about 30 minutes a day on my social media. Little efforts over time add up for big returns.

Myth #3—I have to be self-disciplined to do social media.

Yes…and no. Is it wonderful to develop will power? Yes. Self-discipline can help us in many other areas of our lives, from cupcakes to credit cards. But sometimes we are wise to realize when we just lack what it takes to back away from the shiny thing.

It is okay for us to admit that we are lacking. That’s called maturity. Admitting we can’t do something on our own frees us to look for outside help. For instance, you could hire one of those really scary looking clowns to chase you around the computer if you hang out on Twitter too long.

Hey, it would totally work on me. Just sayin’.

OR…Writer Or Die, Freedom, or Ommwriter are there to shut everything down and MAKE us be disciplined. These services will block out any Internet capability for a set amount of time and you have to REBOOT the computer to get back on-line.

We are often capable of far more than we believe. By nature, many of us (me included) are lazy slackers who, if given the choice, will take the path of least resistance (it has margaritas and cookies). But, here is the thing. I freely admit that I am the reigning queen of Do It Later Land, so I know that I can’t let my feelings have a vote. Here is a horrible truth. If something is contrary to our nature? Then that is likely what needs doing.

Blech…I know.

Social media, like exercise, adds up with dedicated, disciplined consistency. We can do far more than we believe if we just take it one day at a time, one step at a time.

Many writers are spending too much time on social media, namely because they have no plan. They don’t understand branding and how search engines work, so they are like hamsters running in a wheel…a lot of running but no forward progress. My book, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is designed to help writers work smarter, not harder. I would also recommend hopping over to WANA International to check out my upcoming classes.

So what are some tactics you guys use to keep social media from taking over your life? How do you carve out time to write? How do you make yourself be disciplined? Can you recommend an affordable angry clown service? (Image above courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of September I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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    • Tiffany Pitts on September 12, 2012 at 11:40 am
    • Reply

    I love the idea of taking a pen light to Starbucks.

    1. Laser pointer probably would work…or start a riot.

      1. Ha! That would make fodder for the best YouTube video or blog post ever though.

  1. Brilliant blog, as usual – but hey, myths aren’t lies! They are the time-tested tales that form the foundation our society. So while I totally agree with you that social media are over-rated, gotta argue that actually myth & archetype (or narrative & character) are the foundation of all our stories!

  2. “We love chasing shiny objects. Don’t believe me? Just turn on a pen light and dance it across the wall at a Starbucks. Guarantee you will lure at least two writers and a musician.”

    Haha! That was great. And, writing on a computer is the biggest challenge of all. Talk about distractions left and right. I scratch my head and wonder…how is it noon already?

    • annerallen on September 12, 2012 at 11:48 am
    • Reply

    “Quality trumps quantity every time.” Love the grandparent analogy. Being smothering isn’t the equivalent of being memorable. As you know, I advocate Slow Blogging–blogging only once a week or less. Yes, your Google presence builds more slowly, but meanwhile you have time to network with other bloggers, which is where you’re really going to get noticed. Drop some bon mots on this blog and thousands of people see them. If they’re interested in finding out more about you, they can click through to your blog. And you want something there that’s memorable. Not today’s version of “I cant’ think of what to blog about.”

      • Alan on September 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm
      • Reply

      Succinct; I’m calmed & sobered, less overwhelmed with permission/suggested to work at an intelligent pleasurable pace despite the rapids all around me. That makes so much sense – it only makes sense to check out what Anne shares on her blog.THX!!

  3. Seriously this creepiest clown ever! Discipline is so important, especially when we are doing so many things at once. I am not always good at minimizing those windows before I finish higher priority projects (working out and word count). Thanks for busting those myths!

  4. I had no idea that there was software that forced you to write and stay away from the internet. lol I guess it’s the equivalent of the old days being locked in a room with a typewriter. I need your critique badly!

  5. Quality really does trump quantity on Twitter for sure! Most people don’t need (or want) for you to be everywhere at once. They only want to chat with you every now and again.

  6. Oh and (sorry I don’t understand) when you say link back to your blog, does it mean in a blog post or just a link on the page. I have a link to your blog on my main page. Thanks.

    1. Either will work :D. THANKS!

  7. I tend to circle my MIP like a buzzard over a corpse. LOL! Have to trick myself into landing some days, other days, I can wait to dig into the corpse and make it better.

  8. I use one of those minimalist word processors for writing. It won’t let me use any other programs while it is running. Kind of like blinders.
    Hmm, there’s an idea. We can just use a big black cloth like the old-time photogs had. Drape it over the monitor and then duck on under there while we write.

    BTW, Kristen, don’t read It by Stephen King. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

  9. I am fairly new in blogland…less than a year…but I completely agree that platform is EVERYTHING for a newer writer. I think I’ve been lucky, although I have worked very hard to get my name out there. My one year anniversary is coming up Dec 6th, but I already have over 300 followers and saw over 106,000 page views by this week. What do I attribute my “success” to? People like you, Kristen, who give your readers pearls of wisdom every day. I have been following you for as long as I have been a blogger and archive many of your posts because my head can’t hold all the wonderful information you have provided which I in turn have applied to my own writing career. One of my stories have been picked up by Chicken Soup For The Soul as my first “published” piece, and I feel certain it was due in part to my taking all of your wonderful information to heart. I am also a member of your WanaTribes. Thank you for all you do for the writing community!

    Donna L Martin

  10. I use social media to be social. I work alone at home all day as a writer so 90% of the time my social interaction for an entire workday is only on-line. So that hour or so I “waste” on FB is fine with me.

    But I don’t mistake it for audience building. People primarily know my name and work not through tweets but from my books and articles. Isn’t that the goal?

  11. Define affordable. I think I could totally get into being an angry clown for people ; )

  12. After following that pen light across the wall at Starbucks, I sat down to reply.

    I do best when I dedicate the morning to writing and editing/formatting. I can do thsi
    for three hours x5 day a week.

    I have more of a problem with negative self-talk than social media. I keep my Twitter time
    to less than 30 minutes/day.

    Tnx for the chuckles and the post in general.

  13. I have found there is a big danger of being so caught up in the social world that one neglects the writing. The attention span thing ag … what was I saying?
    Would somebody really endear themselves to me and quote a valid advantage to a writer of playing Scrabble online? (Lexu-whatver in USA).

    • magnoliasoul on September 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm
    • Reply

    Fruit bats on crack bringing me margaritas and cookies – are there flashy lights around the entrance to this path? I am SO getting up from the laptop right now searching for it.

    Fab post – as always 🙂

  14. My problem on social media is it’s hard to think of something worthwhile to contribute. (I’m boring – that’s why I make stuff up!) Luckily, encouraging others is easy and doesn’t take much time at all. But blogging and reading and commenting on blogs does take time – still working on that!

  15. Great post. I need to be more disciplined about the shiny things – but there should be exceptions for the distractions involving glitter though. 😛

    • Lysana on September 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm
    • Reply

    Fruit bat on crack! Pen light at Starbucks! You have explained why I REALLY never finish anything. Sigh. Fully aware of it – just haven’t made myself overcome it, yet.

    Oh, and that image? It is REALLY courtesy of, “Oh crap, I just wet myself!” Seriously, you must be the Queen of Scary Images or something. That’s twice in as many days. o.O

      • Lysana on September 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm
      • Reply

      “REALLY” in all caps twice in one post. Le sigh. I AM more creative than that. Really really.

  16. I reckon if we want something bad enough, if it is important enough, it will get done.

    • Pat on September 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm
    • Reply

    This fruit bat has discovered the kitchen timer. Quite nice, shaped like a green pepper.
    When it pings, I have to stop the shinies and get on with some work. I was spending all day on some sort of social media, fiddling with this and that, but it struck me one evening while I was cooking that the timer could be just as useful by my desk as by my cooker.
    Of course, I could ignore it and keep going, but for some reason I don’t. The timer is reminder enough.
    Works for me.

  17. I will obey your every word if you promise that clown will NEVER learn where I live. Please. ~whimpers~ please…

  18. “We can do far more than we believe if we just take it one day at a time, one step at a time.”
    This is my new mantra! I actually adopted this philosophy a few weeks ago when it became clear that selling my book and reaching a certain level of success was going to be a MARATHON and not a sprint…
    Thanks again, Kristen – for everything.

  19. Whether it is during the time I am suppose to be getting my “day job” done (as a self-employed family law attorney who works from home) or when I am trying to work on any of my writing projects (as a yet unpaid writer and poet), there is one important lesson in time management that I have learned. Do NOT leave any easily accessible portal open between yourself and the outside world while trying to work!

    Until just recently, I left my email, twitter & facebook (which later got merged into my Tweet Deck) open and minimized. The problem was that little number in parenthesis that always showed up…(1), (3), (14), (37), indicating that there were new messages, tweets, and posts sitting there just waiting for me! If I did not open the window back up to see what new items awaited me, I became distracted and eventually obsessed with wonder. If I did open the window back up, I then back distracted and sidelined by whatever was there — or irritated that I had been interrupted by something trivial, stupid, or spamish.

    So, now, as much as I hate to do, I close all the windows down when it is time to get work of any kind done. When I am ready to take a break, I re-open, log-in anew (when necessary), and wait those seemingly endless minutes for my laptop to reconnect me to the outside world once more. While it is annoying to have to keep re-loading and re-logging, it is the only thing that really seems to work effectively and reliably for me.

    Another side benefit to this approach is that it causes me to consider in more depth whether that thought I just had or thing that just happened is really tweet or post worthy. Is it important enough or interesting enough or funny enough to warrant re-loading the internet and logging in to my various accounts in order to share it? All of that extra work that it takes to stop and say something now helps keep the potential serial tweeter in me at bay!

  20. Number one is so true. There are times when it is necessary to just delete all the items from the social media. My apologies if one of them was yours. I do write every day (except maybe a Sunday). I don’t have time for more than I do.

    • Tamara LeBlanc on September 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm
    • Reply

    I have my tinfoil cap on!
    I spend less than forty-five minutes a day on SM. I used to do 20 to 30 minutes tops, but Pinterest, though not as important to me as FB and Twitter, is a real time suck. If I don’t watch it I can sometimes spend 45 minutes or more pinning alone.
    And, hey, that clown is freaking freaky…I hope that thing never jumps out of my computer!
    Thanks for the mythbusting 🙂
    Have a great evening,

  21. It’s like you’re in my head! I was just thinking about this very issue today while posting a squirrel picture to my Facebook page… Thanks for all the resource suggestions!

    • maryloub on September 12, 2012 at 7:48 pm
    • Reply

    perhaps not the best photo choice since the theatre shooting in Aurora?   …  Just a suggestion.  

    M L  Bagley

    1. I’m not letting that jackass affect my blogging. He’s had enough power. But duly noted.

  22. Though I’ve been lurking on your blog now for a while, I’ve only recently read your books on social media and blogging. I quickly discovered I had a lot of repair work to do, and I have been slowly but steadily implementing your recommendations. But I have to tell you, though I’ve joined the WANATribe, I think I’ve only been to the site once. Part of me just doesn’t have the strength, energy, or time to master one more social site (even as I am trimming many of the others).

    So can you tell me (in a nutshell) what WANATribe can offer–what makes it different yet beneficial too?

    1. First, since I own WANATribe, no bots, no spam, no automation, and no ads. Just writers and other artists. This makes it easy to find and make friends. A lot of writers sign up for Twitter or FB and go, “Okay, what now?” By default they end up talking to family, people they work with, or people they knew in high school and all of that is fine, but it isn’t going to feed your creative side. Other creatives bring experience, help, tips, and understanding and on WANATribe, it is ALL creative professionals. By joining a tribe, you connect with a community of support. Social media platforms take time to build, but will take less time if you can become part of a larger community that can amplify your efforts.

      WANATribe takes the writing group digital. I ran critique groups for years and they are great but they are limited. What happens to the high fantasy writer who is in a critique group with no one who writes, reads or understands high fantasy? Or erotica? Or horror? On WANATribe you can connect with other writers all over the world who write, appreciate and understand your genre. Unlike Yahoo loops, which are a nightmare to follow and use, the tribes are simple to organize and manage information. Create your own private tribe and have a safe place for an on-line critique group.

  23. On weekdays, I usually monitor twitter for 30-60 minutes in the evenings while I’m reading posts in blogs I follow (like this one!). I try to comment on a few during the week – that seems a better way to build relationships.

    • t.i.n.a. on September 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm
    • Reply

    Love this! Laughed hysterically at the idea of having a laser pointer at Starbucks… I’m still learning discipline – but I’m getting better about not getting sucked into the social media vortex. My best practise yet is to stay typing on my AlphaSmart Neo. No internet, just typing. If I’m on my laptop, I’m lucky to get a half hour of useful (non-play) time! 🙂 Great post!!!

  24. Love this entry, Kristen! So timely for all of us “writer-types”. And your sense of humor helps. “Fruit bat on crack”? :-))) Picturing……

  25. Thanks again for the great tips. I’m a bit confused though. You said you only spend 30 minutes a day on social media. Did you mean 30 minutes three times a day, or just once? I am trying to balance out with an hour in the morning, and hour in the afternoon and an hour at night. Still don’t get to visit all the blogs I would like to. I spend a lot of time on blogs I like and always share them on FB, Twitter and Google+. I also share on Stumbled Upon when I can get in. For you to squeeze all you do into 30 minutes a day boggles my mind.

    1. I don’t count blogging in the 30 minutes. It takes me about an hour to write each post, so that’s another three hours a week. But as far as checking FB and Twitter? 30 minutes. I pop in and scan and use my Law of Three–1/3 information (say, a lin to my blog), 1/3 reciprocation (RT or repost something for someone else), 1/3 conversation (Just TALK to someone or mention something personal).

  26. First off, that clown picture is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen, I will probably have nightmares.

    But your advice is spot on! I’m still practicing all of the above, trying to do a little bit of social media each day. Yesterday was a good day, I’m celebrating that. By chatting and sharing links equally yesterday I got more back of both today. Sounds simple, but it can be hard to manage with all each of us has going on too.

    Thanks Kristen!

  27. Woo-hoooooooooooo! I’m delighted to see those October classes up on WANA International. You go, girl. 🙂

    Great post. I adore social media and completely use it as a reward. I average 30-45 minutes a day on it, not counting answering blog comments.

    • rmk on September 13, 2012 at 2:54 am
    • Reply

    I love your cleverness, it makes the lesson fun, but seriously enough with the scary clown — the less time I spend thinking about scary clowns the happier I will be.

  28. Yes, that’s it, I’m flaky because I’m creative. I’m going to refer my wife to this post next time I forget to do something, or don’t remember what she/I said thirty minutes ago.

  29. I use Freedom to keep me on task. It’s occasionally frustrating, but it has saved my productivity! 🙂

  30. Eek! That clown is going to give me nightmares, I swear. *shiver* I’m not the best in social situations be they real or e- variety. But I know I spend far too much time in the e- variety. I like your “reward” system. Maybe I’ll have to give that a try.

  31. OK so now I’m freaked out big time – clowns scare me! Ever read Stephen King’s – ‘It’? Anyway social media can certainly encroach on my time…I make a conscious effort to ‘leave the computer’, pick up a notebook and sit in the corner writing. My email box is full every morning so I have to pick & choose how many blogs & tweets I respond to otherwise I would be there all day! Great tips here Kristen – thank you again for steering us in the ‘write’ direction.

  32. Great article! The words “they have no plan” says it all for so many authors (or small business owners of any kind for that matter). Thanks for posting and I’ll be sharing this with my writing community!

  33. Great advice as always Kristen! So happy to see you got your classes up. Woo hoo!! 🙂

  34. Hi Kristen…
    Thanks so much for the wonderful advice as always. FYI – referenced ommwriter and your fantastic blog in my own blog today…. an overhear at Starbucks about a girl who needed to learn how to 10 key. We live in amazing times when our writer toolbox includes way more than a pad of paper, a pen an/or a typewriter. I wanted to make sure everyone knew who my go to was for sound social media and writing advice.

  35. Hi Kristen,
    I love your blog, very good posts. I can quite easily waste hours on facebook (ooh! Look! Something shiny…). The trap I fall into is something happening that I *must* share on fb and so log on to post that comment… and half an hour later log off. So, I discovered an app for mac computers that fixes that (I use a macbook laptop to write with). Updatebar for mac. It’s 99c in the App store. You can link up your fb page, fb author page, twitter etc. The icon sits in the top menu bar next to the time, volume and other buttons. Just click on it, type in the comment, link whatever you want to post then hit post. Ta da! No fb distractions. 🙂 Works for me.

  36. I soooo look forward to reading your posts. They’re so full of wonderful tips and funny tidbits. Discipline: the bane of my existence! But I’m learning; perhaps will have it down by the time I reach eighty. Lol Thanks for a great post.

    • Brianna Soloski on September 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm
    • Reply

    First off, can’t sleep, clowns will eat me. 😀 But seriously, I am learning to be disciplined. I am going to check out those internet blockers for sure. Dingo4mum, do you know if they have update bar for PC?

    1. Brianna: Buffer is a great alternative. I have my Twitter and Facebook account linked up to it and I can decide if I want to send a post/link to just Twitter, Facebook or both! HTH! 🙂

        • Brianna Soloski on September 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm
        • Reply

        Ooh, cool. I will check that out. Thank you so much. I struggle with staying off those sites (and Pinterest) when I’m supposed to be working. I’m trying to train myself into the mindset that the e-mail can wait.

  37. So good to experience the humor you spread in all your articles, especially when it comes to topic that some people might have thought to be hard and demanding.
    This way its so easy to learn – and life is fun.
    Thank you and continue to be wonderful!

  38. *sob* I am fruit bat on crack. The main difference between me and the dogs in UP! is that once they yell “squirrel!” the dogs get back to what they were saying/doing. After I yell “squirrel!” I’m off doing something completely unrelated to what I was doing previously. Or, I completely forget my train of thoughts. I feel like social media was just invented to bring my middle-aged brain down even more than it’s sunk.

  39. I.Hate.Clowns. *shudder* – just had to get that off my chest -*whew* – lawd.

    Once I start my writing work day, I am not allowed to check email or go on any social networking sites. I do my SN in the mornings and late afternoon/evenings. Unless I take a day from writing and then I may slip in and out of SN during the day – like today!

  40. Your law of three – gold, pure gold, Lamb. It’s what keeps me focused when I make a foray into social media, and it reminds me that I can promote someone else’s work and say something nice (or funny) to someone before I dare to ask them to read my stuff.

    Learning lots from you.

  41. Just discovered your blog Kristen. As a writer new to the whole platform creation thing your words are inspiring. Thank you.

  42. Hello, I am very new to your site and starting social media deal, but one thing I would like to suggest: when we comment anything, please do not just say I like it or it is owesome, etc. write more specific comment some true insight. Write – why do you post certain opinion about something, then it will be useful, productive and helpful to others.

  43. Reblogged this on thelissachronicles and commented:
    I love this…

  44. great read!

  1. […] also joined WANATribe five minutes ago. I read a post on Kristen Lamb’s blog (read here:…) and decided that social media sites like this are more my fancy. I deleted my Facebook account a […]

  2. […] Artsy types have the attention span of a fruit bat on crack – we love chasing shiny objects.  Don’t believe me?  Just turn on a pen light and dance it across a wall at a Starbucks.  Guarantee you will lure at least two writers and a musician.  -Kristen Lamb […]

  3. […] Mythbusting—Three Lies That Could Sabotage Your Writing Success — Kristen Lamb […]

  4. […] Social-media expert Kristen Lamb identifies three myths that will cut into–or do worse to–your writing time.  […]

  5. […] saw on special occasions. So this idea that we have to smother people to be memorable is flawed. more Share this:StumbleUponEmailTwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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