Pardon my Disinterest in Pinterest

by Liz Talley

I know some of you are screaming “Liz! You’re an idiot! Pinterest is the best thing since sliced bread! In fact I’ve pinned sliced bread to my Best Things Ever Board!!!!”

I get it. I do. I’m on there and I’ve got some experimental stuff pinned on some random boards, and I can see how it could be totally addictive. Just like how Iย see Twitter being totally addictive. Or Facebook. Or whatever else is floating out there, but at some point I’ve had to say to myself. “Liz, you don’t have time to do every social media outlet known to man. You’ve got books to write and baseball pants to wash” and I said this in a funny French accented voice because it’s more fun that way. Sounds like, “Liz, yooou don’t have zee time to do eveeery social meeedia outlet…” Okay, you get the sound bite. But here’s the thing, I don’t. I’m up to my eyeballs in deadlines and crap to do. In fact, this whole post is just another excuse for not doing what I’m being paid to do which is write. I’m an expert at finding rabbits to chase. This IS a commitment so I don’t ignore commitments, but in the middle of writing, I’m like, “I should do my post ’cause this writing is hard.” And I didn’t even use the fun fake French accent voice.

And it is. Hard. Writing was at one time fun. Waaaaaay back when before deadlines, FB, Twitter or forthcoming release dates. Back when the only deadline I had was a possible contest entry or a promised date ofย deliveryย to ENALR’s Keri Ford, my very first critique partner. We were the blind leading the blind, guessing what would be the best for the plot of our stories before we learned we were doingit all wrong, and it was fun tossing out plot ideas, reworking the syntax on sentences and basically floundering around leaning on each other for some kind of direction.

So pardon my disinterest in another tool to distract me from my own words. No offense, Pinterest.

Words were once so fun. The anticipation of what would come next with no synopsis at my elbow, the word games, the luscious layers of petticoats and flirty fans. The research that led my into the streets of Mayfair and the sheer enjoyment of writing a scene that was sexy and mesmerizing if only for myself. I was my audience….so when did that change? When did I stop loving my words, spending my “spare” time polishing until it was a glossy shine? Maybe when it became exactly what it is – business.

Do I wish it were different? That I was back in the infancy of my writing when everything was so damn exciting? A little. But I shipwreck my best intentions at enjoying my writing by using that time in other capacities – FB, Twitter, surfing blogs and playing on writing loops. I feel pressured to be out there, and I wonder if it would be wiser if I were to focus more on my words and less on putting my name “out there.” Wouldn’t all writers benefit by looking more closely at our words, rather than our status or number of retweets? I’m wondering if social media is doing more harm for me as an author than good. What if I’m not getting better because I’m too busy trying to be thought of as better? I’m not sure.

I suppose balance in everything is key. Didn’t Thoreau advise moderation in all things? Oh, but he also said, “Simplify, simplify!”

I don’t think I’m good at simplifying. I’m good at cluttering and trying to do what Natalie suggested yesterday “multi-tasking.” I paper my day with too much I feel I must do, ignoring what I really shoud do – hunker down and focus on my work.

Yes, I know I’m feeling philosophical, but what do you think about balancing the demands of social media with work? Do you think we’ve gotten too out of hand by being too in touch? Do you think some authors spend too much time in promo and not enough BICHOK? Would love your insight whether you’re a writer or a reader.

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22 Responses

  1. Aw, this post made me want to come hug you! *hugs Liz*

    I deleted my Pinterest account, more due to discomfort with the copyright issue, but yeah–we’re pushed to promotepromotepromote, but it’s like getting too close to a black hole or getting caught in a tractor beam. I agree that balance is key, but achieving that is even harder than the writing itself!

    Which I always found hard. I don’t know if it’s because I approached it as a business from day 1 or what, but I don’t remember those halcyon days you’re describing. ๐Ÿ™‚ On the other hand, it means it hasn’t been “ruined” (for lack of a better word) for me. (Yet?)

    • I’m taking all hugs…probabaly because I’m on a tough deadline this month and don’t know how I’m going to pull it off and still play loving wife and happy mommy. Guess I won’t be happy or loving…just frantic.

      I guess i did have those happy, glowing days because for the first four years of writing, it was just about writing. No RWA, no craft books telling me I was doing it wrong, no critique group. Just me (and one friend who gave me ideas) and the blank page. I loved all that creativity flowing out of my fingertips. I relished the scenes I wrote….even if the horse had a POV, too.

      Never thought about copyright issues with Pinterest. It’s a weird time in regards to copyrights, isn’t it? You can get your hands on anything with a computer – think we all need to be careful with this cool, powerful tool we’re on.

  2. I am not even a writer and I feel your pain with social media. I have not gone on Pintreat for that exact reason. Honestly, I just don’t go on FB or Twitter nearly as often as I used to. Hopefully you find a good balance for you. Sorry that I don’t have any advice on how to manage. Maybe one of those sites that put all of your social media in the same place?

  3. I agree with so many things you said. I tried pinterest too but just don’t have time for it. Between kids, housework and bookwork (which is looking like I won’t make my self imposed deadline already) I can’t add more to my plate. I tweet a lot, some days more than others but truth be told I do not have time for it. Right this second I have kids to round up (spring break) and a monumental amount of housework to do yet here I sit.

    And as far as writing being fun, it should be. Making up stories is the best thing thing ever but it is a business and if you want to it for a living you have to have both sides. Once your name is out there you’re a storyteller for a much bigger audience. Knowing that people are willingly a part of that makes having the to do the business side a little easier. Of course all this is coming from somebody who hasn’t had to polish to a glossy shine, yet.

  4. I am ignoring Pinerest. I have an account but I’ve never used it, posted it to.

    Here’s reality…the best way to build a readership is to write books…lots and lots of books.

    If you read my interview here…http://getlostinastory.blogspot.com/2012/03/cynthia-d-alba-two-steps-her-way-into.html (in all that spare time you have, like when the baseball pants are drying) I asked readers that question. Where do you find new authors? Almost nobody said a social media!

    So interact with YOUR readers, respond to emails, have contests to draw readers, but don’t freak so much over social media.

    Personally, I hate Facebook. Twitter is getting old too

  5. Oh yeah. Social media is way too convenient on those days when the writing is hard. The only thing that saves me is the fact that my laptop only gets WiFi if I sit on my bed and hold one hand up with the pinky finger extended just so.

  6. I’m right there with you. I’ve stayed away from Pinterest. I’ve got Goodread and Twitter accounts, but they remain virtually unused. I’m a slow–excruciatingly slow–writer. Never been able to turn off the editor in my head, which can probably be blamed on 30 years as an English teacher But working on my books is my favorite pasttime, and I don’t want to use up the time I could be doing that by letting other things eat it up. The writing comes first with me and the social media stuff usually get relegated to half of my attention while the other half is on Dancing With The Stars:-)
    PS–As the elder member of this group, I can tell you that retirement has definite advantages;-) ((((hugs))))

  7. I agree on the Pinterest. I am already on Facebook, Twitter, reply to lots of blogs, goodreads-where I post my reviews, and then checking all my email. I don’t have time to add another site. I just added Twitter a couple of months ago.
    I think social media is a great free way to advertise.

  8. I’m right there with you, Liz, and I’m constantly trying to figure out how to get the writing back to pure joy it was when I knew nothing. I’ve had to resort to setting timers and shutting down distractions. I love writing, but as soon as I hit a snag, I’ll go for the open FB, Twitter, blog, whatever.

    Good luck staying on track and getting the fun back.

    BTW: Sorry I’ve been out of touch. We were in Asheville for a long weekend and couldn’t get internet on the mountain, and cell service was iffy. I kind of liked it, but I’m still catching up. Made me want to drop off the grid altogether… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. I have refused to even look at Pintrest. Not because I wouldn’t like it, but because I WOULD! That’s just too much like fun to work for marketing. Sorry to be jaded, but really. In my experience, if it sounds too good to be true….

    Pick one that you like (or hate less than others) and do that – well. I think you’ll find more benefit that way, than scattering yourself over 5 different platforms, doing nothing well.

    IMHO.

  10. my fav thing about Pinterest? I don’t promot there. I don’t put my covers there. I don’t link to writing blogs there. It’s my fun thing. recipes, house things I’d like to have one day, things that make me laugh and so forth. I link to it from my website. and my stuff from there goes to facebook, but I don’t do any of those storyboard things. In fact, I unfollow boards that do that.

    Writing is so very hard these days, but I still feel that fun rush when I either start something new or finish it. You’ll get there!

    and I like to think of us as blind ducks running around looking for the pond when were about three feet away from it the whole time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Well, I don’t know where my post went today, but I promise I did leave one. I have zero time, I’m finishing my book, which is going to be tough! I’m getting bad at all the social networks ๐Ÿ™‚ Liz, you have way too much on you plate to engage in any of this stuff right now. I would need smelling salts if I were you ๐Ÿ˜‰ Appreciate your post!

  12. I agree. I have so many distractions already. Trying to keep up with the kids and real life leaves little time for social media. I have accounts on FB, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. just so people can find me if they are lookiing, but don’t drive myself nuts trying to promote or interact.

  13. I have tried for 48 hours to type a response. Again, my computer acted up. Probably just because of this very post. Ha, ha, teach me a lesson about complaining about it’s friend Pinterest. Jeez.

    But thanks for the wonderful comments! Sorry I couldn’t respond to them individually as I wanted.

    Lesson learned, computer, lesson learned.

  14. Wonderful post, Liz. I know I already spend too much time on email and WordPress. I’m fighting to stay off Twitter and Facebook. I have a full time job and a long commute–it’s hard enough to find time to write. Personally, I think when we start talking about the “demands” of social media in any form, it’s getting out of control.

  15. Thoreau may have said “Simplify!” but after this post, I’m saying “Testify!” ๐Ÿ™‚ You said it, Ruby Sis. This brought tears to my eyes because I’ve been struggling with my “words” lately and distracting myself with other stuff when I know I need to be writing. This manuscript has got me by the neck, but I know if I push through a few more days of edits, I’ll be in a new place with it. A happier place. “Zee happiest place on zee earth.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Yes.

  17. I meant to mention yesterday that for similar functionality without the public nature of it, you might try Evernote. No pressure, just a place to collect whatever you want. And it syncs between your computer, the internet, and your smart phone. Love it. http://www.evernote.com

  18. Liz,
    I think the social networking is demanding even for the unpublished. At a conference last year, an agent mentioned that if she likes the query letter, she’ll google the writer and see how much web presence she/he has. I was flabbergasted. Hell, I’m not even published. Who would want to read what I say on a blog? Who wants to visit the website of someone that they’ve never even read? So– *big, defeated sigh*–I am now blogging on two different sites. LOL.
    But I wonder the same thing. When did the joy of writing and the love of the story take a backseat to trying to get people to like me? I feel like Sally Fields minus the Oscar. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for this post. At least I realize that the published authors feel stressed with the networking stuff too.

    • When did the joy of writing and the love of the story take a backseat to trying to get people to like me?

      I couldn’t help responding to this. I don’t think this is something new–just the WAY the pressure on us manifests is new.

      I sold my first book in 1999, before even MySpace existed. I still spent the first six months after that sale on promotional activities, and didn’t write a single new word on a manuscript. Back then (and before that), it was all about personal appearances and getting print reviews and advertising and buying swag to give at conferences and collecting reader contact info so we could mail postcards and send e-mail newsletters.

      It’s a battle authors have probably had since time immemorial, in some form or another. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Hi Liz! I signed up for Pinterest last month and couldn’t figure it out. Yay, me! One less thing to lose time over!

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