It’s a marathon not a sprint

You know, I could get used to this writing gig. There’s a lot of quiet involved which is one of my favourite things. There’s a lot of staying home, which I love. My cats love my company when they’re not asleep. I get to wear slippers which is also one of my favourite things. To think, I remember when one of my favourite things used to be wearing high heels or Italian leather boots.

When I don’t have to go to the office to keep the day job ticking over, the staying at home part is interspersed with outings to the library, bookshops and cafés . If there was a bookshop near me with a café attached my life would be complete. If anyone reading this would like to open an atmospheric bookshop/café on the southern Gold Coast I will commit right here to be a very regular customer. My favourite outings of the authorly kind are catch-ups with other authorly types.

My authorly friends and I often talk about playing the long game with our writing. We all have day jobs and all have to exist in the world but we are very careful to make time for our writing. We also ensure we make time for marketing and networking because selling a book is thrilling and sitting down for a glass of bubbles with authorly friends is the cherry on the cake!

I’m taking a break from social media this month. I’ve been sacrificing far too much time on the altar of marketing and networking and I need to spend July writing. June was a hoot with all it’s retreat and podcast action but I need to put my butt in the seat and write. I was spending about thirty minutes a day scrolling and liking and commenting on Instagram and while it’s lovely to look at pictures of Paris, and books, and bookshops in Paris, that accounted for at least 900 minutes of June I didn’t spend writing. If I write 20-30 decent words a minute that’s at least 18,000 words I could have written and simply didn’t.

I’ve also mentioned the Make Art not Content podcast a couple of times and Father Bronques, the creator of that podcast is very vocal about his dislike of Instagram in particular because of it’s seductive qualities. Getting likes on Insta or FB can be so addictive. It can be so easily mistaken for legitimate work because there are so many people out there making bank from their social media accounts but it’s not getting your art made, is it?

I’ve always been pretty disciplined around my social media use but I am still too easily distracted by it. It’s just too easy to open up Facebook on a whim. I don’t play games on my phone or computer but if you do, and you think it’s relaxing, imagine the relaxed feeling you’ll get from writing that book you always wanted to write, or those poems, or the painting you wanted to do, or the instrument you wanted to learn. Or the 30 minutes of Yoga with Adrien video you could have done while you were Candy Crushing. I’m not trying to shame anyone. I’ve been there. I played so many games of online Star Wars chess I could have written a sequel to War and Peace in 2005.

I just want you to think about how you’re spending your time, because you’re not getting that time back.

If you’re a creative hoping to make a living from your work, networking and content marketing are essential. Don’t get me wrong, you have to use social media and build your email list because even if you snag that coveted ‘deal’ from a publisher or a show at a gallery, the powers that be will expect you to have a platform and know how to use it to promote your stuff. They will expect you to have your audience figured out to some extent and have a bunch of engaged followers to prove it.

I started my @ParisTimeTravel page on Facebook back in 2009 long before I’d even considered writing fiction. Right now I have nearly 5000 #parislovers following the page. About a month ago one of the lovely followers of that page offered me the opportunity to talk with her about my love for (obsession with) Paris and my books on a podcast, Loulabelle’s Francofiles. I jumped at the opportunity of course. Did I think back in 2009 that my little page would have a bunch of interested followers and lead to book sales and a podcast interview and who knows what else in the future? Absolutely not, but I knew I needed to at least start a page if I wanted to get my writing out there at some stage.

Build it and they will come. Hopefully.