Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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June 14, 2017

4 Facebook Lessons from a Debut Author

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love seeing what friends are up to. I love connecting with people I don’t otherwise get a chance to “see” on a regular basis. And I love interacting with other authors and readers and like-minded folks (you know, animal lovers, wine drinkers, coffee addicts).

What I love less is the emotional energy suck. The last few months have been harder to play on social media than usual. Between personal things and political things (we’ll leave it at that), I’ve found myself spending less and less time on Facebook. And, at time, flat out dreading checking my feed.

I know a few people who deleted their accounts. Others who took breaks from Facebook for a healthy chunk of time. But I had a book coming out in May which meant I actually needed to be spending more time – or maybe I should say smarter time – on Facebook. And I did. It wasn’t always fun, it wasn’t always easy, but the job required it.

I thought I’d pass on a few of the lessons I learned during that time …

1) Filter. Just because you’re friends with someone or in a group, doesn’t mean you have to engage. At the beginning of the year, I flat out avoided posts from certain friends. Not because I didn’t want to be friends with them anymore or even because I didn’t agree, but because their passion on certain topics was draining what little emotional energy I had at the time. There were also a few people who were overly exuberant about their own success at a time when I was struggling to keep my head above water, and while I was happy for them, the over-gushing started to zap my enthusiasm.

On the flip side, there are people who can almost always make me smile and groups that offer interesting discussions. One Facebook group in particular has become my happy place. The people in BLOOM are supportive and enthusiastic and it’s like taking a coffee break with friends.

I learned to filter my Facebook feed. It was the only way I could manage both my limited time and limited energy.

2) Censor. You’ve heard this before but it bears saying again … not everything needs to be said, or in this case written. As an author, you probably have an equal number of Facebook friends you’ve never actually met as those who know you personally. Before you unleash a rant, think about who will see it and what the ramifications could be from hitting “post.” You may still decide to send it out to the world and that may be exactly what’s needed. But don’t forget to first a deep breath, then post with a clearer head.

There’s a flip side here, too. I’m one of those people who clam up when I’m stressed or upset. I learned that Facebook can actually be a good place to release some of that stress. I’ll post something that makes me happy and, as corny as this sounds, the interaction that usually results from those posts helps.

3) Discern. You’ve heard the old cliché: Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side because it’s fake. That applies to Facebook posts as well. Remember the censor comment about putting a positive spin on things? Here’s the thing, most people will post their happiest moments, their biggest accomplishments on Facebook. They will rarely, if ever, post the disappointments or failures (except maybe in select private groups but those are … wait for it … private).

Whatever stage of writing you’re at, take in the Facebook posts with a discerning eye. Don’t compare yourself to the gushing success posts from others.

Before anyone jumps up and down on my keyboard, I am NOT saying those success posts aren’t legit and we shouldn’t be celebrating. I squee with everyone else when an author friend has fabulous news to share.

But I’m human and there have been times, especially at my most vulnerable like, ahem, release day, when I had twinges of comparing myself to others. Those were the times I had to remind myself that many of those posts represent the shiniest moments only and even those authors had their doubts and gripes at one point or another.

4) Unplug. Are you done shuddering in horror that I would suggest this? Can I continue?

I removed the Facebook app from my phone for a few weeks. The first day was twitchy but here’s the shocking part … after I got over the initial panic, I realized that the world kept turning if I didn’t respond to a tag immediately and it really didn’t matter if I liked or commented on a post a few hours after it was posted instead of the moment it went up.

Unless I’m on deadline or have pressing messages to deal with, I’m not on my computer much in the evenings or weekends. That’s family time. And even though I’ve reinstalled the Facebook app on my phone, I find that I’m on it much less frequently than I used to be. The result has been that I now look forward to my morning check-ins again.

I’ll give you a bonus tip …

5) Enjoy. Do what makes you happy with Facebook. Find that in between of what you’re comfortable posting and how long you can spend on Facebook. Come to terms with the fact that some people can stress you out while others bring joy. It took me time to find that sweet spot, to adjust my expectations of Facebook as a tool, but once I did, I was able to turn most of the hate part of the relationship to at least like if not love.

As an author, you need Facebook. And it is your friend. Friendlier for some than others. But either way, it’s a great place to connect with other authors, readers, and friends.

So? What do you think about FB? Have any other tips for us?

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About Orly

Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy WritersShe is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.

Orly’s debut, The Distance Home, released by Forge on May 2, 2017.

You can find her on on FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, or on her website, www.orlykonig.com.

37 comments on “4 Facebook Lessons from a Debut Author”

  1. This post is so relevant. As for writing, I am not validated on FB, but crafting was my niche. The drain of political and whiney posts kept popping up until i found some lovely FB users who post happy thoughts and recipes. Yummy food. I see their feeds first, and just stopped following the whiners and complainers and the people beating the dead dogs. And i just don't show up as often. And those negative, mood sucking posts don't effect me.

    1. Whether it's Facebook friends or in-person friends, it's good to be selective, especially when you have to protect your own emotional health.

  2. Thanks, Orly. These tips are helpful. My favorite IT guy once told me his Facebook feed is "well-curated, " which makes his life more peaceful. I'm working on that. I often have to stop, count five, and force myself to NOT take the bait on certain posts.

  3. Since I'm an extrovert, and living in a fairly remote area, FB sustains me. But I've had most of the issues listed above, as well, so I've developed a new skill....scrolling.

    Political? Scroll. Abused animals? Scroll. Whiny, whiny whiny? Scroll, scroll, scroll.

    You can't get sucked in - it'll take you down. I counteract it by posting beautiful nature pics, kids with puppies, philosophical memes....TAKE THAT!

    Oh, yes, and always, coffee posts!

    Thanks for this, Orly.

    1. Extrovert vs introvert ... yup. I think we're on to something here. Then again, Facebook is a godsend for introverts in its own way.

    2. Scrolling...and HIDING. I hid a metric ton of posts during the election. Heads were exploding on both sides of the aisle and I just didn't want to hear about it anymore. Also, like Orly, I tend to unplug in the evenings and on the weekends because it's family time. 🙂 But if I lived in Midland, without my kid? I'd be online like 70% of the time.

  4. I actually chose to "hide" all of one person's posts so they would no longer show up in my news feed. I didn't want to "unfriend" them because of some delicate relationships involved, but I couldn't handle the nonsense they were posting anymore. This way I don't ever see what they put up and, consequently, I don't get emotionally dragged down by their stuff.

    Great post!

    1. Whether it's an online friend or in-person friend, filters are sometimes necessary!!

  5. Orly, I completely relate. I never used to bother with FB much, but as a fledgling blogger and aspiring debut author, I've had to jump into the fray. By "fray" I don't mean politics or rants or even cat videos (I don't identify as a huge animal lover - but don't hate me.) I just mean the engaging, commenting, etc., which can still be overwhelming, especially as an introvert. This was so validating - thanks!

    1. Oh, oh ... I'm going through comments backwards today for some reason and just responded to Holly about the introvert thing. YES!!!!!!

  6. Such good advice here, Orly. I don't ever use my phone to go on Facebook, so that in itself limits the time I spend there. But I do like Facebook, still, because it's the quickest way to check in with friends, especially those going through transitions, and it's a great way to communicate with readers who want to message me through my author page.

    1. Facebook is a wonderful way of connecting. I love it for that. And even more so now that I've gotten over that NEED to be on it all the time.

      Maybe it's an introvert thing???? I dislike large gatherings because I get overwhelmed. I prefer hanging with a couple of friends and enjoy their company. Facebook, to some extent, is that giant party with discussions all around you and too many people wanting a bit of your attention.

  7. Great tips, Orly. It's easy to forget that Facebook *is* a tool, and can be tweaked to maximize the benefits we gain from it while minimizing the unnecessary. In life, we try to weed out those relationships that are more draining than inspiring, or that don't bring us happiness enough to warrant our time and energy. Remembering that we can do the same on Facebook, often with just the click of a button, can make the experience much more enjoyable. Thanks for this.

    1. Exactly! And the beauty of Facebook is that the person you're ignoring doesn't see you rolling your eyes at them. 🙂

  8. Great and relevant post, Orly. I've had to take breaks, though most of the time it's only for a day or two. It's incredible how powerful it is in sucking you back in. And yes, there are times where I love seeing posts, and there are others where it's almost painful. Ok. It is painful and can make you stew about something for hours. Now I've 'hidden' some people's posts, and have done many of the things you suggest above! It's nice when we come to realize it's not a competition, and yes, people only post their most happiest positive side. If I posted all my dark moments, I don't think I'd have any friends. LOL! Thank you for this!!

    1. You made me laugh, Anne. And you're absolutely right. I was joking with someone the other day about how happy my Facebook life is. 🙂

      It's only a competition in our own minds. Well, in our minds and for a few select people who really shouldn't matter. Most of the people I've encountered within the writing community don't see themselves as in competition with our authors. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that.

  9. Spot on, Orly! I couldn't agree more! There's also something to be said for the unwanted burden of reading other people's over-shares and then taking on that negative energy. It can weigh me down and cloud my creativity. I have unfollowed even my own family members (shhh!) But I do love the people who post random funny animal videos. 🙂 Thanks for the post!

    1. Oh, oh, funny animal videos ... YES! Because sometimes those are the only things that save Facebook for the day. 🙂

  10. Thanks, girl! I feel how you do so very often...but at the same time I'm grateful for FB because without it, I wouldn't have met you!

    1. And without FB, the distance would be unbearable. I'd be moving into your guest room. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the post Orly. I once had a friend who overshared on facebook - ranted about issues, named people she didn't like etc - it was ridiculous and got her into a lot of trouble. I think FB is great for many things but you have to think carefully about what you say and what you are putting out there.

    1. Very true, Karen. I think people sometimes forget the reach that social media has and how quickly a rant can escalate. I know authors who've lost readers because of something they posted. And I admit that there have been a couple of authors over the years who I stopped following after inappropriate behavior.

  12. I just 'unpublished' my professional FB page because it was stressing me out. I didn't know what to do with it and it was becoming an emotional black-hole. As for my personal one, I really don't do much on there except keep an eye on family that don't live as close as I'd like and stalk boys I had the hots for in high school (in the nicest possible way). I know I should use FB more effectively but sometimes you just have to let go.

  13. If I didn't "have to", I'd have no "social media" presence. I'd much rather talk to someone on the phone or, better yet, get together and go to a movie or have lunch. But yes, when I take the time, Facebook is a real time sump. I usually have a week (or two!) of info to catch up on. And those cute videos, yes, they take time to watch, too. My standard rule: No FB on vacations. I'm too busy doing.

  14. Living in the backwoods of south Georgia, I have limited internet. (Terrorists in Iraq have real internet, but not here in our neck of the woods. So I have to be limited.) I don't like Facebook much anyway, so I try to stay away. But I do check in when I have to. I never let myself get caught up in the whiny, the political, the junk.

  15. Orly, I couldn't agree more, Facebook is a time waster and an addiction! But it has a darker underbelly. Starting from Facebook, if you click outside links, IT FOLLOWS YOU. If you comment on a story elsewhere on the Internet - FB posts it. Before you all mutter, "Ah Sue, you should have tightened your controls." I thought I had! Also there is a saved transcript of EVERYTHING you ever posted on FB. It is downloadable if you are interested. Google does this too. I was fed up and deleted my account. But the final straw was very personal.

    One of my "friends" morphed into a mean-spirited stalker. When I blocked this person, he searched for my Internet presence, found my research domain and began emailing my contact page with nasty comments. I ignored him. Then he thought he had the coup de gras when he found my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE. Using the reviews application, he stepped up his insane rhetoric and threats. Amazon reviewers can edit their reviews forever. He used my book page as a reader board for his attacks, changing it from one week to the next. Exhausting all avenues, I finally contacted Jeff Bezos who put a stop to it, but it took eight months! There are a lot of crazy people out there, and many you wouldn't suspect. Goodreads is a much better place to connect.

  16. I have an author page and a "personal" page for my pen name, as well as the real me page. I make sure not to get political to stupid on any of them. I'm so sick of bad news posts that I've filtered most of those out. And I had to just unfollow many folks. I just can't handle it. Plus, when it's culled down, occasional check in is less intense and time consuming!

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