Last week I was emailing back and forth with a real-life friend. We’d both gotten busy in our lives and hadn’t been able to spend as much time together, so I off-handedly suggested we stay in touch via Facebook. She quickly dismissed the idea, saying she “doesn’t have time” for it.
I didn’t push her even though I thought it would be a great way for us to stay more connected between the times we’re able to chat face to face. In fact that’s one of the things I really like about my personal Facebook account, staying in better touch with real life friends.
My email conversation with this friend got me thinking, however, about the excuses we often make for not trying new things. My friend isn’t a writer and obviously doesn’t have the same motivation for branching into social media that a writer pursuing publication would. In fact, I respect her choice. Not everyone is going to like or want to connect through social media avenues.
And yet, I often I hear excuses from writers seriously pursuing publication. Here are just a few of the most common excuses I’ve heard:
Excuse #1: “It’s just not my thing.”
Any time we start something unfamiliar, it takes a while before we get the hang of it. We shouldn’t let the frustrations of setting up accounts and learning how things work prevent us from dipping our toes in the water.
Remember the first time we tried using a computer or the internet? They were strange, cumbersome, and often frustrating. But most of us now have laptops surgically embedded to our fingertips, and we run to the internet every time we need information about anything.
If we’re serious about a writing career, then we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones. As technology continues to advance, we’ll need to challenge ourselves to branch out and give new ideas a shot.
Excuse #2: “I don’t have time.”
When my friend said she didn’t have time for facebook, was she implying that I did? That she was busier than me? Or was she hinting that I’m wasting my time using social media, time I could devote to other more worthy causes?
The bottom line is that there are very few of us that have much time. I'm probably just as busy as anyone else. But we can make the time if we want, especially for the things we feel are important. Perhaps the “I don’t have time” excuse stems more from a fear of mishandling time, the knowledge that we’re weak in self-discipline, and that if we add one more social media outlet, we’ll get sucked in too far. Then the issue becomes knowing how to set appropriate boundaries—the same way we must for everything (including eating, TV viewing, etc).
Excuse #3: “I’ve tried Twitter (etc.) and I didn’t benefit from using it.
If we don’t think we’re benefitting, then perhaps we need to re-evaluate exactly what we’re defining as the “benefit.” More sales? More recognition? If we’re attempting to use social media in the traditional marketing format, we won’t get much out of it. In fact, we’ll probably risk alienating our followers.
Instead, we need to get a better grasp on successful social media strategies. As I’ve said plenty of times on my blog, social media is ALL about being social. To make the most of twitter, facebook, and blogging, writers need to understand that relationships drive the success or lack-thereof.
~Obviously, like my real-life friend, there are some writers who just don’t want to use social media. However an online presence is an increasingly important aspect of the future of publishing. When a writer reaches a point in their writing careers when they’re seriously pursuing publication (at the querying stage or beyond), then they need consider long and hard whether they have a truly legitimate reason before saying “no.”
What do you think of the excuses? Have you ever used one or heard someone else offer one as a reason for not being willing to try social media? What do you think constitutes a legitimate reason for NOT using social media?