social media

Don’t Let Time Pass You By

As writers, we each face our own struggles.  I tend to think a lot of my issues could be alleviated if I had more time in the day. Seeing as how I don’t have access to a magical hourglass, I had to consider other options.  The one that screamed for my attention was time management.  My situation is not unique.  Like many of you, I work full time.  That leaves a few short hours a day to take care of my home/family, exercise, write and grow my audience.

Building my author platform

It’s hard.

Who knew there would be so much effort required?  I thought writing the novel was supposed to be the most difficult part. Imagine my surprise when I realized I needed a twitter account, a Facebook author page, a blog, etc.

It’s time consuming.

Each plank in the platform comes from the connections we make.  Those connections take time to cultivate.  That means we reach beyond ourselves.  We engage others.  We listen to their ideas. We share ours.  In short, being a good neighbor requires being social.

But – here’s the catch

Building my platform was taking too much of my writing time.  Seriously.  It was so easy to get caught up in reading the posts on certain Facebook pages.  And then there was Pinterest. My goodness – I was on my way to becoming a “Pinning” junkie.  I have boards dedicated to my blog, to interesting faces, beautiful places – things that may or may not inspire scenes in future stories.  There’s boards dedicated to my books.  I’m sure you get the picture.  😉

I needed to get a handle on my socializing…

I love my blog.  I love the blogging community.  I decided that my blog would become the hub of my social media/platform building efforts.

Blog Hub

This is still a work in progress.  But it has helped ease the stress of coming up with so many new ideas for posting to the different social media sites.  Take my Facebook Author page – I guess I’m a bit ambivalent when it comes to this page.  I hate feeling as though I’m shouting Look At Me! and my Facebook author page makes me feel that way.  By sharing my blog, I have activity on my page without bashing people over the head with Buy My Book posts.

There’s still the Time Management thing…

This requires discipline and lots of it.  I’m not the most disciplined person.  I have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants – which is probably why I’m a pantzer and not a plotter.  To help keep myself on task, I came up with a schedule. It’s helped by making me more mindful of my time.  I decided to limit my interactions to about 30 minutes an evening.  That means I have to choose which sites/communities I am going to visit.  Take Mondays, for example.  I’ll visit blogs that I follow as well as Twitter.  Tuesdays will be G+ communities and maybe a stop at my Facebook Author page.  It’s not a perfect plan but it is helping me stay focused and freeing up my time.

schedule

Not sure where the lines that separate Thursday, Friday, and Saturday went…

I’m always looking for new ideas… What are you doing to maximize your writing time?

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BLOGGING 101 – A GREAT EXPERIENCE

writer's blockFor the past three weeks, I’ve participated in an online class offered by WordPress (Blogging University). The class was Blogging 101. Wow! That’s all I can say.  I’ve been blogging for a while but it’s been a lot of trial and error and hoping. This class boosted my confidence.  I realized I knew more than what I thought but that I had plenty of things on which to improve. My fellow bloggers were awesome.  They took the time to read my posts as well as leave helpful comments. They truly were great neighbors.

Because of the assignments (challenges) issued, I was forced to step out of my comfort zone.  I visited other blogs and left comments (that was something I didn’t often do).  I am now following a variety of different blogs – writers, travelers, photographers, etc. – I have found they each offer something from which I have benefited.

I must admit there was a downside to the class.  Working a forty hour week doesn’t leave me with much time to devote to my current work in progress and completing the assignments pretty much sucked up most of my evenings.  Having said that, I think the pros outweighed the cons.  In fact, I’ve already signed up for Blogging 201.

Day Fourteen: Extend Your Brand

I feel like I accomplished this assignment back in Week 1.  When I changed my blog theme, I also changed my Twitter, Facebook and G+ page headers. They aren’t exactly alike but they’re pretty dang close.

FACEBOOK PAGE COVER

D.S. MCKNIGHT (1)

TWITTER HEADER

D.S. MCKNIGHT (4)

GOOGLE + COVER

G+ Page Header

D.S. McKnightInstead of creating a Blavatar, I decided to stick with the image I’ve been using on all my social media sites. While I don’t love my picture, it’ll do until I schedule some time with a photographer.

Teens, Social Media & Bullying

bullyIt’s that time of year again.  School is back in session.   And while some kids are excited, others are dreading that walk down the hallway, knowing that friendly faces will be few and far between…

Living in a small town, I always thought bullying was a big city problem.  I mean, small town America is  apple pie and baseball and cookouts.  It’s safe.   But I was wrong.  Bullying is everywhere – even if we  don’t want to acknowledge it.  I’ve  spent hours wondering how, when and why bullying became so  prevalent.  I don’t have the answers.

Back in the day:

When I was in school, kids worked out their differences on the playground.  A punch here, pulled hair there, a bit of rolling on the ground…  A trip to the principal’s office and in most cases – problem solved.  We didn’t have to worry about school shootings.  Heck, we were shooting skeet in my eighth grade physical education class.   Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.

In high school, many of my classmates enjoyed hunting.  It wasn’t uncommon for them to bring their shotguns to school.  They left them in their trucks, secured in a gun rack.   After their last class, they’d head out for an evening hunt.  As crazy as it sounds, it never crossed our minds that someone might use a gun with the intention of hurting others.  Guns were for hunting – they helped put food on the table.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I know there was bullying.  I saw it.  But – it wasn’t to the extent it is today.

Today, everything has changed.

Social media is as dangerous as it is wonderful.  It has opened up the world.  We are aware of things going on in other places that we might never have known.   Yet on the flip side, social media can be as deadly as any drug addiction – particularly with teens.  Times may have changed but teens are pretty consistent.  Peer pressure is as much of a problem now as it ever was.  The need to be part of the group is still strong.

It’s not uncommon for a teen to be suicidal because of the unrelenting assaults – verbal or otherwise.  It’s not like bullying stays at school.  There was a time when home was a refuge.   Now bullying invades our homes, our cars, etc.  It’s everywhere we are.   And who brings it in? It’d would be nice if we could blame some masked bandit.  But no – the truth is never that easy.  The truth is this:  We invite the bullies into our homes.  We offer them rides in our cars.   We literally give  them access to our most private and safe places  –  and we do it via social media sites.

I’ve often wondered why teens feel the need to constantly check posts and comments.  I mean, it really doesn’t make sense to me.   If a person doesn’t  like me – that’s okay.  There are plenty of others who do.  And that’s my point – why do teens keep subjecting themselves to this?  It’s kind of like watching mice in the drug experiments – they just don’t seem to be able to help themselves.

And what about the bullies?  What could make someone become a complete boil on the buttocks of humanity?  Did my generation do such a lousy job parenting that in essence, we created the problem? Or does sitting in front of a computer screen, with no one watching, bring out the worst in some people?   And how is it that the bullies completely missed that all important life lesson:   We should treat others the way we want to be treated.

There have always been and always will be bullies.   It’s just one of those nasty facts of  life.   While we may not be able to stop the bullies, we can lessen the damage by refusing to allow the them into our safe places.  Disconnecting from social media is a good place to start.