Spastic Self-Promotion – A Necessary Evil in Writing and in Life?

I would give anything to be able to enthusiastically blast my ideas on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ ten times a day. I would kill to tell stories and keep a crowd in stitches with my effervescent nature.

I envy those who ooze energy and action. I admire those who get charged up by interaction and stimulation. I have spent a good portion of my life trying to be dynamic like that. Striving and doing like all the best people can. The way most successful and magnetic people do. It seems the right way to be. The way to be heard.

But alas, I am a dyed in the wool, sensitive introvert. I hold my breath until I can retreat to my inner world of ideas and feelings. I love interacting and gathering intimacy but long bouts of large-scale socializing and rushed living leave me feeling drained,raw and edgy. Sharing ideas is energizing but pushing fan page links and requesting Amazon reviews is not.

In the old days writers were allowed to disappear for a few months to create in peace.  Family members, friends and fellow authors honored this creative solitude. Admittedly, that setup mostly worked for male writers.  Women still struggled to find a room of their own. Nevertheless, writing used to be a solitary pursuit.

Now the world has gone ape-sh*t for media coverage.  No one leaves you alone to create. You must produce AND promote. Much of the personal advertising falls to the writer. Agents and publicists are hard to come by. A writer must have a substantial platform of readers before a publisher even gives them a glance. Book tours and press releases are mandatory for published authors. It is necessary every day to offer up tidbits of wit and insight so the people don’t forget you. Facebook, twitter, Google+, kindle self-publishing, blogging, professional groups.  Put yourself out there.  Promote, promote, promote.

Exhausting.

But I do it. I try. I throw up links to share and bond with my readers. I allow glimpses of my personal life on Facebook. I tweet and retweet to maintain a fragile web of connections that could vanish if left unattended for an afternoon.

It’s all about constantly courting the public. Or is it?

The Tim Ferriss effect

According to Michael Ellsberg, Forbes.com contributor and author of The Education of Millionaires, one well placed guest post on a popular single author’s blog is better than a three minute segment on CNN or a 1000 word write-up in The New York Times.  One small introduction and a guest post on eccentric entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss’s (The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body) website skyrocketed Ellsberg’s book ranking on Amazon from #1295 to #45 in a matter of hours. Ellsberg did twitter blasts, email list launches, radio interviews and webinars but nothing ramped the success needle up like the nod from his acquaintance Tim Ferriss. Much like the Oprah effect, Tim Ferriss’s magic touch is due to his great influence over a large and extremely loyal audience.

Most of us don’t have people like Tim Ferriss in our pocket and I am not advising you to stalk mega-media stars, but I do believe most of us are capable of creating meaningful relationships. We all know someone who is slightly ahead of us on the success path. Nurture that connection. Offer your assistance. Learn from them.

Could it be that a strategic placement and endorsement from an influential individual is worth 1000 tweets?  Wouldn’t it be lovely to use our energy for significant relationships instead of burning up precious fuel dithering in social media?

Do the Work – Steven Pressfield

Well known author (The War of Art, Do the Work) and screenwriter (The Legend of Bagger Vance), Steven Pressfield, states our most formidable enemy in writing is Resistance. Resistance is what makes us futz around for hours reading email, cleaning out drawers and flipping through magazines before we get down to our real work — writing. Resistance wants to distract, discourage and derail us. Pressfield says social media is Resistance’s most supreme tool.

Pressfield limits his media exposure. His publicist tweets for him. He rarely does interviews. The only consistent dialogue he maintains with his fans is through his blog Steven Pressfield Online. He admits to spending time connecting with a small tribe of followers who contribute comments to the Writing Wednesdays section of his site. A carefully placed and nourished relationship.

Above all Pressfield says DO THE WORK. Write through fear, frustration and Resistance. Focus on your craft.  Write for the love of it, not for commercial success. Pressfield claims he never made any money when he worked for commercial success.  He only succeeded when he followed his heart and did the work.

Keys to Success

Nothing gives me more energy than a good day of writing and the cultivation of meaningful relationships. Could it be these are the tools of a successful writing career? Doing beloved work and spreading kindness seems to be the right way to write and live.

How much time do you spend self-promoting?  Do you have to be mindful of your energy?  Have you found any foolproof methods to boost readership that don’t involve social media hustling?  

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11 thoughts on “Spastic Self-Promotion – A Necessary Evil in Writing and in Life?

  1. I am uncomfortable with self-promotion, too, though it may never look like it. I dutifully post every new adventure and blog post to facebook, Twitter, and Google+, always with a grimace and a silent prayer to the Universe that people will read and share, and hopefully enough people will share that I no longer need to share myself so much. It is tiring; it never fails to drain time and energy away from creation. I am not a marketer. I am a writer.

    I recall a joke I made not long ago on Twitter. I mentioned how employers (in my head, publishers) look at Klout scores when considering applicants. The more I work, the less I tweet, and my Klout score falls. Conclusion? Employers like slackers who tweet more than they work. ;) Makes perfect sense.hehe

    • Jess you always amaze me with your energy. You are so represented online, your home life is dynamic, and you are always creating! How do you do it?

      Social media takes up so much of our time with its incessant maintenance. I find it hard to be creative when I am interrupted with urges to self-promote online. I enjoy sharing ideas but constant upkeep leaves me flat – like I run on a motor, instead of dreamy, lofty creativity.

      I want employers to look at content not Klout scores.;) I want to write not campaign.

      Thanks for your comments writer girl.;)

      • How do I do it? Honestly? I don’t. Between my poor health, kids, and all that needs be done, I am constantly drained and pained. Remember, dear friend: writers, storytellers … we lie for a living, yes? It’s not so hard to _sound_ like you’re bursting with energy and grinning all the while, when in reality you’ve just collapsed, panting, on the couch, smartphone in hand. ;)

      • It won’t let me reply on that thread anymore, but the answer is yes, indeed! The great secret to all my energy is nothing more than thumbs capable of punching in a few well-placed punctuation marks! ;D (see?hehe)

  2. I have a very nice room in which to write, but I often use my laptop wherever I happen to be sitting. However, I have been having a hankering for an office, downtown, in a high rise, overlooking the city, with big windows, and a big table, where I could go to work. What would I work on? Haven’t a clue, but the place would be there for me to go to.

    • I’ve often thought of having an office in the city, away from home. A retreat.:) I wonder if that kind of solitude (with a view!) would affect our creativity. It’s so much easier to make word associations and metaphors when we are free from interruptions. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  3. You really know what it’s all about, and you have guts. You’ve seen the bullshit with everything, and now you’re trying to save your soul as a writer. Drop the word introvert and just call yourself an artist, and don’t give one damn about popular culture: know that it tries to kill the artist. Did I see a picture of E.B. White off to the side of your piece? He knew this whole business of writing, yet he didn’t take himself too seriously all the time. He was grateful he could earn some money from it, but he went his own way and he admired Thoreau, and White felt the mucous of popular culture and loss of self in the 1920s! You have such appetite and desire to learn everything about writing and about life, like you’ve just been born, like you’re a walking sensory sponge to everything you feel and think. How do you feel about humor and the irony of life? Yet Nelson Algren said writers are still people capable of driving other people crazy and being unrecognized, despite their wonderful obsession with the art. I know where you’re coming from: it’s a force and you get to play God on paper, and with your eloquence and wit and curious mind, get to win friends, make enemies and influence people. I hereby brand you Artist: fragile, breathtaking, risk taker, lover of writers who have come before you and never die. Bill Ogle

    • Today we build relationships with other artists/writers through social media. In past times they met at salons and coffee houses. I still like to do that. It’s the constant self-promotion that bothers me – mostly because it takes so much time and energy.
      I get to play God on paper – yes, the world according to Brenna.;) All I want to do is put some ideas out there. I don’t want to advertise myself. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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