10 February 2012

Time to recognise the enemy within and conquer it

I'm rather embarrassed that it took me this long to work it out. I have a little bit of obsessive -compulsive disorder in me to go with the inner control freak that I accepted and embraced a long time ago. I can't tell you how much more I could have gotten done with my time if I'd realised this earlier.

It shows at work in the form of insanely complicated computer models which are far more extensive and detailed than needed. Not necessarily a bad thing, except I spend about three times as long on a job as anybody else. Still, they haven't fired me yet, so I'm going to call that a win.

Online, it shows as a determination to read all the tweets.

Like many newbie writers, I read the blog posts which tell you that you have to have an online presence; start now before you even have something to sell. You get infected with this sense of urgency, because you might be doing it wrong. It's all: Platform! Blog! Tweet! Do it now! And so the plan, devised on a computer with tick boxes and printed out and glued into a diary (because I'm that kind of scary person) includes Join Twitter. Develop an online web presence.

And there the compulsion sinks its claws in, because whenever I'm on the computer, it's nagging me that I haven't read all the tweets yet. It is a task uncompleted. I cannot tick the box and move on. I need to tick a completed box before I can move on. Seriously.

Now I'm not talking about all 200 million tweets per day, or whatever it is now, because I'm just a little bit nuts, not completely off my trolley. Just the tweets from the 270 some people that I follow. But even so, by definition it never ends. It's why I had to quit Farmville and Treasure Madness and make my facebook feed a game free zone. It's why I gave away my Playstation when gaming became more important than food or sleep.  I find I seldom tweet myself, because I'm too busy reading all the tweets. And worse, still, they're not even fun tweets, because most of my feed is from follow backs. I am paralysed into inactivity by a giant wave of I am a writer, buy my book tweets, which I don't even enjoy reading, because the compulsion to read all the tweets is there. I can't tick the box and move on. I need to tick the box.

But this morning, I feel... I don't know, awake. Objective. Looking at my twitter feed, I've noticed that one person tweets exactly every half hour to ask a random question, like 'what's the last colour you painted your toenails?' When I check their page, these questions never result in interaction, never turn into a discussion. So what's their purpose?

I like using twitter to engage with people about their lives. I want to know about the thing their kids did that made them laugh, about their new puppy, about the joke their friend told them. Really, truly, I don't want to hear about the review of someone's book that I haven't read and don't plan to. Not any more. I guess I could buy every single book promoted by every single person that followed me as a means of building their list of followers, but I'd end up in one of those smart white coats with wraparound arms.

I'm not going to quit twitter, because I like following authors whose books I've loved, and I like talking to people like Hagelrat, Mhairie Simpson and Margie McNulty, people who are happy to chat, but I think I'm going to cut right back on the other stuff. People have every right to promote their stuff on twitter, but it isn't for me.

The same as this blog is just a diary that people can read if they want rather than a writer's promotional tool filled with platform building content, my twitter needs to be social and not driven by the great god, Platform. It's the only way to stay sane and enjoy writing enough to want to carry on.

I'll never read all the tweets, but now I know the task ahead of me. I beat Farmville. I beat Treasure Madness. I can beat this. And to that end, this is what it looks like where I live this morning:

Pretty, huh? No doubt my son will be taking his sledge out when he gets home from school. Are your kids having fun in the snow? I really would like to know.


  1. I haven't been on Twitter (other than automatic feeds) since I started a Facebook page for my Frugal Ways series. It seems every time I add something, something else has to go away, and this time Twitter was the sacrificial lamb.

    Like you I'm a bit OCD, so Twitter continually frustrated me because I couldn't keep up. I loved some of my conversations with friends, but felt left out with people who had conversations that didn't try to include me. It was just them talking out loud.

    I still haven't decided whether to abandon Twitter.

    Ref: snow
    Wow! Looks nice. We rarely get snow where I live. It's always a treat when we do.

    1. I think I prefer facebook of the two, but I made most of my online friends in common interest posting boards, so I try to hang out in some places where there is the chance to meet new people.

      Twitter is a strange beast. Being on the outside of conversations messes with my head too.

  2. This is something I've been struggling with a lot lately. I have a book coming out in a few months and have been trying to amp up my online presence (I wasn't really one of those who did this before my book deal--turns out it wasn't as vital as they all say). Anyhow, I find myself drowning in so much online overload that I've had to find a way to cut back. It gets very overwhelming very fast. I hope you find a good balance :)

    1. I don't envy you the pressure of doing it with a book to promote. SO hard to do it without joining the spam army. But since you're here, tell me what your book is about :)

  3. I look at Twitter once every few days, and tweet maybe once or twice a week. It's just not a friendly atmosphere for me. And what I really hate... when people answer a dozen tweets that I haven't seen, so I have no idea what they're talking about. I tend to de-follow those who do that. And also the ones who are so relentless in promoting their books that it makes me want to strangle myself... or them...

    1. It took me a very long time to get into twitter, and I tend to enjoy it most as a way to banter with people I already talk to in other way. Definitely a love it or hate it experience.

      p.s. That pic would have been even better if I'd worked out beforehand to take the protective film off the lens before I used it for the first time *facepalm*. Maybe next year.


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