A Platform Is Something You Stand On

writing notes

I’m writing this post as an assignment after being away from the blog for too long. Every time I’ve logged on lately and have seen the dates of my last posts, I’ve felt embarrassed and a little panicky. Should I give up the blog entirely? How will I carve out the time to write frequently, or at least regularly, without neglecting what I feel I really ought to be about, and that’s revising the novel and working on short stories?

Seeking answers, I’ve been participating in Robert Lee Brewer’s Platform Challenge during the month of April. Robert has created a series of exercises intended to help writers wrangle their online presence into shape. In the process I’ve done more Facebooking and tweeting and read more blogs than I could have imagined. It seems a “platform”—significant interaction with others (on the Internet and otherwise) with the purpose of building a following—is necessary these days, even before you publish a book.

The challenge has been fun and revealing. Here’s what I’ve learned about myself: I’m afraid I’m something of an Internet junkie; I don’t know when to quit or how to protect my writing time. That’s an important discovery. Along with learning how to connect with others, I need some self-discipline!

Robert’s post yesterday on how he handles social media helps. He makes a “task list” for his day and sticks with it. He allows himself social media time in 15 minute increments scattered throughout his day, and only when he’s completed a task. That sounds reasonable to me. I’ll give that a try.

Meanwhile, a new short story swirls in my brain and won’t leave me alone. The novel-in-progress nags for attention. My other lives—as wife, grandmother, chief cook, housekeeper, gardener (not to mention reader)—call me away from the writing work. And it’s spring, about the only time of the year when it’s pleasant to sit outside and read a book or daydream or let that story idea take shape. I live in Mississippi. Another six weeks, and you won’t be able to breathe when you step outside.

So here’s my resolve: I plan to return to the blog on a regular basis. I’ll try to make my posts more relevant to the writing life I live. But I will also try to accomplish this on a schedule, along with generally managing my online time better.

Visit Robert Lee Brewer’s blog, My Name Is Not Bob. You’ll find his April challenges— creating a platform and also a poetry challenge for the month of April (April is poetry month, after all)—and lots of other interesting information for the writing life there.

If any of you who read this have comments or suggestions regarding time management, I welcome the conversation! Now let’s get off the ‘net and go to work. Cheers.

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