Social Networking Guilt: Get Over It

Writers don't like to admit the growing amount of time we're spending on social networks. We're supposed to be in our hermitages, penning the next acclaimed epic, desperate for the muse, with disheveled hair and unshaven faces (or legs). Is it wasteful to invest creative time in Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or other online connectional activity?

"Tell me about your West Coast events," my buddy Karen Day (TALL TALES and NO CREAM PUFFS / Wendy Lamb Books) asked during our celebratory lunch today.

As I described my book parties in Palo Alto (about 30 in attendance?) and in Bellevue (40 or so?), two cities where I don't live, I was struck by how vital Facebook and Twitter have become in my writing career. I'd say 80% of the participants found my event via those social networks.

I remember the days when I'd sit pathetically at a signing, trying hard to smile as people passed by. Thanks to the power of FB and Twitter, writers who aren't Mo Willems or John Green can walk into an event knowing that at least a dozen people are coming. (I mentally third the number of acceptances to be on the safe side).

How did we used to gather a decent crowd? I can't remember. These days, even email feels old school.

Creative purists who scoff at social networks as a time-waster need to remember that a writer is only half the dialectic in this business. The other half is made up of readers, and these days young adults make calendaring and purchasing decisions via social networks.

So the next time we worry about frittering on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, or blathering on Blogger, remember that it's about getting our stories into their hands, minds, and hearts.

My goal? Set a limit, have fun, and employ my writing skills in as many venues as excellently as possible, including out here on my precious Fire Escape.