The November election certainly stirred things up. Even if your preferred candidates won you’ve likely felt some upheaval thanks to relentless Internet uproar, which in some cases led to un-friending – and even un-familying – over political differences.
And if your candidates didn’t prevail? The temptation might be to dig a hole, crawl in and pull it in after you – after you get done un-friending your Facebook buds and cutting yourself off from relatives.
Don’t do that. Instead, take some advice from online course expert David Siteman Garland.
“Your social media is your social media. If you want to talk politics on there all day, that’s your right,” he said in an e-newsletter.
“However…there are better ways to spend your time.”
While Garland’s focus is online course creation, his tips apply to writers as well. It’s so easy to waste precious hours reading polarizing, us-vs.-them political rants. This is super-counterproductive if writing is your avocation rather than a full-time gig: Since you get relatively few hours per week to write, why spend them getting ragey over politics?
And if writing is your full-time job? You can’t afford to waste too much of your energy on those biting Facebook ripostes. This doesn’t pay and it doesn’t help get your work known.
Some of the following tips are from Garland and some are from me. Read them and heed them. Rather than piddle away even half an hour whirling and howling on social media, why not:
1. Plan your next promotion. This could be for an online course, an editing or Web-design service, or anything else you have for sale. And if you’re a straight-up writer? Well, then…
2. Plan how you’ll promote yourself. Want more writing opps? Don’t wait for them to fall into your lap. Vow to spend half an hour a day (or a couple of hours on the weekends) looking for paying gigs. Search via legitimate writing websites like Contently, Media Bistro, Freelance Writing Gigs, Problogger and Freedom With Writing.
Join a writing group. Brainstorm ways to get your abilities out there, such as proposing a talk for a service club (some of those Kiwanis or Lions Club folks may be looking for contract writers) or attending a free small-business workshop (yes, your freelance writing is a small business).
3. Take care of business. Specifically, take care of paperwork. Tax time is upon us, so you need to make sure all your expenses and expenditures are recorded. Personally, I pay somebody to do my taxes; it’s pricey but to me it’s worth it, because Josh brings up deductions I might never have found on my own. (Besides, tax prep is a business expense.)
And if you do your own taxes? Get those papers in order early and you’ll have more time to research those deductions on your own.
4. Blue-sky a little bit. As the saying goes, “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” Think about the topics you’d address. Envision – and maybe even outline – a book. That course you always thought you’d teach? Maybe now is the time to start planning how you’d do it.
5. Learn something new. What will make you a better writer and/or business owner? Free webinars abound online. So do free courses at sites like Udemy, edX.org, Coursera, Virtual University and Open Education Consortium.
Where I’ve been lately
I’ll admit it: The election was one reason I haven’t posted here for a while. (The other reason had to do with family and personal issues.) Some of the candidates I voted for didn’t make the cut and, more to the point, I’ve been appalled and depressed by the vitriol flowing from all political parties and their adherents.
Understand: I’m not suggesting that we completely ignore what’s going on in our country. But ultimately I needed to limit time spent on social media. Reading all that post-election fury was making me physically ill as well as emotionally weary. Now I stick mostly to news sites – and I don’t read the comments sections, which too often is where the trolls come out to play.
It simply doesn’t make sense for me to spend too many hours on non-paying (and personally upsetting) stuff. Doing so takes me away from the jobs that pay the rent and it uses up too much of the energy that could be spent coming up with new ideas.
As Garland put it: “Your silly aunt who retired 20 years ago and posts crazy stuff on FB 24/7? She doesn’t have a business to run and lives to change. You do.”
So get out there and change lives – starting with your own. Get hold of your writing life and make this the best year yet.
And on that note, I’m offering a short-term discount on my Write A Blog People Will Read course. Through Feb. 1 you can save 30 percent on the course by visiting http://bit.ly/2gdjQaM and using the code NEWYEAR.