In the past few days I stepped back from a handful of groups I’d been participating in. I decided to leave Author Support Network on FB (too much noise to value ratio anymore), I snoozed some other groups I’m part of on FB that had been great places to be but were morphing in a direction I didn’t like, I decided to bow out of the discussion boards around a class I’m taking right now for that same reason, and I am trying to step back from participating on a certain writing forum. That last one after someone decided to accuse me of harassing them when I said I was going to use their book, which is in the same category as mine, as a keyword in an AMS ad for Don’t Be a Douchebag.
(Granted that last one was meant to be a poke at the guy for writing one of those pick-up artist books and then defending some other guy who’d basically said if a drunk woman went home with him he’d sleep with her no matter what. But I wasn’t trying to harass him like he said, and my ad certainly wasn’t going to give him bad reviews, which he also said. His own comments on that thread were going to do that.)
But anyway. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to figure out what I need in terms of online knowledge and interaction. Do I need to blog? Do I need to participate in forums? Do I need to be present to correct people who say stupid shit?
I’ve also been doing a lot of work lately with Strengthsfinder, which has been the single-most useful test I’ve ever found for explaining who I am as a person and why I like what I like and don’t like what I don’t like. (I’m Strategic/Achiever/Relator/Learner/Responsibility/Command/Maximizer by the way.)
So looking at it through that lens I’d say that I originally found online forums because I needed knowledge. In something as fast-moving as self-publishing, books aren’t always the best resource. (Says the person who has published four books on self-publishing. But I should know since I already had to revise one of them and will probably revise another before year-end and both were only written last year.)
I needed those forums and groups to feed my Learner side, which always wants to learn new things. And I needed to give my Strategic side enough information so that it could make good decisions. (It only took five years for that to work…)
But at this point I’m not sure I get that knowledge and information from the forums anymore. I think I spend a lot more of my time going, “No, seriously guys, calm the fuck down and get your facts straight please before you all go into a tizzy.”
That would be my Command coming out to play. Because I can’t just sit on the sidelines and say, “Oh, that’s how you think AMS work? Okay, fine. Stop using them. More for me.” I have to, if I see it, step in and shut down the crazy.
Problem is, I don’t get paid for shutting down the crazy. I get paid for writing books and then selling them. And when I’m stressed out from having to confront some stranger on the internet, I spend mental time and energy on that instead of on my writing.
And, even though I do have seven books out on writing and most of what I post about here is related to my writing, those are not the books that generate my income. So as much time and energy as I put into participating in those forums and trying to keep people from going down the wrong path, I don’t see meaningful financial returns from that.
Which brings me to the last reason to do it, which is probably the Relator side. I live alone. I love my dog, but she’s not exactly good for conversation. So participating in forums lets me interact with humans that aren’t my mother, which is good for me. I suspect this is why I’ve continued to interact on forums and FB groups the last year or so, because I do need some form of human connection.
But, honestly, there has to be a better place to find that. (The real world, perhaps? With living, breathing people you can see and talk to? Or even just smaller, more intimate groups of like-minded individuals instead of these big massive groups of people who are all over the place.)
So I don’t know. I’m also trying to figure out what things look like going forward. How much of my time is going to be writing and how much is going to be something else. Next month I’m going to become a certified Strengths coach and I may really want to dive into that. I really like the idea of helping people who are good already become great or who are great become top performers. It’ll certainly feed that Relator side, too, if I lean into that.
But, then again, I should also be done with the first draft of a new book in a new genre by the end of the month that has been really, really fun to write. And if that does well? Who knows? Maybe I’ll want to lean into that and follow up on my initial success there.
I suspect I’ll never settle in on one thing, ever. It’s just not me. But I do think there’s a shift ahead and right now I’m turtling to figure it all out.
You’ll still see me here, though. At least sometimes…