Good bye summer! Hello fall! The change in seasons is certainly a welcome event at my house. Aside from cooler weather, fall fashions and college football, I’m ridiculously excited about my little monkey going back to school! Summer is rough for me as a stay at home mom and a writer, just to be honest for a moment. And recently I’ve fought not to break one of my primary rules in life and in social media:
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all—online. Do, however, put it in your manuscript.
I’ll get to that second part in a minute. First, I want to discuss complaining about work, kids, husbands and home life all over the internet. In my last post on this subject, Social Media Vol.1, I compared Twitter, Facebook and the Blog world to a big party. At a party, who would you gravitate toward, the angry lady talking about the aching bunions on her feet or the lady with the easy smile engaged in witty discussion? I would wager you want to have fun. You’re at a party after all. So you choose the cheerful person. Nobody wants to hang out with a Negative Nancy or a Whiney McWhinerson. This is fact. Misery may love company, but company does not love misery. People want to spend time laughing, talking, sharing and having fun with others. So, if you’re bemoaning life everyday on your social media feeds, your friends, likes and followers are soon going to run like roaches when the light is turned on. Now, you may be saying, “But I have bad days!” So do I. We all do. When you have a bad day and you can’t think of a single positive thought to put online, don’t say anything. It’s much better to fall silent for a few days than to vent your aggressions on everyone around you. If you have a positive outlook on life, your circle of influence online will grow without much effort.
Where do you put all that emotion on the bad days? In your manuscript!
Last week I hit my summer breaking point one week shy of school starting. What was my breaking point after months of chaos and 4 year old entertainment? My hair. I know this is shallow and awful, but when you’re worn down to the point your hair is all you have left and you get a bad ‘do? It’s not pretty—literally and figuratively. Somewhere amid my dismay of looking in the mirror and whining to my friends, I had an epiphany. I could either complain on Twitter until everyone stopped following me, or I could pull out a pen and paper and write about it. I sat down to write this blog post that day, but when my pen hit paper I began writing my thoughts in third person. After 4 pages of scrawled notes inspired by my hair, I realized I had just written the big black moment of my current manuscript.
I admit I’m a nonlinear writer; this means I plot my entire story to the extreme then jump around writing what I feel inspired to write that day. I also know few people work this way within their manuscript. So, my advice is this: keep a journal. Only, in that journal write your thoughts, worries and feelings down in third person. This way you can use those bad days to deepen the emotion of your writing.
For example: She trailed her fingers through the lank hair spilling over her shoulder. Brown, it would never be anything more than brown. For a moment—a small moment—it had been more. She had been more. “Lies,” she whispered the word into the still night air.
This is far more productive than ranting online, right? And, you’ll still have friends at the end of your bad day. Do you use your bad days for good fiction? I’d love to hear from you.
xx- E. Michels