Photo/Text © 2011 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.
I've just signed off from Twitter.
Okay, so I've not exactly signed off as I still want to be connected to the internet while writing this blog post, and I don't want to have to go through the hassle of logging out of my various Twitter app's only to have to log in again later. But I just sent my 651 followers the following tweet:
Dear follower folk, time for me to sign off to get down to some writing. I'll check in again later. Thank you for your support. #amwriting
Before going any further, do you follow me on Twitter? If not, here's your chance.
Now, as someone who earns his living as a self-employed writer-educator — and, more specifically, as both a writing and mindful living guide — I recognize that micro-thin line between the need to proactively market your wares, 24/7, and slipping into obsessive compulsive stat-checking disorder (OCSCD).
You know what it's like — so, how many new Twitter followers have I racked up in the last ten seconds?
Right? Do I lie?
Then, we click over to check our website stats, then the whole array of stats for our latest email marketing campaign — how many opens? how many clicks? which links were clicked? who clicked what? — and even knowing our Klout score is, at least for now, updated just once a day, OCSCD knows no bounds.
So, we ignore our rational mind's monotone, bored-to-tears warning that nothing's going to have changed (we, our whole selves, know that with absolute certainty!), but the OCSCD part of our brain says something to the effect of, "Hey, man, who knows? Maybe Klout has finally decided to roll out real-time Klout profile updates." And we don't want to miss out on the fact that our Klout score just might have inched up another three or four one-hundredths of one percent.
Or, gutted!, dropped by that much, revealing to the entire global online community that we're certified losers. What the banksters — you know, those philanthropic guys running the show behind the, likewise micro-thin, ultra-flimsy veneer of democracy — cheerfully refer to as useless eaters.
And what happens when Klout stats start pushing and shoving their way into our home, our family dynamics, and your pre-adolescent kid refuses to wash up after dinner because he knows you're a useless eater and your True Reach score provides absolute, quantifiable proof that your place in the family has been usurped?
So, in a nutshell, this Klout and stat thing, generally, is serious business. Nothing's to be taken for granted — not our relationships with our children, not our love life, certainly not our standing in the aforementioned global online community, to say nothing of how we look in the eyes of our local social media adepts who pride themselves on being members of the parish literati and who dole out follows and retweets, if at all, like miniscule breadcrumbs hastily shaken from a moldy plastic bag onto a dark and dank pavement for the untouchables — nasty creepy-crawly folk like you and me — to feed upon.
Are you still with me, or doth thou thinketh I exaggerate the importance of Klout and such?
I kid you not. After all, I'm a Mindful Living Guide with plenty of credibility. Yet, I hear you say, "You've only got, what, 651 followers? That's nothing!"
I agree, sorta.
But, although nearly five hundred of those followers have come in just the past month, it's exactly this hard-earned, small-potatoes achievement which has informed me of the way not to go about things, it really only hitting me tonight, post-walk along the River Ouse in my lovely hometown of Lewes, East Sussex, England.
But as both an advocate of living mindfully as well as of honoring, truly honoring, the whole creative-process enchilada — including those times when words trickle out of your fingertips like blood from beneath your fingernails — I know that this past month has not only been an absolutely crucial part of the learning process, but has, likewise, connected me with hundreds of warm-hearted writers, editors and publishers, and other good folk, whom I'd otherwise not be in touch with, who wouldn't have come across my own writing, my website, nor the inscrutable fact that I baked a dozen popovers at midnight while writing my last blog post.
So what is one to do in this twenty-first-century Klout-imperative existence of ours? Is it really a matter of choosing, on the one hand, between acceptance as an untouchable or, on the other, becoming a scarcely human device in the iCloud, our necks chained like those in Plato's Republic not to face the cave wall but our own backlit laptop screens, working our fingers to the bone typing up thank-you messages to our followers?
No, I'm here to bring you good news, brother!
And before you ask, thinking perhaps that the so-called recession has become a Klout-certified depression, no, I can't spare a dime. But one day, when my social media marketing prowess has paid off, I hereby promise to give you a tip o' the hat in the social medium of your choice, so long as it's one I am, at that time, plugged in to; I killed my Facebook account and others just before the start of 2011, and only returned to the Twittersphere this past May.
What I can give you now is this tiny tidbit of advice which has the potential to give you a third option, one infinitely more useful (and far less creepy-crawly) than the Clinton-Blair Third Way. In short, why shackle yourself to your laptop when the whole reason you've got one is to live the writerly life? How much writing can you get done when you're, as Rousseau said, pre-SMO, "everywhere in chains"?
As with countless other things I've learned, only to forget five minutes later, something made its way into my pea-brain this evening, something so basic that's it's easy to overlook — it's about working smarter, not harder. Duh!
It was only in looking back through my various website stats — specifically, at those periods of time when I was writing for various online publications and my stats skyrocketed literally overnight — that it dawned on me, yet again!, that rather than to lure followers like curmudgeonly badgers into my Twitter den, I'd do what I used to do and focus at least part of my writing on penning articles for publication, online and off.
Somehow in the teaching of creative writing and mindful living courses and workshops, and giving my clients one-to-one writing guidance and mentoring, I'd fallen away from writing articles. Stupid, I know. Yet, it wasn't without its own logic, the leaving behind of journalism for a tighter focus on more imaginative writing.
One thing I have learned, however, is that many of those 651 followers of mine are extremely well-connected within the writing and publishing world, SO ...
I'm going to ask, by way of this very blog post, WHO AMONGST YOU would like me to write a guest blog for your website? Only editors of relatively to insanely high-volume websites need respond to this blatant attempt at maximizing my online reach.
The rest of you, I hope, can learn from my temporary amnesia, and begin writing articles for other blogs. In fact, you're welcome to submit your highly polished articles for possible publication on Mindful Living Guide. But, as with any submission, please first spend some old-fashioned, quality time on MLG so that you will have a good feel for the sort of content and style (or total lack thereof!) that is likely to appeal to sensitive, Buddha-like readers of this creatively mindful corner of cyberspace.
Oh, and one last thing — will each of you please retweet this blog post to your respective follower folk! The Carrot: Doing so might very well increase your Klout score as well as, ahem, my very own. Also, if you rather cheekily skipped over that first opportunity to follow me on Twitter, now's a most auspicious time to do so.