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January 7, 2012

Note - Balancing Private Life and Book Life

Baby turtle hiding in its shell.Here's a stereotype for you: writers, as a species, tend to be introverts. We can interact just fine via email (the written word being our friend, of course) and are able to manage the occasional phone call. Face-to-face meetings and public appearances, however, cause sweaty palms and sleepless nights. Why is it then that we create these products which practically force us into public view? Because we must.

This need to share information and the fruits of our creativity demands that we learn to adapt, learn to give just enough to our audience to satisfy them without depleting ourselves. This slippery slope is one that many socially awkward authors, myself included, have overcome by finding a balance between "real life" and "book life" using these steps:
  • Decide in advance how much to reveal. Establish boundaries to protect the areas of your personal life that are off-limits. If you don't want your readers to know about your home or family, be sure to exclude those details from your social networking updates and blogs. This may sound like common sense, but many authors don't think of this valuable step until it's already too late.
  • Choose your platforms. Communicate with friends and fans via social networking outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, but be careful not to bite off more than you can handle. Richer communication through fewer platforms is much more beneficial than spreading yourself thin and disappointing readers!
  • Select in-person events carefully. Will you be the sole attraction or will you be part of a panel? Will the appearance require lots of one-on-one time with fans? Are you expected to stay for a few hours or an entire afternoon? Know your limits and take this into consideration before agreeing to take part in live events. Fans want to see you at your prime, not worn out and grumpy.
  • Protect your time to avoid burnout. How? By learning to say NO. If you simply can't take another interview or appearance for a while, no one will question your motivation when you respond to invitations with a friendly, "I'm sorry, I'm currently on deadline."
  • Keep writing. There is nothing more soothing to the writer's soul than the isolation of writing. Bring yourself back to earth after a dizzying publicity campaign or promotional tour by immersing yourself in another project.
If you're not yet published, you have the advantage over veteran authors in this area. Begin laying the foundation for your book life now and you'll find the balance will much easier to maintain than if you tried to backpedal after your project is released.

Have you found a trick to harmonize the two aspects of your creative life? Please comment - I'd love to learn what you find helpful!

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