Body-Mind-Spirit - Inspiration for Writers, Dreamers, and Seekers of Health & Happiness
She Writes, an international online organization serving over 20,000 writers, featured this post this week. They rank their “Top Content” from 1-20. This post has been in their #1 slot all week! I hope you find it helpful.
Last Friday I reached a milestone: 1,000 Facebook “likes.” Back in November, an agent told me my book proposal was excellent, but my platform wasn’t big enough. “If you build your platform,” she said, “I’d be happy to take another look.” When I asked her how many Facebook fans would constitute a decent following, she said “one thousand.” At the time, that number seemed impossible. I’d been stagnating at 200 for months.
Social media had me completely stumped. Not only did it seem overwhelming, I was conflicted about how to show up. I knew my posts needed to be relevant and on-topic, but I felt conflicted about my subject matter. Since I’m writing a memoir that deals in part with how I used raw food to help cure chronic stomach problems, agents wanted to pigeonhole me as a raw food expert. I respected their opinions and understood the importance of positioning in publishing, but this advice felt like a shoe that didn’t fit; I couldn’t walk without it rubbing me the wrong way. There were lots of great raw food educators out there, and I’d never aspired to be one of them. My subject, I felt, was broader. I’d been living a raw foods lifestyle for eight years, but I’d been practicing my art and craft as a writer for thirty.
When it came to social media, the writer in me saw an opportunity for status updates to be “the newest literary genre,” but I wasn’t sure what to do with this awareness, or how to take advantage of whatever these opportunities might be.
In December my mom had a heart attack. I put aside my social media angst, quit working on my memoir, packed my bags, and flew from Los Angeles to Florida, where for three weeks my sisters and I ministered our mom before and after her quadruple bypass surgery. It was a sacred, tender time. Aside from writing in my journal, my only writing was profile page posts, which I wrote every few days to keep family and friends updated on my mother’s condition. I relished that writing, and received many responses and lots of support.
Then my mom died. There’s nothing like the death of a loved one to put things into perspective. Time passes. Life is short. The time to act is NOW!
I realized that rivaling my passion for writing has been my life-long commitment to conscious, creative living, personal transformation, and growth. I understood this was the larger context of my memoir, which, at its core, is about a writer’s midlife quest for health and happiness. I’d gone from being sick, miserable, and thinking my life was a failure, to living the life I’d always dreamed of having but never dared to live—until now. I realized I was writing about what it takes to choose love over fear, to take personal responsibility for one’s life, to live and work in a state of conscious creativity, and to experience enough personal empowerment to heal myself.
All this crystalized after my mom died. So did an inner clarity about not wasting another second of my life in doubt or fear.
I quit worrying about doing things “right” on my fan page and showed up as ME, sharing from my heart the way I had when I’d been taking care of my mom and posting on my profile page.
I approached many of my status updates as if they were mini-stories or poems, sketching them on a word document and tinkering with each one until it felt whole.
I used all the instruments in my writer’s toolbox: brevity, details, honesty, transparency, muscular language, imagery, metaphors, accessibility, first-person narration, story arcs, and more. My next post will cover these in detail.
I also decided to put my money where my mouth was by taking out an ad and promoting my posts, which I saw as original bits of creative writing. Without realizing it, I’d put my “status updates as the newest literary genre” idea into practice!
The results were staggering: I received 800 likes in two-and-a-half months and my “people talking about this” figure climbed from 64 to over 400. But these are only numbers. The remarkable thing that happened was that something crucial had changed inside. Finally, at 53, I knew who I was and why I was here. I was ready to honor my purpose and be of service. This inner shift was reflected back to me through my Facebook activity. I have been challenged over the years to love, approve of, and appreciate myself—and my writing. My 1,000 fans “out there” are physical world manifestations of the one, ever-important fan “in here” who finally decided to show up and trust what she knows and who she is.
To celebrate this awareness, as well as my 1,000-fan milestone, which only six months ago seemed impossible, I created a “1,000 Fabulous Fans” poster upon which I signed the names of as many of my FB fans as possible. Since Facebook only shows 500 fans, I had to comb through comments, likes, and shares, and consult my profile page “friends” list. I was careful to check the spelling of every name, to look at each person’s photo, and to connect in spirit with every person who has liked my page and offered support of one kind or another.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m enjoying social media. It’s wonderful connecting with like-minded souls, and Facebook gives me an opportunity to meet with them daily. Who knew building a writer’s platform could be fun! Six months ago it seemed like an onerous chore—and though at times I still get overwhelmed, I now experience social media as another of life’s wondrous, creative opportunities!
P.S. Thanks to Brooke Warner for recommending me to her Warner Coaching fans and posting a link to my page, which accounted for at least fifty of my new “likes.”