Fellow SCBWI member Peg Finley is visiting The Writing Cave today to discuss social media and writing.

Peg, thanks for stopping by! You are very active online, with Twitter and JacketFlap accounts and a blog. How do you balance keeping these accounts active and writing?

Honestly, it can be a challenge. There are days when I am a little crazy, like when I have two sick kids, two submissions due and two critiques plus a commitment to someone on Twitter to finish up an interview. But, with a little patience it is do-able. It’s a matter of keeping my priorities straight. I have a huge calendar where dates and times go to keep it all straight.

As luck would have it I am not someone who needs a lot of sleep. I never have been. No kidding, I just have more “awake” time. As an insomniac who deals with chronic pain I do a lot of writing when I am in pain. It helps me keep my mind off the pain, at least some days. LOL.

The other thing is that I am constantly scribbling things down all day long … sometimes in the strangest places. For instance when I got tired during shopping with a friend, I sat down on the bench and waited for her to finish her shopping. While I sat, I wrote. Once when an idea came to me and I had no paper, just a marker, I wrote the gist of the idea on the side of a gallon milk jug so I wouldn’t forget it. 🙂 I start probably three quarters of my writing that way. Then on my weekend with no kids, I write most of the weekend. (I’m helping my brother raise his two boys.)

Hear that writers? Make sure you always have gallons of milk on hand 🙂 Do you have any advice for writers getting started with social media?

Getting started with the “social medias” is a lot like any other aspect of writing. I recommend doing your research. There are so many different social medias that a writer can use. It’s a tad daunting to say the least. I use Twitter, Facebook, and Jacketflap and my blog primarily, though am open to others if I can find a way to be more disciplined.

First ask yourself what is it that you as a writer want the social media to help you with? Will you be using it to chat? Networking?  Book Promotion? Build a writer’s platform? I use them for all of the above.

Once you’ve determined the purpose you want to use it for, then you need to determine which ones suit you and your writing life. Research the ones that you find appealing. Then, select one or more that you know that you will use regularly. It’s in investment in your career for you to become a part of a community. Many of the people I know and have interviewed have come from the contacts I’ve made through these media sites. I also use the various media sites for research for articles to include as links to on my blog and to send to my three critique groups. I send my Twitter comments on my blog as well.

If you chose to participate in more than one media, I’d suggest writing your passwords and info down somewhere safe. I also keep a daily work-list which I schedule in my times to visit the various sites. It can be easy to spend a lot of time online if you are not disciplined.

There are so many other things that I could do, should do and may someday will do.

Great advice Peg. It’s like getting a dog: research, and find the ones that fit your time, location, and lifestyle 🙂 What are some lessons you’ve learned since starting your blog and other online accounts?

I am not a computer geek at all so there are all kinds of things I needed to learn before I got my blog up and running. I’m still working on that. I like to stretch myself as a writer so this has been great for me.

I am fairly shy in a lot of ways and have been working my way through that. Social medias have helped me expand my horizons. There are so many people that I would never have gotten the chance to know if it was not for the internet.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned in regards to blogging and my participation on the sites like Twitter etc. has been to be totally open to unexpected opportunities. I’ve found if I am willing to invest in others and help them by sharing my thoughts and ideas as well as my time, people return that back to me. I genuinely like and respect the people I have contact with. Besides, other writers know what it is like being a writer in ways that no one else does. We support one another.

Industry trends are often discussed on the various chats. It is not uncommon for editors, agents and others in the writing fields to participate in a chat. It gives me a feel for what they are wanting in submission, etc.

I recently got on Skype with family and figure some day I just might use it for author visits.

I agree about the chats; anyone on Twitter should check out #kidlitchat on Tuesdays and #yalitchat on Wednesdays. On a more personal level, Peg, you’ve recently had some articles accepted for publication, congratulations! What are you working on now?

Thank you. I’m slowly but surely pursuing my goal.

What am I working on? I just finished a guest blog for Becky Levine’s blog and well. Let’s see, it’s 4:50 am and the grocery shopping list is finished. My five emails in boxes are cleaned out. (a personal one for family, 3 for crit groups and the other is for newsletters and notifications from Twitter/Facebook/Jacketflap and my blog so I don’t miss the opportunity to reply to someone. I separate things so my inboxes don’t get too crazy) A to-do list is ready for the two nephews for after school. Still, on my plate for today is this for you, three crits, and a blog entry on picture books. I just checked out New Frontier Publishing to see if they are some place I might want to submit to in the future. I have an idea about a picture book that I want to explore. Last but not least, I’m getting ready for NaPiWriWee with Paula Yoo in May. 

In case you haven’t guessed, I multi-task a lot. I wish I could clone me. You know, one for writing and one for all the other things I have to do.

Oh, clones would be nice! Finally, what is your favorite kind of cheese and why?

I like most types of cheese but plain old cheddar is my most favorite. I like simple foods. My life is complicated enough.

True story. Some days you just can’t beat cheddar. Thanks so much for visiting, Peg, and good luck with your many different hats 🙂 Visit Peg on her blog, JacketFlap profile, Facebook, and Twitter account and check out her recently published article for Guardian Angel Kids.