Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chasing Twitter Followers

Forget the dark side and rock out, folks!

I f I do something, anything, I want to repeat the results, only I don’t want to repeat the results the same way. I want to do everything better.

Ride my bike to work? How fast can I do that? It took me 56 minutes yesterday, so today I want to go faster. I ran a mile in 5:15? Next time, I want to go under 5. 200 page views on my blog? I want 250 tomorrow and 300 the day after.

So on and so on, and the days they go on.

Mostly, I shrug off ‘failures’ and in general, competing with others, though I want to win, it doesn’t ruin my day if I lose. The person I’m hyper-competitive with, the person I hate losing to, is myself. Hate it. Can’t stand getting bested by my own accomplishments.

I find myself saying or thinking, I used to... which is silly because things like athletics, as I get older, will begin to slip beyond my ability to best. I know, and it’s not like I obsess and pout and stomp my feet. For some things, though, I do find  myself obsessing over to the point where I have to chide myself for a fool.

I start innocently.

Like with twitter.

I reached 1,000 followers on the 16th of September, which at this writing was almost exactly 2 months ago. 19 days ago I had 2402 followers. Today I have 4352.

I suppose I should be happy; and I suppose I am, but this past week, when I went over 4,000, I felt kind of flat. I think I have great followers, and most every one of them is a writer or associated with writing in some way and most are really nice. I enjoy meeting new people but there are just so many hours in a day, right?

I run into a time issue.

I run into neglect issues.

I run into the issue of ego.

I can’t explain this rapid increase, and I don’t want fewer followers. I think I just need to catch my breath, relax and reset. And I need to stop looking at the numbers and thinking, 1,049 new followers last week, 1,200 new followers this week, maybe 1,500 new followers next week.

Those are just numbers.

The reason I feel flat is because, in part, the number of followers has no impact on my ability to write or the quality of my blog. In the back of my mind, blog followers and twitter followers equal success, quantifies it somehow. That’s ridiculous, of course. My goal is quality but as quantity is so much easier to judge, I get far too caught up in the raw numbers. My concentration should be improving my writing, producing quality, becoming better at my craft.

But those numbers are so tempting... so seductive and thrilling. I’m afraid the dark side has possession of at least half my mind (which, by the by, I can ill-afford to just give away) and now I must battle for writing sanity.

It makes me think of Matrim Cauthon from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books,  who must give up half the light of the world, to save the world. I have to give up part of myself, that part that seeks perfection, in order to succeed. (No, not exactly the same as Mat Cauthon, but I felt the need to Geek Out, so there it is, a tenuous connection and I refuse to press the delete button on any of it!)

I think, when I return from New Zealand, I will further explore the numbers I’m seeing on twitter, break things down, see how they all fit. For now, though, I’m gonna be cool with just being, you know, me; Michael with no numbers attached.


Anonymous said...

Wow. I feel exactly the same way about the followers. Yep, sometimes you have to stop and take a deep breath and remember what's really important - the writing. Though there's something about numbers that makes that so hard to do.

Thanks for the post! And extra points for the Wheel of Time reference. =D

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Pretty damn impressive. Now I have to shed tears because I'm still below that thousand mark. Ah well...guest I have time to twiddle my thumbs then.

It's a gift horse. Don't look it in the mouth.
On the other hand, I come here because you always analyze stuff, like your twitter followers - and your worrying/writing is A+. It's as if you vicariously worry for the rest of us. I like that.

No extra points from me for The Wheel of Time reference. Robert Jordan drives me insane.

MT Nickerson said...

The numbers are like a drug- super addictive and hard to ignore, Merryfarmer.

I'll gladly take extra points any time I get them...

MT Nickerson said...

Julia- you have great followers. I'm finding it to be less than a picnic in the park having over 4,000. I need to start making lists...

I Worry Big, So You Don'y Have To

My new motto!

Ahhh, batting .500 ain't too bad, I guess with Robert Jordan. Wheel of Time is longer than it should be, but... I love it. One of the series that began in my youth and is still with me in my thirties... Thirties?

Damn, I'll be breaking a hip any minute now...

Aric Mitchell said...

Hi Michael,

I can completely relate. I was obsessed with Twitter numbers for a while until I realized that no amount of numbers would do you any good if you didn't establish a relationship that went beyond Twitter. It's a great jumping off point, though. Anyhow, thanks for joining my blog. Feel free to send me an email, and I'll shoot a coupon over for "The Congregation" as a thank-you and an early Christmas present. I promise it's more exciting than socks or a tie!

--Aric, aric dot mitchell at gmail dot com

Julia Munroe Martin said...

I'm on where near your numbers (WOW!), but I still feel like Twitter is often my mind when I should be only thinking about writing.... I've actually started taking whole days off, not going on Twitter at all -- to just focus on my WIP. Otherwise I start a little of a panic reflex and forget that it really isn't about Twitter. (p.s. Still, as you say, it's hard not to look at the numbers!)

Julia Munroe Martin said...

and when I said "on where near," I meant *NO* where near. oh dear, I really do need to focus more on editing/writing!

MT Nickerson said...

Thanks Aric- will do and thank you.

When I get back from New Zealand, I plan on analyzing my twitter numbers more, write a post, see what's going on. Can't seem to get those damn numbers out of my head...

MT Nickerson said...

Julia, I agree that there are so many distractions and twitter can be one of those distractions, definitely. Especially when you have lots of great folks to talk with and share links.

There comes a point when you do just need to forget the twitter and the rest of the world, really and concentrate on WIP.

(No worries about the editing- my wife is all over all the time for my poor editing.)