By Hannah Isted
I’ve always wanted to write a book.
They say everyone’s got a book in them. But what do you do if that book really doesn’t want to get out?
Maybe a self development guide to stop you leaving things until the last minute (like this blog post perhaps), or a young adult story to rival The Hunger Games or Divergent, with a film series too would be nice.
Or even the next Fifty Shades of Grey, but with a better proofreader.
Instead I wrote what I know, social media, in the hope that it could help some of my friends and small business owners at the time, not knowing what was round the corner for us all.
Gwyneth Paltrow tells us we should be using this time to learn a new language or write a best selling novel and while there’s no ‘shoulds’ for a global pandemic, getting pen to paper can be a helpful distraction.
Last week as I was sorting through the notes on my phone I spotted a to-do list from July last year.
‘Write social media eBook’ it said. It was jotted down in a rush and then instantly forgotten, not to be looked at until 9 months later when I was procrastinating finishing that same book.
Saying that, I found writing ‘the thing’ really hard.
It was only in January after a busy and overwhelming month I took matters into my own hands. I needed to get this thing out of my head and onto a piece of electronic paper so I set a date and booked 2 nights away just to write.
There was no fancy retreat or a cabin in the woods, just a two night stay in Llantwit Major with the sole purpose to stop thinking about writing and finally do it.
I love my dog and my home, but they’re a constant distraction aren’t they? Rather than write 500 words I could easily put on a load of washing or make another cup of tea.
So, I booked the stay for early March and picked an Airbnb with the biggest desk and a kettle within reaching distance. I arrived as we were still saying ‘What’s this Coronavirus thing all about?’ and with one eye on the news and the other on my Google Doc I got cracking.
What helped me the most before I started to write was coming up with a plan and a structure. I knew that the book would be about Facebook and Instagram for small businesses but after that, the possibilities were endless, and that was the problem.
I narrowed it down to the who, what, where, when and how of social media with my trusty post it notes laid out on the floor so I could see it in front of me (another reason why this wouldn’t be possible with a dog.)
Even with no one around I found ways to procrastinate, a quick Facetime with a friend here, a full season of Killing Eve there but by the end of the trip I’d squeezed out 5000 words. It didn’t take me long to realise writing the book is the easy bit.
Next comes the design, the layout and the illustrations. Followed by sorting the website and getting it online. Once that’s all done you switch from writer to publicist and have to show people why it’s worth their time, and money, to read it.
All as the news started to hit that what was happening somewhere else, wasn’t just ‘somewhere else’ anymore. As a small business it’s hard to know the right thing to do in a situation we’ve never been in before.
To promote or not to promote, that is the question. But the reality is that we need our High Streets to survive, and I’d quite like my business to still be there when this is over too.
I think it’s important to only put things out into the world that you’re proud of, so that’s what I plan to do.
I’m proud that the book has given me a focus during this pandemic and helped me take that eye off the news. I’m proud of how many businesses it’s already helped and will keep helping as the word spreads.
Hannah Isted, who loves social media and working with small businesses, started HI Communications 4 years ago.
If you’re struggling to create social content that gets you new customers and more business, she can help.
‘Be your Own Social Media Manager’ by Hannah Isted is available for £29.99 here.
Multi-talented Hannah, also recently featured in the national media. You can read, “I’ve done up my house for free – I found my bath in the roadside & rug at the tip (but I DID pay 6p for my loo),” here.
Thanks to Hannah for writing exclusively for Mrs SVJ – the community blog of Sue Vincent-Jones. Sue is a journalist, editor, and communications specialist who blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a quirky, and queer, girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”