Social media is scary. Not just because it seems to change more frequently than teenage boys change their underwear or because social media continually threatens to be one of our biggest time sucks each day.

It’s scary because it’s so personal. We put a lot of ourselves out there without knowing exactly who is on the other end. For some, the public nature of social media is intimidating while others find it thrilling.

I often hear authors ask how to maintain privacy while using social media as an author. It’s a great question, and, unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. I’m going to talk through some things you should be thinking about so you can come to the best decision for you.

First, decide whether or not to have separate social media accounts for you as a human and you as an author.

Will you be writing under a pen name? Snag social handles in your pen name. Even if you’re not published yet, you can begin to build a social media presence under that name.

With separate accounts, you don’t have to make as many hard decisions about whether you want to post that Buzzfeed listicle of men in kilts on your real name account.

Most platforms these days make it pretty easy to switch between accounts. Currently, you can have up to five Instagram accounts logged in on the app per mobile device. With a couple taps, you can seamlessly switch between them. Facebook lets you bounce between accounts and third party software like Hootsuite makes it simple to manage multiple Twitter accounts in one place.

Second, decide how strictly you need to separate your social media accounts. If you have a day job or personal situation that requires complete privacy, you need to be prepared to take some steps to ensure that privacy.

If you need to keep the names strictly separate, I suggest you avoid linking them in any way. Including using a separate device to manage your writing accounts. And turn of any location tracking features in the social media platforms.

Next, whether you decide on one set of accounts or two, you need to decide how much of your real life to share with your readers, and how much of your writing world to share with your real life

With most authors I talk to, I hear uncertainty over how much to share. I don’t want to post photos of my kids in case they get approached. I don’t want people to know I’m traveling because my house is empty. I don’t want people to know about my day job in case they can find me. I don’t want to talk about my health issues because that’s nobody’s damn business.

These are all valid concerns. I hear you. It feels like in a flash, social media snuck in and changed the game with being able to control what we share about yourselves.

There is a solution. You just need to set a date with yourself—chocolate is great on dates—and make a list of what you will and won’t share. If you like spreadsheets, fire a blank one up. If you’re more tactile and love sticky notes or a notebook with a fistful of colorful pens – grab your supplies.

First, it’s brain dump time. Think about the various parts of your life that you could share on social media and write them all down. Day job, pets, kids, your writing process, partner, your house, craft projects, travels, health journeys, hobbies, your collection of unicorn figurines. Anything you would even consider posting about – add it to the list.

Second, look at that list and pull out the things you definitely don’t want to share with your readers. These are the hard no’s. The stuff that you don’t want to share for safety or personal reasons. I suggest color-coding these with the same sticky color or border color in your spreadsheet. Any excuse to add pops of color to our lives. I’d probably use orange for this list because I’m usually not too fond of orange unless it’s surrounded by rainbow colors or fall foliage. Blame it on my college days where our rivals had orange as a school color.

Third, look at what hasn’t been assigned to the first category and pull out the things you have no problem talking about on social media. Make these a different color. In my mind, I picked pink. I love pink.

And finally, look at everything that hasn’t been assigned to one of the two categories. Pick a category now that you’re in a groove. If you really aren’t sure yet, you can make a color for those and figure them out later. I’m not sure Future You will be too stoked, but that’s Future You’s problem.

Now, when you’re thinking of things to post on social media, go straight to the list of categories that you marked safe. The bit of time investment to figure out this list will save you a lot of stress and worry in the long run.