Monday, September 26, 2011

Blogging vs. Writing vs. Life


            I’ve been noticing a trend of late.  Quite a few of my Blogger friends, and others I follow, have cut back in their blogging.  Some were prolific bloggers who just couldn’t (or didn’t want to) keep up with posting every day.  Others were being forced into the meat grinder of nasty email replies and mean-spirited comments thus diminishing their spirit and prior enthusiasm for blogging.  A couple had book deals and deadlines that loomed overhead and so blogging was the furthest thing from their mind.  And still others were so absorbed into posting, and more importantly, commenting on their follower’s blogs that it left them little time to write themselves.  I fall into this last category.
            I’ve said quite a few times that I often find blogging tiresome.  It’s hard for me to find a unique topic that hasn’t been covered a thousand times in other writer blogs, and I’m pretty inexperienced so I don’t imagine that I would have enough to say of an educated nature when it came to writing or publishing.
It’s been nearly a year since I started my blog and in that time I’ve usually written about my own experiences and opinions about writing, querying, and trying to get published.  I’ve chosen not to write about my personal life or family unless it somehow related directly to my writing or blogging.  This makes the material I want to write about limited.  I’ve cut down my posting to once a week, but even that seems difficult at times.  And all during the week, I worry about what I should post about next.  It’s sucking the life and enjoyment I experience when writing.    
            Right now, I’m in the process of starting my next project, my new novel.  When I wrote my first novel, The Mistaken, I had no distractions whatsoever.  I wasn’t writing to get published.  I didn’t know I even wanted to write an entire novel, let alone try to get published.  I just knew I had this story that wanted to get out.  So I wrote.  Everyday.  For three months.  First on my outline then the story itself.  It was intensely pleasurable.  And when I was done, I was excited to take the next step.  That’s when I read that writers need to have a platform.
I wasn’t even sure what that meant, but I started my blog as a means of creating a presence, but it immediately started to feel like a popularity contest.  I felt like I was back in my all-girls Catholic high school filled with rich kids who drove BMWs and Mercedes while I tooled around in my mother’s thirteen-year-old faux-wood-paneled station wagon. 
I kept at it though and I made some great friends and even garnered a few followers of my own.  That felt good.  But part of having a presence, building a platform, is assembling an army of followers who are both interested in what you have to say and might even buy your book someday if you ever manage to get an agent who can sell it to a publisher. 
This army building takes time.  A lot of time.  And a lot effort.  You have to troll through all the blogs and make friends and leave comments.  I do this sporadically and when I do, I tend to gain a few followers here and there.  I love that, seeing my follower count blip upward.  I love reading all the interesting things my friends have to say, and they say it all so much more eloquently than I.  But all this worrying and reading and commenting has taken away time from what I really want to do:  write another novel. 
I want to go back to the days when I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and sit at my computer and type.  I want to allow myself time to focus on my idea, to transform my premise into a plot with struggle and conflict.  Most all of my Blogger friends have regular day jobs and families to care for.  I don’t how they do it, work all day, come home and take care of the family then find time to develop an idea and write about it. 
Now, I have my own design company, but because of the economy, work has been limited.  Lately, however, I have had a near-constant stream of work to see to, deadlines to meet, clients to make happy.  I also have a sixteen-year-old son who is preparing for his last SAT this Saturday, which is also the day when all the college applications open up for Fall admission.  Yes, I know this is something that he should be doing on his own, but I will help him in every way possible. 
Trying to fit in time to write on my new project has fallen victim to all of this:  to querying agents, to keeping up with my friend’s blogs, to helping my son with his college preparation, to work.  It’s a difficult distraction and I’m frustrated that I can’t find the time to do it all, especially write my novel. 
Though I do understand how important it is to build a platform, I think it’s even more important to focus on the work, the writing.  If, by some miracle, I do land an agent, I want to show that I have more than one book in me, that I’m serious about this new career.  If that agent happens to get a publisher’s interest, I want to show that I’m worthy of a two-book deal or better.  And I don’t want to worry about that second book.  I want to know that it’s well developed and coming along before I have to focus back on revising the first book. 
Most importantly, though I love my first book and think (and hope) it’s good enough to publish, it seems that most writers don’t publish their first novel.  They chalk it up to time well spent learning the craft and gaining experience.  So I have to have another in the pipeline.  I can’t imagine ever being so in love with any other characters as I am with those in my first novel, but I am hoping to have a similar experience with this second one, so who knows, maybe it will be better and I will fall even more in love with them. 
I think most of the writers I’ve come to love have only gotten better as they’ve written more.  I certainly know all the rules now, whereas I didn’t the first time around.  But I know my limitations, and in order for me to write the best story possible, I need to focus.  This might mean I don’t come around as often to comment.  It certainly means I might not be posting as often.  And I know I won’t likely be recruiting any new followers. 
Something’s gotta give.  It can’t be my son, and I need the money so it won’t be the occasional work.  But what am I gonna do?  I gotta write.
So I ask you, how do you mange to write your WIP, work your day job, take care of the family, and still have the time, energy, and commitment to blog?                             

36 comments:

Laila Knight said...

I understand completely. Cutting down to two days a week has worked out pretty well for me. If it gets worse I'll cut down to one. There's just not enough time to do everything. And there is more to life than sitting in front of a computer. Definitely your family and writing should come first. I try to set up my posts on the weekend so I don't have to mess with them during the week. But I still visit blogs, although not as many as I'd like to. You should do what you need to do. Good luck with your second book, Nancy. :)

Francesca Zappia said...

I know exactly what you mean. I haven't been blogging for as long as you, but I already feel that crunch. It's like, when am I going to have time to blog two days a week plus do a weekly webcomic plus comment on other people's blogs, PLUS write, PLUS do my homework.

Oh, and being social. You know, in real life, not on the interwebs. >.<

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

For someone who didn't know what to say today, you said a lot!
It does take time. I spend hours sometimes blogging, and I only post three times a week. I'm not really writing at the moment, either.
Every person's balance will be different. I'm in a unique position in that I never envisioned more than one book. The second was a bonus. Some have already asked about a third, but there may not be another one. And I'm fine with that. I like my job and never wanted to write full time.
But if I can help anyone else on the journey, offer encouragement, then that's more important to me.

Suz Korb said...

Easy. I don't blog.

Well okay I do blog, but not very often. Blogging too often (as a novel writer) is actually highly detrimental.

I'd say cut your blogging down to once a week, or even once a month. And keep your blog posts under a couple hundred words.

L.G.Smith said...

Ha! Well, I could have written this post today (though I didn't. Didn't even post anything today). I'm writing a first draft too and, as is my way, I research as I go. By the time I'm done with all that it's hard to put in the time on the blog. I've done a lot of "fluff" posts lately. But I think that's okay too. People seem to like the short, humorous stuff, and it keeps me feeling connected. I agree 100% that the novel writing should come first.

Jennifer Hillier said...

This time last year, I was blogging 8 times a week. Mon-Fri on my own blog, and M-W-F at www.killerchicks.org. Plus I was editing CREEP, and I was writing the first draft of book 2.

When I finally took a moment to breathe, I nearly collapsed. It was all too much.

I've cut back a lot since. I can't do 2 blogs anymore, so now I just have mine, and I post maybe twice a week, if that. It's a lot of work, and I don't have a lot of time, and am kind of unwilling to make more time. I let a lot of things in my life slide when I was blogging all the time last year, and that wasn't good.

I started blogging as a way to talk about my writing journey. But if the blog was eating into my writing, then it made no sense to be blogging so much!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I know this isn't the point of your blog post - which was excellent, by the way - but I totally know what you mean about worrying if you'll fall in love with your characters in book #2 the same way as in book #1. The answer is yes, yes, YES you will. At least, I did.
Now I'm on book 4, and characters from books 2/3 are still important to me. I still love them. But my #1 book characters are a bit closer to my heart. And, of course, characters in book #4 now take up all my attention. So... the intensity fades when you shelf a book, but the love never really goes away. :)
Also, I found that, in my life, it isn't blogging that keeps me from writing, it's being on the internet. If I write my blog post, comment on other people's blogs, then get off the internet, I do fine. :)

Anna said...

It's like you were writing this blog post for me. I have cut down substantially in writing my blog simply because, as you said, something's gotta give. If I have four productive hours of writing available in any given day, it's very difficult to justify spending an hour of it working on a blog post. I'm still trying to find the balance, but I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in feeling the time crunch.

Joylene said...

One thing I've done, which doesn't actually fit with my personality because I'm a scheduler, is I don't have a blogging schedule. I just blog when the mood moves me.

I've felt very overwhelmed at times. As you know I did launch a new book this summer and the work required--lordy it was immense. But it's another reason I need to blog.

Someone we know writes all her blogs Saturday morning for the week. But she blogs every day. I don't. I think it overwhelms my followers too much. I want them to come by when they're not busy and see what I'm up to. Visit for a moment. That's why I try never to write more than 800 words. It's always about my followers. They're what's important.

I have two novels, I have a platform, a persona that I must keep up for obvious reasons. If I disappear then so do my books. If I go back to writing 18 hours a day, with no connection to the outside world, (my blogging friends) then I'll need to start over again when the next book comes out.

Not to mention I need you guys for my own sanity.

I sat myself down one day, feeling EXACTLY how you described and asked myself what I wanted. Did I want to spend my time only writing? Did I get anything out of blogging?

I understand how you feel, Nancy. It is overwhelming. It is time consuming. And it is you building a platform, a name that resonates through blogland.

Because I felt as you do, I answered those questions. I decided that blogging was me talking to *you*, sharing with *you*. *You* being the operative word, every writer and wannabee author out there who I understand because I've been there.

I was *there* for 24 years. I remember yearning for another writer to talk to. I remember craving the counsel of an experienced author, one-on-one. I remember wanting to be published so badly it hurt every inch of my body.

I have a wonderful family, great neighbours, terrific friends, but I can't and won't give up my writer friends. Even though they have never met me, they know me too well.

Twenty-four years, Nancy. From 1983 to 2008. It won't be that long for you. You have a gift. You'll figure this blogging stuff out, and then you'll find the time to write. It won't be a miracle, or a crazy schedule. It'll just be you figuring it out and making what works best for you work.

At least that's what I think. Because even though we don't know each other, we do. You can't hide behind your words for very long. In short order the real Nancy shone through. And I bet everyone who follows your blog feels the same way.

M Pax said...

Yea, on work picking up.

Strict time schedules for writing and a time schedule for social networking. I'm over my limit today. Some days are like that. But most days, I stick to my schedule. Take days off.

Lisa L. Regan said...

What a great post! I am in this boat too--work, child, household, book to write. It seems there is never enough time in the day. Sometimes I look back and wonder how DID I do all that in one day? Honestly I only blog WHEN I have something to say. I guess since I am long-winded, it ends up being often. I looked back on my posts and it seems to be once a week although I made no plan to do it that way. It just turned out that way. I really love reading other peoples' blogs and I often do it on my phone while I'm waiting (at the post office, the doctor's office, etc.) This allows me to keep up and use all that dead time to do something constructive. And of course, unfortunately, my writing comes almost dead last in terms of priorities (you know, after keeping a roof over our heads and food in our mouths and spending quality time with my family) but I still manage to pump out some stuff by carrying around my little notebook. Also when I'm doing something particularly boring (which is often) I use that time to brainstorm. I may be cleaning the bathroom but I'm really plotting the next couple of scenes in my WIP. It is very hard. Although I love your blog, I don't think there's anything wrong with you cutting back. I agree that the actual work--the writing--is the most important thing. We don't want to be people who talk about writing more than we do it!

Alleged Author said...

It's so hard!!! I'm thinking of only blogging on Mondays (unless there is a challenge I'm writing about). When it comes down to it, the actual writing of the WIP is more important (taking aside family et all).

Nicole Pyles said...

I understand COMPLETELY! Lately I haven't been able to keep up with other blogs, so my presence on everyone else's blog has LACKED. This has diminished greatly since i have gotten employed. If I'm lucky, I can write my blog on the weekends, but at best I squeeze in writing time during my downtime at work, brush up my blog, etc. It's disappointing too that I don't have the kind of time I'd like...but it's a balancing act for sure...*sigh*

Nicole Pyles said...

Oh and THANK YOU for your latest comment on my blog!! :)

Al Penwasser said...

Do I understand what you mean. As I've said recently, I've taken a job which has limited my writing time. You've probably noticed a drop-off from the summer when I was living the life of Riley (sadly, Riley called. He wanted his life back). I do what I can-maybe two to three posts a week. Between that, the job, my life, and other extracurricular activities (the squirrels in the backyard aren't going to chase themselves, you know), I have relatively little time. In fact, I'm choosing to comment on your blog instead of commenting on the comments on my blog (NOTE: I'd MUCH prefer reading other folks' blogs). Add to that the fact that I have started writing that Navy book I was blathering on about.....
Good news, though (well, for me): I have Thursday off. So, I can do some catching up.
Keep at it. You're really good at this.

Al Penwasser said...

Oh, yeah, I plan to comment on your comments tomorrow after work.

Shakespeare said...

For me, blogs serve a purpose--and believe it or not, it isn't marketing. I use the blog to play with thoughts or ideas that trouble with me, to gush when I need to and the hubby isn't around, to share a bit of poetry, or frustration, or doubt.

I have two blogs for the two biggest voices in my head, the sweet, optimistic one and the insulting fatalistic one. I put the elements on paper so that I can get back to my WIP.

Unfortunately, I have so many ways to keep from writing... but somehow I keep on writing anyway. But my blogging comes and goes, as I need it to.

Carrie Butler said...

Insomnia.

That's how I fit it all in. Not the healthiest response, is it? *grins* I think we're all pressed for time, especially this time of year. You have to take constant stock of your priorities and adjust accordingly. We'll understand if you have to put blogging on the back burner every now and then. :)

Great post, Nancy, and best wishes for keeping up with everything!

R. Jacob said...

Well, I might have found you too late but I will say Hi!
I saw at Gary's blog, Klahanie, loved your comment, clicked on your profile, saw you were beautiful, and had a sense of humor and here I am. Some writers respond. some don't. There is no obligation on anybody. Have fun with what you do.
If you can stop by, if not that is okay too.

I blog, I draw, I write a bit of poetry( though that seems to have stopped at the moment)but you wrote a novel and that is tremendous. You will self publish it and be a great success. Nice to have met you.

ray

Barbara Kloss said...

That's GREAT you finished your ms! Congrats!

I SO know how you're feeling. We pile so many "commitments" involved with writing that we lose all time to just WRITE! I haven't been able to visit peoples' blogs nearly as much as I'd like. I was trying to, but then couldn't write.

I don't think we'll ever figure out how to balance everything, because let's face it, at of all the things screaming at us, our fictional friends scream the loudest. And they NEVER. STOP.

richard p hughes said...

I'm in the same boat. I've had to figure out ways to spend more time writing and less time blogging. You can't be in two places at the same time.

Julius Cicero said...

I completely understand not knowing what to say. I too, try to limit my postings to writing related topics, except for my Good News post. Doing the 9-5, helping with the housework, kids, and trying to write and keep everything as balanced as possible is a feat in and of itself.
Julius

Lynda R Young said...

Many of us can relate to this. I recently dropped my posts from 3 times a week to 2. When I first started blogging I posted everyday which was far too often if I wanted time for other things. The trick is working out priorities and to be kind to yourself.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Too funny! Read my post on Wednesday about just this thing. I'm being distracted too much on the social media aspect. I've set some firm goals and now I have to discipline myself. Writing comes first.

Brenda Sills said...

How do I manage? Why, I can't say that I do - I'm completely discombobulated! But you know what I think? That's the life of a writer! The most important thing to me is to have fun doing it — if it gets feeling like the fun is fading away, I tell myself to slow down. And then I just go to my friends blogs and support them because that's part of what makes me happy in this writing thing - connecting with other writer friends.

But I know exactly what you mean about being so overwhelmed it's not fun anymore. When that happens - Quick! Throw everything over the side of the hot air balloon of writing that isn't really necessary, so you don't lose altitude, and you can enjoy the ride!

Hey thanks for hanging out at my blog and leaving a comment! I'm so glad to meet you!

Ellis Shuman said...

I see absolutely nothing wrong with posting on a once-a-week or occasional basis. When I have something good to say, that is when I post.

Also, I am not limiting myself to having a blog devoted to the "path to publication" of my work in progress. I blog about everything and anything, because this is how I improve my writing skills.

JeffO said...

"Though I do understand how important it is to build a platform, I think it’s even more important to focus on the work, the writing."

A thousand times, this. I was always under the impression that 'building a platform' was more for non-fiction writers, but I guess agents/publishers like to see someone who's got that army already building, and is savvy with the social media.

Blogging burnout is a real concern. I've been doing it for four months and I already feel like I'm repeating myself, and there are some times where I feel like I've spent more time in a week crafting a single post than working on my book. That's not how I want to do it. Maybe the key is to approach blogging as just another form of self-expression, and not 'platform building' or extra-special paving on the road to publication.

Great post, Nancy.

Jeff King said...

Even when I had internet access, I wouldn’t post more than once or twice a week… that was the best I could do, and probably the best I would ever do. I would comment on other people’s blogs every day though---if it matters to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen!

I do what I love, if I ever stop loving it—then I’ll stop doing it.

Peggy Eddleman said...

I wish I could say I have the magic solution, but I haven't figured it out yet. I'm still working on making it work. Building a platform is really hard, time consuming work! I totally respect your decisions.

Deana said...

I think you struck a chord for many writers. Finding the balance. Such a hard thing. WHen you figure it out I'd love to know. I love writing, I enjoy blogging and I have so many other obligations. When my writing comes last, that's when I know something has to change. i cut down my blogging to two days because of this.
I hope you find your balance. We are all different so comparing one to the other isn't possible. We just have to know our own limits and it sounds like you are figuring yours out quite well:)

klahanie said...

Hi Nancy,
Apologies for arriving so late in the proceedings. My reason? Sometimes, I too can get exhausted from blogging. There are times it can get a bit too much. I can spend several hours just commenting on other sites and attempting, when I can, to give an individual response back to each person who has graced me with a comment on my blog.
Like you, I want to wake up and be invigorated with positive anticipation of sitting down and formulating some writing. Lately, due to some ongoing worrying personal problems, I'm struggling to focus on any writing. I believe this is apparent in my last few postings.
Yet, despite this, Nancy, your busy schedule will never suppress your passion for writing. You will find a way because you are truly enchanted by the magic of the written word. The positive aspect to all of this is that you truly love your first book.
Be inspired, my friend. I note a number of actual, highly regarded writers have left comments on here. I hope that my words will give you a modicum of comfort.
In peace and happy writing, Gary :)

Empty Nest Insider said...

I also have wondered how many people are able to keep so many balls in the air at one time! It's wonderful that you are helping your 16 year old son. You know how fast this time goes by, so continue spending as much time with him as you can. It's great that you started your own business! I certainly have much to learn myself, but I think that if you consider your writing as more of a hobby, the pressure will be off and you'll be able to accomplish a lot more. I've found the blogging community to be quite understanding, and as long as you make the effort to drop by when you can, you are always welcome. Hopefully, this will set you free to write! Julie

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I can really relate to this. There is never enough time in the day. I've limited my blog posting to once a week and even that can feel a little overwhelming with so much else going on. And I always feel like I am not visiting other bloggers enough. Like you, my writing is my joy and my priority, yet it gets pushed aside far too often. I guess the downside of this passion for writing is that there is never enough time to indulge in it. Good luck with your business, your son, your writing, and all else.

Julie Musil said...

I think we can ALL relate to this. I've had to make a deal with myself: family first, writing second, and everything else comes after. It's tough to balance it all, that's for sure.

JournalPulp said...

I too have had to make a deal with myself: martinis first, family second, work third -- and everything literary comes before that.

LynNerd said...

Sounds like you're in good company. I only blog once a week and I started almost 5 months ago. I decided I'd try it and quit if I didn't like it. Well, I actually love it and love reading other people's blog, and I really like the fluff blogs because I'm always up for a good laugh, but I also feel overwhelmed and don't have time for writing much. It seems that 2011 has been a year of learning technology, and it's been extremely challenging for me. And fatigue is a constant enemy. I just signed up for Kristen Lamb's class about blogging. I'll let you know how it goes, but I know it's going to help me find the balance I need with all of this. I love her upbeat personality and her humor. I read her "We Are Not Alone" and "Are You There, Blog? It's Me, Writer" and everything she talks about make perfect sense to me. It's all about teamwork and being yourself and having time to live your life and write, and a minimum amount of time with the social media.

When my kids were teens, I was always there to help them with anything like that. It's a tough age, so your son does come first. I'm glad you shared how you feel about this because it seems like there are so many who are dealing with the same thing. Woo hoo for you starting your new novel! That's wonderful.