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?