This post is going to be a little difficult for me two write, as it could very well be titled “How I spend my day doing things when I should be writing.”
Why is that?
Well, mostly because I’ve taken on a whole bunch of writing-related things that are not, in fact, writing. And yes, I often talk about how important things like blogging, social media, and networking are for your writing career in the long run, in the short-term too much of that stuff can get in the way.
Anyhow, I’m going to list whatever I can think of off the top of my head and in no particular order.
While many disagree, I do think blogging is important for writers. The thing is, if you are a writer who is also blogging, you’ve got to know 1) your goals and reasons for blogging and 2) your time restraints. Also, don’t forget your priorities. I, for example, spend more time on this blog (both creating content and promoting) than I do on my actual fiction writing. And that’s okay for now, because growing this blog is the most important thing for my writing at the moment.
Yes, social media is still important for writers. Use it to make connections with both readers and other writers. It can be a great tool for any writer. But don’t overdo it. And just be careful with what you do. Try to limit anything that will turn people off, and that includes bitching, bragging, name-calling and political rants (although maybe those last two are one in the same.)
Ooh! Another writing-related thing that can become a total time-sink is “research.” You really have to be careful with this because it’s so easy to get out of hand. I was working on an as of yet unpublished Mothman story. In the process of double-checking a quick detail on Point Pleasant, WV, I ended up spending a good hour catching up on the latest Mokèlé-mbèmbé sightings instead. So be careful with what you research.
Reading. Everyone knows if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. And reading a lot will make you a better writer. (As well as a better person, but that’s a story for another day.) So you should definitely put aside time EVERY DAY to read, but like everything else I’ve mentioned here, set a time limit and put down the book when it’s time to hit the keyboard.
Networking and correspondence
While a lot of your networking and correspondence will come from social media sites, there are many other ways to be putting yourself out there. Books signings, genre conventions, writing conferences, interviews, guest posts, and author talks just to name a few. I’m doing all of these things now (or will be in the coming months) and I have to say, this stuff takes time. A lot of time. And in some cases, a lot of preparation as well. But it needs to be done.
The WIP Roulette
This is one of the few negatives on this list. While it’s not negative to have multiple projects in the works, it is surely a bad thing if you approach them the way I do. For me, it’s almost a way to procrastinate. I’ll jump from working on novel revisions, to working on a new short story, to starting a new novel, to starting a new trilogy, to mindlessly staring at my WIP folder hoping that one of the stories will magically write itself.
So don’t do that (I’m telling this to myself as well as you.) If you know you’ve got an hour to write, pick one thing and work on it for the entire hour. It won’t be easy, and you may not even produce anything of quality, but if anything, it will help you build some discipline and you just might finish a first draft.
Like I said, most of the things I’ve listed here are good things to be doing for your writing career. The problems only arise if you lose track of what you’re doing and end up spending too much time on “writing stuff” and not enough time writing.
What about you? What kind of “writing stuff” gets in the way of your writing if you’re not careful? Leave a comment and let us know!