The Balancing Act

In March, I posted about new writers thinking they were at work (‘at work’, meaning actually composing), when they really weren’t.  You can check out that post here:  http://wp.me/p1t9AW-s

Today I want to post, briefly, about a similar problem facing writers that have begun to self-publish.  As will all of my posts, I’m speaking from experience.

One of the first things that a successful self-published writer is likely to tell you is you have to be in constant contact with your audience.  It’s that interaction that helps spread your work around to the masses.  Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, you have to utilize all of social media.  I’ve been doing this in recent weeks, and I’ve been slowly picking up followers and subscribers here and there.  It hasn’t translated into sales yet, but I’ve known from the beginning that it’s a slow, uphill road.

Now the problem is balancing the time spent networking and actually creating new content for your audience.

Hell, in all of these areas you’re creating content, or should be.  You don’t want every tweet, every post on your wall, or every post to be a link to your product on Amazon.  That’s not going to keep people coming back.  You want people to enjoy their stay at any of these stops, and have something to tell others about.  That content also takes time.

Browsing through the twitter timeline, replying, retweeting, this doesn’t come without the expense of time.

Facebook?  Honestly, I haven’t utilized that to its fullest yet.  So far, most time there has been spent declining various app requests.

For me, a good blog post will take me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.  On a good writing day, that’s almost 1,000 words I didn’t put on a page that i plan to sell.  Then consider that I might have between 1-3 most evenings to write…well I’ve just shot myself in the foot, haven’t I? 

Then there’s visiting my own favorite writer’s websites, leaving comments, replying to other comments.  In short, interacting with other writers.

The kicker, of course, is that its all necessary.  You or I can’t expect to succeed in indie-publishing without it.  It’s just that simple.  And I have found myself blowing entire writing sessions doing this necessary work.  A few weeks back, when talking about networking, Michael Stackpole told me how important the networking is, but to make sure I leave time to write. 

I have learned this lesson.

The solution?  Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it.  The answer:  it’s just like writing, when you have a full-time job, family, and responsibilities. 

You make the time.  There’s no other way to put it.  You have to find it somewhere.  If you’ve already adjusted your video game time to accommodate time for writing…well…you may need to adjust it again.

Personally, I’ve taken to utilizing any spare moments during the day (evenings are my writing time, usually 9-11pm).  I handle a lot of twitter time on my cell phone.  The same for Facebook…and I don’t even have a smartphone.  I’m working toward doing most blog posts during my lunch hour at work…that’s still a work in progress.

The point is this:  If the writer doesn’t put forth the effort to balance their self-publishing career, they will likely never fully enjoy the control over their career that self-publishing provides.

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About Thomas J. rock

Writer of Science Fiction

Posted on May 15, 2011, in The Daily Grind and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I can’t remember if it was Tee Moris or not, but someone on a podcast recently said they gave themselves certain bonuses after meeting or exceeding word count goals for the day. If the goal is 1000 words, and they meet it, then they get a half hour to podcast, if 2000, then they can podcast as long as they want. Or something like that.

    You have a point about taking time away from writing to blog and network. Some would say to write first, and reward yourself later, but I find a few minutes “saying hi” to my writer friends is encouraging to me, as if to say I’m not alone when I turn it off and dive into writing. Setting a limit on how long to say hi is crucial. Having a schedule for when you can write, and a goal for how much you need done should be the push we need to limit that extra curricular type of creation.

    Have you used Write or Die? That’s an awesome program for productivity in a confined time period.

    Lastly, if you didn’t take time to check out my blog, then we’d not have met and I wouldn’t have looked over Tully. We can’t do this alone, and exchanging critiques is how we get better when we can’t afford to pay editors. Especially in self-publishing.

    • I totally agree with setting a schedule, or some sort of limits. A reward system works for some individuals. I don’t see myself as one of those types, though. My reward for my effort is the satisfaction that I completed a project. For a really, really long that was a problem. I started and stopped writing quite a few times going back to when I was 15 or so. When a story got hard, I gave up due to an attention span that measured in nano-seconds. Finishing a project gets me charged up for the next one…then I temporarily face that blank page fear you talked about in your podcast lol. But I get over it, thankfully.

      I’ve never used that program, i’ll have to check it out.

      Finally, I really enjoy the interaction with other writers that networking provides. It’s encouraging, as you said.

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