Monday, 18 October 2010

Making the Tough Decisions

Towards the end of September I asked the question, how do you balance your time between blogging and writing? I was struggling to find a happy balance between the two and needed some advice as to how to better manage my time.

My fellow bloggers came up with many helpful suggestions and solutions:

Stockpiling posts.
Putting writing first.
Sticking to a blog schedule.
Limiting blogging to so many days a week.
Getting up earlier to spend time on your blog.
Taking days off from blogging.
Remembering it’s a book you want to publish and not your blog.

I must admit that even though all the advice offered sensible solutions, I didn’t really act on any of them – I was having too much fun with my new addiction.

However, over the last two weeks I’ve finally realised that whilst blogging has opened me up to numerous friends and a wealth of knowledge, none of that is any good if I’m not writing. Over the last two weeks I kept a record of how much time I spent on my blog or those of others (including any associated emails and links) and then compared that to the time I spent writing. The difference between the two figures is shocking:

Blogging 22.5 hours
Writing 7 hours

Less than a quarter of my free time was spent writing, and with NaNoWriMo starting in two weeks, I cannot continue devoting such a large proportion of my time to blogging no matter how much I love it. And worse, I’ve begun to feel the quality of my writing is slipping because I’m not giving it the time needed. So I’ve decided to take the advice to limit blogging to certain days of the week, or in other words, introduce non-blogging days. I know that might seem severe but once I turn on the laptop and venture online, I just can’t help myself.

My new schedule will allow me to blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On those days I can blog as much as I want without feeling guilty, because on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays I will be devote my free time to writing. Of course there will be the occasional exception – blogfests, guest blog posts, and fellow blogger book launches – but I will try to stick to the schedule. If I don’t there is only one other option left - to not have a blog. I don’t want to even consider that option.

What do you think? Am I being too hard on myself? Do you think it is possible to stick to such a schedule? Would you tackle the issue in another way?

27 comments:

  1. Ellie, I think that you might be a tad addicted to blogging! I only blog when I have something important to say, like anthology acceptances, or when I do happen to post a story, which hasn't happened in a while.
    I love my little blog, but I do have some kind of balance - post when you need to.

    Writing however, I write when the muse takes me, or when College isn't getting in the way, like it is now. Schedules would never ever work for me. I just can't conform to one.

    Maybe I'm not a seriously dedicated writer yet, well, I can't while being in full time education, but I stick to how I work - go with the flow. Not sure how that's going to work during NaNo, but we'll see.

    I think the message in this very long winded post (It's too early for me...) is that you should just go with the flow and work how you work...but maybe cut down on the blogging time. I don't get how you could spend a whole day on blogging in a week!

    Pixie x

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  2. I totally get how you can spend that much time on blogging! It's not just posting/fixing up your own, it's keeping up with everyone else's! Reading what they have to say, commenting, building relationships.... which is important too, of course, but our real writing should come first.
    *ducks head guiltily*
    I think a blogging schedule with strict non-blogging days is a good idea. Let us know if it works!

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  3. I hope you find the new schedule works out for you. This is a lovely blog Ellie, and we don't want you to stop doing it!

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  4. Ellie,

    As you know I don't have blog, just a website where I post whatever I want to write about.

    I did have a blog before and lot of my time was spent replying to friends; with the diary I do get occasional e-mails but the extra effort involved means I get much less response.

    Also I try to make the diary entries longer and more structured so it is a bit more like 'real' writing.

    Of course you do miss the community aspect by doing that but it does mean I spend time writing the entries and very little time replying to comments.

    Perhaps that wouldn't work for you though.

    p.s. I also limit the number of blogs I read.

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  5. I think to be a writer you have to be ruthless and committed and determined and I admire your decision. I know I should do the same and I expect my blogging time outweighs my writing time too, so I should follow your example. Go for it Ellie and all the best, though I do miss your posts and comments. :O)

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  6. I think that's a brilliant schedule!! I used to post 3/4 times daily but then realised that it was taking over so I stopped to once a day to only blogging Monday-Friday leaving the weekend free for the writing.

    I think the reciprocal commenting is what takes so much time that's why I secretly beg bloggers to keep blogs as succint and short as possible!! LOL!

    I don't think you are being hard on yourself. I think your schedule is very very sensible!!!

    Good luck with it and take care
    x

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  7. With those totals you really do need to redress the balance - and you seem to have gone 50-50. I think that's fair. But monitor it again for a week or two to see if it actually works. No point limiting yourt blogging if you still only do 7 hours writing!

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  8. Hi Ellie - Good idea. I'll be interested to see if your writing time increases. Keep a diary for us!

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  9. I suppose we should make it easier on you and not give you so many comments to have to read.

    Oh.

    Dave
    Dave Wrote This

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  10. It's tough to limit yourself when there's so many great blogs out there, but sometimes you have to. My own method is to combine blogging time with general web-surfing, Facebooking time and keep writing time separate.

    Good luck with the new schedule, it certainly sounds realistic!

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  11. Blogging may be opening the gates for your actual writing to flow...just a thought.

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  12. Pixie - I think you are right about the addiction! Picking up on your last point about spending a whole day on blogging, I didn't mean literally. LOL. What I meant was that on those days, in between work and other commitments, I can spend time blogging. I may still choose to write if the urge takes me but I won't feel guilty about blogging. However, on the other days blogging is banned (unless something earth-shattering occurs and I have to blog about it). It is too easy for me to get distracted by both my blog and the other blogs out there.

    As for thinking you're not a dedicated writer, I would say you ARE dedicated. Who else would sign up for NaNoWriMo whilst at college? Who else would continue to submit stories to anthologies despite all the other commitments they have? You! Don't ever think you are not dedicated because in my opinion you are.

    Rachel - I'm glad you agree. I shall let you know how successful (cough, cough) I am after a few weeks.

    Joanne - me too! Thank you for your comments - they mean the world to me.

    DanPloy - a lot to think about. I can see how having a website with less interaction does free up more time for writing, but I would miss that interaction. I guess we all have to find a system that works for us and I'm still on that journey!

    Madeleine - I think maybe you have to be a bit selfish; I know I feel that way sometimes around my other half. He doesn't complain very often, but when he does I try to listen. It sounds like you are in a similar situation to me with your blog. I think by still allowing myself four blogging days a week, I won't miss out on too much. I will let you know how it goes! This week is the trial run, though I will be blogging about Alex J. Cavanaugh's debut novel tomorrow. I promised I would and having just started reading it, I can tell you it is awesome! Oops . . .now I'm getting sidetracked. LOL.

    Old Kitty - I'm always in awe of how much you blog. Your posts are always succinct and fantastically entertaining! And I'm glad you approve of the schedule.

    MorningAJ - very true. I'm going to trial the new schedule for a couple of weeks and then re-assess it!

    Lisa - will do. I'll probably post an update in a couple of weeks.

    Dave - Nooo!!! I love the comments. They inspire me and make me feel part of something special. It's my 100th post on Wednesday and it will be dedicated to all the people who comment on my blog.

    Ellen - if I knew I could just limit myself to general web-surfing I would probably continue on as I am, but unfortunately my will power isn't strong enough. LOL.

    Gail - absolutely. But I have to find a way to concentrate on my writing and at the moment I'm not doing that. I'll keep in mind your comment, though. Thank you!

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  13. Hi Ellie..its good that you are cutting back on blogging time. We writers need to work on our WIP, blogging is addictive. And sticking to a strict blogging schedule is crucial. Here is hoping that your new regime works well for you.

    http://rachnachhabria.blogspot.com/2010/10/tlc-for-supporting-characters.html

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  14. I think the schedule will help, but on the other hand don't feel forced to post on those days if you don't want to. When I first started to blog I pretty much posted at least once a day, if not more.

    Blogging is pretty much like any other new addiction. The newness eventually wears off and you'll be able to settle into a balance that feels "right".

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  15. Ellie, you said you spend 22.5 hours blogging - that's near enough a whole day...isn't it? :)

    And not really, I'm not a serious dedicated writer. If I was, I wouldn't be attending college...I'd be churning out my novels. I'm just MAD trying to do NaNoWriMo while doing college with coursework etc.

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  16. A schedule is always good when it comes to writing. You should do what your gut tells you. Even agents say you shouldn't blog if it takes time away from your writing!

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  17. I think it's good you're keeping track of what's important to you, and it's definitely possible to stick to a schedule! Good luck!

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  18. I have a friend who's planning a 6 month moratorium. But I think she should just cut down on her days.

    Blogging serves a purpose. It keeps your name visible. Fall off the radar and by the time you get back on, you're nearly invisible.

    I like the 3 day blogging week.

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  19. When I first started blogging, I had new posts every day or every other day. Now I do two posts a week and I usually comment on blogs 5 or 6 days a week, with a day or two away from blogger each week. Once you get used to it, it's really not that hard, especially knowing that you have more time for writing and life away from the computer!

    But I think your schedule is a good one and it can definitely work. Just get yourself into a routine. :)

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  20. Well done for making a schedule! I didn't realise at all how addictive blogging would be, just a note here and there. But, then there's so much more to it! Hours vanish into thin air and suddenly you're too tired to concentrate on your heroine's route back from the other world. (or whatever)
    Good luck with it all. I'm sorry to say my posts are down to one a week at the most :/
    x

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  21. You're not being too hard on yourself. In the end, blogs are platforms and you aren't selling your blog. You're selling your writing. I think having writing days and stockpiling posts are excellent way to try and balance things out.

    I'm joining NaNo as well, if you want another writing buddy I'm MelissaWideen

    Also, I just wanted to say that you have a really great blog here! So Hey! I'm new.

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  22. Hi Ellie! I am totally "there" with you! I spend too much time blogging and not enough time "writing"....but, I feel that blogging has also helped my writing get better. So, it's a double-edged sword, as the saying goes. I admire you for trying a schedule. I need to do something like that. I'm not good at really strict schedules, though....I'll have to mull it over a bit. But, I support you, no matter what you decide! Even though I love reading your blog and receiving your comments, I also know it's so important to you, and for you, to WRITE!! Best of Luck and let us know, from time to time, how you're doing....and I'll do the same. See...you have inspired me!! :D

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  23. Blogs can be a time suck, that's for sure. I think the main problem, though, is finding ever more blogs that look interesting. You can spend hours flitting about in the blogosphere. I now just spend a few minutes a day looking at posts on the blogs on my blog roll. I blog 2-3 times a week (one of those is Microfiction Monday). But the writing has to come first--and I don't blog until I've done my share of it for the day.

    (Hope this means you'll still be a Microfiction Monday contributor!)

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  24. I try to have at least three days a week where I don't log on my blog. Never three in a row - if I can help it. And when I know I'm far to busy to get caught up in the blogverse - I just let it go.

    Nope, not always easy, cuz I hate to miss out. But then, I always enjoy whatever else I'm doing too.

    Gotta write to be a writer . .

    ......dhole

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  25. Rachna - thank you! You'll be pleased to know I've written just over 3000 words today and so I'm allowing myself some blogging time as an reward. If I can treat my other non-blogging days in the same way, I should be able to get back on track.

    Becky - you are a great friend. Thank you!

    Michael G-G - you are right, blogging seems to lead to a never ending list of other blogs. And then there are all the links to websites. My first non-blogging day went well though, with 3000 words written.

    I'm not sure about Microfiction Monday yet; I love it but it does take up a lot of my time.

    Donna - your last comment is the truth of the matter; I need to write to be a writer, and writing on my blog is not the same! I'm glad non-blogging days work for you. My first one has worked well - I've written 3000 words today! I'm allowing myself to blog as a reward. LOL.

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  26. I'd hate to keep track of my blogging time...somtimes it can take up my whole day...I think I might be a bit addicted too. (wink)

    I post three days a week: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. I read blogs most evenings whilst the family watches TV. (I pretned to watch TV, but they hear the keys on my laptop clicking away...)

    Finding a balance is important. I hope your new schedule helps. Best wishes!

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  27. Sharon - I would blog whilst watching TV but my OH might get a bit annoyed, especially if I haven't seen him all day!

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