I Know I Should Follow Your Blog But…

Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday, where my taste tends toward juicy and crispy thoughts. You’ll have to tell me whether today’s is more juicy or crispy to you.

Last week, I wrote two days on my young adult novel. There are three reasons why my work-in-progress got so little attention:

  1. I felt much better this week (after having mono for four weeks), so I was frantically trying to catch up with household to-do’s that had fallen so deep in the cracks I needed a headlamp and a crowbar to find and pull them out.
  2. One scene started to drag. I spent some time figuring out how to ditch that rabbit trail and get on the right path.
  3. I spent hours and hours catching up with blog reading and commenting!

When I wrote my first novel, I sat alone in my house writing for 1-5 hours a day. I didn’t know what I was doing, other than I had an overall plot and had read enough books to have some idea of what worked and what didn’t. Within a few months, I had a completed first draft. Very few people had any idea that I was writing a book.

Fast forward two years plus, and I am now writing my third novel, and everybody and their cocker spaniel knows it. I have a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, two Triberr tribes, a Goodreads account, and more — with all of the fabulous friends that come with that.

I have learned so much in the past year from writer groups, conferences, craft books, and blogs. I’ve discovered excellent tools and software for plotting and writing. Thankfully, this book won’t have 23 drafts to get it right. I know something about an author’s platform. I have researched publishing options and agents. My knowledge base is better now.

All good stuff.

But I am writing far fewer hours than when it was lonely me and my laptop.

I continue to meet wonderful writers through various channels, and I think to myself so often, “Maybe I should follow their blog.” This occurs to me also because of something romance author Roni Loren covered in a fabulous post titled Enough with the Quid Pro Quo Blogging Etiquette. We often feel a sense of tit-for-tat. There are some who follow my blog whom I have not followed back (thanks, sorry, love ya). I know I’m missing some wonderful content, and I could learn even more from many authors out there.

But did I mention that I wrote on my young adult novel approximately two hours last week? That’s pitiful.

Stephen Covey’s wonderful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has made me reconsider through the years how I am using my time. Am I setting my priorities well? In the book, he talked about how we spend our hours engaged in one of four quadrants based on whether an activity is important and urgent.

I’ve been contemplating where each of my time’s activities fit. In particular, where does blog reading fit? How important is it? How urgent is it?

Covey explains that we tend to spend little time with those things that are Important but not Urgent — for instance, going out on a date with our spouse, keeping up with discoveries in our field, visiting someone in the hospital, reading great literature, taking a class that stretches us.

When writing without a book contract or a self-publishing deadline, working on your novel is Important but not Urgent — Quadrant II. But I want to be a writer. I know the way to do that is — hello, how many times have I heard it! — to write consistently.

As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t follow everyone’s blog. I can’t even follow all of the “You MUST follow this fabulous author!” blogs. There are too many quality writers out there with something to offer, from whom I could learn, and whom I’d love to get to know.

There is one of me. Twenty-four hours in a day. One book to pitch, one book to edit, one book to finish, and about four other projects I’ve started which beg for my attention too. Not to mention family, spouse, house, etc.

I’ll keep reading blogs. I’ll click on titles that interest me when I see links flash up on my Twitter feed. I will visit the blogs of people I see on my site. I will follow interesting links in blog mashups. But I can’t read blogs all day because I am a writer. I must write.

How do you balance your desire to read interesting, entertaining, or informative blog posts and your need to accomplish other tasks? Have you found a formula that works? Do you wish you could follow more blogs, but simply can’t find the time?

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51 thoughts on “I Know I Should Follow Your Blog But…

  1. Hi Julie! This is really a great post! I have to say, there are some core people I rarely miss: my blogging buddies, you might say. But like you, I am trying to finish Manny, my demanding little manuscript. He doesn’t like being on page 257 and would like to move forward. So I decided to turn all the blogs that I subscribe to into digest form. They come in all at one time, and then I can pick one piece to comment on or tweet (if it’s that good)! And I try to reach out to one new person once a week. ONE. It’s all I can do right now.

    Our books need to be finished, and I think every serious writer totally understands this dilemma.

    1. Thanks, Renee! It seems that every serious writer is constantly working on balance. I learn more and more about myself and this process all the time. Best wishes with your WIP!

      I will definitely be checking out your blog this week, though! Loved your comment. 🙂

  2. Wow! You’ve hit a nerve here for me! I recently have been noticing that at the end of the day I don’t know what I have DONE! I ask myself, “where did the last 6 hours go?” I didn’t write, I didn’t edit, I didn’t send out one query letter. WHAT is going on? And I realize that I’ve been trying to keep up with my virtual friends’ blogs and going on FB and on and on. I cannot continue doing this and always adding on another blog of someone who someone else has told me I just HAVE to read! AACK! I’m going to read the links you’ve put into your post and maybe that will help me. I am being sucked down the social media hole!
    Patti

    1. I feel so honored now that you visited my blog, Patti! 😉 I am learning to go to many friends’ sites but scan to see if a particular post interests me. I don’t have to read every single post to enjoy the blog as a whole. I comment when I can, but not every time. Best wishes with your writing!

  3. Totally with you on this! I do most fo my blog reading at work (usually while waiting for something to run on my computer), where it’s not competing with the writing. I don’t read many on the weekends. I tried divvying my WANA friends into five folders in Google Reader and just reviewing one folder each weekday, but some people don’t have regular posting schedules, so I still miss some good conversations, and don’t bother to comment because the topic’s cold. On tit-for-tat: there are people in my WANA1011 group whose blogs I’ve commented on multiple times, who have not commented on or tweeted mine once. I quit reading them – I just don’t have time for people who never have time for me.

    1. I’m learning this very trick, Jennette! Instead of doing all of my blog reading at once, I’m popping over to read a blog here and there post when I have a five-minute gap. And it is nice to at least see people on your blog now and again if you visit theirs a lot. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Thanks for the link love, and I totally hear you on this. I let myself be all hung ho about blogging and keeping up with everyone for a long time, but then I sold books (yay!) and am now working on tight deadlines (eek!). So it was necessity to dial everything back. Sink or swim. I know I’m missing a lot of great stuff out there, but now this is a job and my priorities had to be shifted. I think it’s wise that you’re thinking that way pre-publication. It will train you for when that writing gets moved into the urgent column. : )

    1. Ooh, I can’t wait for writing to be in the urgent column! It’s important, but not always urgent. (Laundry is urgent! Just ask my teenager.) So glad you’re riding the wave of publication and writing success. I feel honored to have you pop by amid your busy schedule. 🙂

  5. How do I balance it? Poorly. I tend to take forced breaks from reading blogs so I can actually write some of my own posts. Luckily I wrote a few last night and I have the day off today, so I can enjoy browsing 🙂

    1. I think I need to approach the blog reading more like browsing recreationally. I wish there was a better way to read blogs sitting in the doctor’s office or waiting for my kid in the school car line. Hope you find your balance!

  6. It’s so funny that you should post this right now. I’ve been having the same thoughts lately. Like Patty said, I ask myself at the end of the day what I really got done. Often, I have to admit that I spent the whole blankedy-blank day reading and commenting on blogs.

    I do want to support my fellow writers; I really, really do. And I like what they write. But, to reiterate your point, I cannot spend all day every day doing it.

    The obvious solution is for me to spend far less time reading and commenting on blogs. I feel like a turd–and a lazy one at that–for even considering such a plan. But you know how you said you spent 2 hours on your book last week? I so get where you are coming from on that.

    I have a book that is this-close to being ready to shop around. It just needs a few edits and a run through to retro-fit the edits I’ve made. And I can’t get it done because I spend too much time reading and commenting on blogs, tussling with Triberr, and answering emails.

    So it is what it is. I need to crack the whip and take control. LOL

    1. I remember attending a financial management course that basically said it’s okay to do lots of things with our $$, but we have our priorities flip-flopped. People buy stuff they don’t need, then pay bills, then save a little, then give. If we would turn that over, we could get control.

      I think the same is true with our schedules. I WANT to follow blogs, read posts, RT, and comment. I simply need to make sure I lay my foundation of writing first. Best wishes to you with that too, Catie! You are a such a supportive friend, and I wish you and your whip the best!

  7. I have the same problem. Too much stuff to read, not enough time to write.

    Even though I don’t usually comment on blog posts, I do read everything that catches my eye most days and then RT. While it is admittedly less than what you’ve been doing, it is still time consuming.

    I used to start my day with e-mail and social media. When I finally noticed that that was making me a stressed out, unproductive mess, I moved those activities to later in the day, after I’d written something. I’m not tracking word counts, I just stop writing when my brain says, “enough”.

    It is not a perfect solution, but it helps. On the days that I remember to stick with my new schedule, anyway 🙂

    Good luck finding a solution, Julie.

    1. Thanks, Amanda! I’ve also wondered if some of us should simply set a timer. Tell ourselves we have one hour in the morning to do as much reading and commenting as we can, and that’s it. I’ll be trying different tactics to see what works. I enjoy blogs too much to give it up, and I can see that I grow as a writer through learning more, interaction with others, and the practice of expression.

  8. Julie, my secret weapon is Triberr and it’s really helping me browse and support via getting the word out. I actually read far more posts than I used to, but I do it in a lot less time.

    I go ahead and subscribe to those I’m not in Triberr with so their stuff comes to my inbox. But I like that I can see the first few lines of the post in my Triberr window so I know what time of day to tweet it in, then I actually read stuff later that night when the writing is done.

    Yes, I still spend a lot of time on people’s blogs, but it seems like directing the time is making it more manageable. I don’t know if this helps, but that’s my deal.

    1. The part that stood out to me here, Jenny, was “I actually read stuff later that night when the writing is done.” That’s what priority must be. I love the blogs! I get a lot out of them — whether advice, interaction, or a belly laugh. I just need to make sure I’m WRITING!

    1. Hey, I enjoy your blog, Jolyse! I am learning with all blogs to read some posts thoroughly and scan others if they aren’t my cuppa. Best wishes with the writing!

  9. Oh, I totally get you here. I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed by social media lately.
    And I feel like, if I don’t read those awesome posts about writing/reading/tips/whatever, I’m missing out on something that could help me improve. But won’t spend more time writing help me too?
    It’s a delicate balance and I’m not sure I found the place to be yet.
    Thanks for pointing out your side 😉

    1. I feel like I’m missing out too, Juliana! Such great stuff out there, and I think my writing really has improved from what I’ve learned online. But I agree that my writing would improve also with — another hello! — WRITING. Best wishes with your book!

  10. Such a reminder to me of getting my priorities straight, Julie. It’s about time I reread Covey’s book. I hope you are enjoying the act of balancing out your schedule with writing, household responsibilities, commenting, blogging, and social media.

    1. I like Covey’s book, Mindi. But I think I like listening to it better than reading it. My husband also has a card around here somewhere that simply lists the principles (like First Things First and Begin with the End in Mind). I am learning to balance better. Unfortunately, I’ve had a few times when I’ve felt like the Cat in the Hat, and that goldfish is my writing. :p

  11. When I saw your title flash through my twitter stream I just had to click on it. I am wrangling with social media obligations right now too. Even though I have a pretty good routine, I’m trying to get my mind settled on a tougher one for the next few months in order to meet my goals. I’m not looking for balance, but for perspective. I’ve actually let go of the “should” guilt (should blog more, should visit more blogs, should fill-in-the-blank) but need to build sturdy habits to discipline myself. It would help a lot if folks weren’t so dang interesting. 🙂 Appreciate you taking the time to write this post because it helps to know others are walking the same path.

    1. I find some great stuff just clicking when something catches my eye in the Twitter stream (not that I am at all saying my blog is “great stuff”). Then I wonder, should I follow them? There are SO MANY GREAT BLOGS I could be following.

      Perspective is a great word for this, Bridgette. I like that. And I’m betting I’ll pop by your blog sometime soon anyway. I like visiting new people! (One more question for the Acknowledgements: That is Bridgette with a two t’s, right?)

  12. Thanks for such a wonderful post! I’m trying to build a platform for the first time, while editing my first book to get it ready for querying, writing my secon book and work a full-time job. Most of the time I don’t get to reading blog posts until the weekend and by then, I’m a) overwhelmed and b) hearing that little voice that says “48 hours of writing time, go use it.” And what am I doing? Commenting here! 🙂 But I believe your post is worth it and will certainly pass it on. I don’t have any answers, just gratitude you were brave enough to speak about part of what I’m thinking of as “social media fatigue.”

    1. Wow, your plate is full, Nicole! Thanks for the compliment. I do think “social media fatigue” can be an issue. I know that others must feel the same from time to time — guilty they can’t clone themselves and do it all! Best wishes finding your balance. I love reading blogs, but I must make certain I take the time to write.

  13. Yes! A thousand times yes! I’m revising my novel, researching agents, writing (and re-writing) my query, doing the PTA President thing, and..oh yeah…taking care of 3 kids 4-years-old and under! Reading blogs (and even writing blogs) has gotten pushed back, as has much of my time on Twitter. I need to find some sort of balance, but I realize that in all of it, after my family and IRL obligations, the writing and revising of the BOOK had to come next. Not anything else.

    I’ve made so many wonderful new blogger friends and I just don’t have time to catch up with them every single day. Which makes me feel guilty because, hello, they go to my blog. It’s tough.

    I think you’re on the right track though. (And I look forward to your posts, so thank you for writing them!)

    1. “I’ve made so many wonderful new blogger friends and I just don’t have time to catch up with them every single day.” – This line right here is how I feel as well, Erin! I love reading the posts; I just have to make sure that I keep my priorities straight. I’m a writer, not just a blog reader! 😉

  14. I saw this link via twitter and clicked because..I have had this same thing on my mind the last couple weeks! I love reading blogs and blogging in general but it starts to take on a life of its own and I miss out on time I could actually be writing my WIPs. When I started blogging, writing was primary and blogging secondary but at the end of last year, somehow that changed, and I too was writing less and getting farther behind on my WIP. I’ve had to take two “breaks” from social media to make sure I stay on track with the writing and feel awful about it, because I feel like I am letting the bloggers I’ve come to know down by not visiting like I used to be able to 😦 I think you are right though. It is all about balance, and that is what I am going to strive for! Thanks for the great post and good luck with your writing!

    1. Glad you clicked, Kat! Thanks for coming by. I also love reading the blogs, but at times I have re-establish the balance. Best wishes with it! I’d love to see you here again…you know, whenever you’re not doing anything else. 😉

  15. Ugh! I totally know what you’re talking about. There’s only so much I can do when I work full-time, try to have a social life, write, social network, family time, sleep, eat, and the many other obligations that take up my time. I try to comment on the most loyal blog followers. As you know, I sometimes don’t get to them as often as I should–sorry for not visiting your blog as frequently as I should. I have to remember that writing is the most important part of my author platform. If I don’t do that then I won’t get anywhere. Social networking is fun, but can only be done for so long.

    1. Don’t apologize for not being here, Julia, when you’re kickin’ the writing thing! Come on over when something sparks your interest or you need a break. 🙂 That’s the attitude I’m taking. I know that means I’ll miss some great blog posts out there, but I will still get a lot out of what I do have time to read! Thanks.

  16. Striking a balance is so tough. I LOVE the writing blogs I’ve found since embracing the social media world, but I too find myself with less time to write. I try to jump over to titles that interest me, but I get behind even on that. I wish there were two of me… wait, I need to be three just to run my house. eek!

    1. If you figure out the cloning process, let me know, Tia! My family might like an extra me — you know, one who doesn’t stop writing at 7:20 p.m., look up and say, “Oh yeah, dinner.” Thanks for stopping by!

  17. So true. Impossible to visit 103 blogs regularly. My goal is to make it to each blog at least once. Could take me 3 more months. We will all find blogs that “speak to us” and they will become regular stops. And, most important thing everybody: WRITE THE BOOK!
    and I’ll see you on Twitter. I can do 140 characters, or less :o)

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Suzanne. And I love that it takes no time at all to chat a bit on Twitter; I can read 140 characters, no problem. 😉

  18. Wow… obviously you have touched a nerve. I have been up for four hours, on my computer the whole time and I haven’t written a word because of Social Media and blog hopping. I definitely have a problem prioritizing my time. Writing is most important to me but the only time I put it first is when I have a deadline. Even then I am constantly checking social media and making comments on Writing Blogs that are participating in the same contests, challenges, link ups, etc. as I am. I am exhausted with it all. I need to pare it down and set a schedule for each thing and making writing the top on the list.

    Thank you for reminding me of my priorities. Love your blog.

    Peace,
    Morgan

    1. It seems I touched several nerves, Morgan. I suspected others might be feeling the same, but it looks like a lot of us are feeling conflicted and even guilty for not keeping up with all of the fabulous blogs out there! Best wishes ordering your priorities and getting those books written!

  19. Came here via Jayrod Garrett’s blog. You are right. So Right!!!! I am always worried about everyone else. I read about 25-30 blogs a day and comment/like all of them. However, my manuscript is sitting here that I just started editing (wrote it in November). I drag my ass to my day job and deal with a narcissistic, ego maniacal boss and on my lunch read more blogs and comment them.
    I want to be a published author and want writing to be my career.
    Thanks so much for putting things in perspective.

    1. Well, thanks to Jayrod! 25-30 blogs a day? That is a lot. Best wishes with the editing process! I tend to procrastinate that a little anyway, so social media can be a real deterrent during those days. Thanks for stopping by here, Darlene!

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