Last week, I wrote two days on my young adult novel. There are three reasons why my work-in-progress got so little attention:
- 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.
- One scene started to drag. I spent some time figuring out how to ditch that rabbit trail and get on the right path.
- 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?