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August 16, 2010

Finding Life’s Balance

Juggling Balls

A quick note: Today’s the last day to leave a comment on my contest post to win a free book from the RWA registration bags. The deadline to enter is midnight, August 16th.

Last week, a friend of mine, Simon C. Larter, interviewed Victoria Mixon, a freelance editor.  He asked several great questions (and a few silly ones) during their discussion on the state of the publishing industry, and everyone should go check it out.  But at the beginning of the interview, he reminded me of one of Victoria’s blog posts about how social media can make you stupid and his response.

And all that made me wonder:

Should wanna-be authors hold off on blogging/tweeting until they need to?

After all, virtually every interview with agents or editors say the same thing: Writers don’t need a website until they have a contract and are about to be published.

No matter your profession, you have only a limited number of hours in a day and way too many things to accomplish during that time.  We all need to find a balance of family/work/social-life to keep our sanity.  And with social media, those work and social-life categories tend to overlap a great deal, further muddying the issue.  So that begs the question…

Is starting early wrong?

I say (with my oh so humble opinion), not necessarily.  Yes, it’s possible to fall into the traps Victoria mentions.  It’s shockingly easy to waste an entire day reading blogs, tweeting, clicking from one link to the next, until—before you know it—your whole day is gone.  Wasted.  That long list of things you needed to get done today?  Untouched.

However, if it’s a given that an author should have a website/social media presence at some point in their career, I say: Isn’t it better to learn how to balance those demands on your time before you’re under deadline?

I don’t mean to sound snarky (mostly), but honestly, haven’t most of us grown throughout our lives gaining little bits of responsibility at a time?  Whether it’s when we were a child and first trusted to cross the street by ourselves, or when as an adult, we were handed our first project to manage on our own, we initially learned those skills in a safe environment.  We eased into the responsibilities through a series of steps, having our parent watch us the first hundred times or having a co-worker look over our shoulder to make sure we weren’t blowing things up by accident.

Why should learning how to handle the responsibility of balancing social media be any different?  From this perspective, starting a blog or twitter following should be done before contract and not after.  Make all the mistakes you want now, before the pressure is really on.  Now is the perfect time to experiment with finding that balance between home-life and work-life with social media added to the mix.

And if blogging and tweeting prevent you from ever finishing your work?  Well, maybe you weren’t determined enough to begin with.  And maybe it’s better to learn that about yourself now—when you can re-evaluate what you want to accomplish without a contract hanging over your head.

Do you blog or tweet?  How do you balance your time?  Have you ever had problems finding that balance?

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Murphy
Murphy

Aww…did you write this just for me? Knowing how much I LOVE twitter. ;).
Murphy

Murphy

Great post, though.
Murphy

Murphy
Murphy

Hey, I just realized if I didn’t plug in my website address I don’t get a link to my name. How pathetic is that?

Murphy

Simon

Very well said, good lady! Certainly, it’s easier to build a following when you’ve got a book deal/publisher/agent. But having a pre-established audience with the time comes to do some real promotion can’t hurt. And yes, the learning process is one of fits and starts and baby steps.

And time management. Definitely that.

Thanks for the links, too!

Mercedes

I love social media. And at first it was a timesuck, and it still has that potential, except that I’ve pretty much learned how to master the beast. If it’s cutting into my writing time, I cut it off. Social media is extremely helpful to me because I’ve built up my core writing group, and I even met my agent through social media. It’s very much helped me in my progress! But again, I have the discipline to turn it off when necessary, and that makes all the difference. I need rules. RULES, baby! Great post!:D

Laura K Curtis

I started Women of Mystery, a group blog, several years ago. I encourage anyone who’s thinking about blogging to find a group of like-minded folk to do it with. It allows you to keep the content up without having to post *yourself* every time.

I tend to balance by staying away from most social media until my responsibilities are done for the day. Sometimes I don’t manage, but most of the time I’m pretty good about it. I don’t write well in the evenings, and I can’t watch TV without the computer in my lap, so it works out pretty well. (Thus my comment this afternoon at 4:50–home from the gym, etc.)

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[…] you’ve seen some of my previous posts (Are Writers Conferences Worth It and Finding Life’s Balance), then you know I’m a big fan of […]

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[…] under contract, we’ll have to add deadlines and more marketing to our to-do lists.  As a previous post about balance noted, it’s better to learn this balancing skill now, before we have to face those deadlines […]

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