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?