Most writers have day jobs and families to take care of, so our writing time is precious. Yet the hour we had set aside for writing instead often goes to…something else.
I’m no exception. I’ve spent too much “writing time” playing on Twitter or reading blog posts, etc.
Sometimes I beat myself up about it. And sometimes I deserve to be beat up. *smile* But sometimes I don’t deserve it. Like it or not, writing is a career that entails more than simple butt-in-chair drafting and revising.
The Necessary Evils
From the very beginning of our careers, we need to learn the craft, and yes, that means using our time to read craft books and blog articles or attend workshops. As we progress, the focus of learning broadens to include business aspects, everything from how to write a query letter to how traditional publishing compares to self-publishing. Add in things like blogging and networking to get our name out there, and we have a full plate of activities that don’t involve writing our stories.
This past weekend was a killer for me. Because of the time off I’d taken over the previous two weeks for my extended family road trip, day job obligations waited for me when I came home. My little bit of free time should have been dedicated to drafting my work-in-progress.
Instead, I spent one whole day on miscellaneous writing “stuff” that needed to get done. I updated my social media bios to integrate my new material (including the “About” page here on my blog), as I talked about in my post about author bios. And in a lovely exercise of banging my head against the wall, I finally set up the mobile version of my website/blog. It’s not perfect (which is driving my inner-perfectionist crazy), but it’s functional.
Those checkmarks on my list of things to do should have given me a great sense of accomplishment. And I do feel that. Sort of. Maybe. A little.
But I also feel like I should have been able to get more writing done too. How I could have managed to have my cake and eat it too, I don’t know. *smile* I’m still waiting for that pause button on life.
Not All Distractions Are Bad
We have blog posts galore about how to avoid the “look, squirrel!” distractions, but I wonder if all that focus on word count leads to us beating ourselves up too much. There are legitimate activities for our careers that don’t involve writing.
A writer who spent all their writing time pounding out words on a keyboard—but never took the time to learn the craft—would not be more “accomplished” than a writer who studied. Sure, the first writer might have 10 finished stories under their belt, but if they’re all crap, does it matter?
Or a writer who finishes a novel, but never takes the time to learn about the publishing industry, would probably end up with a bad contract (if they sell at all). They wouldn’t be more “successful” than a writer who spent time learning the business side of things.
My point is that while we do need to watch out for the shiny distractions taking us away from our writing, we should give ourselves credit for all the writing-related things we accomplish too. Word count is not the end-all, be-all measure of success.
Do you ever beat yourself up for doing writing-related activities instead of writing? What “good” distractions steal your writing time? How much time do you lose on “good” distractions compared to “bad” distractions?