An Online Platform: What’s it all for if you’ve no time to write?

Nowadays writers tend to stake out a spot in one of three camps: those who enthusiastically embrace social media, using it communicate with readers and fellow writers, raise their profiles and yes, sell books; those who think writers should be neither seen nor heard and look upon putting yourself out there as distasteful self-promotion; and those who are somewhere in between, perhaps successful published writers wanting to get into Twitter or blogging because someone told them it would be a good idea, but not sure where to start.

I, obviously, fall into the first category. If I’d been born ten years earlier, not only would I be freaking out about now but I wouldn’t have been able to do any of what I’ve achieved in the last year. (I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I’d be born even five years earlier.) But now I’m running into a problem, a problem which is at the crux of this whole writer-blogger-tweeter-Facebooker existence. My online presence has given my writing career a great foundation – or at least, I think it has – but the time it takes to keep it up is eating into the time I should be devoting to my Work in Progress, the same WIP that if unfinished, makes this whole author platform thing null, void and utterly useless.

I find it so difficult to compartmentalize my time. While someone else might be able to say, okay, 9am-10am is devoted to all things online and then I’ll write for three hours, I would log on sometime after nine and re-emerge in early afternoon. I could, of course, virtually unplug, but it’s not so much that the internet is a distraction for me – I worry that the “following” I’ve established will abandon me when the space where I used to pop up on their Google Reader or wherever grows dark and sprouts cobwebs.

It’s a constant struggle. Right now I’m writing during the day and writing blog posts – such as this one – in front of the TV at night.

(So if I suddenly start talking about The Apprentice or I’m a Celebrity, you’ll know why.)

Sometimes a tiny little part of me wishes I could go back to the days when no one but my friends and family knew who I was, and even they didn’t know I was writing a book. Back then I could disappear for eight weeks and be under no pressure to produce as much as an e-mail. But almost as soon as I begin to think this, I realize what utter crap I’m on about it and thank my lucky stars anyone is aware of my existence at all…!

What do YOU do to balance your writing time with your online time? Any tips?

13 thoughts on “An Online Platform: What’s it all for if you’ve no time to write?

  1. Michelle Gregory says:

    i have absolutely no idea because i’m in the same boat. there are days when i wish no one knew i’d written anything and others where i wish everyone knew. someday i hope i learn to balance between the two and use my time better.

  2. Lindsay Edmunds says:

    The thing is, blogging IS writing. When you have a blog, you publish. You write and you are read. Blogging draws your energy.

    The only solution I’ve found is to be disciplined regarding my writing time. The WIP gets its own time slot, and the best energy of the day.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      ‘The best energy of the day’ – I like that idea! And sometimes I think I’ll just get the blog post out of the way or whatever and do it first thing in the morning before I start on the WIP, but then of course that’s when I’m most awake/alert/etc. and should really use it to write some WIP words instead.

      It’s a constant adventure trying to get the balance right! 🙂

    • diane says:

      It is a constant battle! I was trying to do 3-4 blog posts and week and felt totally burned out. Now I’m going to aim to do 2 and make ’em good.

      I’m also trying to do a small amount of “proper” writing, and it really is a great idea to do that first in the day, because you don’t have that guilt hanging over you — you have a sense of satisfaction instead 😉

      I think there can be times though, where you need to just opt out of blogging etc for short intense periods, eg. editing a book, and that’s OK, as long as you come back 🙂

  3. Jan Mendoza says:

    Its hard to be a business person and an artist at the same time, and that is exactly what you are, and artist! If you want to SELL books, you have to devote time to your business which is a necessary evil. I’m an artist too and I feel your pain. The trouble with us artists is that the business end of our work is just that… WORK! That’s what my book, I Was Born to Be is all about. Fulfilling your dreams and goals and finding ways to do this with balance. With us artists, we must put ourselves on a schedule and stick to it. I think you are on the write track by devoting a specific time to do your blogging. While you are sitting in front of the TV with idle hands is the BEST time to do the business end. I do the same thing!

  4. fictionwitch says:

    I completely agree. This is such a problem. So very easy to get sidetracked the whole day by Tweeting and commenting on blogs and so forth. I think the earlier comment about using “the best energy of the day” is really helpful, and I try to aim to use that, but I am not always successful.
    The other thing I have done is to have two blogs – one is the conventional, non-fiction blog which can be a bit of a struggle to write while the other is a piece of fiction, a web serial (see http://www.fictionwitch.wordpress.com).With this I get to practice my craft at the same time as building my platform. It shows people what sort of a writer I am and hopefully will generate some book sales from that and I will have some work I can turn into a book at the end of it too. It has been great fun to do (much more so than conventional blogging has been) and with luck it will get a bit of a following. But it’s early days and it remains to see if it works as a concept. But I have had some lovely feedback already which helps.

  5. elleonthego says:

    Ah, finding the right balance, once again.
    So true, though, I hear this all the time, writers get so much advice, they’re trying everything and often, it’s the writing that suffers. Remember, writing should come first, there is absolutely no point otherwise.
    Great post and don’t forget what matters.

  6. catherineryanhoward says:

    Thanks for your comments ladies.

    I wrote this post last week, and this week I’m feeling a bit better about it. I think there’s some strange wrinkle in the blogging space/time continuum – if I don’t blog for a few days, it feels like years, and then I wonder if to everyone else it feels like years too!

    Writing absolutely has to come first – as Elle said above, otherwise there’s no point. I’ve been writing during the day and blogging in front of the TV, and although that means I’m always asking, ‘What just happened there?’ it seems to be working! 🙂

  7. Rebecca says:

    My name’s Rebecca and I’m a Twitterholic.
    That basically sums it up.

    I find the best writing I ever do is when I take my faithful laptop off to a place which has no WIFI (or more accurated, does have it, but I don’t connect up).

    I do this in the mornings sometimes, straight after the school run, and only ‘allow’ myself to come home once I am happy with my wordcount.

    Once I am hope I get distracted by Twitter and laundry and Facebook and dusting and household admin, and yet more Twitter.

    Oh, and I also waffle far too much when I reply to people’s blog posts ;o)

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Not at all – I love the waffling!

      The internet is a bit of a demon. I know I’m always on about this, but I do dream of going back to that holiday home where I wrote Novel No.1. There was PERFECT. It was totally quiet – you couldn’t even hear traffic – and there was no wi-fi, so my only connection with the outside world was a pocket of iPhone reception at the very top of the stairs if I stretched. There was only only 5 TV channels or something, and most of them were fuzzy. I wrote a whole book in eight weeks, working from 10am to 8pm without stopping, because THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE TO DO!

      I know I shouldn’t be complaining though because ultimately I have it easy: I don’t have anything else to do all day except write or procrastinate. My day is mine to design, but I’m really bad at following through. The joys…

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