Monday, January 7, 2013

Priorities

When I first started writing a novel length story, all I did was write, take care of family, work the day job. Then once I realized there was such thing as actual craft, I began intensively researching the markets, publishing, and the physics of putting together a story. I got a submission to Writer's Digest magazine and learned about the online community. Once I joined, I met many writers of whom I still connect with today, and learned I needed to start a blog.

I didn't even know what a blog was. LOL

Now, three years later, I can hardly imagine life without blogging, but with so many writerly duties on the agenda, how do we keep up with it all? In addition to writing a near perfect story, there's conferences, workshops, clever Facebook posts and tweets, blogs to read and posts to entertain, not to mention all the social media I haven't even made a dent in yet--like LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.

Sheesh! When I first discovered the blogosphere I signed up for everything and followed everyone that had to do with writing. After awhile, I was inundated with craft emails and contests and book reviews. I could NOT keep up. I was drowning in information, and trying to comment actively on everyone's blogs?? Forgeddabout it!

It wasn't happening. And trying to make it happen while still maintaining a halfway normal life was as far fetched as Britney Spears winning the Nobel Peace Prize. So prioritizing became a must.

I unsuscribed from all emails except for the top 5 from blogs/newsletters I liked to read. I ignored contests unless I was actively querying. I only commented on blogs of those who commented on mine, unless I stumbled onto a link that caught my attention.

Obviously, this meant I'd lose some interest in my own blog because I couldn't get around to all the ones I used to, but that was the sacrifice I had to make. Heck, I'm a mom and telling my kids to wait so I can visit more blogs just ain't cool. (not to mention impossible)

My priorities in order, I was able to breathe again. Family first, then church, work, writing. Emails and blog posts could be read from my phone, and my actual blogging was limited to downtime during my job. I only use Facebook for group forums, and I hop in and out of Twitter from my phone when it's convenient. Sure, I've missed a lot of stuff, but the reality is, we can't do it all. So why try?

As for the wealth of information the internet offers, I love it, but there comes a point when too much of a good thing becomes contaminating. By understanding my limits and prioritizing, I've put myself in a much happier place. And in terms of blogging and social media, I've found that cultivating meaningful relationships is worth way more than a gazillion followers who never interact.

Ever wonder how your priorities would change if you found out you had a life threatening disease or ailment? It's a lot to consider, and I'm certain many things important to us now, would drastically change. Speaking of which, I have a friend, Nancy, who is new to the blogosphere, and who is chronicling her journey and fight against cancer. It'd be such an encouragement if you'd pop over and tell her hello, and follow her blog. It's a tough road, and wow I just admire her courage so much to put herself out here and share what she's going through. Please click over and welcome her to the blogosphere.

And don't forget the contest I'm holding this month. Collect the clues and send them in with your answer for a chance to win a super cool and hip Out of Print tee shirt or a newly released eBook!

So tell me, how do you prioritize? What comes first for you? What have you sacrificed?    

40 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It can take over. I agree that at some point, you have to realize you've soaked up all the writing tips you can possibly handle.
I have time for blogging now, but there will come a point when even I can't keep up anymore. And there are other things in my life besides writing, and I need to make time for those.

mshatch said...

That's the downside of becoming too 'popular' you can't keep up with all your friends. Now if someone could just add a few hours into the day...

Karen Walker said...

I think many of us are reaching the same conclusion, Pk. My priorities are my family, my writing, my singing, blogging is last on the list at this point.
Karen

E.J. Wesley said...

It's a balancing act for sure. I really nipped my blogging in the bud at the beginning of last year when I realized I was writing more for my blog than for my fiction pursuits. And it happened subtly, without intention.

In truth (and it's a painful truth), I was more comfortable talking about writing than actually doing it. I'd lost my writing confidence in everything BUT blogging. And I had to make a change or risk forfeiting all I'd set out to do.

It came with a sacrifice, of course. My blog following stopped growing as quickly, because I couldn't invest the time in the community. But the payoff came in the last quarter of the year when I published my first two stories. And that's why I'd begun blogging in the first place (to help me share my writing).

It's important to understand that we all have different capabilities. I'm not a fast blogger, reader, or writer. I don't enjoy blogging by the rules--which is to keep your posts short, quickly comment/reply to everything, provide content as frequently as possible, etc.

If I have nothing to say, I don't say it. I like to explore a full thought, and reply to posts I enjoy as I would reply to a friend's discussion over coffee. (See how long this reply is? I drink a lot of coffee and enjoy conversation btw. lol)

At any rate, find YOU in all of this, and the rest will take care of itself.

Carole Anne Carr said...

PK, very interesting post, I think we all have had to face this problem, though at my age I am lucky, for there is less pressure on time. x

T. Drecker said...

Blogging can be a beast, if you let it. I've noticed that too, and just made some similar decisions. See if it works ;)

Crystal Collier said...

I HEAR YOU! My goodness, if I could figure out the balance, the universe my explode! Seriously though, life has to take a priority, right? That's why my blogging has whittled down to almost nada. (So sad.) But hey, there's always the chance to reconnect with everyone, right?

J. A. Bennett said...

The balance is so hard. With three young kids, I totally feel the squeeze. I only blog on days when my oldest will be in school so I know I can visit a few people. I also get up at 5 to get writing time in and I try to do 10 min spurts of social media throughout the day. It's hard, but it is possible!

Laura Diamond said...

There's just too much to do and more things keep getting added on, LOL!

I'm hearing a lot of bloggers are wanting to get back to basics. Find what's most important and focus on that. I like that concept.

shelly said...

Are dreams should never suffer due to overload. Balance is the key. And everyone's balance is different.

Good post!

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

SA Larsenッ said...

Many of us feel the same, PK. Balancing the writer's life in today's publishing world is quite challenging. We already know all the hats we're expected to wear. The key is staying flexible and knowing when to let one thing give a little and another to hold on to a bit tighter.

Johanna Garth said...

This post hit home. I've spent a lot of time reorganizing my priorities since my father was diagnosed with brain cancer this September. I want to make sure that the way I'm spending my time fills me up and leaves me whole.

Barbara Watson said...

I went through a process similar to yours. Almost exactly alike, actually. Family comes first, I write when I can, and sometimes I sacrifice time with friends to make time to write.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Can I just cut and paste what EJ said? I sort of do what I want in the blogosphere. I follow people I like, I read however much I feel like reading. To quote Cartman, "Whatever, I do what I want!" That way the blog is a place of respite...and if I don't have the biggest blog in town? Meh, so be it.

Jane Ellen Freeman said...

Enjoyed your post about priorities. I try to achieve balance. Since my children are grown and I'm no longer working a 9 to 5, I make writing my priority. I do a monthly blog when I have something to say, but I don't beat myself up if I don't get to it. I love to read what other writers are doing and appreciate writing suggestions. But I limit my time reading blogs. My own writing comes first!

VikLit said...

You are right that we have only limited time and we have to prioritise, really interesting post on the subject!

Rebecca Green Gasper said...

I take it day by day and do what I can. Things always come up- things more important always get in the way. I can only do so much. I try not to put to much pressure on myself and what happens, happens.

Ciara said...

I faced a health issue last year that put things in perspective. I'd like to say I still keep the same order of things that I discovered were truly important, but you lose sight after awhile. Thanks for the reminder. Time to go play with the kids.

Marsha Sigman said...

I've had to do the same thing. It sucks but there just isn't enough time in the day to do it all!

I'd rather have a few good writer friends than hundreds of casual acquaintances. I could also make a reference here to one night stands but I'm trying to restrain myself.

Nick Wilford said...

I'm seeing a lot of posts in this vein. The longer you blog for, the harder it is to keep up, but I want to cultivate those friendships I really value. I can't see the point of having 50,000 Twitter followers, for example. So many other things are happening in my life - we need to learn not to worry about it too much!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

PK, it is SO hard to prioritize and do everything. In fact, it's impossible to do everything.

I cut back my blog posts from 3x per week to 2x a week. I try to regularly visit people who regularly visit me, but other than that, I visit blogs on my list with interesting post titles.

I Facebook more than I Tweet, but sometimes I can't stand my FB feed and Twitter provides an alternate view of the world.

And right now, I'm headed to a room away from my family for my dedicated Monday night writing time with The Practice Room.

I can't do it all, but do what I can, when it suits me to do it. :D

Libby said...

I love blogging but I don't have the time to comment like I used to. Sure, it's less bloggers coming to my blog, but a girl's gotta have her sanity. At least a little.

Mina Lobo said...

I've had to unsubscribe to some stuff recently too - you are so right about information overload! Paring down is definitely necessary for peace of mind!
Some Dark Romantic

Trisha said...

The thing about following via the GFC on blogger blogs is that you don't necessarily have to check all those blogs. I rely more on my blog roll than on the MASSIVE list of bloggers I've followed via GFC.

If we had maybe, 80 hours in a day, we could do the amount we want to, but alas there are only 24 of them. ;)

jamieayres.com said...

Such a great reminder, Pk! I really need to get myself one of those smart phones so I can check stuff at my leisure. I'll go say hi to Nancy:-)

Tammy Theriault said...

hello! yeah, blogging is a world of it's own, isn't it? i'm heading to say hello to Nancy!! :D

Nas said...

Trying to find time for everything is difficult, but there is a way. It may take some time to find it.

Nas said...

Trying to find time for everything is difficult, but there is a way. It may take some time to find it.

Misha Gericke said...

I do what I can. For example, I don't blog before I haven't achieved my writing/related goal for the day.

Then with social media, I link twitter to most of the other ones so that I can post on a variety of platforms without actually going to them.

Jess said...

Excellent post! I used to try to get around to every blog on my follow list and keep track of Twitter and agent blogs and publishing articles...but it quickly became overwhelming and I wasn't spending enough time reading and writing. I've gotten more relaxed, but focused in my approach to improving my craft over the last three years. I still love blogging so I make time for that. I just do what I can and don't feel guilty about shutting off the social media more~ like you said, other things (like family) come first :)

Kelly Polark said...

It is hard to juggle everything. I only blog once a month at my regular blog, but try to once a week at my celeb book recommendation site. So much to do, so little time! But I'm so glad that I do blog to keep in touch with wonderful writing folk!

Michael Di Gesu said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel. I had to take back my life two years ago when I had gained over fifty pounds because I NEVER LEFT my computer.

Now I am still trying to figure out a schedule that works best for me to be able to DO ALL that I NEED to do.

Beth said...

I need to get better at prioritizing. I probably spend too much time blogging/commenting and not enough time writing. I had a schedule, but since the baby came it's been HARD.

DL Hammons said...

I have learned (begrudgingly) to accept underachieving when it comes to my blog. Priorities have other plans for me.

I'm on my way over to your friends blog now! :)

Suzi said...

I've got all my blogs in Google Reader, so I can see when a new post goes up. One thing I want to do is go through and delete the ones I'm rarely reading. Often times I'll add it because of some post I came onto. But if I only read a post every once in a while, why bother.

It is hard to keep up.

Florence Fois said...

PK, finally got bac in action again and was delighted with your choice of topics. My priorities were set when my computer died on me and I had to make hard choices as to how to go forward until I got all my documents back.

Missed you :)

William Kendall said...

If only there were an extra four or five hours in a day...

I facebook more than I tweet, and even then, it sometimes seems so easy to get behind in everything. Mostly I comment on those blogs where I get comments from, or that I already find interesting, though I'm often several days behind.

Donna Yates said...

I prioritize by re-examining where I've been and what I've been doing. I often find it's easy to get dissuaded by all the fun sites and blogs and must constantly pull myself back to my path.

James Garcia Jr. said...

Hi, PK. In 2013, I plan to reluctantly back away from social networking. I will do what I can to stay in touch with my pals, like you; however, with a demanding 11 hour day job getting more difficult by the day, I have to take the hour or two I have during the week to focus on my writing. I may even have to have the books promote themselves, simply by being in the marketplace. I just don't have the time.
Best of luck to the both of us in 2013, and to all other writers everywhere, killing themselves to do what they do.

-Jimmy

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