After blogging for a couple of years now, I am wondering if blogging is overrated. Yes, as a writer, you would think that this process is a no brainer and enjoyable. But in truth, it steals time from my day, from my other writing and reading, and although pleasurable, may or may not be all that productive from a return on investment viewpoint.
In another blog written not long ago (http://www.corichu.com/blog/2011/08/22/create-blog-written/), I took the position that blogging is an activity that helps a new writer. The blog is free self promotion, a foundation for building a loyal fan base when that first novel gets published.
I was struggling last week to come up with something worthy of writing. I realize that “worthy” is subjective, but I wouldn’t want to read a blog if I didn’t expect to come away with a new idea, a different point of view, or at least a bit of humor. Geesh, my time is worth something…and that’s what this blog is all about. Is blogging overrated? Am I getting something out of my time investment?
Blog posts are not quick, easy breezy well-written snippets. I think more like a journalist; someone who reports or makes sense out of a series of facts. I just happened to pick the topic of writing, but I could be writing a blog about baseball fashion or nutrition, or focus on the aging baby boomer body. I read other writing blogs, who have covered the grammar topic, the how-to topics very thoughtfully and thoroughly and wonder if I should just make this blog a series of great links that I found. After all, the nuts and bolts of the writing process doesn’t change enough to warrant me to re-invent the wheel just because I can’t think of something to publish in my blog.
Blogging pressure can be annoying. Besides, even though I write fairly quickly (and I do have opinions), I find that I just can’t spew out anything that comes to mind. I have to have a topic that I find interesting, come up with an outline, and then research the fine points. All this is time consuming. I don’t write my blog because I have a passion for it, and certainly I don’t like that I am adding to more deadlines on my to-do list. Even though this is self induced, it is nevertheless annoying and pressure.
Marketing component. Also, what people fail to realize is a blog is a product. Like any product to get the readership up, there is a marketing component. If you create a blog, how many hours do you expect to spend reading, commenting and linking to other blogs….other social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter?
More time consumed? I hear that we are a nation of non-readers. I can hardly believe that, but if it is true, then the vlog (video blogging) is the next big marketing platform. And how much time are you going to invest in vlogging when blogging becomes passe?
Money making blogs. If you are blogging because you think you are going to make money from affiliate programs, realize this venture has its own pecularities. First, you will need a great niche…one that will have pull, even when you skip a few days. (A good example is a celebrity watch blog.) Second, be prepared. This as a full time job, even though it seems like a part time occupation—one that insidiously steals your time from you. Third, Technorati reports that only about 10 percent of blogs are money producers. Some are wildly successful, but most are not making more than $20K a year. I have been reading about the success stories. They are inspiring.
Final Thoughts. Eh, am I still going to blog? Yup, I am. I don’t know why though. It seems to boil down to my need to share. I am on Facebook and Twitter, but for some reason I don’t post often.
You will have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself. Just remember what you devote to this activity usurps the time on another writing project, with the family, with friends or another activity.
Light bulb moment! Hmmm, maybe I should be sharing and getting paid for it? LOL
I am procrastinating again. My goal is to write a short story by May 1…well, finish the rough draft at least. Not a tall order when you consider that the outline is sketched out and the characters are already moving around in my head. However, I have yet to get beyond “Let me put in a load of wash first,” “I just have to take the dog out and then I’ll be good.”
Oh and my utmost favorite distraction: “I’ll make lunch first so I won’t have to get up to eat in the middle of a thought.” And you know that I probably will get up anyway. I certainly don’t need to eat if I’m not hungry. No one can accuse me of starving myself.
So, on my way to my other self sabotaging behavior —reading and responding to emails, I paused and read a couple of Randy Ingermanson’s archived ezines. (www.advancedfictionwriting.com) Randy is an ex-physicist turned novelist and writing pundit. One article that particularly interested me was Organizing: Habits, Interruptions, and Achievements. This echoed similar sentiments in my last post. So, if you are having trouble, as I am, getting to down to the business of writing, read this:
In a recent comment on my Advanced Fiction Writing
Blog, one of my loyal blog readers asked about the time
management system that I’ve been using, the Simpleology
system, which you can learn more about here:
This system encourages you to dream big — to define
what your ideal life would be like. You can make a list
of as many things as you want, and they can be anything
you want. Paying off the mortgage. Climbing Mount
Everest. Running a marathon. And, oh yeah, writing a
novel and getting it published.
HOWEVER, this time management system only allows you to
choose ONE “long-term target,” ONE “medium-term
target,” and ONE “short-term target” at a time.
Isn’t that rather limiting? Don’t I get frustrated with
that restriction? Wouldn’t it be better if I could
focus on as many targets as I felt like?
My answers are yes, yes, and no.
Yes, it’s a limitation on myself to have only one
“target” at a time. Yes, that’s frustrating. No, it
wouldn’t be better to focus on multiple targets at
That’s not focus. Focus is when you have only one
“target” at a time. Anything else is being out of
Those limitations are directly due to a very real
limitation on all of us — time. Each of us gets only
24 hours per day. And worse, most of that is already
spoken for. So the actual time we have in any given day
for reaching for our dreams may be very small. It might
be an hour or two some days (if we’re lucky). It might
be no time at all other days.
What’s a big-dreaming writer to do?
That brings me to the title of this article. I’d like
to define three different ways we can spend our time:
on habits, on interruptions, and on achievements. Let’s
talk about each of those in turn.
Habits are things we do routinely that we’ve mastered.
They may be easy to learn or they may be hard to learn,
but we’re good at them and we execute them routinely
without a lot of intellectual energy.
Flossing is a habit. Driving to work is a habit.
Answering email is a habit. For many writers, producing
X words per day is a habit.
Notice that these aren’t everybody’s habits. For some
people, these are major achievements. But many people
have mastered each of these and they do them routinely
without thinking much about them.
Interruptions are things that pop up every day that
MUST be dealt with NOW. They’re not things that happen
routinely, and so they may take a bit more effort to
Getting the brakes fixed is an interruption. So is the
annual income tax grind. Answering the telephone is an
Interruptions can be good, of course. That phone call
might your agent calling to let you know that you sold
your novel. That’s great, but it’s still an
interruption and it still extracts mental energy from
Achievements are things we want to do that are worth
doing but require serious commitment for an extended
period of time. You often have to learn a new skill or
expend enormous amounts of intellectual energy.
Paying off the mortgage is an achievement. So is
scaling Everest for the first time. Or running your
first marathon. Or publishing your first novel.
Notice that while doing something the first time is
often a major achievement, doing it a second time may
be merely a habit.
That’s a very important point, and it cuts to the heart
of the matter. Part of success in life means focusing
on one achievement until you reach it the first time.
After that, doing it again may be much, much easier –
so easy that it can correctly be called a habit.
That is the answer to the problem of “I have so many
things I want to achieve, so why can’t I focus on
several of them at once?”
You can do whatever you want in life. But if you have a
major achievement, then you are most likely to reach it
by focusing all your available energy on it (for a
time) until you reach that goal. Then, having mastered
that skill, doing it the second time will become far
There remains the question of balance. There are things
you pretty much have to do every day. These are
generally either habits or interruptions. Since you
have to do them, my (excellent) advice is that you
should do them.
On a bad day, that will leave no time to spend on
trying to reach your dream. Tough beans. Some days are
like that. There are one or two days every week when I
end up expending every minute on the routine stuff or
on putting out fires (or both). Life happens.
On a good day, you’ll have time left over to spend on
those pesky achievements. You can split that time, or
you can focus it. I think you should focus it.
Focus means applying your time, energy, and money on
ONE achievement to the exclusion of all others. Focus
is risky, because you might fail. But focus is smart
because it gives you the highest chance of success.
Diamonds are forever, but focus isn’t. When you focus
on one achievement, you are promising yourself that
you’ll actually reach your goal in a finite amount of
When you achieve something, you may very well be able
to turn that into a routine habit, which doesn’t take
much mental energy. (It may still take time, but the
important thing is that you’ll be able to do it far
easier the second time than the first.)
Then you can focus on some new achievement. That’s how
successful people operate.
Finally, let’s ask which are most important — habits,
interruptions, or achievements? My answer is that they
are all roughly equally important. If you allocate time
for all three of them, you’ll thrive.
What achievements do you have on tap for this year?
That depends on who you are and where you are in your
writing career. Here are some possible achievements you
might want to focus your energy on:
* Learning to write a good scene
* Learning to create a memorable character
* Learning to structure a novel
* Mastering dialogue
* Developing a strong proposal
* Going to your first writing conference
* Finding an agent
* Selling your first novel
* Marketing your novel successfully
Each of these is a major achievement the FIRST time you
do it. After that, it’s just a good habit.
Which ONE of these will you focus on next?