Tuesday, January 10, 2012

To Blog or Not To Blog? As a Writer Today, Do I Really Have to Do It All?

When I talk to writers this is one of the questions I’m asked most.

And let’s face it, it's a good one. We live in a world where time is at a premium. It’s hard enough to find time to write, to work on the project we love. How do we sustain working on…well...work?

The answer is far from definitive. Everyone has to find their own balance in this social media world. But here are some suggestions. These are the ones I use to manage my own writing career. Take what works for you and toss the rest out the window.

Decide what you want. I know, you want to be a writer. But, what kind of writer? Do you want to write one book? Do you want to write several books a year, books and articles, books and speaking? The combinations are endless. It’s important to choose. Even if you’re uncertain, pick one and try it on for size. Change is fine, but you can’t move forward without a direction.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Once you have your direction set, you have to decide what will get you there the best way. Notice I said best, not fastest. You don’t want to burn out just yards from the finish line.

Here’s an example. I know a writer, we’ll call her Ruby (not her real name). Ruby wants to write novels for women, at least one per year. She also loves Facebook and admits she spends lots of time there. She hates Twitter. Those little 140 character bursts frustrate her and she has resisted moving into that arena. She has also resisted blogging, certain it will take all her writing time.

These are my suggestions for her.
  • First, she needs to track her time.
  • Second, I already know she needs to spend less of it on Facebook. Less, not give it up. Facebook is a great place to grow relationships.
  • Third, she needs to venture into the Twitter universe by connecting with her Facebook friends. I recommend she uses an ancillary program like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to make Twitter more manageable. She should set a goal of tweeting or retweeting 4 times a day. (If you’re totally lost, visit my posts on Twitter here, here and here)
  • Fourth, she does need to set up a blog, at least a practice one. Even novelists need to know how to write tight and on a schedule. Blogging is the perfect way to learn that. It’s almost the direct opposite of writing a novel. This post on blogging will give you the basics.
  • Last, she needs to make her novel writing time a priority. It’s important to figure out when, during a 24-hour day, your creative sweet spot happens. Once you know, guard that time with your life. 

Now you see why we do have to do a lot to succeed in today’s writing life. But NO ONE does it all and does it well.

Photo Courtesy of Mary Denman
Bottom Line: A strong connection with new readers is always good…but it really won’t help if you don’t spend time writing.

So now it’s time for you to chime in. What parts of social networking work for you? What parts don’t?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. I love this post, Edie - practical and smart! :) I've been a facebooker since college, so that's been a part of my online presence a long time - but it's taken me some time to view it as a platform-building opportunity rather than solely a connecting-with-friends place. I resisted Twitter literally for years. Finally joined last fall - partially at your encouragement, I believe, after hosting you on a blog tour. :) I'm still not a huge fan, but I'm willing to jump (okay, wade) into it because it's one more way to connect with readers.

    Now blogging - that's helped me in so many ways. I don't have a hugely-read blog (yet), but like Jon Acuff says in his book Quitter, I've really embraced small numbers. I've gotten to know those who do read. And it's allowed me to find my voice, fit into my groove...and it's forced me to, for lack of a better word, define myself and my writing in a way I hadn't before.

    Okay...long-winded comment over. :)

  2. Oh, how well I remember our conversations when we were deciding about starting our blogs. It seemed overwhelming!

    But now, even though there are days that I'm overwhelmed (as I would think we all are at times), I can't imagine life without The Christian Writer's Den. I've had the joy of getting to know hundreds of writers I would have never met had I not started blogging. AND I've been encouraged by the response of the readers who appreciate my help.

    It's a win-win situation for all of us!

  3. Writers don't have to blog but it is beneficial if they do. Blogging fits writer like hands fit gloves. It's a perfect outlet to engage others and to explore their interests.

    Writers can journal their writing process, inform others about what they are writing about, list sites of interest and engage with potential readers.

    As a reader, this is what I want to know about a writer or author.

    I like to think of blogging as an investment of time that builds a relationship with future readers.

  4. I stepped into the waters slowly. I started a blog, then Facebook and Linked in and finally Twitter at the writers' retreat with your help. Now I need to figure out how to block time to write my third manuscript.

  5. Melissa, you are so right. Social Media is much less about numbers than it is about connections! I love your blog and I hope all my readers will visit and find out why! http://www.melissatagg.com/
    Vonda, it's hard to believe so much time has passed!
    Keiki, you are the queen of connections when it comes to writers and readers! As always, your comments are spot on!
    Blessings All, E

  6. I'm bookmarking this post and sending it my critique group. Your advice about setting a schedule and tracking my time has been a lifesaver, and it's undergirding my goals for the year.

    Tweetdeck has been the most helpful thing so far (except that I have to shut it down when I'm writing), and limiting Facebook time has helped a BUNCH.

    Finding a good balance is critical, and it's an ongoing thing with all the new social media avenues. Thanks, Edie!!

  7. Edie, I found this to be very motivational. Thanks! I think successful blogging, like most anything, is a matter of attitude. You can dread it or you can embrace if for the snippet opportunities it gives you to touch lives and reach readers. We don't need novels to reach hearts.

  8. Excellent post and I agree with Melissa, blogging has helped me so much in finding my voice. I was nervous at first, but now I love it. I twitter more than I used to, but I like facebook better.

  9. I enjoyed your post, Edie, but I guess I'm a rebel. Even thinking about blogging used to make my hands perspire. I was so glad when novelist Rene Gutteridge said she didn't blog. Her novels have been made into movies, and she was the writer who novelized The Christmas Gift. I figured if she could get by without blogging, I could, so I finally came to peace with being a non-blogger.

    With two web sites and a writers newsletter that goes to almost 500 subscribers, I've had no trouble staying connected. Blogging and tweeting are not for me, but I'm glad they work for so many others.

  10. Yvonne, you're doing things right, small consistent steps. Thanks for letting me share your journey!
    Susan, you are correct, I believe from now on it will become more and more of a balancing act. I'm just grateful to part of a community that helps me keep a healthy perspective!
    Debra, I agree, attitude is a huge part of blogging. And I have had the opportunity to connect to folks I wouldn't have met any other way.
    That said, I'll also be the first to say nothing is one hundred percent. Blogging isnt for everyone, but few things are.
    Jessica, it's helped my voice also. It's an excellent way to hone our craft.
    Tracy, you are a rebel and I applaud you! We each have to figure out what works best, but I'm sure glad you read my blog - you're part of the community that I count on!
    Blessings All, E

  11. Hi Edie. I'm new here. I'm with a lot of your commenters...I struggle with the juggling! I work full time, blog three times a week, Facebook some, Twitter some, and work on writing too. It definitely has been difficult. I considered giving up or cutting back on the blogging, but I really do love the interactions there and the forum for my thoughts. I also recently received a really sweet note from a reader saying how much my blogs had encouraged her! She has never commented so I had no idea she was reading. We never know who our blogs will reach, I guess!

  12. This was a great post, and one I've been thinking a lot about lately. I set out to write a book, learned that blogging would be necessary, and now I end up working on the blog all the time and not the book! I must employ the "seat in chair" method to my writing =o)