Monday, June 28, 2010

What should come first, the nest or the egg?

The eternal question with a twist. What should a writer's priority be - writing or marketing? The obvious response is writing, of course. What's the point if you don't have a book to market?

Ahh, but what if the perfect egg is laid - I mean, perfect novel is completed - and there's no nest for it to lie in? In this competetive market, just about everyone says that a writer needs to build name recognition via social media, a website, or a blog. It's not a requirement for publication, by any means, but it certainly gives an author the edge when their book is submitted or released. There are some agents and editors who'll google an author they're interested in. Plus, name recogition builds the bread and butter of all authors - readership.

As with most things, it boils down to time management (hence the photo of my egg timer...I don't really keep it on my keyboard though). It's so easy to get swept into least for me it is. There are so many incredible and informative writing blogs and websites out there, not to mention forums where a writer can connect with others who share his/her obsession. There's even facebook, twitter, etc... A person could spend all day keeping up with it all. Is it work related? Yes. Is it sometimes procrastination? Possibly. Bottom line - it must get balanced with actual writing time.

I've recently resorted to a timer. I picked the traditional 'egg' because it symbolizes what comes first. It reminds me of what precious thing will hatch if I use my time wisely. I can time my time checking email, blogs, and forums. I don't stick to a strict schedule (ie. 15 min AM and 15 min PM) because I'm a mom and life happens. However, I am striving to stick to an overall time limit, say a total of an hour a day for all networking activities. Each person has to decide what works for them. A published author may need more time than that to accomplish their marketing goals (I wouldn't know...yet).

I can also use my egg timer to time my writing. I like to challenge myself on word count per thirty minutes. Online or public challenges are too stressful for me. I even like the 'white noise' ticking because it keeps me going...kind of like the chugging sound on The Little Engine That Could. "I think I can, I think I can..."

But, hey, not everything works for everyone. Even with excercise and diet, different gadgets and gizmos work for different folks. I'm sure there are fancy computer timers and speed writing programs out there - I've read about a few - but I like to keep things simple. I keep things boiled down to basics, if you would.

Pen. Paper. Time.

Okay, okay. I do use a computer...but it's still about the time. Please don't misunderstand. Using a timer doesn't mean I have to force myself to write. I love writing. I'm passionate about it, but when a person works from home, a timer can help delineate writing time. Time is elusive and eggs crack easily. What do you do to manage your writing vs networking time?


  1. Rula,

    This is a hard call...I write whenever there is a free second or if someone stops to take a breath when, I'm gone!

    LOL not really, but I'm very selfish with my time because there is so little of it.... I give up sleep and I work a 16 hour day just to find time to write.

    Like you said.. it's not a desire... or hobby... writing is a NEED. We'd rather being doing this than anything else in the world.

    Love your blog ... I've become a follower!


  2. There are days during the week where I don't write. I just do house or family stuff. Those are days I'll network. Although sometimes when I have some spare time, I can pop in and see what's going on on blogs or twitter. :)

  3. Hi Hawk! Thanks for stopping by and following! I've given up sleep too, waking up super early or staying up late, just to find uninterrupted writing time. Wish we could fiddle with that 24 hours/day thing ;).

    Hi Jennifer! That's a great way to do it. On days when I'm super busy with home life, I'll take a minute here and there to check emails and blogs. I'll get enough of a window to do that, but I can't get into my story with only 15 minutes, at least not the way I'd like to. I take advantage and take care of internet stuff instead. When I sit to write, I need a few minutes to focus and read a page or two of what I last wrote. Designating days is a great idea, but I might go through withdrawal when I don't at least check my email once in a day :), so I have to make sure I limit my time on writing days.

  4. Hey Rula! Yes the age old question of priorities and one dear to my heart right now. I loved your post. I think everyone has to go through their own process to determine what will work for them and decide how they'll divide their time. A soon to be published and a published author has to figure out not just how to do both, but how much time they'll really spend on marketing and promo. Speaking from experience, it can be VERY time consuming, but I think it depends on a lot of factors. Your publisher is one. If they don't do much marketing for you or your book, it may fall to you. If they don't already have a substantial distribution network, you may need to work harder to get your name out there. At the end of the day I think it also comes down to what you're comfortable with. Social networking might be a necessary evil in some views, but it's not for everyone. If it's not 'you', you probably shouldn't do it. There are a lot of avenues to explore and they all have their 'time suck' quotient.

    As for finding the time to write and what mechanisms work? I'm looking for ideas! It's been challenging of late to get extended periods of writing time in. After the nuts and bolts of promo, getting emotionally connected back to a WIP can be a challenge. Trust me, I know! It's all about discipline!

  5. Hi Kaily! You're so right about there being many factors involved. I think that even when an individual figures out a schedule that works for them, there still has to be some level of flexibility. After all, we can't control every factor involved. Part of the trick is not getting so flexible that we go limp and lose sight of that discipline you mentioned.

    It's great to hear different ideas from different writers. You never know when you'll come across one that clicks. It's also great to hear about time management from a published author's perspective ;). Don't you love the sound of that!

    I'm so looking forward to your interview here on Monday!