Almost all writers—Indie or traditionally published—have day jobs. And these days, regardless of their method of sharing their work with the world, it’s essential for a writer to have an online social platform. But this social platform should not overwhelm the actual writing. Time management is key.
I just started a new job as a research fellow at a RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. This is obviously a time-consuming endeavor, and I’ve had to let both my writing and my online socializing take a back seat to my work, but if I just manage my time properly there’s no reason why I can’t put time into all three.
But aside from my day job, between writing and maintaining my social platform, writing definitely takes precedence. After all, what good is a strong online presence if the books I’m trying to let people know about aren’t any good? Of course the other side of this is that I could write the best books in the world, but that doesn’t help if no one ever hears about them.
My job is time-consuming, but it does leave plenty of time for me to write, if I choose to do so. At least two hours every evening, plus as much time as I care to devote to it on the weekends. And this is time strictly devoted to writing. Not editing or reading or researching material for the book or blog post.
I find that writing requires significant blocks of time, while interacting with social media can be done here and there, whenever I have a few spare minutes. I can tweet from the train on my phone, or update my Facebook author page while I’m having lunch.
Writing is hard work. It’s time-consuming and can be anxiety-inducing. Is my writing good enough? Will people like it? Can I find the right audience? These are fears that plague me as I try to write. Which makes it tempting to just put the writing aside—just for now—and work on building my social network. Because talking with people online is fun and easy. Witty banter, reading other people’s blog posts, and making connections online doesn’t seem like work. Not compared to the actual task of writing, anyway.
But this temptation must be resisted, or you might end up just being a social networker rather than a writer with a social network. This started to happen to me. I got so busy with my new job that I just felt like I was too tired or didn’t have the time to write. But I still interacted with people on Facebook and Twitter. And that in itself isn’t a bad thing, but how could I call myself a writer if I wasn’t doing any writing? Finally I reached a point where I felt like I should either give up and just call myself a scientist, or I should get back to writing.
So I got back to writing. And it wasn’t easy at first. I felt like I didn’t have as much enthusiasm or energy as I had before, but despite this writing remained important to me, and I found that when I forced myself to commit my time to it, it became more and more enjoyable again. A recreation rather than a chore.
I know it’s hard to balance writing and maintaining a social platform with having a day job, but I think it’s important that people not neglect the writing itself in favor of the networking, or they risk losing the reason they created the social network in the first place.