Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lessons from WFC


Before I get to the bad news, I want to highlight some other writers I met at the Con, who I didn't get photos with, or who don't blog.

  • I saw William Alexander on a Kidlit panel that I missed the first half of, because I was at a reading. I thought he was brilliant, but didn't have the balls to introduce myself until the last day. What? I'm shy. Anyway, you can find Will's book at the Goblin Secrets website, or you can check his writer website, or you can follow him on Twitter. I haven't read his book yet or anything, so I can't tell you it was amazing, but the guy had some great philosophies about reading, storytelling, and salamanders.
  • Sandra Wickham is actually a friend of Simon's, but I somehow didn't end up with any photos of her (which is a shame, because she's a beautiful lady). More importantly, she's a writer, and an editor for inkpunks.com. I got to talk to her about my book, and hear about some of the short stories she's had published. She was very nice. You can visit Sandra's website, find her on Twitter, or just click through to the inkpunks' site, above. And yes, that photo on Twitter is oh her on the Iron Throne, does it get any cooler?
  • Okay, so admittedly I did have a photo or two of Jane Kindred, but I want to mention her again because not only was she very cool, and a friend of several of my friends, but she was on a panel with Charlaine Harris, Nancy Kilpatrick, Kate Elliot, and Malindo Lo, which is a table full of literary rock stars, and Jane absolutely killed it. You cane find Jane on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

All right. That's all the highlights I have time for. I'll try to share some more next week.

Now I have to get to the bad news.

This biggest lesson I took from WFC is that I spend too much time blogging, and don't take my writing seriously enough. Maybe seriously isn't the best word. I do care a lot about my writing, and when I spend time on it I take it very seriously, but the problem is I don't spend enough time on it.

I spend a lot of time every day writing blog posts, and reading and commenting on other blogs. A LOT of time. I love it. I love connecting with other writers. I love helping people with their queries. I love getting comments on topics I care about.

But what I realized at WFC is that it's writing books that really matters. Actually, not so much writing books, but finishing books. Nearly every person I met there was published. Published, or at least involved in publishing in some professional capacity.

I may be a prolific blogger, and I'm not saying blogging hasn't made a huge difference in my life and in my writing career, but it's also taken up a lot of my time that could have been spent writing and revising.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. I'm pretty sure I won't give up on blogging, and I'm not going to stop helping people with their queries, but it's become clear to me that my writing has suffered for the sake of my blogging, and I just can't allow that to continue.

Maybe I'll reduce the days of the week I post. Maybe I'll post every day, but not read and comment on other blogs. Maybe I'll just take a hiatus. I don't know. I have to let myself process it all a bit more, but there is one thing I know: I need to finish this book.

63 comments:

Kristen Pelfrey said...

Whatever you do, you have my full and unqualified support.

Old Kitty said...

Best decision I've made was to post once a week on my silly blog - freed up so much time for serious writing!!

So good luck with whatever you decide to do with your blog and blog scheduling!

Yay for a fun time at your convention! Take care
x

Anne Gallagher said...

I think as we build our "platform" writing does tend to take a backseat. I made the decision to only blog 3 days a week, but now, with books out and promotion, I'm finding I have much less time to write. I do have a hiatus planned, and I do think I will cut back my blog time after the holidays. Writing is just too important. Especially now that I'm published.

Stephanie Lorée said...

Smart move. We'll be here when you get back.

Laurita said...

If you come up with a good formula, will you pass it along? I've had the same problem, and I can't quite find a happy balance. I love blogging, but it really does eat into the writing time.

Good luck on finding that balance, and on all the future writing.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I can SO relate to your problem. I only blog once a week but it's very time consuming. And I spend so much time reading blogs that I should be spending writing.

I think cutting down your posts a week will help you and us. Because we want to be your friend and read your posts. Please tell us anything else you figure out because I have to cut down my blog reading and write more too.

Simon C. Larter said...

I'm not one to talk about making time to write OR blog, since I don't do enough of either. It's all about the balance, I'm told, but I've yet to find that.

Maybe if I ran, biked, and drank less I'd have more time to actually write. Hmm....

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Okay, I did wonder how you were managing to blog almost everyday, comment, critique in your crit group, work fulltime, AND write a novel. I thought maybe you're a vampire or something.

I suggest cutting down your blogging days. I used to do it M-F, but I couldn't keep up with it. You could even cut it down to two days a week.

Whatever you decide to do, Matt, I'll support your decision. We just don't want to lose you. :D

Ted Cross said...

Have you considered trying to write a second book, letting the first one simmer awhile (and giving us time to finish critting it) before returning to it? I've found writing the second one so much easier after learning so much during the writing of the first. I'm far more excited about the second one, too, and feel it has a far better chance of being published one day.

Slamdunk said...

I don't do 3/4s of what you do and I reduced my posts to 3-4 times per week and only responding to comments periodically.

Good luck with your new direction Matthew.

Ashley said...

Wise decision.

storyqueen said...

I try to read blogs in the morning for 1/2 hour, comment sometimes, post a blog twice a week and that's all I can manage if I want to finish my books.

Good luck in deciding your blogging fate. Everyone has to find their own balance.

Shelley

Pat Hatt said...

Luckily so far I'm a machine and haven't had to deal with this. I do tend to do less commenting when I'm writing a book though, but you still want to do it.

Best thing thing I find to do is yank the internet connection out and then just write, prevents you from seeing emails pop up and all that other stuff that side tracks you.

Michael G-G said...

I presumed you never slept--that was how you managed to do so much. (And I think Stina may be on to something, Count Mattula!)

You are an amazing blogger, blog-reader, blog-commenter, supporter, and friend. But I think your epiphany is wise. Please don't give it up altogether. You might have to put a leash on it, though. We'll cheer for you, whatever you decide.

Jess said...

Oh good luck! But no matter what don't stop blogging! We'd all miss you!

I wake up early in the morning and write a post, check a few other blogs and then get to my WIP for the rest of my free time.

Once again, good luck!

Marta Szemik said...

I committed to writing every day (except Sundays unless it's crucial)and I'm sticking to it. I will not go to sleep unless I have 1000K written each day. I take the computer to the kids gymnastics, dance, swimming etc., then write when they go to bed and also in the morning before they wake up. I find setting up a routine has helped a lot. So my advice, set a schedule, stick to it. You have the support of many people!

Nancy said...

Your first responsibility is to your goals. If you aren't meeting them than you do need to look at what is holding you back and adjust. Good luck with the changes. I think everyone will understand.

Mel Fowler said...

I love to blog, read blogs, and comment on blogs. And last week or so, my brain got so full of writing, and I took a break from blogging for a week.

Best writing week ever. It's hard finding that balance. I try to post MWF and read and comment on Tue. and Thru. or over the weekend.

When I keep to this schedule, I find that I'm able to write more.

Do what you feel is best. Everyone is different and I'll still read your stuff no matter when you post!

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Writing does have to come first, but I hope you don't give up blogging altogether. I wouldn't have "met" you without your blog!

Eric W. Trant said...

My blogging rate goes up-and-down. It's a saw-tooth curve.

When I write (or program, which is very similar to writing for me), I drop just about everything else and focus entirely on that project. September and October were writing and programming months, respectively. I started a book in Sept, updated my software in October, and now I'm taking a week or two off to blog. I'll be back to writing soon, to finish that book and on to the next!

Point is, you learned something key, and it's a great point to share in the blogosphere. You see writers take hiatus from blogging all the time, to focus on wip.

Just don't go away forever. Q^3 be missed!

- Eric

L.C. Frost said...

Totally feel you, dude. I'm not near as prolific a blogger, but I definitely have noticed that my writing time has gotten cramped. Do whatever you've gotta do--I think we can all agree that while we love your blog, we'd love your book even more. :-)

Amanda Bonilla said...

I'm not much of a blogger. Posting once a week is the best I can do. I love your blog and I really enjoy reading and networking with other writers. But the reality is that if I don't sit down on work on what I'm contracted for, there's no product for me to push through my blogging efforts. Writing has to come first.

I honestly feel like sometimes people get caught in a blogging trap. No one will comment on or follow your blog if you don't do the same for them and so on. It becomes this strange popularity/numbers game. But even if you only blogged once a month, Matthew, I'd keep coming back and reading, and commenting. Write. Write a lot. The blog will be here when you're done. ;)

Matthew MacNish said...

@ LC, thanks! That's almost exactly what I was thinking (and hoping to hear).

Tere Kirkland said...

Lots of smart comments here. I had to cut down my blogging to focus on my writing, too. Now I blog when I have a blog chain post, when I have a book to review, or I'm feeling the need to post on a topic that's important to me.

Good luck, Matt!

Chris Phillips said...

Simon is right about needing balance, and if you stop reading my blog you simply won't have any. j/k. maybe.

maybe you could set goals for yourself, like if I finish x amount of chapters this week I'll post a query revision. That way you have cut back and motivated yourself with something you like doing. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

TL Conway said...

Some really good comments here already. I will simply join my voice to the chorus to say you have to put yourself--and your dreams--first. Your followers will understand!

mooderino said...

I htink it's that hting that tasks will take up the time you allow them. If you do your writing first one any given day, and use any time left over for blogging that might create a better balance maybe?

mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino
The Funnily Enough

KarenG said...

I went through the same thing when I realized I was acting more like a professional blogger than a professional writer. What?! I don't want to be a professional blogger! (Altho like you I love it!) So I made some changes and am very happy with the results, and it hasn't seemed to hurt my blogging/networking. But it has definitely helped me reach my writing goals.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Yeah. I took it down to a couple posts a week for the same reason. Blog I must, just less.

Technically, I'm NaNoing today, but I wanted to stop in and tell you: I've elected you to head up the Diamond camp over on my blog, per the Bartle Quotient. Let me know if I'm wrong. ;)

Christina Lee said...

I feel like the older and wiser (*ahem*) sibling when I say, "I've been wondering when you'd finally get to that place."

We all start out strong but it's gotta give somewhere. And whatever you decide, I'll support. Whether it's cutting back blogging days or cutting back commenting by email AND on blogs on same day (not sure you can ever cut out commenting altogether--you're too social and nice). :-)))

You'll feel way less stressed and be happy that you produced a new baby--your BOOK!!! GOOD LUCK!

Sherrie Petersen said...

This is why I'm down to posting once a week most of the time. I'm trying to finish a WIP and doing edits on another book and that has to come before blogging. So. Yeah, it's a tough decision, but definitely important.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I've cut down on my blogging. I used to post 5 times a week, now it's only 3. I set a timer and let myself hop around and comment for a certain amount of time and that's it. You're so right - it's the writing and the finishing that's most important.

Michael Offutt said...

OMG...

First you say you want 1000 followers and more

Then you say you are tired of blogging...

At least you brag about all the famous people you hang with.

You're such a man.

You should live in Utah so you could have multiple wives and then they could blog for you.

Adieu XOXO

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Do what feels right, we'll be here regardless of what you decide to do.

Carol Riggs said...

Best wishes as you decide. If you do love the communication and social networking of visiting other blogs, though, it might be better to cut the # of posts down (2 or 3 times a week?) and then you'd still have time to trot around the blogosphere. Good luck! Writing is important too (if you want to get published). ;o)

Laura Pauling said...

That might be true but you have a lot of followers! :)

I understand your decision. Writing has to come first.

Kristen said...

Good for you, Matt. I think you need to do what's right for you as a writer. (Hoping no one else said that since I'm the 37th comment...)
But I mean it! It IS a balance. And I don't see it as bad news at all--good news, for you as a writer!

Nancy Thompson said...

Yes, I agree, blogging totally gets in the way of writing. I only commit one day a week to writing my post and visiting / commenting on others. I think that's a decent amount of time and it has had it's benefits, so even though I find it a chore at times, I'll keep doing it.

maine character said...

You have to focus on the mission, and the mission is finishing the book. Everything else is just a sideshow.
- Tom Clancy

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I feel your pain! I've tried to balance the two in lots of different ways, but schedules don't work for me. (My muse shows up when she feels like it.)

I read and comment on blogs more often when I'm between projects or feeling my way through a first draft. Revisions are usually too intense for me to give blogging much time.

(And this month I had 5 critiques to do all at the same time, but that's a different story.)

I don't think anyone will be offended if we see less of you while you devote yourself to the task of finishing your book. Just use the blogosphere as a water cooler break!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Some people can balance it. I'm not one of them. I can't blog like I used to and write.

Of course, I have dozens of other things pulling for my time that mean I don't have much time to write anyway.

Right now, I just want to finish the book I'm writing and be done. Seven is a lucky number - good place to end.

Carrie said...

Sounds like there were some really great people at this conference. You are such an awesome, helpful blogger. You have to write/finish your book because you have all these people who want to read it. Blogging/social media can be a bit distracting but I think it's helped me feel more connected as a writer.

C D Meetens said...

I know what you mean, and I only do a tiny fraction of what you do on the blog circuit. I hope you find a good compromise between blogging and writing.

A.M. Swan said...

Matt, I've been following you for a long time now - but you probably don't know me - because I can't justify spending the time blogging when I need to work. I am still un-agented - but (I hope) closer every day - my book has been through more work that I thought possible. I have enjoyed your work as a blogger - but I think your story premise is much more awesome. Recently I came across a book in the book store and literally said to my husband - oh this guy who blogs would be envious...it is so close to his story. Focus on your book. Without the book - there is no point in building the platform.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Why do you think I only blog three days a week?
I can't stop what I do as far as blogging though. I spoke with my publisher and we have an idea when my book started to climb Amazon's charts. It was in between the first Insecure Writer's Support Group post and the Worst Movies Ever blogfest. They were doing some library mailings, but that wouldn't impact Amazon. So it had to be what I was doing.
Now I must find a way to do what I do and write a third book...

Jemi Fraser said...

It's such a hard call. We really need to invent extra time somehow. I've learned a ton from blogging and I'd hate to give it up, but I've cut back too. I generally only post 6 or 7 times a month. It's a pretty good balance for me ... for now. Good luck with your decision making process.

Rina Heisel said...

I hope you're able to find the balance that works for you. Your your blog posts are great, strong voice, very entertaining-- I would love to see what you can do with a polished-up novel!

D.G. Hudson said...

I only post once a month, and sometimes twice, for the very reasons you are saying Matt. It takes too much time.

There's such a thing as burnout. Munk is taking a sabbatical, Nathan has cut down his posts. It's a trend resulting from daily posting.

Those writing conferences, (I just attended one too), make you sit back and re-assess your progress.

Good luck!

Sj said...

To sum it up in one word - SPECTACULAR!!

Also try taking a look here (http://preferredpublishers.go2cloud.org/SHFK)

Stephanie D said...

I think we all go through this from time to time. I know I do...only it's not novel writing time the blogging takes away from for me. Look forward to more posts and hopefully news of a novel of yours one day!

Arlee Bird said...

Your bad news is my news too, but not really new news. I know I blog a whole lot and don't write enough. I'm hoping for a payoff somewhere along the line, but meanwhile the payoff for now is that I'm having a heck of a lot of fun with it.


Lee
Tossing It Out

Jessica Bell said...

Yes, you DO need to finish this book because I want to read it!!!

I think you should just cut back. If you're anything like me, and love blogging, but feel it becoming a little heavy on your shoulders, I think cutting back is the way to go.

I don't post Fridays anymore (well, when I'm not blog touring) and you'd be surprised at what a huge difference that one day makes. That's THREE days a week where I don't even LOOK at blogs. The break makes a HUGE difference. I'm tired now because of my book launch, and all the freelance work I have on my plate, but before that, I was handling it pretty well.

Take it like weening off a drug: gradually.

Em-Musing said...

You've struck a nerve here. When you find the balance of juggling writing, marketing and blogging, let me know. Maybe if everyone blogged just one day a week, followers wouldn't have too much to follow all at once and could comment at leisure.

LTM said...

well, you know I had to cut it down to twice a week a long time ago. GOOD. Do it. I also only make the "rounds" on those two days as well. It's tough, but you've got to remember why you're here. And we all understand. Or we should... :o) <3

Sara B. Larson said...

That is a very hard decision to make. Balancing it all can be SO hard. But yes, if you want to get published the #1 priority must be finishing and polishing your book. And whatever decision you make doesn't have to be permanent. If it isn't working, and you aren't happy, you can always change again. :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

" it's writing books that really matters"

I reached that same conclusion recently. It was hard to back off yet also liberating -- because I'm not spending more time writing.

Joshua said...

Hiya, Matthew. I think of blogging as a conversation with the audience. I'll never let up on blogging! There will be highs and lows, good days and bad, but I'll keep on keeping on.

abrokenlaptop.com said...

This is a really tough call. If you blog, you cut into writing. If you write and don't blog, unless you're a super established writer, you end up losing the connections that you made in the first place. I cut my blog from 3 times a week to one (but I was also pregnant with triplets and, you konw, busy and stuff) and my blog is a dry, barren wasteland. A shadow of its former glorious self. Now I'm trying to up it to three times a week again, but my literary load is higher than it has ever been, plus I have little kidlets. If the heavens part and you figure out what works for you, will you clue me in?

Also, it was such a pleasure to meet you at WFC! Hopefully we'll have a little longer to talk next time, although we all have long, lovely legs from all the plies.

Mercedes

abrokenlaptop.com said...

This is a really tough call. If you blog, you cut into writing. If you write and don't blog, unless you're a super established writer, you end up losing the connections that you made in the first place. I cut my blog from 3 times a week to one (but I was also pregnant with triplets and, you konw, busy and stuff) and my blog is a dry, barren wasteland. A shadow of its former glorious self. Now I'm trying to up it to three times a week again, but my literary load is higher than it has ever been, plus I have little kidlets. If the heavens part and you figure out what works for you, will you clue me in?

Also, it was such a pleasure to meet you at WFC! Hopefully we'll have a little longer to talk next time, although we all have long, lovely legs from all the plies.

Mercedes

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

seriously, since i cut down on reading and commenting on other blogs, i've gotten a lot more writing done. i just try to make sure i hit my best pals as frequently as possible, the people who comment on my blog (which, natch, is harder for you) and the rest i only hit after i've met all my daily writing related goals. Yes my blog has taken a drop in comments and hits, but i'm OK with that.
I want to be a writer who blogs. Not a blogger who writes.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Yup, that's why I had to cut back. The writing has to come first.

Glad you had a great time and met some cool people. Still bummed I wasnt there. :(

alexia said...

We talked about this at WFC, so you know I agree... life is such a balancing act! I'm sure you'll find a happy compromise.

P.S. - I'm loving Will Alexander's goblin website!! I'll have to get that book for my son.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I think this is the realization we all come to, at some point in our blogging journeys. It's inevitable. There just isn't enough time to keep up with networking, when there are books to write. I had to scale way back too, and although it was uber tough in the beginning, I don't regret the decision. There will be a time to step up the blogging again, once I have a polished ms ready to query.

Good luck coming to the right blogging decisions and schedules, for you!