I have plans to write two novels in 2013, the third Anna Denning mystery and a suspense novel. Even if I didn’t work full time at my “day job,” that would be a tall order. Add to that all the marketing an unknown writer is supposed to do and it would be crazy-making impossible.
About six, seven months after I published The Witch Tree, several readers contacted me through my website to ask me when the second book in the series would be coming out. At the time I hadn’t even plotted the book. I didn’t have the vaguest idea what it would be about—and that bothered me. Writers write, don’t they?
But when I wasn’t working my day job, I was taking care of my house and two dogs and doing the social media thing during all the in-between times. I spent way too much time on the Internet and way, way too much time sitting in my not-too-comfy office chair. Some of the social media networking I thought was necessary, some of it I just enjoyed doing. And some of it, I have to admit, was delicious procrastination.
Some of it, too, was trying to reciprocate in a small way for the generosity of other writers I’ve “met” over the past year and a half—those who have kindly featured my books on their blogs or reviewed my books for Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble.
But there came a point when I realized that I can’t reciprocate. I spend eight to ten hours a day working (more some weeks), then I try to write for two hours, then I spend another hour or two on social media.
That’s what I did early in 2012, anyway, because when it came time for me to start writing Sparrow House this past August, I had to cut back on social media. Something had to give. I was finding that I didn’t have the time to do simple things like vacuum my floors, get my hair cut, or drive to the cheaper grocery store a few miles away rather than the more expensive one closest to my house. Ridiculous.
And aside from the time factor, I can no longer ignore the aches and pains, and blurry eyes, that come with sitting at the computer twelve or fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not good for the body.
It’s true that if you’re an unknown like me, you’ve got to do some marketing, but if I spend time marketing at the expense of writing, what have I got to market? (And when I say “marketing,” I don’t mean hard-core marketing, because I think that sort of thing works only in very tiny doses—if at all. I mean just getting onto social media and talking about things I’m interested in.) If I have two free hours in a day, do I spend it writing or marketing what I’ve already written? For me, the answer has become obvious.
I have to face the fact that I’ve still got a day job, and it’s a huge time eater. It has to be; it pays the mortgage. I know many writers out there are in the same frustrating position, longing for the day they can write full time. (Imagine adding ten productive hours to your day.)
If, for you, it’s not a full-time job taking up your time, maybe it’s young children, or being a caretaker for an older family member. Or maybe you’re not a writer but you just want to garden more or finally start painting or learning a new language. It will be 2013 in a few days. How do you want to spend your precious time in the new year?
So, with all that in mind, here are my writing resolutions for 2013:
- I will tweet no more than one day a week, and even then just a tweet or two. I’m sure I’ll lose Twitter “followers,” but so be it. I love the people I’ve come to know through Twitter, but I’m not convinced of the site’s usefulness as a marketing tool, and Facebook is better for keeping up with friends’ and acquaintances’ goings-on.
- I will cut back on Facebook and perhaps combine my personal page with my author page, which a lot of people seem to be doing these days. I don’t want to annoy Facebook friends by doing that, but something’s got to give. Maybe cutting back on both pages will solve the problem.
- I will cut out Google+ altogether. I’ve never really liked the site’s format, anyway.
- I will keep up with my blog, because writing a blog is writing and I enjoy it, but I won’t sweat it if two or even three weeks go by without a post.
- I will not go back to LinkedIn or join any new social media site.
- I will write, write, write every day I possibly can—not emails, not tweets, not Facebook posts, but stories.
Maybe this time next year I’ll discover I’ve made a mistake. Maybe I’ll have two new books to sell and no one who wants to buy them because no one knows who the heck I am. We’ll see.
But I think at the very least I’ll feel happier and less crazy-woman-with-dust-bunnies-everywhere next December than I do this December.