Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Professional Blogger or a Professional Writer?

This is an Insecure Writer's Post outlining my insecurities about both my writing and my blogging. A double whammy.

Last year I cut back on blogging because I spent more time on social media than writing. I had to turn things around. It worked, and I got my third novel written, hoping for a publication date in 2012.

As a result however, my follower count dwindled and for awhile there I lost more followers than I gained. It doesn't look like I'll ever be part of the 1000 Follower Club. But that's okay. I've come to terms with the reality of priorities. As much as I enjoy blogging and would love to see my blog keep growing, it doesn't happen without spending a whole lot of time on networking.

But what takes even more time is writing a really good book, one I can be proud of putting out there. It's one thing to write super fast and get the books out like .99 cookies. And seriously, I wish I could write that fast. I'm jealous of those who can.

But I have to accept that's not me. It takes me a full year to get a manuscript written and polished and ready for editing. That doesn't even count revision time during the editing process.

In 2011 I made a renewed commitment to my writing career and resolved to act more like a professional writer than a professional blogger. I gave up one of my blogs and replaced it with an official website. I reorganized my time to spend more on creative writing and less on posting and commenting. I tried to be subtle about it so no one would really notice.

But it shows in my follower count. Anyone determined to get blog followers must spend time online following and commenting on new blogs. Anyone determined to publish books must spend time offline writing and revising again and again.

Hopefully in 2012 I'll come to terms with the conflict between blogging and writing, and just chill over the whole thing. Meanwhile, I can't seem to help feeling insecure about both.

56 comments:

  1. I know what you mean. It's good to blog. It's better to write. One affects the other and vice versa. It's so hard to decide between them at times. If you write more, you'll accomplish more, but where are the people to support and buy your work, if you don't network a lot as well. Good luck to finding a balance between them.

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  2. I know how you feel about being insecure about writing, because I am too. I'm glad I'm not insecure about blogging though. I just say it like it is! lol

    I do need to stick to a blogging plan so that I stop faffing about on the internet and get some actual writing done! I'm a fast writer and I should have more than one book published by now.

    Thanks for this blog post, I can relate.

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  3. I struggle finding the right balance between blogging and writing. Glad I'm not the only one! I really let my blogging slide last year because I was writing a lot. This year looks like I'll be editing a lot, but maybe it'll give me some time to also catch up with my blogging. We'll see! Good luck on your writing and blogging!

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  4. I think a lot of the writing bloggers I follow have been spending less time blogging and more time writing. It's great that you were able to get back to your writing goals and have a book ready for 2012.

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  5. It s always hard to find that happy medium, and sometimes one task will have to take a back seat to the other. Try not to over burden yourself, but do the best you can to please yourself.

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  6. It's hard to find the balance between blogging and social media and writing and editing your next work.

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  7. Ah Karen, so well put. This writing career is new for me and as I am gaining speed I too am re-evaluating what other energy sucking areas of my life must go. Children? No. FaceBook? Probably. Twitter? Why did I ever start? Blogging? Hmmmmm Still undecided, but regardless, YOU are one I plan to follow for a very long time.

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  8. Balance with social media, writing and family is difficult to perfect. Add in another job on top, and something will suffer. Here's to helping you figure out a decent balance.

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  9. Yes the juggling game, a real nightmare at times. Just keep doing what feels right for you and the rest will fall into its proper place :) Happy New Year!

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  10. I was talking about the writing/blogging/social media balance with my brother not too long ago. It's a high wire act, that's for sure.

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  11. It's a tough juggling act -- one I'm struggling with myself. Basically, I've decided to just give myself permission not to blog when my time gets squished. It's either that, or not write my books, and that would kind of defeat the whole point. :)

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  12. I was in the same position as you last year. My writing was suffering enormously. Finally in a blinding streak of clarity, it came to me, if I picked ONE day to do most of my social networking, I could keep up with the blogs. That day was Monday. I spent hours catching up, reading, commenting, commenting back. During the rest of the week if I had time, an hour to kill or so, I'd jump on and see what was going on, commenting only when I had something to say.

    As for Twitter, if I get to it once a week, I'm lucky. Goodreads same thing. I don't FB.

    It's a fine line to walk once you're published. But I've found with one day specifically dedicated to the blogs, I feel a lot better.

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  13. Balance is the tricky thing about this life. Good luck figuring out what works best for you. I'm afraid my publisher is going to want me to get on twitter, and I KNOW I don't have time for that. I can see myself getting sucked into that world far too quickly and obsessively checking for updates all day.

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  14. I completely understand which why I don't fret too much over my numbers. I'm very happy with my my followers and if I had a thousand I wonder how I would have time to respond to them all? Maybe if I was a full time writer I could but as things stand now it would be difficult to do everything. I have a schedule now and on the days (like today) I make the rounds of all the blogs I follow I get to as many as I possibly can. On the other days, I write. And that's that!

    I think one could be both - if one had the time :)

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  15. I'm neither a professional blogger or writer but I understand how it would be hard to do both. Amateur blogging is time-consuming but at least I don't have to sweat the follower numbers. Faced with your choice, I think I'd look at blogging as a social outlet and foil for the solitary (almost) task of writing.

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  16. It's easy to lose track. It takes me a long time to write anything and all the while I'm thinking I'm neglecting something else - usually the household chores:-)

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  17. It's a tough balance to achieve. I think it comes down to what you're currently doing with your writing. When I'm in first draft mode, I'm crazy into it. I don't want to blog. But when I'm waiting for my beta readers to get back to me, I have more time. It ebbs and flows, and that's okay. So long as I keep making an effort, I feel good about it.
    You're one awesome blogger-writer, Karen. I'm happy to be following your blog!

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  18. Big balancing act, right? I feel stretched every which way all the time! Blogging unfortunately has to take a back seat to more important things... writing included :)

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  19. These are all such great comments.

    Emily, I like the idea of ebb and flow, that perfectly describes what it's like for me now.

    jabblog, I've finally given up on that worry over household chores. Course it helps that my husband is helping with them a lot more now than he ever did before.

    Stephanie, "Faced with your choice, I think I'd look at blogging as a social outlet and foil for the solitary (almost) task of writing." That is exactly the conclusion I reached at some point this past year! I stopped worrying about follower count and book sales and realized that the blog is my social outlet and "writing club."

    mshatch, I'm not even sure that more time is the solution. I have way more time than most of you, being an empty nester who works from home, with me it's a (sometimes) lack of organization skills.

    Kate, I actually enjoy Twitter because it's FAST. It's like blogging on speed.

    Anne, So glad you find a solution to your time crunch. I remember when you were going through this. It's important to be selective. And don't even mention Tumblr, LinkedIn and all these others.

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  20. It is difficult to balance. I never even tried the every day blogging thing - I knew I couldn't do it. I hope you find a schedule that works for you. New follower - one closer to the 1,000 club :)

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  21. I'm facing the same situation. I've decided to stop craving the approval of strangers on my blog (i.e. increasing my follower number) and concentrate on craving the approval of strangers with my novel and mystery games.

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  22. It's all too easy to spend far too long on social media and struggle to find time to write.

    I combined website and blog and lost lots of followers in the process. I've been too busy writing to worry about getting the follower count up on the new blog. Good luck with finding the balance!

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  23. I have neglected my blog for almost a year now,but have started back,and enjoying it,I dabble in writing,and I enjoyed your post,I'm sure what you do is hard,and blogging is very time consuming,which is partly why I left it for so long. Good luck with your writing,I was going to follow your blog,but realized I already was a follower ! Blessings Jane

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  24. Hi Karen .. I have to say I cut right back on my blogging - partly out of necessity of having terminally ill relatives - but I'm happy about that ... I have a great following.

    My posts are my asset base ... and I love participating with everyone re their comments and going over to their blogs .. I don't do Social Media -but must step up to the plate this year ...

    I must organise things better as I go along .. as I'll be doing a lot more ..

    Good luck with it all .. I loved Farm Girl, and now having won House of Diamonds am looking forward to having that to read ... cheers Hilary

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  25. Moderation in everything. I think you are doing just fine. :)

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  26. Everyone has said it already: balance and priorities. As much we'd like to, we can't do it all or something will suffer. I plan to blog less and write more this year too. Good luck, Karen!

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  27. Balance can be tricky. One writer I know allows only ten minutes per hour online, the rest is writing. But then, he's a bestseller and all he does is write! Balancing with other parts of life is much more difficult. But you appear to be doing well.

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  28. Karen, you are not that far from a thousand and I bet you will be in that club one day.
    It does take time and I'm sure I'd scare people with how long I'm online every day. But as writing isn't my career and I just need to produce one more book, it's do-able for me.
    Of course, I do wish I wrote faster...

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  29. Karen, I am so in alignment with you on this one. I know I am not willing to do whatever it takes to make my blog more successful. I want that energy to go towards writing and singing. Sigh!
    Karen

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  30. Ever see that "juggling for klutzes" kit that used to be on the market? That was made for me, and I'm no better at juggling my time. Blogging has become much more enjoyable than I ever expected it to be, and I've come to care for many of the blogger I've met. But what about my BOOK??? I'm determined to finish editing it THIS YEAR, doggone it. If that means less time on blogger, sobeit.

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  31. Oh my gosh, Karen, I basically had a blogging breakdown last week and wondered if I should blog in 2012 because of the whole time commitment. I determined that I am 100% interested in quality over quantity. I decided, for me, it is not about thousands of followers, it's about making real connections with a small amount of loyal followers. It's not about commenting on every blog just to comment but being thoughtful about what I say. And it's not about writing a post every day just to get one up but writing fewer posts that mean more. That's what I concluded as I began blogging in 2012. We'll see how it goes :) (And I may steal this comment and make it a post with you credited as my inspiration, it's all about being efficient! ;)

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  32. I've had to prioritize too. I need to spend more time with my writing than with my blog. That's why I only post once a week, because I'd rather be writing than blogging. And I only visit blogs for 30-45 minutes (depending on the day) or else I'd be blogging for hours!

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  33. Oh I relate so much! I cut back from blogging last year too. I couldn't keep up and write.Now I don't know where I am but I like balance and blogging really can get in the way.Don't worry about your followers--write a great book!

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  34. I feel like it's impossible to keep up with blogging and everything else, as much as I try to. I come and go from blogging in waves depending on what else is going on in my life. Right now I'm back! :)

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  35. Oh wow - this is such a conundrum isn't it? I've always treated the blogging as a bit of fun and a distraction to keep my boredom at bay - hence my utter blogging silliness and not being really too writerly serious! But writing stories is deadly deadly and supremely serious. It's what should take most of my free time - I know that in my heart but I know too how undisciplined I am and how easily distracted! But you are so right though - the longer I blog (this is my 3rd year) the more I realise just how much writing I don't do! I know I have to really change my priorities! What a challenge! Take care
    x

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  36. It's a tough call but I don't think you can have both successfully and those who can are amazing people. But, for me, it won't matter in the end how many followers I had. What will matter is what I left behind in terms of words. SO, for me, writing is more important.

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  37. Wow, I could have written this post...almost. I reduced my blogging when I realized that I wasn't working on my WIP. When I gave that the priority I wanted it to have, I finished the first draft. Yet, I felt badly for all those unwritten blog posts. I'm with you in that I'd like to find a balance. But when I really focus on my goals, writing wins...

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  38. Well, I liked this post, and as a follower for quite a while, I wouldn't dream of unfollowing, even if you just post now and again.
    It's always a dilemma, how to use the time in our lives, isn't it?
    Recently, I've posted very irregularly, and have lost followers too, but the faithful ones are still there, and very supportive of the fact that my music makes me too busy to post often.

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  39. Its really a comfort to know that other people struggle with this, too. It's one benefit self-publishing can never usurp from the larger, traditional presses-- less pressure to constantly promote.

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  40. Me, too. My follower count is about where yours is--and it's been that way for a couple months now. For a while there I thought I'd reach 1000 by the new year but, obviously, I haven't. Not that I don't appreciate the followers I already have (they're awesome!) but there's always that sense of climbing one mountain and being faced with another, isn't there?

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  41. That's how I feel. I can't do everything I need to in the real world and keep up the pace here online. Something has to give.

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  42. Well, where is Super Woman when you need her? Shoot, you still do better than me, I can't even keep up with blogging. :)

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  43. I wish I had more followers too; I've been blogging for more than a year and a half and I'm lucky if I get more than a few followers a month. But it always means a lot to get a new follower or to read a comment from anyone who reads my blog; it still makes my day every time. Losing followers is tough because it always leaves people wondering why. But I think you're a great blogger and a writer, and that's why so many people continue to follow and join your blog.

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  44. Social networking can be SUCH a time suck! I've really had to limit myself and accept that I'm not going to be in the 1000 followers club either. I'm okay with that! I'd much rather be a professional writer than blogger. I enjoy my interaction with everyone in the blogsphere, but I enjoy my writing that much more! Happy 2012!

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  45. I'll never be a 1000 follower blogger either because I would rather spend quality time with a few than follow everyone for the reciprocation.

    You concentrate on your writing, Karen.

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  46. Karen, it is a tough balance. I'd love to be a super-popular blogger but I hover around the 200 follower mark and I'm happy with that.

    I work full-time so free time is precious. It has to go on books first, social media second. I love to interact with people on the blogosphere but ultimately my goal is to write professionally and no one is going to pay for my devastatingly witty and insightful blog posts (hey, I'm not a follower junkie but a bit of self-promotion can't hurt ;).

    I'd far rather hear that a blogger I liked had a book out that I could buy, than hear that they had hit 1000 followers.

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  47. I know what you mean. Whenever I blog I get this sense that there's a conflict of interest, but now I put a priority on writing, followed by networking.

    So as soon as I'm done with what I'm supposed to write, I get networking. I see the latter as an important aspect because, not only am I learning a lot, but I'm getting to market my story before it's out.

    Good luck with getting the right balance!

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  48. I'm with you. It can be a fulltime job to blog, and it's more than a fulltime job to write a book. I'm struggling with the same thing, and while I was pumping up my blogs to build a "platform" I really have to wonder how beneficial that will be in the long run.

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  49. These comments are awesome-- thoughtful, insightful, helpful.

    Clearly this is an issue many of us deal with, and I think it goes back to the same discussion: does blogging really work to sell books? Or to get an agent? Or to find one's audience?

    We get into it for reasons that evolve as we go, but inevitably the time comes when one asks, Wait a second, am I on the right track with this?

    Like many of you, I've repeatedly asked myself these questions. At this point, I love blogging because of the relationships I've made, not because of my follower count or my book sales or any of the rest.

    As long as I keep my priorities in order, blogging will be a joy and not a burden.

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  50. what a greaaat post love your blog =) follow

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  51. what a greaaat post love your blog =) follow

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  52. Yes, Karen, it is very difficult to find a balance between writing and blogging. I struggle with this a lot. Because of some unexpected family issues,I have not written all week. Tomorrow will be the first time I've looked at my novel since last Friday. I'm praying that life will slow down so I can get back on track. I guess all we can do in life is try to muddle through the best way we know how. As long as we are doing our best then that is all we can ask of ourselves. Best of luck in 2012.

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  53. Gee, Karen, I think we can ALL be guilty of this. We so want to be good blogger friends, but something has to give. We all only have so much free time.

    This year I was spending hours blogging a day until three months ago. Slowly, ever so slowly, my posts went for six days to five, four, three. An now I am lucky to do that. I feel awful about.

    My loyal blogger friends still dropped by and left comments. I had many new followers from varies platform building fests, but I couldn't keep up. Then I crashed. December my worst month... only six posts.

    I wish is was writing that took me away.. LIFE did. Again only so many hours. Now I am back.

    I have missed blogging SO MUCH! And now I am preparing for the SCBWI conference in NYC and I am freaking. Back into queries, synopsis's, and pitches. Am I ready... Hell NO! But I have a clear head and I am ready to tackle it all.

    My blogger friends came to my rescue to help push me back in the arena. SO you see, we need BOTH. Balance is the key.

    I just read post today. Congrats on CELERYTREE! It is a marvelous concept! And you reached out to all of us. None of us can stay away for too long. WE all need each other. WE are special, WE are loyal, and We are always there for each other,,,.

    Happy New Year Karen.... all the best for 2012

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  54. Karen, I feel your pain on this one. Blogging is a great way to stay connected and network and all good things. But, it takes time away from writing. I struggle with the balance as well and decided that in 2012 I was going to put my writing first.

    I'll blog when I have something to say and the time to connect with others. In the meantime, I'm writing.

    Happy New Year. Good luck in 2012.

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  55. This strikes a chord with me because it's a chicken and egg situation and I think we must all feel it. There just doesn't seem enough time does there. No answers I'm afraid, but understanding.

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  56. It's about knowing your priorities and sticking to them, isn't it?
    For me it is clear: after my family, it's writing original fiction.
    I hesitated to start a blog. But so far the most rewarding part has been, surprise, reading and interacting with other writers' blogs. But only AFTER the 'real writing' is done for the day.
    Happy to read that you are navigating your priorities and finding your path, Karen. You are one amazing lady and writer.

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