Friday, December 07, 2007

Finding Focus

By Kristine Coblitz

I did something last weekend that I never thought I'd have the courage to do. I deleted my personal blog and my MySpace page.


I'm a professional. I know that online networking is part of the gig of being a writer. But I'm also a realist who knows that in the upcoming months, time is going to be limited for me and I need to focus my priorities. Having a newborn in the house while working and writing (and trying to get some sleep!) is going to have my mind more scattered than it already is on a regular basis.

When I look at the time I spend online, I'm amazed at how many hours I waste surfing the web and chatting with others. Being a part of the online community can be fun, but it's also not helping my writing career, and let's face it. If I don't have time to finish my manuscript, all the networking in the world isn't going to help me. Without a manuscript to sell, I don't have a writing career, right?

So I'm cutting back, limiting my online activities to e-mail and few select blogs (including this one) I read regularly so that when I'm sitting at my computer, I can focus on my writing. It's like an addiction, though. I actually felt my heart racing as I deleted the accounts and weeded out my list of online favorite sites. It was both sad and liberating at the same time.

How much time do YOU spend online? Does it cut into your writing time? What online activities can you not live without?


Clea Simon said...

I don't even want to think about how much time I spend online. I've gotten very good about not answering phone calls, but I'm on email constantly and, well, reading blogs, writing blogs, you name it!

But for those of us who work at home, it is our water cooler. So that's not entirely bad, is it?

Anonymous said...

Funny, I was just thinking yesterday how I need to cut down on my on-line time at home. I also spend far too much time playing computer solitaire. I was realizing if I didn't do that, I could do half an hour of yoga in the morning.

And I have a "real job" four days a week, so I don't need the "water cooler"!

Congratulations, Kristine, on keeping your priorities straight.

Joyce Tremel said...

I spend a lot of time online, but much of it is research (or so I tell myself). I'm always reading news and articles looking for some gem that might be turned into a plot for a book, or even a blog topic. I also try and read publishing news to see who is publishing what, etc. And I can't do without the four or five blogs I visit on a daily basis.

Even though I work four days a week, it's a different environment. I need to connect with writers and the internet is how I do that.

Annette said...

With me, it isn't so much the blogs that tie up my time as the Yahoo groups to which I belong. While educational and a good source of research (yeah, Joyce, I like that excuse, too), they eat up large chunks of my time that I need to spend on actual writing. So I've recently consolidated all but a few into digest format and just skim the subjects that really interest me or apply to me. I figure that has freed up probably an hour each day that I can better use more productively.

When's that baby coming, Kristine???

Anonymous said...

Like Annette and Tory, it's the Yahoo groups and solitaire that eat up my time. I don't surf the net very much, probably because after years of slow dial-up frustration, I still have avoidance built up, even though my Broadband connection works much faster. Still, I don't think of it as wasted time. I'm convinced that the various solitaires (especially Spider Solitaire) and minesweeper are brain exercise, just as useful to the thinking mind as yoga is to the body.

Anonymous said...

Time management---one of the keystones of a writer's success. And I have felt from the get-go that doing the PR before the book is sold is a waste of precious time and resources. Better to write the book. Go for it, Kristine.

Anonymous said...

I think the social interaction is the one reason why I can't give up the Internet community completely. Working at home does get rather lonely and being able to chat online (rather than on the phone) is a nice alternative. I think the key is finding balance so it doesn't interfere with our writing. That's my goal, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Annette: You asked when the baby was coming. I hope soon. I'm definitely ready to pop! LOL!

Martha Reed said...

Kristine, you're so right. I had to turn my email notification 'beep' off while working on my mss or I ended up spending all day deleting spam. I also turn off my upstairs phone when I'm working - hey, that's what voice mail is for, right?

Joyce Tremel said...

Kristine said: I'm definitely ready to pop!

If only it was that easy...

Anonymous said...

You're wise to cut back on the internet. You can always add on later if you change your mind. Babies do have a way of changing one's perspective, time, and energy. I'm very excited for you, your husband, and the wee one.

Unknown said...

Kristine, hope you "pop" soon. I have a very full schedule and am on call 24x7 on top of the "day" job, but I still use the Internet quite a bit. One of the tricks, I think, is managing it vs. it managing you. I love RSS feeds that allow me to scan 30+ blogs (including this one) at a single glance to see any topics I'm interested in reading. If I had to sit and click back and forth, it would be time-consuming, but to see them all on one page with a quick summary of their contents is a huge time saver.

As for e-mail, I'm working on taming that beast, but I also don't ever want to not respond to a reader or someone from a group who has a question, so I still try and quickly look at those.

I dedicate the evenings to writing time mostly, but I do understand how these other interruptions can impede our workflow.

Felicia Donovan

Anonymous said...

Joyce: I hear ya. I have a feeling this baby is in there for the long haul.

Felicia: You nailed it on the head with this phrase: "One of the tricks, I think, is managing it vs. it managing you." Very true.

Christa M. Miller said...

"I think the social interaction is the one reason why I can't give up the Internet community completely. Working at home does get rather lonely and being able to chat online (rather than on the phone) is a nice alternative."

That's almost exactly how I was going to describe it. I spend maybe an hour socializing online, just to keep from feeling isolated. I spend time with the parents' community I've been part of for 5 years, and with blogs.

Of course, with the two boys, that's often more than I "should" be doing when I could be writing. But I don't like to write when they're around, either (unless I'm already in the right frame of mind), so the blogs especially are a nice bridge until I can do my "real" work at night.