Along with my recent leap back into actively writing fiction, I've also been exploring the social media world as it relates to writers and writing. I've been on Facebook for quite a while now and also had a Twitter account which I mostly used to keep track of news relating to my beloved Columbus Blue Jackets. I even had a blog briefly a couple of years ago where I rambled about whatever came into my mind; I don't think anyone visited it except for maybe some Russian spamming sites. Recently, I've been following, liking, and blogging about writing like a man possessed.
Not long ago, Twitter told me that I had hit a limit for the number of accounts I could follow. I'd already been giving some thought to how much time I was spending talking about writing as opposed to actually doing writing. This was another reminder that I needed to make sure I was maintaining an appropriate balance.
But how do I know where that balance is? What would be some signs that I'd missed the mark? Here are three that come to mind:
1) Spending hours per day on the computer but not really getting any writing done. “Writing” here can be interpreted very broadly – not just new composition but editing and even reading a critiquing partner's work and providing them feedback can all be included under that broad heading. All of that work is productive work that helps move my writing forward. But if I'm spending lots of time on the computer and virtually all of it is tweeting, commenting on other blogs, reading writers' forums, etc. then I'm not making significant progress on my stories, and I need to re-evaluate.
2) Staying on the computer a lot longer than I planned to, just so I can follow my Twitter timeline a little while longer or “wrap up” a conversation. Even if I've reached my writing goals for the day, it's still important that I get a good night of sleep. Scrolling through tweets on my iPod Touch when I could be getting settled in for the night might not be the best pre-sleep routine, at least not on a nightly basis.
3) Getting down if my tweets aren't being responded to, or a fellow writer I'd like to chat with isn't online, or a blog post goes commentless. Unlike the first two, this isn't one that feels like it's been an issue for me. However, going back previous experience with online communities, it's something I have a bit of prior experience with. This tip isn't only about being productive as a writer, but also about feeling good about yourself. Investing too much of your sense of happiness in whether you're getting replies on any individual day can be an unhealthy choice.
Connecting with other writers has been a huge boost to me. I've gotten encouragement when I felt frustrated, “woo-hoo”s when I had good news, and lots of interesting feedback on my blog posts. I've also found several people that I can exchange critique/beta reading with. The trick is to find the right balance. At the moment, I'm fairly happy with my own balance in this regard, but it's something I plan to also keep an eye on. If I find my writing output declining or my sleep time being cut into, that may be a sign that I need to re-evaluate.
What do you think? What would be a warning sign to you that you were out-of-balance?