Too much of a good thing is still too much.
My friend Geoffrey did a post a few weeks ago about networking for the busy writer. How to spend a little bit of time optimizing SEO and networking to other blogs and such without it taking over your life. All good solid advice, most of which I already knew, though the reinforcement on some of it didn’t hurt. In any case, well worth the read.
The only problem is, keeping social networking from taking over your life isn’t that easy. This is especially true if you start out your journey of blog-reading/tweeting/facebooking etc. when you have a lot of time on your hands, and then begin to have progressively less time. It is easy to pick up a ton of blogs quickly, especially if you have a feed-reader of some kind (pretty much the best invention EVER for blog reading). At last count, I have 43 blogs in my reader. Not the most I’ve ever heard of, but when you consider that several of my favorites update daily, and several others update MORE than daily…well you can begin to see my problem. Then you add in twitter, where I’ve made friends who I’d like to stay marginally in touch with, and the forums that I’m a part of where I’ve also made friends who I’d like to stay connected to, and this whole networking thing starts to become a full-time job. It’s at that point that you begin to realize you’re no longer writing every day.
So, what do you do about it? There are a few options. You can run away from the problem. Stop posting on forums at all, don’t check twitter very often, and avoid your feed-reader until it builds up to monumental proportions and you just go in and clear it out without reading any of it. Not that I’ve ever done that, of course. Ahem. Obviously, there are a few drawbacks to this option.
Alternatively, you can make conscious cuts. Chances are, your feed-reader has a way to categorize your blogs, so you can make a list of the ones you want to read every time they update. Try to limit yourself to under 10 (I only managed to cut back to 14, but in my defense several of those update extremely irregularly). Then you can still get the updates from the others, and glance through them periodically to see if anything catches your eye, but you aren’t constantly overloaded with things to read, nor are your favorites buried under updates you are much less interested in. With Twitter, the cut is a little more amorphous. You obviously don’t want to cut friends off, people who you’ve connected with on some level. But if you follow a lot of people, you are probably inundated with tweets every few minutes. I suggest HootSuite or one of the other similar programs which lets you organize your lists into different columns. This cuts down on the inundation considerably. You can also cut back your time spent tweeting by making little rules for yourself. For instance, you can only tweet when you are reading your blogs, or you only tweet from your phone or something.
The most important thing to remember is that you are a writer first and a networker second. If the networking starts to cut into writing time, you have to bite the bullet and cut back, no matter how painful the process. I’ve just done this, and I can’t begin to articulate what a relief it was. Now I’m writing again, and may actually finish something soon.
Currently Reading: All’s Well that Ends Well by William Shakespeare