Writing Tip: How to be Creative, Maintain an Online Presence—and Stay Sane

THE GOOD

Yesterday was blog writing day. The day I pick a topic and do my first draft for my weekly blog post. I usually breeze right through this task and it’s fun creative writing time.

THE BAD

And yet, yesterday the hours ticked by…vague ideas came and went…all were dismissed. The page sat empty staring back at me.

I’m also in the midst of editing my book. My agent is emailing me, “when will you have the manuscript to me?” So of course every minute spent trying to write my next blog stressed me out to no end because I wasn’t getting any editing done…and the writing wasn’t happening either!

I turned to my favorite place for inspiration, Pinterest. An hour later I had many pins waiting in the Buffer queue to be posted, but alas nothing spoke to me.

I scanned through Facebook and Twitter. I Liked, Commented, Tweeted and Followed. But no blog ideas.

I read other people’s blogs. Surely that would help. Hours flowed onward. Nada.

It was late. And I had nothing. My chest began to tighten with anxiety. Not good.

I normally enjoy writing my weekly blogs. So why the torture and stress this week?

THE UGLY

That’s when it struck me. I’d inadvertently put this heavy burden of stress upon myself by dwelling on the fact that instead of writing my blog, I really wanted to be editing my book. In my mind, my online obligations of posting a weekly blog were getting in the way of me being creative. I was resentful.

But that was a lie to myself. Coming up with a topic and writing a blog every week takes some serious creative energy. I know this from experience. Writing my weekly blog has given me the opportunity to write outside my novels and find my own voice. But it’s hard work. So what this ultimately boiled down to was, I didn’t want to do the hard work. I wanted to play in my fictionalized make-believe world with my characters.

So, what did I do? I frittered away hours of time on Social Media as an excuse, instead of facing the blank page and just freakin’ writing something!

The Hero’s Journey

Once I sat myself in the chair and simply started writing…this blog came about. I could’ve done that many, many hours sooner. As a writer, I know this simple truth and yet I still avoided facing it, and Social Media gave me a handy excuse.

Don’t get me wrong, having an online presence in today’s market is imperative if we wish to share our writing, art, music—whatever our passion may be—with the rest of the world. And it’s been a wonderful resource for me as I expand my knowledge base and grow as a person and writer.

Which brings us (in a long round-about way) to my point of this blog. How do we keep up our online presence and balance it with time to write (insert your creative passion here) keep moving forward and meet deadlines?

Most days I maintain a balance by implementing tips I’ve learned over the years:

• I answer client emails first thing in the morning, then not again until end of day. Balanced Stones
• I focus on writing for a 3-4 hour stretch at a time.
• During writing time I stay off email and Social Media.
• I use tools that allow me to set up and schedule my Social Media posts at one time. Then it “drip feeds” them out to readers during the course of the day while I am busy writing or editing. I drop in periodically during breaks to like and respond to comments. Knowing I already have posts ready to go allows me to quickly return to writing without falling down the Social Media rabbit hole! 
• I routinely take time out for physical activity away from sitting at the desk, a walk outside, or at the least some yoga and exercise.
• Before bed, I make a list of online tasks for the next day and highlight the priorities. Once writing time is over, I start working on the list. Once the priorities are done, other tasks can move to the next day, if necessary.

It’s easy to have our day get knocked out of balance by a multitude of outside influences…unplanned phone calls we must take, crisis situations or emergencies. But I’ve found that by using the routine listed above, I’m able to maintain a balance on most days, or quickly return to it once unexpected obligations have been met.

 

In what ways do you maintain a balance in your life?

8 Comments

  1. Leslie Johansen Nack

    Bravo Indy! Thanks for sharing this. We all struggle but if we keep pushing we succeed. I love the fact that we are all on our own hero’s journey. I am writing about that very thing now. Keep going and get back to that book. Can’t wait to read it!

    Reply
    • indy

      Thank you Leslie! Your comment just made my day and made all the stress worth it! :0)

      Reply
  2. Mike Sirota

    Social media can be a serious distraction to a writer, just as “research” used to be for me back in the day. The key is discipline. Designate your writing hours, and let nothing intrude. I learned that quickly back then.

    Reply
    • indy

      Thanks, Mike. I keep setting my writing times, but I keep letting ‘work’ sneak its way in. I think it comes from my years in customer service and sales. I keep putting my clients’ needs before my own. A tough habit to break. Thanks for the encouragement – I need it!

      Reply
  3. Judy Reeves

    What a great post, Indy. Exactly what I needed. I’ve been in “marketing” mode for several months now, and more on the horizon. But I also have made a commitment to bring the novel to top of the pile again. A commitment I’ve found difficult to honor. And then there’s the just getting up out of the chair! You’re so right, Mike Sirota is right, and Jane Friedman (a personal hero) is right. So thanks for this. I’m paying attention.

    Reply
    • indy

      Thanks, Judy. I’m so glad you found it helpful. I love the fact the writing community is so good about sharing, so we can all learn from each other. Makes us all stronger and helps us remember we are not alone in our struggles. Write on, Judy!

      Reply
  4. Jenna Sundell

    I also tend to let everything get in the way of writing. So I’ve made tea time writing time … at least 4 days a week. I have tea in the morning after breakfast, so when I pour my tea I work on writing my next book. This way I get 30 minutes in on a manuscript before looking at email or anything else.

    It also makes the next book a priority in my mind. Even when I get busy with other things I refuse to sacrifice my tea time for other projects.

    Reply
    • indy

      I love your tea and writing ritual! Thank you for bringing up that topic as ritual also plays a big part in my own preparation for writing. With either tea or coffee as my hot drink, when I light my incense and put on music, my brain knows it’s time to get into the writing mode. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply

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