A writer who decides to network by following others’ blogs and commenting on them soon finds that he or she has little time for any original writing. It takes a lot of time and mental energy to read posts and make thoughtful comments on them. Even following only half a dozen blogs, I find that sincere efforts at comprehending and responding take the edge off my creative efforts and sap the energy I need to write fiction. And I’m not even involved in the most common “social media” — only blogging, Goodreads and LinkedIn. (And two critique groups, and the odd beta-reading gig, and endless revision of my trilogy).
So I’m left with the usual Hobson’s choice (who was Hobson, anyway?): remain isolated, viewing from my lonely tower the busy scuttle of networked folks, or get down there and join them, leaving my tales unfinished and the pages blank.
Or maybe it’s just that I have a full-time job that eats up a lot of my time and energy, leaving only two or at most three hours a day for writing-related activities. If I were in a position to divide my entire day among writing, networking, gardening and basic stuff like cooking, cleaning, bathing, socializing with the cat and talking to people face to face, it might work. But right now, when I leave the house at 7 a.m. and don’t return until 5 p.m. or later, the only things I manage to write are blog posts and comments or nothing at all. My writing style requires total mental immersion in my fictional world, leaving it only to go to work and maintain important relationships. Blogging, Goodreads and all the other connective activities need another sort of mindset altogether.
Trying to do both results in a worm-like suspicion that I’m doing only half a job of either, and inevitably it’s the creative writing that suffers. I wonder what this is doing to writing as a whole. And reading, come to that. Is there any point in writing works of fiction if no one has time to read them because they’re too busy blogging, commenting and updating their status?
And now there’s Project O, an admirable attempt at creating worldwide dialogue by an energetic blogger who calls himself Opinionated Man. He will be posting two or more contributions a day for weeks. Because I decided to participate, I read most of the contributions. If I decide to comment on anyone’s contribution, I read it at least twice, to make sure I understand what the person is saying. It’s rewarding and gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling of connectivity, but it’s yet another time sucker.
(So is this an extended excuse for not writing any new fiction? Maybe. It’s amazing how many writers end up writing about writing, rather than actually writing. Some would say that’s a Good Thing, actually).
Good things are not universally good, and some bad things are good things in disguise. The trick is to see the difference.