Friday, February 22, 2008

Creative people's balancing act

This entry is inspired by a couple of recent blogs: the Muse on Inspired Day by Day and J. A. Konrath's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Both blogs are excellent about self-promotion and the different ways to do so.

Self-promotion is now required by writers, in fact by all creative people. And others as well. The expectation with classes and workshops is that the presenter will be the primary promoter. To be effective, one must have a "presence" on the Web. That can mean anything from a blog to a series of YouTube videos and more.

How to balance necessary promotion with the creative work? How to focus effectively? It can be tough.

A couple of tips:
1. Do the creative work first and foremost.
2. Do one thing at a time and focus on that task until done.
3. Be realistic about the amount of time and energy each task takes.

Perhaps the third is the most difficult. It can be hard to admit that a blog posting takes 30 minutes to an hour to write. Or updating a web page two hours. Or most importantly the length of time it takes for creative work. Or energy. Creative people tend to believe they have an endless supply of energy. They are doing what they love after all, aren't they?

So, readers, how do you balance your creative output and all the other important aspects of the creative life? Or what trips you up? Too much time on the Internet (very common). Too little time in the day to focus on #1?


Swubird said...

Great advice. I like your tips, especially 1 & 2. Doing one thing at a time is something I have to work hard at. I always have three books going at the same time. I always have four or five writing projects going at the same time. I even watch movies and the news at the same time. I think I'm going crazy. And being realistic abut the time is absolutely golden advice. Biting off more than one can chew is probably why so many half-finished manuscripts end up in the waste basket.

Love you stuff, Conda. I've added you to my blogroll.

Have a nice day.

Jim Murdoch said...

I've never written a blog in thirty minutes in my puff, not even an hour, which is why it would kill me to try and post daily and I think it would exhaust my readers having to read a blog like mine every day. A daily blog wouldn't be me though. I'm not that kind of person and what I'm selling is me not trying to package me into nice convenient slices.

Writing a blog is one thing but you also need to promote it so that it can promote you. That means making sure you're on the right blog logs, you contribute to any social networks you're involved in and you make regular comments on other people's sites. That can take a lot of time. I have news feeds coming in constantly, a backlog can build up very quickly and, to be honest, a lot of the posts are a waste of my time. Every now and then I weed out the sites who want to spend too much time talking about their aches and pains or what their grandkids drew at school.

The other thing you need to do is look for new sites to get involved with. I have found that very hard and wasted hours searching for intelligent blogs to commit to. That I have stuck with you says something about you.

The Muse said...

Oh Conda, it is so hard. I try to keep that order, I really try. It seems that if it's not one thing, it's another. Then I fall behind.

I'm beginning to feel that I have been spending too much time on the Internet. I find myself going off topic--swaying away from whatever research I'm doing--and reading a lot of nothing.

That's good and bad. I do develop ideas from it-I make a note, bookmark, or start a new project while it's fresh-then I forget all about what I was doing in the first place.

The time issue, if only there were more hours in the day! If only I could get the little one to take her nap just a little bit longer in the afternoon. If, if, if...

I don't think I will ever grasp that elusive balance.

Conda Douglas said...

Swubird, I think all creative people struggle with 1 and 2 on my list. We have so many great ideas and projects and interests. And most of all passion. Makes it hard to focus.

And thank you for the compliment of adding me to your blogroll. I've added you to mine. I've quite enjoyed your stories about the different aspects of your "creative" life.

Conda Douglas said...

Hey Jim,

As always you make cogent points. And it helps to have a clear idea of what your blog is going to be about. Without some focus, a reader rapidly gets fatigued of reading for a particular content and not finding it.

And much thanks for the compliment.

Conda Douglas said...

Yes, Muse, the Internet is a time black hole, no doubt about it. And do you know anyone not in a time crunch and overwhelmed much of the time? Me neither.

My next post hopes to address this with another angle, which might help.

Anonymous said...

Good topic. And I have to admit that I am constantly shocked at how much time it can take to do a blog post. Is it worth it for promotion? I don't know. I do buy a lot of books from authors whose blogs I enjoy. But as you said, first and foremost should be creating the original work that you will be promoting. (Or that's how I understood #1, at least.) That's the trap I get sucked into. I'm still writing, not yet published, and some days I'd rather pick out a pen name or think about what I would want on a website. But there will be no point unless the book is written, revised, submitted, and sold. So those have to be the priority.

Conda Douglas said...

booklady, welcome to my comments. I've visited your site and today's posting is hilarious.

You make an excellent point: all us creative types would rather "do something else" that is "sorta working on our careers" when the writing/painting, etc. gets tough! And when we do, I believe we have to gently guide ourselves back to the work.

Unknown said...

For me, my creativity churns in the background. I get through the workday and enjoy the family time in the evening but by late evening, there I am at the keyboard, writing, creating. I think a lot of self-editing is done within my head throughout the day so that at night I can sit down and use my time as efficiently as possible, whether it is blogging, writing, or marketing myself.

Anonymous said...

Good words.