Stop wasting your time

Hi, Miss Snark.

I've become a crazed MySpacer. I'm hoping Silicon Valley will soon develop some kind of vaccine, because I'm not getting a lot of real work done.

I'm running short of ideas on what to blog about. What are your thoughts on unpublished bloggers posting intimate details of rejections from agents/editors? I can see that sharing this info might be inspiring to other writers.

But from an agent's point of view, is it the kind of thing you'd want to see on a prospective client's site? And what about posting a blurb or chapters of unpublished work - silly or savvy?

Since when is it your job to be inspiring to other writers?
Your job is to write.
Unplug the damn internet and get to work.
If you need to buy another computer that doesn't actually hook up to the net, do it.
Blogging is not writing.
Looking at MySpace is not writing.
Friending on MySpace is not writing.
Posting chapters and feverishly checking for comments, then obsessing about comments, and parsing out the hidden meaning of comments like "this blog is great. Have you enlarged your penis yet? Here's my blog that tells you how" is not writing.
Checking site meter stats to see if anyone from NYC is reading your blog is not writing.

There's a lot to be said for sitting down with your ownself and writing. Nothing, literally NOTHING replaces that. Focus. You're wasting time.

And don't post your work on the web. It's not silly or savvy. It's pointless.


Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you for that, Miss S!

Nick said...

Thank you, Miss Snark. I had to replace all the references you made with "Playing World of Warcraft" to realize exactly how much I've let my writing vegetate. Please don't beat me too hard with the clue two-by-four.


Simon Haynes said...

I like blogging, I maintain my own website and I enjoy Myspace, but I have to say there's not much point working your arse off building an online presence BEFORE a book is accepted for publication.

First sell the book to a publisher, then build your web presence between final editing and release date.

Even then you're talking about a lot of effort to convince a handful of people to maybe look out for your book at some future date if they happen to remember the title.

There are much more effective promotional tools you could be working on - like your next book.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Miss Snark. I needed that, and I'm not even the one who wrote in. I'm an author with a big two book deal with an even bigger publishing house who can't stop f$%%ing around on the internet even though my book is due in 6 weeks. I may have to unplug.

ORION said...

I can attest to the fact that limits on the internet are vital to the ongoing progress of WIPs.
I of course have no self control.

functioning fruitcake said...

Buying a second computer can help. Check out eBay. For $100 I bought a basic old laptop on eBay.

It is best to set it up in another room, though. If in the same room you will be continually tempted by your big-screened mega-fast mp3-loaded internet friend.

Also, make sure you back up your work every day. Transferring data between computers all the time can lead to data errors in my experience.

[My present personal demon is the Cricket World Cup which is thankfully ending in just over a week]

madhack said...

(Hi! Long time reader, first time commenter.)

I post rejection letters on my livejournal, but only the most entertaining ones, and only every now and then. (And I cut out all the identifying information before I put it up, including my story title and magazine info, so as not to raise anyone's ire.) And then, its only so I can gloat or rant--sometimes I get really flattering rejections that I WANT other people to read, and sometimes they're so mean, heartless, and typo-ridden that I have to assume the thing's been written by an editor's six year old kid. Grrr.

Of course, I should also mention that I only update my livejournal about once a week. Spending too much time on the internet is bad for anybody, not just writers, M'kay?

kitty said...

If you need to buy another computer that doesn't actually hook up to the net, do it.

As it happens, I am thinking of buying another computer just for that purpose. I'm considering a laptop, for its portability.

Question: Is there an honest difference between a PC and a Mac for the purpose of writing?


kitty said...

For those who can't log off, there's a new series which needs mothers' stories. It's called In The Motherhhod.


Simon Haynes said...

I'd like to add a 'do as I say, not as I do' rider to my previous comment.

Heidi the Hick said...

Blogging has a value but it's also a great excuse for not actuall facing the work that has to get done. Novels don't write themselves.

No, seriously, they don't. I've tried it. Doesn't work.

I like to use blogs as a reward system. Write a set amount of new words (not edits) and then read a few blogs.

I've learned A LOT from reading blogs.

Also, the discipline of sitting down and writing a daily piece has been good for me. I think my writing has tightened up efficiently.

HOWEVER this is not directly getting my novels written. So. Back to work and thank you for a nice break!

Anonymous said...

I agree that too much time is wasted on the Internet, myself included.

I do however think that a website with blurbs can be helpful, in my instance while looking for an agent. Because of my site, I have recently received request on manuscrips that I haven't even queried on, so I know some of the agents are looking.

What else will the site be good for? Who knows, but I can't wait to find out.

Calissa said...

If agents are asking you for a MS by checking out your website, I'd check out those agents to make sure they're not Preditors. ;)

I agree. Your book won't write itself. I already asked my fairy godmother if this was possible. She said no and to stop asking her. :p

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark... this is one of your best responses...

Kanani said...

Yup, blogging is a way to put off writing.
But now that I'm treating my novel as though it were Antonio Banderas I'm slathering attention on it.

Lauren said...

Thanks for this post. To those who don't know me well, I look like a writer who's schooled in the fine art of Butt-In-Chair. But I can't fool my husband, who knows to poke his head over my shoulder every so often and make sure that what I'm writing so furiously isn't a Livejournal comment.

As someone who's been writing an online journal / blaahhwg for nearly 10 years now, I'll testify that while blogging is good for teaching writerly discipline, it can also instill a false sense of confidence in a writer. I spent years tossing off journal entries that garnered links and fan mail. When I finally found my way back to fiction, I mistakenly thought that the stories would flow just as easily as my journal entries did. Not so. I had to rebuild my fiction writing muscle from scratch, and there was a lot of unlearning to be done of bad habits I'd built through blog/journal writing.

patrick said...

Thanks for the good kick in the pants, Miss Snark (especially about the site meter--oh, deadly peril for those of us obsessed with numbers). I've had a blast with my blog since I started it a few weeks ago, but it's definitely a time sucking creation. (As if I needed another way to keep from getting work done.)

Spring break is almost over, so the kids head back to school, which means I'd better get the new novel revised. (No more excuses.)

Dave said...

Kitty asked: "Question: Is there an honest difference between a PC and a Mac for the purpose of writing?"

The answer is no, not for word processing.

I had to work in two offices 90 miles apart and the company set up a high speed line between offices - 1400 employees online. The only problem was that I had to use the neglected computers - that is, the cast-offs left for "others" to use. Guess what? No matter what computer I used, I still got my work done on time.

If you know the computer you are using - let me rephrase that - if you know how to use the computer you have at hand - then, the make and model doesn't matter.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Having recently discovered blogging, (we're talking less than I week so excuse my overall ignorance about it) I find I'm kind of smitten with the whole thing. I'm meeting lots of nice people and discovering new points of view and learning all kinds of new things. And I'm sure my trusty WIP will be waiting for me when the novelty of this wears off.

I love the instant gratification of blogging, and it's a great break for after years of working on screenplays and novels that never managed to find an audience.

I'm not giving up on fiction, but I think blogging is still "writing." I wouldn't call it a waste of my time--at least not anymore than my attempts at writing novels and screenplays have been. Find an audience in either case is a frustrating uphill battle, but i don't see one as being more inherently virtuous than the other. But maybe I'm missing the point.

BTW, I tried to post before and for some reason it didn't work. If I end up with a duplicate post, I apologize.

me-oh-my said...

All well said, to be sure.

But I can't resist pointing out this link:


In which the lovely, venerable Ms. Snark says, ahem:

"Why You Are Not Wasting Your Time When You Read Blogs

I subscribe to the Writers Almanac daily email. It gets me in the mood to face the day. From today's email comes this:

Walter Kirn said, "My advice for aspiring writers is go to New York. And if you can't go to New York, go to the place that represents New York to you, where the standards for writing are high, there are other people who share your dreams, and where you can talk, talk, talk about your interests. Writing books begins in talking about it, like most human projects, and in being close to those who have already done what you propose to do."

When I first started the blog there was more than one raised eyebrow with "don't you have enough to do already/" kind of comment.

I'm sure you've probably said the same to yourself: "dang I should be reading/writing/grouting my teeth"

The blogosphere, both readers and writers therein, are a lovely way to talk about something we all love ...Me. ...oh wait, I meant to say books.

So, don't kick yourself for reading this, or any of the other great blogs out there.
You're just fueling the fires of passion.

And now, back to grouting my teeth."

(I love you, don't swing!)

Claire said...

Interesting. I beg to differ, somewhat.

I have an agent, we're pimping my YA novel. I use my blog to flesh out essays and short stories which I then sell to paying markets. Furthermore, thanks to my blog, I got an offer to blog for pay (essentially four short essays in one month). How is this BAD for me as a writer?

Blogging gives me a place to work on short pieces, because otherwise they have a tendency to spill over. Blogging gets attention to my work. Blogging got me a paying writing gig. Blogging = good in my book.

If you're spending all your time online going "My buk R awesome u r pwned !!!1!!" and that's the extent of your blogginess, it's a major waste of your time. If you use it to develop your voice, work on ideas, and pimp yourself, it's not.

The Anti-Wife said...

Sometimes my brain freezes. Nothing of value comes out of it anymore. So, I read blogs, post to my own, check out other sites and occasionally cyber-stalk Clooney. It's usually only 30 minutes or so and it helps thaw the grey matter so I can get back to writing.

Sometimes we need to pause and refresh. As long as it's not excessive, I don't see the harm.

Dave Kuzminski said...

Just remember to be careful with your blogs or forums because there are those individuals who will not like what you say about them, even if you're posting a truth they provided to you, and will subsequently sue you. Then you'll have something to really obstruct your writing.

Terry said...

I'm at a writer's conference. At a panel, an agent spoke of working with a writer who had no clue how to tell a story, had serious problems with her manuscript, but he was intrigued and signed her as a client. Those of us in the audience who are trying like the devil to get representation wondered what it takes to have something so "wrong" be so "right."

I spoke with this agent at the bar, and he said he discovered this author on Myspace; she was in a group made up primarily of published authors and he was curious about her unpublished status, checked her out, and now she's his client.

Nothing like that happens to me. Don't think it ever will. My agent appointment got a very polite and sincere, "I already have two clients who write in your sub-genre and wouldn't be able to justify taking on a third." Not a rejection, but no closer to finding an agent, either.

Anonymous said...

"I have recently received request on manuscrips that I haven't even queried on, so I know some of the agents are looking."

From everything I've read -- and I've read a lot -- the only people who do this are scam artists. Real, legit, successful agents do NOT troll for clients; their slush pile is already too high.

You sound naive. Be careful.