Wednesday, May 11, 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog

© Marta Stephens 2011 all rights reserved

I’ve often thought about what it must have been like to write in an age without computers. The endless hours of rewrites at a Royal manual, ugh! And where would we be without the Internet? How would we connect with readers and contacts around the world, do our research, or Map Quest the location of our next novel for that satellite visuals? Is it any wonder a writer’s life was thought to be a lonely existence? My first e-mail account was issued to me by my employer in the mid to late 1990’s and I remember wondering what in the world I’d do with it. That was then and this is now, an age where we have every imaginable communication device at our finger tips.

Over the past ten years or so, however, there’s been a huge transformation in cyber networks. Nine to ten years ago the places for any aspiring author to be were in one or more writers’ forums. I met several of my best writing friends in a few of those. Some were just starting to write and had the same questions and insecurities that I had. Others were light years ahead of us and we hung on every word they posted. Those were the day when I couldn’t wait to log in and be inspired.

Then came the ever popular Yahoo groups. Now writers had endless choices between online social forums, crit groups, discussion platforms, and chat rooms. Ning groups came along around 2007 (give or take) and I loved them. They were user friendly and allowed the member to create his/her own page and keep track of posts written by friends and colleagues. That’s when networking really began to boom for me. By then I had joined a combination of forums, Yahoo and Ning groups that totaled well over 40 and yet I continued to join other groups such as Gather and Backspace.

These sites helped us get out of that lonely existence, meet readers and writers, and get involved in stimulating conversations. Those were wonderful times for those of us just starting out and in the midst of all the activity, I continued to post to my blogs, follow other writers’ blogs, and was eager to participate in chats.

Now the latest rages are Facebook and Twitter. Where’s that leave the writer’s blog? Do readers still follow them? Do they offer the same exposure to writers they once used to? For me it’s a balancing act. When I’m blogging or surfing the net, I’m not writing and thus as my writing became more prominent in my life I had to cut down on the amount of time I spent at each of the groups—some I simply had to drop. My writing has now taken a sudden upswing turn again and I find I have even less time to spend online. In fact, there have been countless days in the past several months that I only glance at my e-mails when I get home from work, read the critical e-mails, delete the junk, and then shut off the Internet.

The Internet has turned into a double edge sword. As a writer with the hopes of two new books in the works, time is a precious commodity and yet I know I must keep up with my networks in order to self-promote. That is my current dilemma. Hmmm, maybe there is something to that solitary writing life.

About the author:

Marta Stephens writes mystery/suspense.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (2008), Bronze Medal Finalist, 2009 IPPY Awards, Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

SILENCED CRY (2007) Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

Her books are available in paperback and most electronic format. Find them online at http://www.bewrite.net , Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Books-a-Million. For more information about Stephens and her writing, visit www.martastephens-author.com

8 comments:

Julia Smith said...

I am in a similar space with my blogging/writing. I've been a passionate blogger for 5 years now, and have made close Internet friendships all over the world. But my fiction writing is heating up lately, and as you say, something's got to give. I've had to step away from blogging somewhat, but man, do I miss it.

Marta Stephens said...

Julia, thanks for letting me know I'm not alone! All the best with your writing. :)

Kim Smith said...

I am the same also. I should be posting today on Mb4 but to be honest I just can't do it. I will be rushing out the door in five minutes to work and right now it is FLAT out all day long as hard as I can go. When I get home, I just want to sleep.

Sorry fans, I will try to be a better blogger when I can.

Marta Stephens said...

Kim, you've struck on something I meant to include in my post. At times I have so much going on at work, at home, and with my writing, that my thoughts are totally drained. I find that it's better to not post at all if I can't come up with helpful material.

Hope today is better for you.

Marta Stephens said...

PS: I think the fans will be there when you're ready to post again!

Nathan Weaver said...

Must say, I feel ya on this one too. Though my joys with others online doesn't go back as far, mostly started networking with other writers around 2005 using Storyville (an online writer community--which is now defunct). Made a lot of good friends there, read a lot of good stories and poems. My writing grew immensely.

I certainly can see that my writing has blossomed something fierce in the last six years, and while I love sitting around and discussing writing with other writers, you have to eventually shut up and do something. Put that pen to paper, finger to button, or what have you.

Then I had the novel idea to create my own writer's community and then I realized to keep that up, I had to set my writing on the side somewhat. I'm more interested in personal relationships with authors and readers, and keeping up on my writing then I am on being part of a "writer's community" and having the most views, ratings and comments. It's a strange balancing act.

Or is it juggling?

Parachuting?

Whatever the beast, it's a beast that needs conquering.

We're currently working to revamp Emerald Dragon (the writer community I started) into something that better fits this mold. A network for authors is what we're calling it. Maybe... maybe... the old site is here: http://myemeralddragon.webs.com , but I think sometime this summer it will change into something awesome.

Thank you for your post.

Marta Stephens said...

Nathan, it's definitely a juggling act!! I too love having a close relationship with other writers so do keep me posted on your site.

I've had an amazingly hectic year at work and have just yesterday seen the end of a few projects. Now I'm ready to get back to my writing and can't wait!

Thanks so much for staying in touch. :)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Marta, sorry this is so late coming, but we were away when you posted this and I'm STILL trying to catch up. I don't think it's possible, LOL. Especially since yesterday we had sun for the first time in many, many days and everyone had to scurry to get their lawns done, tomatoes planted, etc etc. We are SO far behind this year. I've been trying hard to balance writing and promotion/blogging, but man-oh-man is it tough. Some days I long for the time when I was innocent and uninformed, and I just wrote every day. It was heaven. ;o) Best of luck juggling it all!