Balancing It All

Let's get back to the question we asked at the beginning of the week. How do we balance blogging and writing?

We've realized we can't throw out the blogging (as we're sometimes tempted to do). We can make blogging work more effectively for us (as we talked about yesterday). But how do we keep blogging from taking over our writing time?

What about all of the other technology that interferes with writing time? Checking emails, Facebook, Twittering? They are just one click away from our fingers, screaming at us, pulling our attention away from our stories. How do we ignore all of this clamoring?

I'm still struggling with this very issue. So today I thought we could share practical ideas on how to set limits on blogging and other internet activities so that we still have time for the most important writing.

Here are just a few ways I've tried to balance it all:
  • First thing in the morning when I check blogs, I give myself a time limit. After my time is up, then I start my morning writing.

  • Throughout the day, I try to respond to comments on my blog and check other blogs, only when I have spare time (family and home responsibilities come first).

  • During my other writing time (usually during nap time and after kids are in bed), I try not to check email or blogs. I try to stay focused on my writing.

  • I write most of my weekly posts on the weekends and then I only need tweak and change as needed during the week.

  • I prioritize whose blogs I visit: I visit my regular follower's blogs first, then sporadic followers, and visit new blogs occasionally.

I think it all comes back to self-discipline; sometimes we have to tell ourselves NO, STOP. In a society where boundaries are flux and self-control is old-fashioned, saying NO to ourselves can be one of the hardest things we learn to do.

If we call ourselves writers, then we must write. We may have to say NO to a lot of things in order to write, including blogging.

What are practical ways you've learned to balance writing and blogging and other social networking? Since I'm still learning, I would love to hear your advice!


  1. I'd love to give you advice - but I struggle with the same thing! I think it all can get out of hand. I have everything right in my head - but I fail to live it out. For example - I'll think, okay - check blogs/email once in the morning and once in the evening. That's it! The rest is family time and writing time. It
    s great in theory.... but I have a hard time living it out. I'm going to try harder.

  2. Hi Katie,
    Good morning, early bird! So, how much sleep do you need? Are you one of those people that can operate on half the sleep?! :) Or I suppose your little guy gets you up early still?

    You summarized the struggle really well: we want to do the right thing in our heads, but then we have a really hard time carrying through with it! So, does that mean we should just turn off the internet except for a couple times a day? Yikes! I don't know if I can handle that thought!

  3. I'm one of those people that think if I keep all my sites open in tabs I'll just check them sporadically and get work done at the same time..UM WRONG!! Yesterday I literally had to close out ever window, leaving only open, to get any work done! And YAY me...5 chapters edited and transferred to MS word :D I'm a sucker for social networking websites, but they can sometimes be the death of progress!

  4. The art of self discipline is important like no other for writers, isn't it?

    I don't have mine whipped into shape yet, though I'm better than I've ever been.

    Great tips!

  5. Hmmmm, well I've limited most of my networking to the blogs. I'm on Myspace and Facebook, but I usually only check those once a day and am rarely on for more than five minutes.
    Like you, I do blog stuff in the morning. I'm bad at naptime though. I really need to force myself to write then, instead of looking at my blogger dashboard. LOL

  6. I do my blogging first thing in the morning before breakfast. THen during the day I might check an email here and there.
    Blogging is necessary for our marketing but doesn't have to control your life. It's all about balance as you said.

  7. This is a really good post, and unfortunately something I have yet to conquer. Too often I find too many interesting posts to read through, but I have to buckle down more myself. Thanks for the reminder though.

  8. Hi Marybeth,
    5 chapters edited?! I guess it really does pay to turn off those tempting sites! I usually have my email number at the bottom of my screen when I'm writing. So I can always see when I'm getting new emails/blog comments. I found that when I really want to focus, I have to keep that number hidden! Otherwise it's too tempting to take a quick peek--and that quick peek ends up being a LONG one!

  9. Hi Janna,
    Self-discipline is SO key! I think the truly successful writers must develop a LOT of that characteristic!

  10. Hi Jessica,
    Right now I don't seem to have as much distraction with the other social networking either. But I just love to read other blogs! So I agree, that's my huge temptation! It's so much easier to read about writing on everyone's blogs, than to actually buckle down and write!

  11. Hi Terri,
    Sounds like you have a working system! It's hard to find that balance, but hopefully we can learn!

  12. Hi Eric,
    As I come across more and more great blogs of fellow writers, I find myself struggling to find the time to read them all. I guess that's why I've had to prioritize whose blogs I read first. After I read my followers' blogs, I try to read the others if I have time! I wish I could read them all because everyone puts so much time and effort into them, but it's just not possible every day. It is tough, isn't it!

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  13. I limit my time like you. I only post on my blog 3 days a week. On the off days I don't spend as much time online.

    When I'm writing or editing. I go off line so I don't get tempted to chat or lose focus.

  14. Balance...what's that? :D

    Working on this myself. I agree, self-discipline is the key. Setting time limits on the computer helps. It's difficult b/c our computer is in the playroom!!! Thinking seriously about investing in a laptop.
    ~ Wendy

  15. I'm with Eric, I fail at this miserably. (Okay, maybe he didn't put it quite like that... lol!)

    Seriously, I really need to do better at managing my time, but I have so LITTLE of it that it's really hard. I end up wasting it...or letting it interfer with things that it should NOT interfere with.

    What I WANT to start doing is preplanning my blog posts. Writing a weeks worth in one setting so I dont' have to worry about it during the week.

    Actually, it's really keeping up with everyone ELSES blogs that REALLY trips me up. Everyone writes such great stuff and I want to read it ALL, but... there just isn't the hours in the day. *sigh*

  16. I manage blogging very similar to the way you do. With a morning coffee, then here and there during the day. I definitely write posts well ahead of time in Scheduler to save the daily effort it would otherwise take. There is no way I could even imagine finding a spare minute to consider facebook and twitter. Plus I prefer blogs to the others, they seem more a creative outlet, a way to enjoy others' craft than twitter and facebook allow.

  17. I'm with you on the time limit suggestion and prioritizing. That's what I do.

    I've also found that I've cut some time out by visiting from my blog roll. The newest posts come up first, so I don't waste anymore time visiting blogs that haven't put a new post up. That's helped me a lot.

  18. Good advice, Jody. I am working toward a more specific way of going about all of this. I tend to find myself blogging more than I should if I don't give myself a time limit. So I either do that, or make myself work on a specific amount of my own writing first before I am allowed to blog. But...still trying to find a balance that REALLY works for me.

  19. *reads post*


    *closes blogger and gets back to writing...*

    Wait, I'm not writing at the moment. Okay, I'll keep reading blogs. Writing breaks can be nice, but I'm afraid I'm creating bad habits!

  20. Hi lotusgirl,
    I'm wondering about posting 3 days vs. 5 days? I've noticed some who post three and some who post 5? And even some who post more than that!) I'm still trying to figure out what really is the best. I'm not sure that it really matters as long as you find consistency with what you do. But I'd be curious what others think.

  21. Hi Wendy,
    In some ways having the computer in the playroom is helpful because then you can "watch" the kids play while you blog and do the "easy" writing. But then for the more serious writing, I can't imagine how you'd get anything done! My lap top is one of the best investments I've made. Then I can hop from room to room with it!

  22. Hi Krista,
    You're right. Writing the posts doesn't take as much time as reading and commenting on other posts! But the fun part is reading and commenting--it kind of feels like we're socializing when we do that. And we need those connections to feel like we're not so alone in this solitary venture of writing! If you can figure out a way to add a few more hours to the day, I'll be the first to buy it!

  23. Hi Joanne,
    I think that's why I tend to spend more time blogging than the other social networking--it is more creative and allows for more reflection about topics that matter! But it sounds like agents and editors are paying attention to twitter and FB too. So, I guess they're becoming more important? Not sure. Sigh!

  24. Hi Eileen,
    I love the blog roll on my sidebar. That's totally how I pick who to visit! But I only list my followers there. I see who's got a new post and try to head over to their sight at some point in the day. If someone isn't on my follower list, then I try to visit them too, but they slip through my list a little easier.

  25. Hi Cindy,
    I like the idea of writing a specific amount of time first then giving yourself a break to blog. I LIKE that a lot!! I'm going to have to think about putting that into practice! Thanks for the advice!

  26. Hi Lady Glamis,
    Even when I give myself a time limit, I tend to push the limit!! Like right now! I'm five minutes over what I gave myself! So, back to house and real life!

    Have a great day! :)

  27. i'm learning the value of scheduling my posts. this week i tried writing the majority of my posts all on one night. but i'm also learning that i can't respond to everyone individually who comments on my blog. it was getting stressful and time-consuming b/c i was spending more time trying to type out thoughtful responses than writing!(plus, i'm in the middle of planning for a move!). so while i might send a thanks out in my comments for everyone having stopped by or answer someone's question, i just can't cut doing the individual responses you do! (ROCK ON, girl) :) i will comment to new people, but other than that, i'm letting it go. FREEDOM. awesome.

  28. Confession: I do most of my blog-hopping and Facebook stuff during the day - and at night, I try and stay OFF the Internet and write on my laptop.

    The main reason I have a laptop and it is not hooked up to the 'Net is that it is for writing - period. I keep my desktop and the laptop completely separate. Desktop = internet and laptop = writing.

  29. When life's less crazy than currently, I'll grab a pad and pen and write away from my home office. No Internet = increased productivity. :)

  30. OMG...yes Outlook is evil for me. If I see ANY number next to ANY folder it MUST be checked. Sometimes it's a pain to be so obsessive. LOL

  31. I agree, Jody, the self discipline is ideal. "NO" is an anointed, inspired word.

    My blogging time is limited by my lunch hour at work, and my bed time at night! When i can't stay awake any longer, i force myself from the chair into the shower.

    I do most of my posting on the weekends, and schedule them. That works best for me.

    Recently I asked the Lord for an idea to help me with this, so I wouldn't neglect my husband when he is home in the evenings. He showed me to ask him, "Is there anything you'd like to do together?" before I sit down to write or blog. If he says "Yes," i spend time with him. It's hard at times, but he is much less likely to feel neglected if i do this. Works for us!

  32. Did you all read Michael Hyatt's recent blog on blogging and platform?

    it was so good that I swallowed my fear of important people and actually commented! LOL

  33. I've learned what works best for me is to not turn on the computer in the morning until I'm done writing. I'm trying to be consistent with this. Do I always follow that - no. I need to go back to writing up our schedules and posting it on the wall. That serves as a reminder what we are supposed to be doing at any given hour.

    Self Discipline, like you said. I don't do twitter, facebook or any of the other stuff. I just don't have the time. I tried twitter for all of 30 minutes, then canceled the account. Not for me.

    Tuesday and Thursday are my works day, so I spend time on the blogs in the morning, rather than writing. If I know my time is limited, I just can't sit down and relax enough to write.

    Being cognizant of how much time I'm spending on line helps. I limited the number of blogs in my reader to 50. At one point I had over 120 and realized it was just too much. I found so many interesting blogs, but all it meant was that I was browsing on the surface, didn't have time to comment on all of them and really wasn't very satisfying.

    I ruthlessly culled it down to 50 and have more time to get to know those bloggers, make meaningful comments if they are called for, other than "that's great" and move on.

    So, my suggestions:

    1)Don't turn on the computer until done writing, since I write longhand. If you don't write longhand, just don't check emails, go online, do research until done with writing session.

    2) Set a specific internet blogging time and stick to it. Easier said than done, but will make you aware and will urge you to get off faster.

    3) Schedule your day.

    If I'm going to take writing seriously, I need to watch how I spend my time better. I've got to ready for work.

    Have a good day!

  34. Something that has really saved me a lot of time is that, when I do blog, I commit to it. I waste time when I start to read someone's post, and then stop halfway and then come back to it, and then stop and then read it again before commenting. Same thing with emails. Now, I just focus from the beginning and just read something once.

  35. Hi Jeannie,
    I have considered how I might save time by not commenting. But I just love to. It feels like I'm actually having a conversation! But I'm not sure how to do so and save on the time. I'm still pondering the whole issue! But we all certainly need to do what works for us!

  36. Hi Melissa,
    I like your suggestion, but not sure if I could do that! My laptop is where I do everything, writing and blogging. I think if I could force myself to turn off the internet while I write, that would help me stay focused!

  37. Marybeth,
    I hear you!! I hate that I have to check the numbers! But it could always be an agent, right? Wouldn't want to miss that!

  38. Hi Angie,
    I agree. Long before I got into blogging, I had much better productivity!

  39. Hi Jeanette,
    What a wonderful plan you have! And I really like that you ask your husband if he wants to do anything first! I think at this point my husband is my cheerleader in this whole process. So he understands that we're going to have less time together and is willing to sacrifice to help my dream come true. I appreciate that so much. But that doesn't mean we don't carve out time here and there!

  40. Hi Krista,
    I did read his post yesterday and thought about linking to it! He confirmed the hard work we're all doing. And good for you for commenting! I'm not sure I have the gumption for doing that yet!

  41. Jody,

    I check Facebook and Twitter twice a day for about 10 minutes each time. I find those two are the quickest things to keep up with.

    As far as blogging, you'll find the right balance. I feel like I'm spending the right amount of time online at this point, but, as you know, I recently put limits on myself. I feel in control now.

    Happy Writing!

  42. Hi Robin,
    GREAT advice! Thank you for taking the time to share all of your wisdom. I can't imagine having 120 blog to follow. It would seem so overwhelming. I know some people have over 100 followers. How would you ever be able to reciprocate? I'm curious how those people keep up. Even your 50 seems like a lot. But I suppose you wouldn't have to read all of them every time they post. Because like we talked about yesterday, we want to be genuine with those we're connecting with. It is a really hard balance!

  43. Hi Davin,
    I like your system. Carve out a chunk of time for blogging and then move on! I might have to do that at a few points in my day and the once I'm done, stay done!

  44. Hi Jill,
    I think finding our own personal limits and sticking with it is the key. Then we need the self control to stick with those limits once we set them! I'm still struggling to know what my limits are! I admire you for your structure and self-discipline! I'm the kind of person who wants to do it all! And then I wear myself out trying!

  45. I'm still trying to find that balance myself. Do you write in the evening? I'd love to, but am usually too brain dead after taking care of the twins all day. Besides, my husband (as much as he supports my writing) wouldn't appreciate if I took time away from the family to write. I'm sure he'll feel differently when I'm actually making money writing, but until then...

    Lynnette Labelle

  46. Hi Lynette,
    I am usually brain dead in the evening too. But if I can't get my word count met in the day (in early morning and at nap time), then I do finish up at night, like tonight! So off I go to finish my word count for the day! And yes, it is hard for the family, but I've tried to get them all as excited about my book as I am and so for the most part they're all understanding!

  47. Oh my goodness, Jody! It probably takes you just as much time to respond to all your commenters as it did to write the post! You have such a great blog, with so much wisdom. It is always one I know I can learn from.

    I still don't have my system down, but I do know that giving up my blog/email time in the mornings has made my quiet time with God so much sweeter.

  48. I get up around 4 or 5 in the morning. I've always been an early bird. We are usually in bed by nine. I usually need a good seven hours a night if
    i want to function. :)

  49. Hi Katie,
    I love early mornings too! It's always so nice to see your face bright and early when I do my blog rounds!


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