Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Dark Side of Writing

Okay, so I'm not writing this post on the weekend. It feels strange. But I spent five days in Denver, including most of my weekend. So this is what you get, I guess.

So it's Monday, and I usually spend the day cleaning and catching up and planning for the week, etc. And I've been contemplating all my projects I need to get done this week.

And holy cow. I've said this before in private emails with my besties, but dude. There is a whole other side of writing. One I didn't know about when I started writing. Ah, those blissful days spent, uh, WRITING.

See, it's dark on the other side. You grope around, trying to find your way toward this distant point of light on the horizon.

Here are a few things I've bumped into on The Dark Side of Writing:
1. Blogging
2. Twitter, facebook, forums, nings, chats
3. Answering interview questions
4. Email
5. Reading (hey, it's research)
6. Critiquing
7. Organizing cool conferences
8. Hanging at author events
9. Attending/speaking at amazing conferences
10-1000. Marketing

The thing I've noticed most is that this side of writing can completely suck your time away. It can gobble up all the writing minutes you have. I can go days doing "writing things" without writing anything.

And that's not good.

Sometimes you have to clear away the darkness, cross the line, and get back to writing. And today is that day. Who's with me??

What's on your Writing Dark Side? How do you find your way back to the flip side so you can write?


Oh, and here's a fun sample of what we did in Denver. :) (I took these with my phone--amazing.)
 Pike's Peak 

81 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I'm in a totally different position. I've got CFS and I'm not up to much serious writing, so all the chatting just keeps me going.

Buffy Andrews said...

You go girlfriend!

Jemi Fraser said...

It's definitely hard to keep it all going! I've been trying to squeeze in more serious writing too! :)

Ted Cross said...

I hear you. I've gotten so off-track on writing that I have gotten a bit depressed and even stopped blogging recently. I need to find my way back to the writing...

Renae said...

Looks like you had an amazing time in Denver! It's one of my favorite places to go. I hear you on all the ways your writing time can slip away. I had to put myself on a strict schedule and I stick to it. Well, most of the time!

Michelle said...

oh the dark side....
as i sat down to write... i opened my blogger dashboard... and just had to read a couple ...
back to writing me thinks!!!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Aww, I miss CO. I lived in Colorado Springs for 2 years (right up against Pikes Peak).

I walked towards the light yesterday and revised and wrote most of the day. But soon, it's off to the pesky day job. Bleh.

Quinn said...

Blogging has become my dark side of writing ... I've become addicted.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I'm with you! I actually blogged a little about this today, too. It might turn out to be a scheduling thing for me, or it could be a self-discipline thing, but either way, my writing hours should not be subsumed by my internet hours. Not. Good.

Good thing I have people like you to help me drag myself away from the dark side!

Ishta Mercurio said...

Glad you had fun in Denver, BTW! Pikes Peak is pretty awe inspiring.

Janna Qualman said...

Ohhh. For me, the writing Dark Side is that expectation I let build up so gosh-darn huge. It gets in my way, and then it's all I can see--not my love for the craft, or my talent, or the goal (realistic or not)--just that expectation. That's what I've been struggling with (and trying to change) of late.

Denver, eh? One of our favorite places, that area. My hubs is an avid skiier, and he's already itching to head that way.

Christine Fonseca said...

Gorgeous pics!!! ANd oh yea...I can seriously relate (as you already know). Have fun getting back to writing!

Kelly Bryson said...

I don't really like the dark side of writing, or at least the way it eats my time. Since I don't have a book deal, and thus my marketing position is "two years before book release," or more, I'm trying to focus more on the writing. Although, as evidenced by this comment, I still like to kepp up with my blog friends. Have fun!

Hannah Kincade said...

It's hard to get back from the Dark Side but it usually just happens. I'll put my notebook in front of me and just start writing. Then magically, the darkness starts to fade and I see the light again!

Linda Kage said...

Love the pics! And I'm with you about the dark side. Some days, I don't even check my facebook anymore... I know, gasp, right.

Theresa Milstein said...

There is a dark side to writing. It's easy to call ourselves writers but not actually work on our manuscripts.

Before all the technology you listed existed, I'm sure writers found other ways to eat away their time. But this pressure for platform - to create readers before we have a book to sell and even more so when we do - is a Time Annihilator.

We're always striving to achieve balance. Today I wrote a post about this same problem in relation to blogging.

lynnrush said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Colorado. Lived there a few years before making the move to the desert. Those are great pictures you took...and with your phone? SWEET!

Dark side? Yeah, I'd say the day job. I mean, I don't have one right now, but that's relatively new, but when I did, it was definitely the day job that kept me from writing the most!

Jess said...

I'm with you on the reading--it's very easy to go to the library and come back with 10 or 12 books to stash under my bed--extremely easy/justifiable fodder for procrastination.

I'm in Colorado--looks like you had fun (did you go to Garden of the Gods? One of the pictures looks like it...)!

Mary said...

Strange but my Dark Side usually involves the sun. As soon as it's bright I'm out of here. All in the name of research of course.
I go somewhere and write in notebooks--no temptation no wandering (mostly).

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

First off as a New Englander I was blown away by the beautiful colors in your pix. Thanks for sharing and I ummmm so need to go visit out west. One day, sigh!

There will never be enough time in the day. Guess we have to keep multi-tasking!

Tessa Quin said...

I don't have an agent yet and time's already being sucked away from me in the same way. Except for hanging out with cool authors and planning conferences - but one day!

I do manage to stay away from TV. In face, if I didn't have kids, we wouldn't even need a TV. But yeah, blogging, reading blogs, studying (I'm a uni student), and reading (research, remember?).

Elana Johnson said...

Jess, that is Garden of the Gods. Loved it!

And I'm so glad so many of us are stumbling around in the dark. Phew. I thought it was just me.

Bish Denham said...

Hey! Where's the light switch? Who turned off the light? I'm glad I dont' do FB, blogging sucks up enough of my time as it is.

Michelle McLean said...

beautiful pics!! And yes, it's dark over here LOL It really is amazing how much time you can spend on writing stuff without ever writing a word. I haven't touched my WIP in over a week, yet I've been on my computer constantly, doing "writing" stuff. Really need to get some wordage down today :D

B.E. Sanderson said...

I'd be with you, but I promised myself I'd start querying this book today. I really need to write some new words. I think I'm having withdrawal. ;o)

Pam Torres said...

No sense beating yourself up about it, right? When things get weird and I'm feeling estranged from my writing I make sure that my head doesn't hit the pillow without doing something. Even if that something is only rewriting a sentence. Besides, I think your pretty amazing!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Ha ha ha! For my answer, check out my post and public pledge today. :-)

paulgreci said...

beautiful pics, Elana!!
I like your analogy: The darkside. Definitely a theme here from yesterday's "say no" post. Let's get time back on ourside :-)

lbdiamond said...

The Dark Side of Writing--yeah, I know it well. What do you think I'm doing now??? ;)-

Actually, I tend to dip more into the dark side when I feel "lost" (in the sense of I'm not sure what to do next with a project). The good news is I generally find my way back to the light. Eventually.

Carol Kilgore said...

Blogging - check
Reading - check
Critiquing - check
Email - check
Writing ... tiny check - most days
Big Sigh.

Jen Daiker said...

How fun! Love the photos!!!

Blogging, reading, emailing, tv watching, working...yup, that sucks writing right up!! Just wait until I'm in your shoes with a book working it's way toward publishing...

Dominique said...

The dark side of my writing is definitely the blogosphere. So many awesome writer blogs. Sadly, to remind myself to switch back to the side of light, I usually have to hit my head on things. Ouch.

Matthew Rush said...

My dark side is all about this 50 hour a week day job for which they pay me peanuts. Before I got "promoted" I could actually write at work (shhh). Not anymore.

lotusgirl said...

Yeah. Today's supposed to be a full writing day. You see where I am. Sucked in by the dark side.

Tere Kirkland said...

I've definitely been spending a lot more time blogging and critting lately than writing.

I've been using these things to procrastinate while I'm stalling on my wip, but I just need to get in there and write!

Great post!

Holly Ruggiero said...

I hate to admit it but blogging is number one on my dark side list too.

Kathryn said...

Work. Work totally gets in the way.

Misha said...

I have a Writing VERY Dark Side.

I spend my time writing... tests. *cries like a baby*

Colene Murphy said...

Well, you seem to be coping with all the stuff you have SO WELL it's incredible! So impressed with how you handle everything, keeping up with blogs and comments and writing and everything else you do. A.Mazing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Things to do in Denver when you're NOT dead?

Yeah, I discovered the dark side this year. Too much... everything!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I love Pike's Peak! As for the other stuff, I guess it comes with the territory. I have no doubt that you'll find a way to balance it all.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I know exactly what you mean. It can definitely spiral in on itself and consume everything. That's why I'm trying to force myself to do an hour (at least) of writing-writing (not email, not blogging, not Twitter, etc) every day. And like you said yesterday, I'm learning to say no.

Don said...

Yeah, that about sums it up. I'll add "Working on the book trailer," which fits within the 10-1000 Marketing category, but is a big slice-o-life right now.

L.T. Elliot said...

Yeah, that dark side can suck you away, for sure. I'm working on maintaining proper fences between them but there's a few stupid cows that get through. ;)

Sharla said...

Blogging needs to be higher on my dark side list. I don't get here enough...

Twitter has become my vice of late, since I've set my TweetDeck up for all writing industry tweets and writers. So it's like you said...doing writing "stuff". I get completely sucked in.

Lisa_Gibson said...

It's amazing how fast your time can get gobbled up, I agree. I fall down those rabbit holes periodically.
Love the pics of Colorado. Hope you enjoyed your time here in my home state. :)
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Natalie Aguirre said...

I agree. Especially the reading and commenting on blogs can totally suck up too much of my writing time.

Carolyn V. said...

Blogging takes way too much of my time, but part of me loves it. I'm glad you had a great time in Denver! Woo hoo!

Julie Musil said...

The time suck is blogging and twitter, but I love it so much! I just have to write first, then do that stuff afterwards. Otherwise, I'd get nothing done.

Love the pics of Denver!

Krispy said...

So true! I'll be a writing a blog post, thinking I'll get to writing after. And then I don't because somehow it's 11:30pm and I need to get to bed. -__-'

I have remind myself to write FIRST, other stuff second. Denver looks lovely, btw. :)

Tina Lynn said...

I noticed this in my own life too. I decided to put my foot down. I recently attended a book signing where all the authors on the panel pretty much agreed it should take 3-6 months to write a good solid novel. So, I did a quick calculation and that's 500-1000 words per day. Not too hard, right? Right. So, I made a deal with myself to right at least 500 words a day. Before I can do other writerly things. The words are already coming easier :D

Anne R. Allen said...

This is such an important point! I recently blogged urging beginning writers to "slow blog" once or twice a week instead of throwing themselves into building platform. What happens is they lose sight of the most important thing--creative writing and developing craft. The blogosphere is exciting and tempting and very useful at times, but it's also a huge time-suck. We have to keep priorities straight.

Josh Hoyt said...

It is so hard to get to what I love most. Writing. I find that many things just keep getting in the way. What I find to be the best way to get around all the other stuff is just sitting down and writing. Everything else just fades away and I no longer have to worry about it. It's amazing(:

Lydia Kang said...

Blogging is 100% my dark side right now. I love it, but waht a time suckage machine it is!

Sara McClung ♥ said...

omg I love the denver pics!!

I hit a wall a while back, with the dark side of writing. I finally just changed my priorities. All that other stuff is FUN and great, but writing won't happen unless I'm... YEP, writing! So I frequently take breaks from all the other stuff, just to concentrate. (I also have the attention span of a gnat, so I have to work really hard at it as it is!)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The first couple ones and #10-1000 have about done me in...

The Golden Eagle said...

There are so many things that get in the way of writing. I find the Internet a big distraction since I do everything on the computer . . . the browser icon stares and me and taunts unless I'm involved enough.

Patti said...

I think that's why I get a lot done late at night when everyone else is in bed. No distractions.

Kristine said...

Oh - I'm so in that very same place! Now I have three days in a row (three half days actually) with enough time to write on my project, but there are so many excuses, and I know most of the ones you mentioned.
Well, I have found some things that work: I quit the internet before 10PM, go to bed, read a little, and then, get up at 6AM, light a candle on the kitchen table, make myself some coffee, - and just write for an hour before the rest of the house wakes up!

Magan said...

If it makes you feel any better I think sometimes we all need to see the unglamorous side of writing. I think at one point I really believe that I could just sit back, write a first draft and everything else would just fall into place. Needless to say, I was wrong and appreciate the time that published authors take to shed light on the real world of authordom.

RaShelle said...

Elana - Ugh, I so understand. You have to put yourself out there. You want people to know who you are so that when your book does come out, it's something that others want to buy. Good luck sweetie.
ps: I sooooo want to buy. Can't wait. =D

Heagar said...

I wish I knew the dark side of writing. Maybe one day if someone takes my writing seriously I'll be able to empathize with you. For now, the writing is all I got.

Sara B. Larson said...

Yeah, I completely hear you on this one. I've barely written anything new for months between the edits/revisions, my PTjob and then all this other "dark side of writing" stuff. I miss it. I need to get back to it. I may have to stop blogging for a week and just use that time to write. I'm seriously contemplating it. We'll see.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I'm so with you on this one. It's hard to juggle all those balls...especially since I suck at juggling. heehee.

But I'm trying to get focused with the writing. So far it's not so bad, but I'm in a lull this week after having cold. So I'm with you on getting back to it. :)

Elle Strauss said...

There is definitely a balancing act to it all--somehow involving boundaries, I think.

Christ is Write. said...

I've been thinking about the same thing recently. Writer's must read. Writer's must use social networking. Writer's must post blogs. Writer's must attend writers' conference and other author-related events that you mentioned... But where does the writing come in?

It is a struggle to balance all of these things, especially since I'm still in school. I think creating a daily schedule for myself is really beneficial. That way, I can find the free periods of time I have and make sure that I get strictly busy with writing.

Great post! =)

Tessa
www.christiswrite.blogspot.com

Emy (Sandy) Shin said...

Those are definitely the dark sides of writing -- not because I don't enjoy doing them (I love blogging), but rather because of the time suck. And writing should always be the most important thing.

Emy Shin (my new blog)

Corey Schwartz said...

I have really cut back on blogging. I used to consistently post 3-5 times a week and now I am lucky if I get up 1 or 2.

Susan R. Mills said...

Posted something similar today. Sometimes, you have to take a break from all the chaos and get back to what really matters--the actual writing!

Janet Johnson said...

Join the dark side, Luke! . . . Oh wait. I forgot. I'm NOT Darth Vader. I suppose I can stop the hyperventilating and just get to work. ;)

Donna Hole said...

I have to back off of blogging (uhm, mostly commenting and blogfests), beta reading, and critiquing.

In defense of blogfests however, at least I'm writing. I've gotten a couple new ideas to work on from the subjects, and incentive to polish/edit my finished works.

But yeah, gotta remember to be a writer sometimes.

Love the Denver Pictures Elana.

......dhole

storyqueen said...

The dark side is killing me!! (And I don't even have facebook or twitter!)

There is just so little time to write sometimes, that even using an evening (like this one) to catch up on blogs will cost me in the writing arena. (It's on account of the day job, you know.)

Sometimes.......

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Dude, that's what happens when you are a writing rockstar. :-) You'll find your balance...I know you will.

Debbie Davis said...

I so understand! I find that I am catching up on emails, facebook stuff, writing newsletters, blogging and reading and finding other things to take the time away. I want to learn so much more about writing, but feel that if I spend all my time learning and researching and about writing, I won't have time to be a better writer. I have to say that it seems to take a huge leap for those who are getting or already published, you have a greater demand on your time. But I know that you are amazing and seem to handle everything with amazing ease, or you just have us all fooled really well! =0) Glad you got to come to Denver when you did! Pikes Peak is amazing! And the weather was awesome. Now it is 20 degrees colder and rainy.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This is why I only blog three days a week (um, today wasn't one of them), and have cut back on my twittering. I did manage to write 2 K of my new wip, though I kept stopping so I could read more of Personal Demons. But I did meet my goal for today, and now I can finish the book. :D

Tomorrow is a different story. Tomorrow is blogging day plus I'm doing author pics for a friend (yay, at least my name will be in a YA novel one way or another). Hopefully I get squeeze in another 1 K before So You Think You Can Dance Canada (research). ;)

WritingNut said...

Oh yes... I know about the dark side. I've been trying to get myself back on track, as I've let my writing slip in the last couple of months.

Awesome pictures!

ali said...

I haven't had to go over to the Dark Side yet, so I'm still happily writing on the Sunny Side. :)

Great pics, E! Looks like you guys had fun!

Claire Dawn said...

Yes!!!

Here I am blogging away every day. Talking about writing. Haven't looked at my WIP in forever. :(

At least I've been doing a bit of character work, adn I did go to a conference. I've decided I'm going to take it easy til Nano anyhow.

Connie Arnold said...

It was great "meeting you" on Random Thoughts, Elana! Those are great photos. Amazing what phones can do these days! It has been a long time since we were in CO.

Kelly Dexter said...

Blogging is definitely on my Dark Side, which is why I've limited myself to three posts per week on unspecified days. It alleviates the pressure that accumulates with the desire to post worthwhile content, coming up with that worthwhile content, posting at a time that feels most beneficial, commenting, and replying to comments. I do enjoy blogging but was putting a strange amount of pressure on myself and it began to lose its luster. The new system allows me to enjoy it, write, and accomplish whatever else must be done.

Laura said...

You're absolutely right about the Dark Side because sometimes it makes me act like Darth Vader! I can get so ticked off by the things I 'have' to do that I now have to proof my crits to eliminate the accidental venom that spills out. I'm learning a lot and need all these social events, but they keep me away from writing/revising. For three weeks, I haven't found a day to write. Not one. Finally, I let some things go; I just had to dial back involvement in order to find the Light Side again. And the Light Side is the Write Side!

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget