Amazon Bestselling Author Theresa Ragan says: “Write!”

Like many writers, I spend too many hours every week reading blog posts and articles on publishing: Are we “indies” or are we “Self-published”?  How are sales? Do you copyright your stories? What’s new in marketing and promoting? How do I get noticed? Should I do a blog tour?

Over the past twenty years, I’ve written dozens of books, many of which will never see the light of day. I attended Romance Writers of America conferences and local chapter meetings whenever I could, but I spent the majority of my free time doing research for my stories and writing. Lately, though, I’ve found myself spending way too much time reading articles and blog posts about publishing. And one of the tips I see at the end of many posts, including my own, is: WRITE!

My writing production has slowed recently and I realized it’s time for me to take my own advice and get serious about writing again. I need to stay off the internet and write. I will allow myself to spend extra time on the internet as a reward AFTER I have finished writing for the day.

If you’re a writer and you’re in this for the long haul, then you need to keep producing stories. Promoting and marketing is important, but never as important as the story. Years ago, when I was raising four kids, I knew that if I wanted to write novels, I had to find time every day to write. One of the first things I gave up was Oprah. That was a game changer for me. I knew that if I could make time to watch Oprah for one hour every day, then I could make time to write and that’s what I did.

I don’t know about you, but it’s time for me to get serious again. My plan for 2013 is to spend no more than 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night on the internet. That includes checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs that are important to me. On the weekend, if my writing goals have been met, I will reward myself with another hour, or so, on the internet. But I know from experience that if I truly want to succeed in this business I need to concentrate on what really matters…I need to write.

So how about you? Have you been sticking to your writing goals every day? Are you wasting too much time on the internet?

The third book in Theresa’s bestselling Lizzy Gardner Series (A Dark Mind) is available for pre-order now!

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Comments

  1. Hi Theresa,

    Thanks for the reminder that the whole reason I’m doing all this surfing is so I can write for a living (one day soon, please God!). As an emerging writer, it’s especially hard to resist spending hours on the internet everyday. I confess, I’ve fallen into that loop myself in the past few months after writing three full length novels in a year. I started my fourth and could have been close to finished with it by now if I’d spent as many hours writing each day as I’ve spent on the ‘net.

    My 30-min internet window has to include WG2E and hotmail and that’s it!

    • Hi Alex, first of all, congratulations on finishing three full length novels in a year! Awesome. I hear you! I should have another book being released as I type this, but I let the holidays get the best of me and then I never got my groove back. I have noone to blame but myself.

      More than anything, writers need discipline! I, too, plan to include WG2E and email and then write! Thanks for sharing.

    • I don’t spend much time on the Internet and I’ve gotten very little writing done because of craziness in my life. Hope to get back to it someday but the death of a close friend, layoff from work and my parents’ health issues have not helped at all.

  2. Ugh! The social media rabbit-hole. I keep trying to tune it out, but then that big red square evil-eye pops up on Google+ or a (1) appears on Facebook and tempts me to just take a peek. Did somebody respond to one of my posts? Has a fan given feedback on one of my stories? Has one of my writing friends found some cool new link to magical writing advice that can help me become the next J.K.Rowling.

    Whispers… whispers… whispers….

    Just a peek….

    No! No! Today I am going to write!

    Just a peek…

    Maybe just a LITTLE peek. Real quick-like. Then I’ll go back to writing. I PROMISE!

    So bright. So shiny. So … INTERESTING!!!

    Oh … what’s that? What do you mean I just spent 3 hours on Facebook surfing the web?

    Anyways … I think you all get the point :-)

    • Oh, hilarious, Anna! LOL

      I think most of us can relate to what you’re saying. I have a big sign on my white board that says, “BE NORA…WRITE!” As everyone keeps telling us, writing more books is the best promo and marketing we can do for ourselves, so why do we keep looking around for that “magical writing advice”? Because writing is hard and it would be soooo great if there was an easier way. Ha!

      Thanks for the laughs, Anna

  3. D. D. Scott says:

    Wavin’ atchya, Theresa!

    About mid-way through 2012, I took a hard-hard look at how I was spending my time, and you guessed it, I cut waaay waaay back on my online activities. For example, no more Yahoo Groups for me, except for the couple that I run, and even there, I’ve cut back on my involvement. I don’t read the Kindle Boards anymore. Yes, I bump my threads every once in awhile, but I don’t do that very often either. I looked at places that made me feel worse and more anxious about my career rather than better – and those things all had to go. Yes, I might miss something, but generally that something ended up being more angst! LOL!

    I don’t read all the blogs I used to – yikes, did I trim the fat there!

    I read everything here at The WG2E :-) , everything at DBW (Digital Book World), Konrath’s blog ( A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing), Mayer’s Blog (Write It Forward), and keep up with Kristen Lamb’s Blog too. But really, that’s it. I’m a huge Huffington Post fan and hit the NYTimes main stories. Other than those items, all else is just hit or miss based on what y’all are chatting about.

    By cutting back on all the rest, I’m writing more and enjoying the writing process more, and am able to spend my time on various social media platforms connecting with readers.

    Our time is best spent with readers, not just writers and publishing industry peeps. The latter aren’t buying a bunch of books because they’re too busy making ‘em and cussing and discussing the process of getting ‘em on cyber shelves! :-)

    • Hi D.D.! Trimming the fat/articles/blogs is more important than we realize. Every time I stop to read a blog post or check sales or read reviews, I stop the flow of my story. I stop thinking about my story and when I go back to it, I am starting all over again. Does that make sense? If I can stay with my story for so many hours a day without going on the internet, my writing is so much better for it. And the more I am able to do that, the faster my story flows.

      I like your idea of staying away from anything that might cause ANGST. Nobody needs that! And have you noticed that even Konrath is blogging less, which means he is WRITING! What a concept.

      Hugs!

  4. Julie Day says:

    I too have upped my writing time this year. Last year I didn’t do much in the morning apart from check emails and blogs and do a bit of social media. This year, I have started writing a new series of short stories in the morning, and my main writing project in the afternoon. I have got a lot done so far. And I plan to keep this up when I can and have time to do it.

    • Yay, Julie! Good for you. Next month, when I write a new post for WG2E, I want to be able to say the same thing…that I got a lot done!

      You’re an inspiration!

  5. Dianna Love says:

    Great advice, Theresa, and I’m sure your readers are dancing around at the idea of more books from you. :) I pulled back on traveling (for conferences and other events) last year so I could spend more time in my writing cave. It was a good decision and has been well worth it. I generally hit my office (internet) computer in the morning while I’m waking up with coffee to catch up emails and deal with what business is waiting on me, then I might stop at lunch for a quick post on FB and check for anything important then check everything one more time at night. I tend to spend 10-12 hours writing each day, but I start pretty early. I decided when blogging came along that I couldn’t make that time commitment so I never have had one, but I guest blog on occasion and schedule those around my work.

    Congratulations on your success and best wishes for a great year of writing.

    • Hi Dianna! I love the image of readers dancing around at the idea of having more of my books to read! Thanks for that. ha!

      I always did wonder how you wrote when you were traveling so much!? 10-12 hours is great. I would be happy if I could have 6-8 hours of focused writing. Whenever I can do that, I write better and faster each day.

      Thanks for sharing your tips. I appreciate it. Wishing you continued success and mega sales in 2013!

  6. I really needed to see this reminder today. I released my first novel on 1/3 with the promise to readers that the second one would be released in June. And now that my commitments are well and truly “out there”, I feel strong (positive) pressure to follow through. With three of my four kids still at home, a granddaughter, and a full-time job, time is my most valuable commodity.

    I’ve been trying to do exactly as you suggested. I have a little bit of internet time before work, and a little bit at the end of the night, but not until I’ve written at least a thousand words. I’m not perfect at it, but I’ve hit that number almost every day for the past two weeks. I doubt I’ll ever be as prolific as some of the great indie authors I follow, but staying focused on the work I CAN get done in a given day is powerful and keeps me motivated.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Michelle, writing with kids and jobs is tough, but it can be done. We’ve both seen many authors do it and do it well! Good job not worrying about all of prolific authors all around us because that would only slow you down. If you can keep hitting that one thousand words a day, you’ll do great!

      Keep up the good work! I can’t wait to see you release that second novel!

  7. Joe Bruno says:

    Great post!

    I used to spend hours a day on Facebook basically doing nothing. I have over 3700 Facebook “friends,” but I personally know only about 200.

    Now, I spend maybe 15 minutes each morning on Facebook. And the only writer’s site I read is this one.

    There’s a finite amount of time we have left on this earth. If you’re a writer – write. The rest is all one big distraction.

    • Joe, really liked your words — “There’s a finite amount of time we have left on this earth. If you’re a writer – write. The rest is all one big distraction.”

    • Hi Joe, I agree with Sherrey. Well said!!! I think I’ll put that on my whiteboard: IF YOU’RE A WRITER – WRITE. THE REST IS ONE BIG DISTRACTION.

      Thanks for sharing.

  8. Appreciate the nudge back to a writing reality! Last evening I sat down to write for a half hour or so, and before I knew it I was on the Internet checking email, commenting a blog here and there, reading emails . . . and the half hour plus flew by. I just need to sit down and write, write, write. I like the idea of rewarding myself with some Internet time AFTER I’ve completed my writing for the day, a bit of a motivator. Thanks for the post.

    • Hi Sherrey. Thank you for the comment. It’s good to know we’re not alone.

      It’s too easy to get drawn away from the writing and then before you know it another month is gone and we haven’t met our goals. No more! Let’s make 2013 our most productive year yet!

  9. Stacy Green says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Theresa! With my first book out now, I’ve been obsessing over marketing and promotion and blog tours and wondering what I should and shouldn’t do, why my numbers aren’t higher, etc. It really stagnated my writing. Thankfully, my April (first self-pub!) release is all but ready to go, but I’ve got to get busy on the follow up. It’s only in the last couple of weeks I have been forcing myself to stop obsessing and to try to spend less time dinking around the Internet.

    Good for you for revamping priorities!

  10. Angela Brown says:

    It’s awesome that you renewed your writing spirit. I’ve been sort of sticking with my writing spirit. I’ve got to revive it though because I want to hop around the blog so badly lol!!

    • LOL, Angela. Hopping around from blog to blog is addicting and is also a lot of FUN! But you made a great point…hopping around the internet is a great reward to treat ourselves to AFTER we do the work.

      Thanks for commenting!

  11. Great and timely post, Theresa, as I’ve wasted my entire morning on the fix / drug that is the Internet (with WG2E being the best / worst crack of all)! :D

    Granted, I’ve learned so much from reading blogs such as WG2E on how to run my publishing business, but at some point, one needs to stay disciplined and WRITE before one does anything else. I believe it was Joe Konrath who said that an author’s best marketing tool is to write another book. That’s where the sales build. And I’ve seen the truth of this in my successful author friends.

    P.S. Btw, SHOULD we copyright our stories? (I know I should be writing, but I couldn’t help responding to your post one last time . . . learning is its own drug.) ;)

    • Hi Riley, I have seen the truth of the matter with my writer friends, too! The authors that spend more time writing become more successful every year. And LOL about your copyright question. Just so you know, for every ten people you ask, half will say no, you don’t need to copyright and half will say yes! If you have $35 to spare, I say go for it. I DO copyright my books because it makes me feel as if my books are protected.

      Don’t ever stop learning! And thanks for stopping by!

  12. Christina says:

    I’m reading a wonderful, wonderful book called Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield, the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance. It’s an amazing book. One tip – the amateur tweets. The professional works. He talks about how we run from our destiny, how we let Resistance and fear creep and and keep us away from what we want to do. I’m taking notes, this book is that good. And yes, it’s confirming what I already know – I need to write before I do anything else. If that is my dream, if that is my goal, then I need to be professional.

  13. Hi, Theresa! Great reminder about priorities. For me it is often my guilt – and good intentions – of wanting to show up for cyber-friends. But before I know it I’ve used up a couple hours that I needed for writing. Speaking of which, better get back to my WIP . . .

    • Hi Alicia! I love your comments. It’s soooo true. Guilt and good intentions can kill your writing. I bet most writer’s are bogged down with daily requests to comment on blogs, etc., I used to try my darndest to be a good friend, but I couldn’t keep up and I rarely have time to respond any longer. And I’m sure they ALL understand. :)

  14. Theresa, This is exactly what I needed to hear. I get way too distracted with social media and need to impose a structure on myself to focus on writing. I signed up for Rescue Time which gives me a weekly summary of how I spend my time and that has helped me stay more accountable. I like your idea of scheduling specific time-limited periods for Internet browsing and use it as a reward when writing goals are met. Thank you.

  15. Thank you so much for the much needed kick in the pants, Theresa! Cutting back on Internet activities will be one of my 2013 goals. It’s so easy to get swallowed up in everything that’s going on when what I really need to do is focus on writing.

    ~Kristine

  16. Sally says:

    Yep, get back to writing all of you! Love reading your books but they need to get written! Hope you are reading this after your writing time. :)

  17. SK Holmesley says:

    I actually have at most 9 friends on Facebook and 7 of those are relatives. And that my FB handle is not my real name or pen name, so I get 0 friends requests through FB, which is why my relative count exceeds my friend count. I do use my real name on LinkedIn, but that’s mostly business contacts, so anyone I’m connected to on there is either a headhunter or a colleague from some job or other. I have (currently) 6 local email addresses, (2 are business, 1 author, 1 FB, and 2 my real name (1 for spam and un-vetted correspondents, 1 for vetted correspondents)). I might seem like it would take more time to manage multiple email addresses, but actually, since I typically get over 350 emails a day, it’s a great time saver. In the end, I only read mail from vetted correspondents, throw a lot of it straight in the trash, and know from the subject line whether I need to read the business mail or not (most of it just goes in the appropriate local folder in case I need it at tax time or for something like that later on). I also have a few others, but use them only for situations (like vendor shows) where I have to give an email address to attend, but have no interest in ever corresponding with the vendor reps.

    Because a lot of my characters grow from people I know or meet casually, I don’t like to exclude social experiences, but I try to avoid situations and people that I know will never fit into any scenario that I would write. :-) WG2E is the only blog I read consistently–primarily because you all are always interesting and worth reading. Any other blogs that I read are one-offs and for information / research only.

    I mention the multi-email addresses, because it’s one way to help control one of the most egregious digital interruptions in modern life. Like in the old days with more in-boxes, instead of only one and letting the secretary deal with all but the one designated specifically for must see mail.

    • HI SK, thanks for the comment! I agree, reading email can be very time consuming. Much better than the old in-boxes filled with paper, though! I used to spend so much time filing letters and such that nobody ever looked at again.

  18. R.A. Lee says:

    Thank you. I thought I was slacking because I didn’t spenf all my time on the internet. There doesn’t seem to be any consensus in what works for sales so I am just going to do what I love and write and produce books.

  19. Lois Lavrisa says:

    “then you need to keep producing stories. Promoting and marketing is important, but never as important as the story.” So very well said- from one mother of four to another:) Thanks for the reminder what is important:)

  20. Thanks, Lois!

  21. LM Preston says:

    Yikes! I’ve been caught playing around online and not writing. But I have good reason, I’m in the midst of releasing and buzzing the release of 2 of my books that are being birthed to the world in just 4 measly months. So, I have to trick myself into writing time. I have a writing laptop that doesn’t have internet connectivity. So when it’s time to write I take that laptop and go for it. But even so I see myself surfing the net for way too many hours a day.