Writing vs. Marketing—Balancing the Scales

It seems that there are two sides to the coin of being a writer. The first side is writing process and everything related to the it, such as conducting research, sharing drafts with beta readers and critique groups, and editing. The second side is marketing. Writers need to build a network and an online presence so that potential readers will know of the writer and their creative output.

When I started writing as a kid, I didn’t give much thought to marketing. Perhaps I thought the publishers would do all of that, or it would magically take off. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had to learn that without marketing, people outside of my family and friends would never hear of my work. If the general public isn’t aware of a book’s existence and if they don’t leave reviews, there will be no sales. Fortunately, I was able to get started on building a network once I joined the Maryland Writers’ Association and attended their conferences. I also began to build my digital platform.

I started to do a lot more online marketing as a result of the pandemic, especially by following certain hashtags on Twitter, eager to create as much exposure for my blog and books as possible. I’ve referred to WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter as the Big Three, with LinkedIn and Tumblr coming in next. Now, I am glad for the learning experience as well as for the genuine connections that I have made within my network, with people who’ve been kind and supportive. But at the same time, I feel as if I hit a roadblock—I’m not writing as much as I used to. Some writers I know had a massive creative output during the shutdown. I didn’t. Lately I’ve come to realize a simple truth: I’ve been spending too much time online, and not necessarily in a good way.

It’s easy to be tempted to check various social media accounts to the point where it becomes a habit, just like how I was creating exposure on Twitter but often scarcely interacting with other people. There’s that famous quote of how being a good writer is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet. That has never been clearer to me than now. In the past, long before I’d had all these social media accounts, I got distracted from writing by a number of things. I had schoolwork that took precedence, and once I entered the workforce, that too has taken up a lot of my time. Free time, it seems, has been taken up by the Internet and social media. In other words, the balance scales were tipped too far in one direction.

So how to find a balance? Well, I’ve started off by limiting how many times I login to each social media account to three or fewer a day, with each at different intervals (morning, afternoon, evening). It’s a start, to keep me from desiring to checking all the time but not checking enough. But I know I need to do more. I need to mind the time and online activity, and make it more meaningful. And I need to train my mind more to focus on writing when I do have time that isn’t devoted to work, social media, etc.

Now, I need to work on trying to have some output each day, whether in my journal (which I haven’t been diligent with) or editing or story work. I cannot just write when I’m in the mood, but at the same time I feel if I’m not enthusiastic, it won’t be good. Many successful writers became so from diligent, constant effort. I’m on a quest, you could say, to find that balance again and beat this writer’s block. Hopefully soon, the words will start flowing again.

36 thoughts on “Writing vs. Marketing—Balancing the Scales

  1. Love that quote, ‘being a good writer is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet,’ Andrew! So true. I need to heed your advice and get to writing my stories rather than watching everyone else’s stories. Great post, my friend! Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That balance is so hard to find! The internet has too many rabbit holes to fall down. The three a day limit seems sensible- I should probably borrow that idea 🙂
    Not to add another rabbit hole to the list, but have you tried Instagram at all? I’ve heard good things from some authors, but have not taken it on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Andrew, I read your post with great interest. I also have a more-or-less full time job [which is supposed to be a part time job], my sons and family to look after and with my free time I want time to write, time to blog and do other social media, and time to read. I also like to bake and cook. In order to ensure I fit in everything, I stick to a rigid schedule [I sometimes have to flex of course, but not to much]. I am very disciplined about my time, especially on social media as it is a very enticing ‘siren’. You have now realised this and will be able to do the same thing, implement a schedule and stick to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had the same issue Andrew with the stuff I’m writing. I kept getting distracted with texting or checking twitter/facebook. I thought I just had “Writers block” and that social media wasn’t affecting my writing until I downloaded an “App blocker” on my phone that mutes notifications.

    Now I aim for 30 minutes straight without distractions and see where it goes from there. It has helped me to focus better and I’m not tempted to check my phone while I’m writing.

    Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love that you are seeking to find a balance! It is easy to get caught up in marketing instead of writing something new each day. Limiting how much you use social media and recreating a routine are both two great ways to encourage yourself to write more.
    May the words flow!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this post. I try my best to use social media to make connections and market my blog, but I sometimes get carried away scrolling and I need to stop this, because it just isn’t productive!

    Liked by 1 person

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