Finding Order in Chaos…Or Something Like That

I’ve never liked schedules. I’ve always hated having to make appointments, having to be anywhere at a specific time on a specific day. Still, once I became a full-time writer, I did have a daily routine of sorts. I didn’t get up every morning at the same time, write at the same time, or anything so rigid, but it was a routine nonetheless. Breakfast, exercise, errands, lunch, writing, dinner, unwind, sleep.
Pretty boring, huh?

As I grew older and my memory, eyesight and stamina were no longer what they used to be, that routine became necessary. It was taking me much longer to finish a novel than it did during my years in conventional publishing. I was no longer as focused as I had once been. And to further complicate matters, along came social networking.

The more time I spent online, the less time there was for writing. My daily routine became nonexistent. I found myself doing email on my phone before I even got out of bed in the morning. I was taking it with me to the kitchen, the bathroom, the laundry room…I was online most days from seven in the morning until six at night, and by the time I finally got offline, I was so burned out I’d fall asleep in front of the TV. I couldn’t miss the annoyed looks I was getting from friends–and even from Collin–when we’d go out to lunch and I’d start answering email in the middle of the conversation.

I was no longer mentally able to write. The housework wasn’t getting done. I wasn’t getting any exercise, so I was starting to gain weight and my blood pressure was climbing. In short, my health was declining. I was distracted and irritable but trying to figure out how to fix the problem without offending any of my online friends. But a couple of them had cut back on their own online time, so maybe everyone would understand, after all.

It was time to get back to that old routine.

Now, I’m online no more than three hours a day. I don’t check email before I get out of bed. I don’t even check it before I’ve had breakfast. I no longer eat with my smartphone in one hand. If email comes in while I’m taking a shower, it will have to wait until I’m back online.

I haven’t actually finished a novel since 2009. The only new ebooks I’ve released this year are from my Berkley backlist. That’s about to change….

15 responses

  1. I understand. All the toys can take over your life so easy.
    That is why I have a blog and that all. No facebook, twitter, pincrest blah blah blah… I carry a phone but it is for my convenience.
    I spend plenty of time on my computer and I enjoy all the blogs I follow but I don't even comment everyday.
    I sit a lot while working so time on the computer takes time away from my art.
    And Norma, let me say even if you haven't finished a new book since 2009, to me you have been so busy, getting your life back, getting your books back, helping other writers and doing all the promotion work, I would say your very busy.
    I am impressed by your heart.

    cheers, parsnip

  2. As writers, we need social networking to promote ourselves–as long as we don't let it overwhelm us.

    I have two phones and a Google Voice account. I've taken to only carrying one of the phones when I leave home–and only a few people have the number for that one.

  3. opps… I meant to add as a writer you have to promote yourself and your writing. So you need all this extra networking. You are now doing the work of a publisher but for us non writers or professional we need to unplug !

    cheers, parsnip

  4. Routines! I think that's the only way to not be completely killed by the Social stuff. I could literally spend 8 hours a day on Twitter, not for fun, just answering tweets, spreading the word, etc. I do a little in the morning, a little in the afternoon, and that's it.

    I've cut my blogging way back as del,l after a week (several months ago) where I truly spent more time futzing with my blog than writing. That was kind of my breaking point. Since then, 1 – 2 posts a week, max. If people get ticked-off at me for not providing more content, fine. If I never get more than 400 followers, fine. I started all of this BECAUSE of writing, and I plan to keep writing.

    Re-reading this, I think I sound really angry. lol But I'm not. I'm actually happy with the balance I have right now. Of course that'll get shot to hell as soon as I volunteer for something, or decide to participate in a blogfest. 🙂

  5. Good for you Norma. You took control by returning to a routine. Online messages are like laundry, they pile up. If we handle them in loads rather than piece by piece it is more efficient and less (like) work.

  6. Well done you!!! I'm sure it was never intended to be but the internet and all things social networking are so highly addictive they should come with some kind of health warning!!! So I am in AWE that you are wrestling your life back and putting yourself in control of technology and not the other way round!!! All the best!! Take care

  7. Sounds like you have a good solution, EJ!

    I can honestly say I don't do blog hops/blogfests. I did one when I first started blogging, and all I ended up with was a lot of “Follow Me” comments that never did anything for my own blog's following. Anyway, blogfests just seem really amateurish to me–not something professionals will do.

  8. Actually, it can cause some health issues. Doctors are now saying sitting all day will shorten our life span. Personally, I don't think Facebook or Twitter is worth giving up 5-10 years.

    I found I was having awful headaches. The cause: because my eyesight is so poor, I have trouble spending long hours on the computer. So I do most of my online stuff on my Android phone or Kindle. But that poses another problem: having my head in an unnatural position, again for long periods of time.

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