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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guest Post by Tim Kane: Is Your Productivity Turning into a Time Suck?









After several excruciatingly painful minutes of my bothering him, Tim Kane (who is signed with an agency now) finally agreed to do a guest post. Plus, he owed me. And if you're not following him on Twitter, I strongly suggest you do. He's a great writer and a nice tweeter. You may also want to visit his blog. The links are at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Is Your Productivity Turning into a Time Suck?
We all look for excuses. I’m a school teacher. Trust me, I know how to avoid doing my work. Sometimes it seems like I’ll be buried under teetering towers of grading. Yet in a creative venue like writing, some endeavors disguise themselves as productivity. 
Blogging
Yes, what I’m doing right now. This is fun, and it stretches different writing muscles. Yet it does not write my novel for me.
It’s so easy to fall into the blogging trap under the auspice of marketing and building a platform. You want readers, right? Hook them with your blogging skills, and they’ll transition over to your fiction. Really, what’s that? Fiction. You haven’t finished writing that novel yet. Step away from the blogsphere and get some serious words slapped on pages.
Twitter
If I had my druthers, I’d hardwire Twitter to my brain and scan the timeline while I sleep. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I don’t think I’m alone in my addiction. Those @replies have a way of sucking you in and keeping you there.
Twitter gets us addicted through intermittent reinforcement. This type of conditioning is like crack on the brain. Animal trainers use this to effectively indoctrinate their critters. Animals (and people) work harder when the reward isn’t guaranteed. They also continue the trained practice longer once all the rewards are gone.
Think about it. You never know when you’ll get an @reply or a retweet. Because you aren’t guaranteed any reward, you continue to plug away at your timeline, even if nothing’s going on.
The Long Form
Each of these delays is not a substantial time suck in itself. A few minutes here or there. Hardly matters to most creative types. A musician? Tweet between practices. Artist? Whip up a blog as the paint dries. But nearly every other creative type falls in the short form in terms of inception to completion. Novelists writing a manuscript have months, or years, to slave over their work. 
The little time sucks start to add up. Instead of completing your manuscript in six months, it’s pushed off to nine months, or a year. You can easily see how someone could be writing that novel indefinitely. And he might not be mucking around. He might really be trying to complete that novel. Just, things get in the way.
The Solution
I’ve spent this whole time telling you what you’re doing wrong. Come on. There has to be a way around these distractions, right? Let’s unplug the Internet. That should do it. 
Hold on there Tex. The answer is simply budgeting. Keep your blogging and tweeting on a schedule. Limit the time you regularly devote to these endeavors. Of course, there will be occasions where you’ll hit them a little harder. But don’t let it compete with your writing time.
Remember, you can’t bundle up your history of tweets and turn them into a manuscript. And your host of followers can’t read your novel unless you actually write it.
Tim Kane
Bio: Tim Kane researched every major vampire film from the 1931 Dracula to Underworld and Twilight. His study was published in The Changing Vampire of Film and Television, but McFarland Publishers. Visit timkanebooks.com (www.timkanebooks.com) or read his blog at timkanebooks.wordpress.com (http://timkanebooks.wordpress.com/). You can also follow him on Twitter @timkanebooks.

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6 comments:

  1. Tim, your productivity solution is so simple. I spend way too much time online social networking under the guise of building a platform for my book. I know that my time would be better spent writing my narrative, yet I linger in cyberspace, wandering back and forth between Facebook and Twitter hoping to find inspiration for other social networking writers. I am now printing a copy of “Is your productivity” and plan to read it over again AFTER I log off. Thank you for identifying my “Time Sucks” issues. I just hope that I am smart enough to follow your advice. Thanks again.

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  2. Oops....I forgot to thank Sirra for hosting Tim as a guest blogger.
    Thank you!

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  3. I'm afraid I do the opposite. I have three books done and working on a fourth. The first book was just made available on Amazon for Kindle. I have what my father calls, "A real job" where I often get stuck on a plane and flown to East of Nowhere (you can't even see Nowhere from where I am) where there is nothing to do other than watch fishing shows on TV (I am so not kidding.) However, I just started a blog and a twitter account and I am the one person left in America who doesn't have a Facebook page. I also have yet to re-format my first book for Smashwords.

    That said, your advice is a big help because I DO need to budget my time, I just need to budget it the inverse of most people, I think.

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  4. I hear you Julia. When started on twitter, I worked nonstop to make presence and learn the ropes. But once you get there, back off and write.

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  5. Betsy, damn straight you better thank Sirra.

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  6. Gotta love Sirra & her blackmailing tactics. Lol! And just when I thought I couldn't love either of you more! WOW. Tim, if you nailed it any more, you'd break the hammer. Step 1: Get my novel series done right this very minute. Then have your babies. Lol BRILLIANT! Keep it up my friends. ~.^

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