After about a month with limited Internet access, I'm back in the heaven of free wifi at college.
The downside? I have to actually look at my email now. There's a lot of it. While I'd love to read it all, I just don't have the time. So, how to decide what's worth reading and what's not?
The same question applies to my blogroll. Over half the emails I get are subscriptions from various blogs, all of which I enjoy reading. The bloggers are all good writers with quality posts and a healthy dose of personality, or else I wouldn't follow them. :)
That doesn't mean that every post from every blog I follow applies to me. In fact, many if not most of them don't. When scanning my hopelessly flooded inbox, glancing at titles and checking the clock because I have ten minutes until class, how do I decide what to read and what to delete?
I used to make the mistake of reading all the "how-to" posts related to the business of writing: how to write a query letter, how to market a book, how to impress an agent, how to decide whether you even want an agent, how to self-publish, how to traditionally publish, etc. And all when I hadn't even finished my first draft.
I'm not even through with editing -- so I've stopped reading those. Tempting as it is to gaze wistfully into the future, if I see, "How do you know when your manuscript is ready for publication?" I delete it without even opening the email. That post might be useful later on, but at the moment it would just be distracting. Not to mention how reading those never fails to send me into a panic about the difficulties of the future and how behind I am. Deleting the email clears my inbox and my mind.
If you need something later, you can always find it again on the Internet. Right now, read what's relevant.
I also used to read every "How to Brainstorm/Get an Idea/Develop Characters/etc." post...when I was already working on a story. I don't know about you -- but in my case, I was blatantly avoiding writing. New and shiny is always more interesting than old and frustrating. Developing characters and adding conflict might be relevant, but probably not until the editing stage. Not when you're trying to spit the first draft out.
The more advice you read about how to do it, the less time you spend actually doing it.
The Internet is saturated with information, and filtering out what is relevant to you when is often difficult. There are certain blogs I read no matter what -- I love the writing, I like the humor, they challenge me, they always have something interesting to say. The rest, I read when I need.
It's also an important lesson to remember about blogging. Not every post you write will be relevant or interesting to a reader all the time. That's fine. It might be important to someone else. With all the different people and interests on the Internet, it's futile to try and write a blog that appeals 100% to 100% of your readers.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? You know I love to hear them.