After I put up my post about one author's view RE: twitter, which you can find HERE, an unpublished writer asked if I could talk about how to balance the on-line stuff with the writing and other real-life stuff.
I think each person has to find his/her own way, to be honest. What's going to work for one person may not work for someone else. But since someone asked ME, I'll share my thoughts.
I get up early, about 45 minutes before my kids get up. I spend that time reading and replying to e-mails, reading blogs, posting a blog if I have something to say, and a little bit of twitter. This continues on and off once I get the kids up in between lunch making, breakfast, etc. etc.
The takeaway here I think - designated on-line time. Yours might be in the evening or during your lunch hour. It doesn't matter when it is, but give yourself 30 minutes to an hour of social networking time and know that outside of that time, if you're at the computer, you should be writing!!! The exception to this? If you ONLY HAVE 30-60 minutes a day, don't tweet it away! WRITE!!!!
Once you figure out when your designated on-line time is going to be, how you want to spend that time is up to you. Keep in mind that if you use twitter efficiently, you can actually use it to help you figure out what blogs you want to read that day. I have lists in twitter - one for publishing news, one for agents/editors, and one for "cool author peeps" (that one is private so no one knows who is on the list except me). By making lists, I can be efficient with my reading.
For the most part, I don't do facebook during that on-line time in the morning. To me, facebook is more about fun than business. I only do facebook in the evening, if I have a little free time. I can't tell you how many people have told me they KNOW facebook affects their productivity at their jobs. One real estate agent told me she was banning herself from facebook from 8-5, so she could get back to doing what she needs to do - getting out there and drumming up business.
Once the kids are out the door at 8:40, my on-line time is done. It's time to exercise and get myself ready for the day. By 10:00, I should be in my office, ready to work. Some days work means writing, other days it means promotional stuff, but it doesn't mean cruising around the internet! I do check e-mail and twitter throughout the day, however. I like to use twitter as a little reward. One hour of writing gets me a few minutes of twitter time.
What we have to remember about twitter is that it's designed so that we can do a few replies, post something interesting, and LEAVE without missing anything directed at us. By clicking on your name with the @ in front of it on the right-hand bar the next time you pop in, you can see any replies you received and respond then if you want to.
For pre-published writers, I really think the best use of your social networking time is learning as much as you can about the industry. Look at your blog roll - which ones are helping you and which ones are you reading just for fun? Be honest! I'm not saying you can't have fun, but maybe you spend one hour a week reading the fun blogs, versus one hour a day. Just think if you spent that one hour a day writing instead!
I think an important question to ask yourself WEEKLY - am I spending more time on-line than writing? If the answer is yes, something needs to change. Maybe you need to get your writing time in first, before anything else.
For me, I remind myself daily that, while social networking IS a part of my job as an author, it doesn't pay the bills. It doesn't give kids or teens new books to read. It doesn't bring me the feeling of having accomplished something.
Writing, of course!!! And so that's how I want to spend the majority of my available time. It's a choice. Every day, it's a choice. So we must choose wisely, yes?