Monday, August 5, 2013

I No Longer Fight It

I find it impossible to turn on my computer and not go straight to email. Sure, I give myself a lecture each morning, stressing the fact that AN AUTHENTIC WRITER puts work before play. She writes a few pages before indulging in social contact. Or at least a few paragraphs before checking her e-mail. But no matter how strongly the Jiminy Cricket part of me makes the case, I blithely ignore him and start wading through the seventy or so electronic missives awaiting my attention.

The number always causes a jolt of alarm, but my system has been honed. I’ve learned to weed out the many pleas to “buy my book,” the other ads that have escaped my “junk” radar, and repeat messages. Still, a good portion of my mail comes in digest form from writers’ listservs. These I quickly scan, reading those I consider important. News that someone’s sold a book or won a contest is important. I send congratulations, because that’s important, too.

Then it happens. Though I can’t possibly read or respond to the many blog posts that come my way, I stop to read those that strike my interest. Then, more often than not, I’ll leave a comment. Sure, occasionally it’s to get the chance to win a free book, but more often it’s because the subject hits a nerve and discusses a topic dear to my heart. We writers forge close alliances and good friendships. Leaving comments on blogs and Facebook is an important way of staying in touch with the people who best understand what we do all day.

The writing world is in constant flux. Emails keep me informed of the new marketing outlets and tools we writers must master to get the word out about our books. I ignore the ones that cost money, but so many are free.

And who can resist the offers of free books for my Kindle? I ask for ARCs of books that appeal to me. I do my best to read them all, but I’ll have to live to at least two hundred before I can read all the books—paper and ebooks—awaiting my attention. Of well, this should be my worst addiction.

And there’s the genuine work-related emails that require immediate attention: Filling out a marketing questionnaire for a possible sale to a new publisher. Responding to bloggers looking for guest bloggers. Signing up for an occasional free webinar. Putting up my own blogs and emailing everyone about it.

I’m in constant touch with a group of fellow writers. So many of our exchanges are off topic. We joke, discuss outrageous things we’ve read in the news, complain about what’s bothering us, and share recipes. Of course we help one another with all writer-ly matters. One needs only to toss out a question and the suggestions and support come racing back. Where does one draw the line between what’s important for a writer’s well-being and what’s good for her craft?

Actually, I feel like a Twenty-First Jane Austen when I go through my email each morning. She wrote her letters by hand and sent them on their way. Emails are faster. I often get responses from my fellow writers who are also sitting at their computers. With all this support and bolstering, I feel better equipped to start my writing day.


Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

I can definitely relate! I've often thought, "Hmm, maybe I should write first and check emails later." But, that doesn't seem to work for me. I find myself curious as to what "letters" I've received.
So, the first thing I do every morning is go to my email. I weed out (delete) unimportant emails and focus on the ones that need my attention. Once I've gone through my email, I can focus on my writing without wondering what I'm missing. :)

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I always read my email first. Compelling isn't it?

The other Marilyn.

Palmaltas said...

I can relate to this also but my routine is a little different. There are other things I check online before I check e-mail and then I delete the things that don't require a response. I set aside the messages I want to respond to and save them for a special time when I can think better, relax and enjoy responding. I used to write my novels/stories from 9 am to noon but a recent move has disrupted my schedule. (That's my excuse anyway.)

Miki Thornburg said...

I could no more start writing before I look at emails than I could walk past a full snail-mailbox and mow the lawn! Tell that cricket of yours to calm down. When you start playing 12 hands of solitaire before you write he can start complaining!

Jacqueline Seewald said...


I do the same as well. I read and respond to e-mail before I start writing each morning. Human contact is very important to me.

Morgan Mandel said...

I was just going through my email and deleting those I won't have time to read today. I like to keep in touch, so I stay on many egroups, but don't always have time to pay attention to them. It's a losing battle, much like the ads that keep coming in the snail mail every day.

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Levinson said...

Dear Pat, Marilyn, Pat, Mary, Jacqueline, and Morgan,
So nice to hear how each of you starts her day--and to learn that heading for email or Facebook first thing is something we all do. Mary, I will tell that cricket to calm down. As writers, we must be very organized and structured to be able to finish a novel. It doesn't matter how we go about doing it as long as the job gets done.

Unknown said...

I tend to check my emails first as well. However, I skim for ones that I must respond to immediately and save the rest for after my writing session. I've learned that with my family life, if I don't begin working on my pages of writing or revisions as soon as possible, the day is gone before I know it and the goal is unmet.

Have a wonderful week, Marilyn. :)

Marja said...

Remember in days gone by when there was no computer in just about every house? And we couldn't wait for the mailman to come to see if anyone had sent a letter? Now it's the same thing with email, but we don't have to wait for days to see who's thinking of us. And, of course, you're right about emails that pertain to our writing. Wonderful post, Marilyn!
Marja McGraw

Anonymous said...

I love email and hate it (along with social media in general). We've become such a multi-tasking society, but we can't truly multi-task! Something has to give, right? Honestly, it would be a treat to be able to write when I want without feeling a pull in another direction, like toward email. It's tough enough to try to churn our words every day. Tougher when you factor in everything else we need to do. Sigh.

Earl Staggs said...

I'm the same way, Marilyn. I can't resist looking at email first. There's that feeling that, today, something really great will be there. At least, something interesting or fun. Glad I'm not the only one with the addiction.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Checking email IS kind of an addiction, isn't it?

Terri, I feel the way you do. And you work, besides. I'm so exhausted now, from running errands, etc., and I haven't even accomplished the writing task I'd set myself to do today.

Thanks, Marja. And let's face it. We've made great friendships via email. I intend to get to your post today, too.

Donna, You're more disciplined than the lot of us:)

Rhoda Baxter said...

I do exactly the same (even though I know I should spend more time writing). One day when my internet went down, I wrote LOTS. That said, it's more fun being able to keep in touch with people. People are important!


Marilyn Levinson said...

So true--people are important.

Donna Coe-Velleman said...

Well Marilyn, you have lots of company, including me. Rarely do I write a bit first before I check my e-mails. Good to know we're not alone. : )

Marilyn Levinson said...

Donna, I think we check our emails first so we know we're not alone in this writing business.