Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Blessing in Disguise

A Blessing in Disguise
by Tami Brothers

I have way too much on my plate right now. So every time I log in and start surfing “my blogs,” I feel like I’m wasting a large amount of time. This comment sounds pretty harsh coming from someone who has their own personal writer’s blog as well as being a part of a group blog, doesn’t it? Before you send out the lynch mob or delete me from your favorites, please let me explain.

I’m a full-time college student, a wife, a mother, and a writer. Add to that my recent addition of full-time employment in Corporate America and it’s easy to see how there isn’t time or room for a whole lot of extra in my life right now. Although I was thrilled to have a job in these tough economic times, I suddenly felt like I was out of the loop on EVERYTHING. I was stuck in a small cube in the middle of a huge building; learning a new trade that was completely foreign to me; had an awesome, state of the art computer with all the bells and whistles sitting prominently in the middle of my desk; and no access to the sites and loops I like to surf on a regular basis.

In a nut shell, it was like I was wearing blinders. Without my blogs, I felt like I was lost at sea without a life raft to keep me afloat in the writing world. My evenings were filled with school and homework. My weekends were even tighter with family activities. I could see that I was just going to have to give up something and my blog hopping looked like it would be the first thing to have to go. I couldn’t help but whine and cry as I wondered what in the world I was going to do (heaven forbid I actually work!!!). That is, until I found out about Google Reader.

When someone told me about this site, I felt like I’d been thrown that life preserver. For one thing, I actually have access to the site at work. This allowed me to reconnect with the outside world from inside my “cell.” Of course, there were some drawbacks. With Google Reader, everything but the bare bones of the blogs is cut out. No longer did I have access to YouTube videos, stellar graphics, drool worthy pictures, or mindless games. I was no longer able to be distracted by links to other sites or eye catching banners.

All these items were greatly missed for that very first week. Then I began to realize this was a blessing in disguise. I realized I was actually learning something about the blogs I followed. I could see patterns that were not obviously pointed out to me (to know what I mean by this, see the Daily Menu on the sidebar of this blog). I could tell when an author was rambling on with no end in sight and when someone had something worth saying. This also helped me to see how I needed to keep my personal blog on more of a schedule if I wanted to keep my readers coming back. I was beginning to learn what worked and what didn’t.

I also learned that I was not only networking with other writers; but without all the other distractions, I was actually learning information I would normally be paying for in a writing class or workshop. I could plan mini workshops around these posts. For someone on a very tight budget, this racked up some huge bonus points in favor of my blog hopping.

I said earlier that I have way too much on my plate right now to spend on time wasters. That statement still holds true. But with Google Reader and the slimmed down version of the blogs I love to follow, I’m able to fit these quick reads into my breaks and lunch hour without interfering with the rest of my life. Not only am I still keeping my feet wet in the writing world, but I’m also learning more about networking and various other topics my “friends” decide to share that day.
Sure, I will miss those awesome graphics and colors and you better believe I'll be checking out a few of the sites I KNOW have some terrific eye candy on them as soon as I get a spare moment at home. But I now have a plan and a way to keep the best of everything in my world. So if anyone is contemplating paring down their day and have considered culling out some of the extra "waste," think about signing up for Google Reader and see what I mean. It has truly been a lifesaver for me in more ways than one.

Do any of you have a time saving tip to share?


Marilyn Baron said...

I'm not a blogoholic or a big blog hopper so I don't have your problem (although I am addicted to our Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog) but I'm getting dizzy just reading about your busy schedule.

Marilyn Baron

Tammy Schubert said...

Like Marilyn, I'm not a blogaholic. In fact, this is the first and only blog I have paid attention to so far. I'm slowly expanding. Maybe one day I'll become a blogaholic, too.

I know there are a lot of terrific blogs out there. If you could only recommend two, which ones should I go visit?

Good luck with your new job.

Cyrano said...

Tammy Schubert had a great question, If you could recommend two blogs, 2 blogs that you really like, really learn from, really get inspired by (Besides our delicious Petit Fours and Hot Tamales of course) which blogs would they be?
I'm not a blogaholic either. I'm more of a shoe and purse-aholic. But I thoroughly enjoy reading PFHT. I get so much out of our sister's comments. I also enjoy The Pink Fuzzy Slippers Writers blog. They're also writers.
So give us a bit of that Brother's blog knowledge Tami. I'm sure a bunch of us would appreciate it.
Another thing I know I appreciate is the fact that you're Super Woman. No, really, you're amazing!!! It's inspiring to hear about all you have on your plate and you still find time to write. I need to take a cue from you. Best of luck to you in school and with your job.
Have a productive day,

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Marilyn and Tammy... I should have started the post off like that, huh. My name is Tami and I am a blogoholic. Darn it. Why didn't I think of that? grin....

At the moment my schedule is very busy, but I keep seeing that light at the end of the tunnel and I know it is going to get better. So I keep myself focused on that.

Tammy, you only want two???? Man, that is hard. Since I can only pick two, my first choice would be http://www.murderati.com/. This group of writers is awesome!!! They have a ton of information about writing. My second recommendation would be http://jillshalvis.com/blog/. Jill is ALWAYS good for a laugh. These two blogs are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but depending upon what you are looking for, they are both great.

I stole a really neat idea from Carol Burnside and have started doing a blog rundown on my blog for Mondays. Since I'm blog hopping anyway, I list a bunch of different blogs and their posts that caught my eye during that week. Check it out when you get a chance...

Have a great day!!!


Tami Brothers said...

Hey Tamara. I totally could say the same thing about you with all you have going on, girl!!! But I thank you for your kind words. I'll be honest and say right from the start that going back to school was a huge hit on my writing. No doubt about that. I went from writing 2 books a year, to barely getting one started.

If I hadn't lost my job when the textile market took a huge hit last year, in the back of my mind there is this voice that says I would have been published already. But, life throws you curve balls and if you are a fast ball hitter, then you have to adjust. That's just what I did. I adjusted. My brain couldn't handle focusing on a manuscript and 5 different classes each semester. I had to cut back but I still had to find a job that would support me (because we all know that publishing just isn't going to do that - at least for a while...grin...). This is where I could have quit writing all together. Instead, I decided that I would focus more on my own blog. I started doing my Wednesday interviews as a way to "force" myself to read again. I started to doing my updates as a way to keep myself accountable. (although that one isn't working as well....grin....).

I started writing more articles and continued on with the commitments I made before all this craziness started (my volunteering with M&M as an example) in order to keep my fried brain "in" the writing world until I could refocus again. That's where this blog idea came from...

These were just things I did to keep myself immersed in this world. The blog hopping came along when I started supporting some friends' blogs. It starts out simple enough because they support you, you want to do the same. As you can see from my blog roll on my own blog, it kind of exploded from there. BUT, I have also learned a ton of information that I wouldn't have found out without them. I'm learning from the experience of my fellow writers.

Okay, this comment has turned into a post of its own. Definitely check out my blog roll. You don't have to read them all, but if you are looking for articles and comments about the writing world, each one has a little snippet you can learn from.


Sandra Elzie said...

Good morning Tami,

I'm not a blogaholic, however, I love finding a good blog with intelligent blogs & responses and articles that are helpful to my writing. I ran across a site one day called...The Rejector... She's an editor in N.Y. and her blog is interesting if you want to know what the thinking is on the other side of the table (Oh no, not another botice ripper...REJECT!!)

Thanks for the blog today...very interesting...and good luck juggling.

Sandy Elzie

Cinthia Hamer said...

Good morning, everyone!

Tami, I so feel your pain. Once I started this job with its crazy schedule, I, too, felt like I'd been cut off from the world.

Every New Year, I resolve to "be a better blogger" and it lasts for about a month, or until something causes me to fall off my path. Then, I get so depressed about it, I stop blogging and visiting other blogs all together.

PF&HT's has been a real Godsend b/c I don't have to blog every day, I can write my blogs when I have the time/energy, and comment when I have the time.

My only tips for saving time, is: Forget the housework!

Unless you live alone, there are others in your life that can help pitch in to keep the health inspectors from hauling you off to court.

It's funny you blogged about this today, b/c I had a conversation about this very thing with somebody--jperry--just yesterday.

I truly think this is a female phenom...we think we have to do it all and do it perfectly or we're failures. We give up so much that is important to US, in order to please others, especially our families.

I know you're an incredibly busy person...I truly admire you for not only working full time, but for continuing your education--and still finding the time to write and be such a valuable member of GRW.


Debbie Kaufman said...

Hi, I'm Debbie and I'm a...actually, just kidding! I could be a blogaholic if I allowed myself to be.

I set aside a few minutes each morning to look at and comment on blogs I want to support. Again, around lunch I might check on others that have been posted on a loop that I felt had merit.

But, I end up missing reading some of the ones like Murderati that I love. There are only so many hours in the day. I'll have to try Google Reader to help me keep up with my other favorites. Thanks for the tip!

The Writers Canvas said...

Hey Tami,

One wonderful word: Blackberry. The corporate America place I work for (aka the Gestapo) blocks most sites so I can't access anything at work. I keep my favorite blogs posted on my Blackberry and generally read them while drinking my morning soda, after going over what to do for the day.

This is a quick approach for me. Read them, learn something, go on to the next, then fire away at the job tasks. If I don't get time in the morning, I read them on my Blackberry at lunch.

Know that not everyone wants a Blackberry and they can be pricey, but I find that as I work in a place that won't allow anyone to check personal email even for 5 minutes per day, it saves me time and I get those emails quickly (particularly if they're from an agent or editor!)

Good post, hope to see you at the Deb Dixon workshop!


Carol Burnside said...

I too have a blog aggregator, but I use Bloglines.

It's great for those times when you've been out of touch for awhile and want to catch up. Bring up that one page and click and scroll through dozens of blogs and posts. They keep up with what you've looked at and discard them. Wonderful!

How funny that both our posts this week stemmed from blog-hopping. {G}

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Sandy. I do have the Rejector on my Google Reader. I just clicked over to my blog roll and I’m seeing it isn’t there. Not sure how I missed putting it up on there, but I was changing backgrounds a couple of months ago and lost EVERYTHING. I’ve been slowly adding new sites as I refind them. Thanks for mentioning her. I do like her straightforwardness. The other agent blogs I love is http://pubrants.blogspot.com/ and http://knightagency.blogspot.com/. They ALWAYS have some great stuff. Definitely check them out…

Hey Cinthia. I totally relate to the phenom of trying to do everything. That’s my BIGGEST problem. I want to do it all. Which is probably why I LOVED the Twilight books so much. The idea of having all that extra time to do it all and not having to pay for food. Too bad about the blood thing though. I’m sure I’d get over it if I had to (I know you can relate to this….grin….).

Hi Debbie! Fellow blogoholics unite!!! Great job on keeping a handle on it. I do find myself deleting some from my list as I go. It’s the only way I can get through them all. BUT I always hate to delete friends because I do think having and supporting friends in this business is very important.

Hi Elaine. I LOVE the idea of the Blackberry. My hubby and I just renewed our service in July and the price of the phone would really hurt right now. BUT before I found out about the Google Reader, I was seriously considering selling blood to get one…grin… I usually get 100+ e-mails per day, so when July rolls around, you better believe I’ll be jumping on that bandwagon… Thanks a ton for the suggestion. (I totally understand about being blocked at work. Too funny. They actually think we go there to work….grin…. If anyone from work is reading this, please note the tongue in cheek response here….) Also, yep, I’ll be at the Deb Dixon workshop. I went to one when I first started writing and I LOVE her. I can’t wait for the refresher. See you there!!!

Hey Carol. I will definitely look into Bloglines. You never can have too many back-up plans. Especially with the way my company blocks sites every day… I noticed the similarities too… Goes to show how great minds think alike… Note that I also mentioned in a previous comment how I “stole” the idea from you on summarizing the blogs I’ve taken note of. I figure since I’m reading them anyway, I might as well share some that my fellow writer/reader friends might like to take note of, too. Great idea, Carol!!!


CiCi Barnes said...

Wow! I'm dizzy from just reading about your day. I'd have to be on oxygen just to keep up with you.

Another non-blogaholic here. I do good to keep up with the two or three I follow, but, of course, this one is a must. Plenty of knowledge to be gained here.

I set time limits on some of my online chores. If I can't get all my emails read in a certain time, I save them for later. I make myself write on a schedule.

I have a quote hanging above my computer: I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning.

Putting time limits on the internet helps keep me inspired right on time.

Great post, Tami. See you Friday. I'll bring my oxygen tank.


Nicki Salcedo said...

My tip is to do less. It is not easy to say no, but eventually you will burn yourself out. I've given up tv. I don't watch any except an hour on the weekends. This helps me have more time after the monsters go to sleep. Or my other tip is to win the lottery! Then I can pay someone to do the other stuff I need to do.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Great Post, Tami-I think we all have to focus on time issues. And I liked all of the other suggestions, too, especially the one about forgetting housework. That's one of my personal strategies. I also recommend a DVR so you can watch TV if and when you want to. I also do my writing in a cafe where there is no Internet access so I can't be distracted by blogs, e-mail, etc. Other than that, I don't know. When I was working full time I worked with my husband to find a time for my writing; I couldn't have done it without his help. Even though it was only three hours on Sunday afternoons, I still managed to finish a novel in a year.

Dianna Love said...

I never knew there was something out there to organize blogs, but I only visit a couple, this being one of them.

Congrats on the new job, Tami. Good luck juggling all that, but this loop has been full of good suggestions today.

I'm like Nicki when it comes to what goes first - tv, for sure and my family is very understanding about me not always able to make an event.

Great post to remind everyone that time is the most valuable asset you have when it comes to writing.

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Cici. Sorry to make you dizzy…grin… But it’s not as bad as it sounds. If course, I felt a tad bit out of place when I had that week off for spring break and Christmas was overwhelming. I sat and vegged on TV and “spring cleaning.” I honestly don’t have the self discipline to keep off the internet if I’m sitting at my computer. I know this sounds silly, but as soon as I log into my side, I automatically click on the internet icon. I have vowed to get better at not doing this, but until that time, I’ve become very familiar with my Alpha Smart (no internet connection with that). I LOVE that quote and will be printing it out to tape on my computer desk. Thanks for sharing it!!!

Hi Nicki. You know me, I’m not the best person at saying no. Although I am working on it. I vow to try harder!!!

Hey Sally. I definitely agree on the housework thing. I wonder if I could actually get away with that??? I have gotten better at “delegating” some of it to the family. They may not like it, but… I think that is great that your husband is so understanding. I may have to stress to my family again just how important my writing is to me. I think they’ve just become numb to it.

Hey Dianna. I think I speak for all of us PFandHTs when I say that we are thrilled we are one of the blogs you frequent. We REALLY appreciate having you here!!! I agree that everyone has given some stellar advice and I will definitely see how much of it I can use.

Thanks you guys!!!

Linsey Lanier said...


I'm chiming in very late today, but this is a great topic. I'm not a blogaholic either - never bothered with blogs until you invited me to join this one. I love our PFHT blog and am slowly getting addicted to some others as well, but like you, time is not my friend.

Anyone out there willing to pay my bills so I can quit my job and surf all day? Suddenly there's silence. Well, it was worth a shot.

I'm in awe of your schedule Tami. You certainly are a Wonder Woman!

Nicki said to do less? Ahem, Ms VP...


Maxine Davis said...

Got up this morning and found my open comment box - yesterday, I really meant to write it, but I probably looked out the window and got totally off track. So sorry this is really, really late.

I imagine this is a generation thing, but blogs just are not my weak point. Sure I visit 1 or 2 every now and then, but don't have my own. I do have to get my daily dose of computer time to feel "right."

You are so good. See, there was something you wanted and you found a way to make it happen - Google Reader. I'm proud of you.

Just don't do what I did and start losing a lot of sleep. It's just not worth it!

Hang in there. One day soon you will be published and earning a very good living turning out books that are always a hit! I do want to read a complete book of yours the snippets I've heard or read sound fantastic.

For now, keep posting! It helps make me write another 5 pages!