Friday, October 5, 2012

Writing 101: Avoiding Email Addiction

Authors who self-publish have to do everything themselves, from plotting to editing to formatting to marketing. It takes up a lot of time to wear all of those hats, and by nature self-publishing is very interactive. You're participating on forums, you're communicating on Twitter. You're practically a one-author show. 

And you're not getting any writing done, because all that other mess is too consuming. Figure out how to manage it, and still get to work on your next book, by avoiding email addiction. 

Are You an Email Addict?

The self-published author's email is their greatest tool. It's here that bloggers respond to review request, here that your Goodreads messages appear, here that Smashwords sends notification that you've got a new buyer or a new review. If someone mentions you on Twitter, your email will tell you all about it -- heck, it'll even show you the message. 

It is, in a word, addicting. More than that, it's distracting. And I ought to know, because I am a raging email addict. I found myself checking it all the time. Really, like every 10 minutes on some days. I found myself actually stopping what I was doing, sometimes while I was typing out a sentence, to check my email. 

I knew I had an addiction when I realized how ridiculous I was being. I happened to notice I wasn't getting any work done on my current book project, either. That's when I knew my addiction was a real problem. How much time are you spending fooling around with yours? 

Breaking the Habit

It's not necessarily a problem to continually check your email -- if you aren't getting that much. But if you get a lot, weeding through it and making the appropriate responses consumes minutes every single time you check. So when I was checking mine 20 times a day, I was interrupting myself and my work for several minutes throughout the day. It adds up, and it takes you out the right frame of mind to keep doing whatever it was you were doing before you started checking.

Time to break the habit. If you know how I feel about staying organized, you might be able to guess where I'm going with this. That's right: schedule your email breaks. It's going to take you more time to get through your email when you check it less frequently, and you won't be responding to people as quickly, but you will be getting stuff done. When you have a solid schedule and you stick to it, you can get everything done. Check your email once in the morning, once in the evening and once or twice in the afternoon. Check it during your allotted time, so email won't be a distraction. It shouldn't be treated like an escape, and you shouldn't sneak over and take a look at it when you know you've got other stuff to do. Going through your author email is another one of your jobs, and you've got to treat it like one. If you don't keep everything in its place, you'll never keep yourself on schedule.

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  1. Hehe love this post. When I started blogging I was such an email addict. Since I was in my summer vacation I could stay all day on the computer. I would open my Hotmail and my Gmail and leave them open so everytime I received an email I would go see it emideiately! xD Now I do have school so the habit has broken! :D Great tips Jade :)

  2. Great post! I agree completely how it's best not to get obsessed with email, since it is very much a time-suck. This year I was forced to have no internet connection at all for a few months, and I accomplished so much during that time that I feel I'm better at rationing my time not just with emails, but with the internet in general, since I've realized firsthand how distracting all that online stuff can be!

  3. This completely sums me up at the moment, I'm waiting for about 5 different emails, and so obviously I have to check my email every 15 minutes or so. I read a blog/comment where someone suggested not checking email until at least lunch time each day - that seems like such a sensible thing to do, and makes space for writing in the mornings before the admin kicks in. Do I do it? Er... no, not yet, but I'm trying!

  4. Wonderful Post! You hit the nail right on the head.

    Hi, my name is Cher, and I'm an email addict.

    There, the first step is taken care of.

  5. I have email addiction! It is very distracting from my writing, I sometimes feel as though I will never finish editing my second book, because all my time is spent checking my inbox!
    My problem is I have two (my personal and my author email) and they're both linked to my phone, so each time I get a new message it buzzes beside me, and I can't help but look.
    Thanks for the tips on allotting specific time to check messages. I will have to do that.
    Now just to conquer my addiction to blogging/reading blogs when I should be editing, like uh...right now.

  6. Yeah, phone alerts will get you every time. I had to turn all of my alerts off.