Thursday, March 12, 2009

Information Overload

The Internet has made a big difference in the amount of information to which we have access. For writers & authors seeking publication or promotional tips, there's plenty out there. But sometimes it can be too much of a good thing!

Just consider some of these sources:

Websites listing publishers & resources.
Online magazines with writing tips.
Sites that list contests and book festivals.
Author websites
Critiquing websites
Yahoo groups and listservs
Websites with marketing tips - and free newsletters
Millions of blogs with tips
Social sites geared toward writers & authors
And Twitter, where everyone provides a link to one of the above!

And so many other resources I failed to mention...

Add to this all of the physical books available, plus book festivals and writer conferences and writer clubs...

Wow... that's a lot of STUFF!

We need to prepare and plan and learn everything possible, but... if I spent all day reading everything available online, I'd never write or promote a thing!

Finding a balance is important. After setting a goal. it's easy to get sucked into the how-to stage and never move past that point. It's also tempting to just skip all that and go for it. Neither plan is productive!

So how do you balance learning and producing? How do you cope with information overload?


Morgan Mandel said...

Narrowing down what you're looking for sometimes helps. Google can pull up scads of stuff you don't need to know, but if you put plus signs between the words you're looking for, it helps some.

Also, try not to get sidetracked. Get what you need and get out, kind of like what the DH does when we go shopping.
Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

Setting a goal and disconnecting helps me. My goal is to learn one new thing every day. I don't need to become an expert at what I have just learned, but if I want to go more in depth on the topic, I can. If in that process I come across another skill I'd like to learn, I place it in my mental queue. I block out time for writing, and during that time I disconnect from other things, especially the social sites.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Morgan, DH's style of shopping sounds just like a man - "Go out, shoot deer, bring home, feed family!"

Barbara Friend Ish said...

Unplugging from the social stuff is critical; I continue to find striking a balance with those venues difficult, and all too often I succumb to the temptation to neglect them.

Reconnecting with the big picture, your goals that govern everything else, on a regular basis is also important. Sometimes a task or project can lay claim to a much bigger proportion of resources than we would devote to it if we could remember why we had decided to take it on.

Meg said...

I try to split it evenly. The same amount of time I spend reading stuff, I want to spend working. Doesn't always happen. If I see I've been on the computer over an hour and haven't done a single productive thing, I make myself get to work right then.

Anonymous said...

It's all about time management. For me, I have to compartmentalize my day. Certain segments for posting and blog-hopping, certain segments for working on WIPS's, and if I need to do research and info gathering I give myself so much time to do it. If there's so much enticing stuff I run across I can't get to it all today, I'll store the urls with a quick note on what it was I wanted to read about there and get to it another day during an allotted time. Also important to schedule in some "break time" for R&R - All work and no play makes Marvin a dull writer. (smile)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Yeah, Marvin, think I need more of the R&R time!
Although I did slip out this evening and take some photographs...
First time in ages!!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I'm still trying to figure out how to get everything done. I need to learn how to give up sleeping!

Jane Kennedy Sutton

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

How about e-mail overload. Even just Twitter e-mail overload! (-:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Blogging at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick,
Tweeting tips at

Allyn Evans said...

This a constant battle for me. Timely article and something that is on my mind lots!

Mayra Calvani said...

Thanks for your congrats, Diane.

I agree that there's information overload out there--sometimes I feel as if my head is spinning. I'm alwasy trying to find out which networks really work and which are a waste of time.

Glenda Council Beall said...

when I was younger I had this drive to learn everything and keep up with the entire world, but reality set in and, although I am capable of letting myself become overwhelmed, I set my goals and try to keep myself from letting email and all the other online "time stealers" take over my life. As a result, I don't want twitter, or all those social websites in my life. I believe writers have to stay focused on writing as the primary goal, but know enough to publish and market their work.
EVerything in moderation.