4 Dumb Ways To Waste Your Writing Time via @BadRedheadMedia

4 Dumb Ways To Waste Your Writing Time via @BadRedheadMedia, RachelintheOC.com, BadRedheadMedia.com

I read an interesting article on the Good Men Project site today: 12 Stupid Things People Care Way too Much About, by Mark Manson. I loved the article because sometimes, as authors, we get too caught up in petty stuff and lose our focus: writing our next book. Not only that, but social media has become both a crucial part of marketing, as well as a great way to procrastinate.

Here are the points that I want to highlight as it relates to writers (and a hearty attribution and thank you to Mark for his terrific  article). I hope he doesn’t mind my riff.

Let’s deconstruct.

Stop wasting your time on:

1) Celebrity and Sports Gossip is Such a Time Suck 

When I started Twitter in 2009 (jeez, five years already? Crazy), I followed a few celebs…that is, til I figured out that not only did they write with a plethora of exclamation marks (I had the BEST COFFEE EVERRRRRRR!!!!!!!!), most couldn’t even define plethora. So I unfollowed them all.

Listen, I can be as starstruck as the next person (I’m cuckoo for authors and musicians, mostly), and when they not only follow me back but tell me they love me (as @JonathaBrooke did today — who, by the way is reading Broken Pieces and is also the bomb, not because of that but because she’s an amazingly talented freckled redhead who just turned fifty, too. What. I know I’m gushing. Shut up.), but I keep in mind that the main reason I’m on Twitter is to connect with readers.

That said, who knew Jonatha would become a reader? Certainly not me! I’m flabbergasted and stunned, as well as honored. What I love about Twitter is that it’s the great equalizer — where else in the world would she and I be able to interact this way? Maybe Facebook, but doubtful.

Point is, unless you have a inordinate amount of time to do nothing but follow gossip (or if that’s your job), stop following Bieber, Gaga, and (after the Superbowl, of course), the Athlete Arrest of the Day. OR, if you write about this stuff, great. Otherwise, you are putting off your real writing.

2) Politics (and I’ll add Religion) is Robbing You of Precious Writing Time 

I’ve written about avoiding these topics previously, and you can do whatever the heck you want. Ask yourself, from a business perspective, are you hurting or helping your book sales by engaging in these hot button topics? It’s not a rule, by any means.

It can be difficult to keep politics completely off our walls and streams. And, as I state in my article, if your books or blog are specifically about a political or religious topic, then knock yourself out. I understand all the free speech arguments and I’m not opposed. I get that some folks feel we have a responsibility to use our platform for good. I agree. (That’s why I am an advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse).

I’m looking at it strictly from a ‘will you or won’t you sell more books?’ perspective, and that’s it.

So, chill.

3) Online Shopping Might Save You Time If It’s for Groceries… 

When I was still working full-time for soul-sucking Big Pharma (recovered now, thanks), I had one child, a two-income household, and a little money to burn. I got caught up in this whole new and addicting online shopping — for clothing, jewelry, shoes, mostly. Most of it I never wore and ended up sending back or giving away. It was a total money pit (now I just download books and music).

Fast forward a few years and a second child, and it makes sense to me that Pinterest is now becoming the wasteland of avid shoppers. I shared on Facebook that someone followed me on Pinterest the other day and she had a few hundred thousands pins — on one board (for comparison, I have a few thousand pins and I’ve used Pinterest for over two years). And she had hundreds of boards. No judgement here — maybe that’s her business and brings her a lot of traffic. Which brings me to my next point.

Pinterest is a wholly terrific source for finding great content to share (photography and writing quotes in particular), as well as visual inspiration, so while I don’t recommend anyone spend hours there every day, I do recommend you learn how to use it. It’s become my third most popular source of site traffic (and it’s worth mentioning that I’ve never purchased anything I’ve seen there).

So there.

(Munson mentions a terrific book that’s sitting on my Kindle: The High Price Of Materialism by Tim Kasser. Read it.)

4) Being Offended (aka Taking Things Personally). Let It Go, Man. 

One thing I learned a long time ago as a pharma rep, is to take nothing personally. Doctors are dealing with sick people, sometimes gravely ill patients they’ve known for decades, and seeing a rep is certainly not the highlight of their day. I got that. Social media, blogs, and reviews especially, are no different. We never know what is going on in someone’s life when they leave that scathing, judgmental, completely unfair and maybe even  patently false review (I’m still laughing at being referred to as a ‘trustafarian dewdrop.’ I hope that person writes copy for a living.) It’s up to us to get over it and keep writing (and/or report as abusive if it, you know, is).

Or how about that person on Facebook who disagrees with your assertion that you support green aliens but not purple ones, and calls you all kinds of horrible names — is it worth getting into a flame war?

I’m not immune. I got into it the other day on Twitter when They Who Shall Not Be Named (now blocked and reported) decided to claim that they created #MondayBlogs. Was I offended? No, I was furious. Sometimes it’s worth standing up for our intellectual property rights (though one can originate a hashtag, one cannot copyright it, so…).

Some people dig in and just don’t let go. If they continue to come after you because you deign to speak your mind (what are we thinking? Jeez.), if they degenerate to name calling or threats, block ’em. It’s simple. I don’t even bother feeling bad. It’s not that I’m blocking someone because they disagree with my views — I encourage polite discourse). I block them because life is too short for negativity and threats.

I always say we get out of social media what we put in, and the same goes for our author marketing and sales. Social media is a wonderful way to connect with readers — but always remember, above all else, to spend time on creating something for readers to read.

So, stop reading this and write. Go.



Picture courtesy of pixabay



  1. Dave Goodridge on January 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Have to admit, I’m not an avid reader however, this blog certainly got had me hooked. So much so, I couldn’t stop reading and as you can no doubt see… I was compelled to leave a comment. You do not need me to tell you that you certainly have a way with words. Apologies if my comments lack a certain articulate flow,, this isn’t really my thing however, you are an amazing writer, blogger etc. Really enjoyed this Rachael. Dave

    • Rachel Thompson on February 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Dave! Welcome to my blog and thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate your kind comments about my writing. My author blog is RachelintheOC.com and I have a different tone over there — more in line with my three books (nonfiction, relationships, love and loss).

      Thanks again for commenting and have a great day!

  2. […] 4 Dumb Ways To Waste Your Writing Time […]

  3. Lollie-LuLu on February 3, 2014 at 10:18 am

    You can’t see me, but I’m totally giving you a round of applause, especially for the “Stop being offended” part!

    • Rachel Thompson on February 3, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Thanks Lollie! You’re very kind. The credit goes to Manson for his great article. I just picked up on some of the salient points. thanks for reading and commenting : )

  4. Norah on February 4, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Hi Rachel,
    Thanks for another dose of your good advice. I don’t waste my time in any of the ways you mention, though I do find keeping up to date with everything and finding all the great posts to read can take time, and I need to budget my time, so to speak. I love being on Twitter and find #Mondayblogs and #wwwblogs especially helpful in finding people to follow and read. I agree that it is a great equalizer and am pleased that I have been able to join such an interesting community with stimulating conversations and thought-provoking discussions. You have been a big part of my twitter journey thus far.

    • Rachel Thompson on February 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      Wow, thank you Norah! Too kind.

      I’m thrilled that #MondayBlogs has taken off so well, and even more so that people are benefitting from it. Traffic to our sites is important, but so are the connections we make on social media that creates that traffic. That right there is what I’m always going for. That relationship.

      all the best and thank you again,

  5. Kathy Steinemann on February 5, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks, Rachel.

    Another thing to avoid: Pressing Like for every second Facebook post. Then you have to waste time clicking on the little globe to see what’s happening every time it tells you someone has commented on whatever you liked. Save your likes for the important posts that merit followup.

    • Rachel Thompson on February 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

      that’s too true, Kathy! FB does give several options to turn off notifications (which I’ve figured out finally! lol) and I shut most of it down. too distracting, you’re so right. agree on the likes, too.

      thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. Zero_Equals_Infinity on February 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I don’t know about avoiding religion … As an atheist I still have a tremendous fascination for it, (and probably for similar reasons to George Bernard Shaw.) What I always find almost irresistible is when someone attempts to make point blank statements that are built upon sand, and yet insist with tremendous verve that it is the TRUTH, and all who fail to believe are destined for the Great BBQ in the Lake of Fire. I suppose it is a personal failing, but I find myself feeling like Jacopo Belbo in Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” who cannot resist saying, “Ma gavte la nata”, to those who are full of the fetid flatulence of proud ignorance. To take out my sharp wit and puncture their balloon is a guilty pleasure that will probably result in me spending an eternity with such interesting people as Mark Twain. Hell may be hot, but all the most interesting people will be there.

    • Rachel Thompson on February 12, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks for weighing in, Zero. Truly, it’s something each author must decide for themselves. Here’s how I look at it: unless your book is about religion (or lack thereof), isn’t that time you spend debating with others who will probably never change their minds anyway, be better spent working on your next book?

      If that answer is no, and you truly feel that spending time convincing others of your beliefs is valuable, then that is what is right for you. Again, it comes down to sales and connecting potential readers, while not alienating future sales. I’m looking at it strictly from a business perspective.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Divorced Kat on February 24, 2014 at 7:30 am

    It was a sad day when I had to unfollow Cher.

  8. Abel on February 24, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    I really needed to read this! I’m horrible at this..I get SO distracted with my timelines on Twitter/Facebook and end up sitting on them for hours at a time..(guilty of that today). Another problem of mine is reality TV…I can not turn it off..AHH! I’m thinking about taking the TV out of my bedroom!

    • Rachel Thompson on February 24, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Definitely take the TV out of the bedroom, if for no other reason than it’s much more calming to read or listen to music IMHO. As for distraction, there are plenty of Internet management programs where you can track your time online and how you’re spending it. It’s pretty eye-opening.

      when I write, I turn it all off — and just leave Word open. Otherwise, it just doesn’t get done.

      As for those reality shows, I don’t watch any of them (except an occasional Mystery Diners which cracks me up) or Project Runway (I love seeing creativity at work). Those shows on Bravo I find to be especially negative/toxic. I’ve banned them from the house, bossy redhead that I am LOL.

  9. John Hennessy on October 17, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I agree, unurprisingly, with everything you say!

  10. […] 7. 4 Dumb Ways To Waste Your Writing Time ~ We all need new ways to waste our time, right? Okay, this one is about ways we’re already wasting our time. Check it out anyway. You may find something new. […]

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