Thursday, September 5, 2013

Writers: Whether to Blog or Not

To blog or not to blog? This topic frequently pops up on writers' blogs. I'm supposed to write about this subject because I'm a writer AND a blogger. I'll fan the flames a little and declare that I'm firmly in the camp of don't blog if you don't feel it. If you write fiction, don't go fumbling around to start a blog. Why? Am I a turncoat? Let me be stingy for you. The fact is, if you have time to write, write your novel. Don't blog.

Why do I blog? Because sometimes it's just easier to jump on this little wagon than pull out the novel. "Ah," so you say, "I'm a procrastinator." Nope. Easily distracted, but not much of a procrastinator. I write every day. Maybe not fiction. But I do write. Does that count? Who's judging here?

But save yourself! Don't start a blog because the social media gurus and the indie-wonks demand that YOU MUST. That's a pile of fartooie (on a blog, I can make up words. You can do the same in your books. Give it a whirl. See if it drives your crit partners crazy).

Write because you love to write, whenever and wherever you have the space and time. It's Holy. A skyscraper H. Find your center in your words. Share them and make the world better. Uplifted yet? I'll share this, too, from Verlyn Klinkenborg, who wrote at the end of a piece in the NYT last June:

Whenever I teach older students, whether they're undergraduates, graduate students or junior faculty, I find a vivid, pressing sense of how much they need the skill they didn't acquire earlier in life. They don't call that skill the humanities. They don't call it literature. They call it writing -- the ability to distribute their thinking in the kinds of sentences that have a merit, even a literary merit, of their own.

Writing well used to be a fundamental principle of the humanities, as essential as the knowledge of mathematics and statistics in the sciences. But writing well isn't merely a utilitarian skill. It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.

No one has found a way to put a dollar sign on this kind of literacy, and I doubt anyone ever will. But everyone who possesses it -- no matter how or when it was acquired -- knows that it is a rare and precious inheritance.


  1. Nice philosophy. But how about some practical "satisfactions and frustrations of blogging".

    1. Sure.

      If you decide to blog, be dedicated about it. Consider it bad PR for yourself as a writer to start a blog, then abandon it. If you find you aren't dedicated enough to write at least once a month (and that's the minimum you should probably write) then take the blog down and don't leave it up for the wandering writer or web cruiser to find. Nothing is sadder than an abandoned blog.

      Many bloggers I know make schedules and write about topics that they think will drive traffic. Unapologetically, I don't do that. Why? Because I use my blog more as a means to think through topics that interest me and enjoy the process of writing. Does this gain me readership? In the long term, maybe not the sky-high readership some may aspire to. Many business bloggers and experts will advise: write a blog that 1) helps people in some way; 2) inspires them; 3) provides information that isn't available elsewhere. Those may prove difficult consistently if blogging isn't your day job.

      I write a blog because I enjoy it. This is crucial for motivation. I want to write about topics that concern writing, but I also don't want to be a hyper-linked resource guide or sound too "corporate." There's plenty of that on the web. Am I a fool not to maximize my audience? I generally receive nice feedback from many folks, and my traffic is good. But I'm not in it for the traffic. I'm in it to share thoughts, feelings, the process of being a writer and keep my fingers on the keyboard. Sometimes it strikes a note with a reader; sometimes not.

      Is that more helpful? I hope so. Leave a link if you are blogging. Thanks for stopping by.


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