Monday, July 30, 2007

The Challenge With Blogs

If it feels like everyone in the known universe has a blog, then that’s because they do – at least that’s the way it feels when you’re a writer. Whether you’re writing for fun or profit, blogs have now passed fad status and have acquired a kind of Internet stodginess.

But I like blogs. I like my blogs, and that’s where the challenge emerges. Amid everything else I do – facilitate a writers’ group, writing for local publications, working on my book proposal – my blogs just don’t get updated as often as I would like. In actuality, this probably isn’t anything I should lose sleep over. I doubt that people are standing around the water cooler in the morning saying, “Did you check Just Write today? She still hasn’t posted anything new!” I recently read that the average blog has one reader, which comforts or frustrates me, depending upon my mood.

Should writers bother with blogs? This debate, while nowhere near intensity of the “should writers ever write for free” question, is on the rise. It's a question that applies to all writers, not just those writing professionally. Blogs can serve many purposes – an online portfolio, a way to reach out to readers, a way to stay in touch with friends, a way to express your creativity. Instantaneously self-publishing our own work carries a whole host of pros and cons, but I think it boils down to a question central to all writing practices: does it work for you?

(Let’s just digress for a second and say that those who blog for a living and thus pay their rent by blogging have already answered this question. This is for everyone else.)

Does your commitment to a blog make you write? Is it something you enjoy writing, whether you have one reader, no readers, or a million? Are you happy with your blog – the way it looks, the way it reads? Then keep writing.

On the other hand, if keeping up a blog – be it once a month or once a day – has become a way to avoid other projects, or nothing more that the route posting of whatever crosses your mind, perhaps you should re-think blogging, at least as a way to aid your writing. We all know that the Internet can distract as well as aid us, and that includes blogs. Put your blog in perspective. And remember that when you publish your work on a blog, anyone can read what you’ve posted. Anyone. Make sure your blog is a positive reflection on you.

In my own case, I intend to keep blogging. I wish I knew how the successful writers I know manage to juggle all their projects and do daily blog updates. I suspect it’s a combination of writing shorter posts and writing faster. For me, blogging is a great way to exercise those writing muscles.

Do you blog? How has it helped or hindered your writing?


Ritergal said...

FYI, I set Blogarithm to alert me when you have a new post, so take your time. They are worth waiting for.

I'm one of the blogging writers you refer to, but I only post two or three times a week. I use my blog to share thoughts and ideas about lifestory writing that didn't make it into my book. Maybe someday I'll incorporate some of the blog items into another book, but that doesn't matter.

Over the years, I've learned a headful of information and new skills from the free stuff on websites. My blog is one way I keep the universe in balance. I look at it as refilling that pot.

Besides, it's fun and energizing. It keeps me on the alert of fresh views. If it weren't rewarding, I wouldn't do it.

Your observations about using it as an avoidance tendency are spot on. My July 27 post touched on this issue, and I did an earlier one about the dangers of Net Addiction.

Please keep the columns flowing, at whatever pace works for you!

TH Meeks said...

Many thanks for the words of encouragement, Ritergal Sharon! My goal now is a post a week on each blog... I'm approaching it like exercise, building up my Blog Stamina as I go. I so agree with your comment that it's fun, energizing, and keeps you on your toes.