An earlier posting on the need for writers to have either a website or a blog – or both – generated a bit of debate. However, those of you reading this blog have not been privy to those comment, because they were left on identical posts published at www.redroom.com. I’m proud to say Write Nonfiction in November actually was featured for a whole week (from Nov. 17-23) in the Red Room as part of their “Best Blog” series. In any case, I’d like to address the topic of that debate: Is blogging really writing?
The debate began when I told a reader that the time they spent blogging should, indeed, be considered writing. This was followed by a comment by another reader that seemed to think if someone wrote something, a blog being the “something” in question, not worth writing, then the blog post didn’t really consist of writing at all. So, at the risk of boring those who read the comments in Red Room and repeating myself, here’s what I have to say on the topic.
Blogging allows a writer a forum never before available. Free publishing! You can become a published writer in minutes.
Now, whether or not you gain any readers has a lot to do with my blog reader’s complaint about writers who write and have nothing of importance to say. Some blogs consist of daily accounts of taking the dog for a walk, cooking dinner and interactions with friends. To most people, this seems like meaningless drivel. And a blog on these topics probably won’t attract many readers – except maybe family and friends. Unless you’re really funny…or very judgemental…or write with a strange, twisted perception of these mundane, daily events.
Blogging is writing – no matter what the blogger writes about. Now, in the mind of a drivel-writing blogger, he or she still is performing the act of writing. In my mind, they are writing – yes, even if they have little to write about that would make me subscribe to their blog. They might even write badly, but if they sit down every few days and write a blog post, they are writing. Even if I see their writing as a bunch of worthless words, it doesn’t matter. And, they may even have a huge readership despite my judgement about their writing. (If someone is reading, they must be writing, no?)
Many books have been published that aren’t worth reading. Does that mean they don’t contain pages and pages of writing? No. Their authors participated in the act of writing. (I’ve even edited a few self-published books that fall into this category…)
One more point about whether or not drivel represents writing: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) doesn’t ask fiction writers to write well or to produce good writing; it only asks fiction writers to write. They can write 50,000 words of drivel – worthless, not-worth-reading copy. I understand that sometimes that is, indeed, what the participants turn out. The point, however, revolves around the fact that NaNoWriMo participants are writing about 1,500 words a day. They are sitting down and turning out words. Are they worth reading? Maybe not, but it’s still considered writing.
Blogging also allows a writer to participate in a writing practice every day. The only way to become a good writer is to write, preferably every day. Writing takes practice. Now, not all of us want to publish our practice writing, but a blog does give us a format that almost requires us to sit down every day or a few times a week and actually post something – hopefully something of value that we feel represents good writing. Many writers like to do “morning pages” or some sort of journaling exercise. Blogging can serve the same purpose, only in a much more public venue. Writers write. Bloggers blog. It’s the same thing.
Blogging allows you to test market your ideas. By blogging on the topic of your writing projects, such as your nonfiction books, you can test market the material. If it’s of interest, you’ll gain readershp. You also can get feedback on your writing (given that anyone actually reads your blog). If you develop a readership, that says something about both your writing and your subject matter. If no one ever shows up to read what you have to say, that also tells you something.
You can find many stories these days of bloggers who have become published book authors simply by choosing to blog. I met a women just the other day whose niece had a book published by a major publishing house; they found her blog, which was about her experiences raising a coyote pup. She didn’t even have aspirations of becoming an author. However, her blog attracted a big following. And that attracted the editor of a publishing house. So, if you are an aspiring author, you should think about using your blog as a way to see if interest exists for your book. Or you might consider blogging your whole book; that’s been done as well. It’s a great way to sit down every day and write your book – much less intimidating, I think. Just write a few paragraphs a day, and see if anyone starts showing up to read it!
Blogging provides a great way to promote your book and to build a platform. The more readers you get, the bigger your platform. The bigger your platform, the easier it becomes to sell your book idea to a publisher and to sell your book to potential readers once published. All the people reading your blog on a regular basis – or even occasionally – represent potential book buyers.
Blogging helps writers find their voice. I love the fact that blogging allows me to “be me.” I find that as a blogger I’ve developed a much stronger “voice” than I’ve ever had before. I’m much more able to say what I want in a natural manner. This ability is beginning to melt into my other writing – my books, my articles and my essays. I especially see the benefits of my blogging practice when I sit down to write an essay; I can write them more quickly and easily than ever before, and they come across as much more authentic and less stilted. They have a more organic flow to them.
Blogging allows a writer not to write alone.If you can get a readership that actually wants to comment on your blogs, this allows you to leave your lonely writer’s garret occasionally to simply read a comment or post a comment – and you actually haven’t gone anywhere. At least you know, though, that you aren’t alone. You know someone is out there with you…reading what you wrote. And isn’t that really what ever writer wants? For the beginning writer who may not have ever seen his or her writing in print, the fact that their blog has attracted even one reader can be thrilling!
So, is blogging really writing? By all means, I say, blogging is writing. Sometimes it’s good writing and sometimes it’s bad writing. Sometimes it’s drivel and sometimes it’s a meaningful and inspirational masterpiece. Blogging encompasses a myriad of types of writing. Blogging can be a daily writing practice. Blogging can be published writing. Blogging is writing in an authentic voice. Blogging is a way to write a book. Blogging can be a way to make a living as a writer. Blogging can be a continual letter between author and reader. Blogging can be any type of writing you want it to be. You choose…and then begin blogging…begin writing.
(As you think about beginning – or continuing to blog, don’t forget to finish up your Write Nonfiction in November project. This is day # 28. You have two days left. Your fingers may be weary and your eyes bleary (no this isn’t about poetry…), but I can assure you the end is in sight. You can do it!)