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literature & technology: to blog or not to blog?

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These days, blogging is practically ancient technology. But it is only in the past few years that the number one piece of advice given to writers wishing to nab a publishing contract is to have a blog. Blogging is a way for writers to showcase their writing style, connect with their readers and help promote their work when it gets published. Basically, blogging helps authors increase their online presence, and, in the 21st Century, without some sort of online home, even if a writer managed to be offered a publishing contract, they would probably have a lot of trouble selling their books. Despite all this, I can’t help but question the necessity of blogging.

I blog, but I don’t blog about my writing- I blog about Australian books. Blogging is time consuming. Not only because I chose a book review format, and therefore have to read books before I can blog about them, but crafting the post, attaching links and finding images all take time. Writing these posts is time away from other writing, but it’s a Catch 22- writing blog posts keeps me writing and enables me to engage with other readers and writers. And without those two things, any other writing I do would not be as visible.

On the other hand, I really enjoy reading other people’s blogs. I read writing and book review blogs, but I’m just as interested in any sort of language or creative blogs. Reading these blogs gives me inspiration for my own creative pursuits. But again, this is time away from actually creating, or reading books. Over the past year and a half I’ve written 49 posts, at an average of 350 words each. That’s 17,000 odd words of writing. That’s half of a novella or about a third of a novel. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I would have been better off forgetting about the blogging part of things and spent all that time just reading and writing other things instead.

But then there are the weeks and, sometimes, months when I feel disheartened about what I’m doing. When another rejection has slotted into my email inbox, and I start to question whether or not I’ve done the right thing by setting my sights on having a writing career. Hell, the statistics were never in my favour. But I keep blogging anyway, because I’ve built up some followers now, and I don’t want my blog to be added to the thousands of abandoned blogs languishing out there in cyberspace. And then one of my followers likes one of my posts. And then another, and then I gain another follower, too. And this reminds me of why I chose to be a writer in the first place, and the fact that someone is actually interested in reading what I have to say urges me to keep on writing. Because even if I wanted to, I couldn’t stop writing if I tried. At the end of the day, even if I had no followers, I would still write, because it’s impossible for me to stop.

I do agree with the advice that writers should blog. Not necessarily about their own writing, and not because the publishing rules of the day demand it, but because even if blogging takes time away from other writing, and even if you write a whole novel worth of blog posts and wonder why you couldn’t have just written your damn novel instead, and even if you sometimes feel you’re spurting out words which no one is reading, it’s the little moments of inspiration and encouragement which come from blogging which makes it all worthwhile. And, of course, to call oneself a writer, one has to write. Blogging ensures there is always an outlet to encourage you to put pen to paper when the rejections are piling up, and these posts may just be what you need to kick start other projects.

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3 thoughts on “literature & technology: to blog or not to blog?

  1. A thought provoking Blog, Raelka. I sometimes wonder too. Time away from writing that novel or short story is a definite downside, as you say. But building an audience that might then come to read your work (and help with that contract) is a big plus. Perhaps also honing those writing skills. By undertaking a wide range of writing exercises–from those book reviews, to other articles or reports, to that novel–a writer can only become more practiced and competent, each activity augmenting the other. So, I guess it comes down to if you enjoy blogging. That and effective time management.

  2. Why thanks; I just started a blog and wondered why, if not for self-agrandisement and self-promotion… sometimes it’s good to write freefall–I am in the painful stages of editing/rewriting a longer work for print and often need a break from it… but hell, I was on my dashboard all day yesterday trying to work out how the font suddenly shrank to micro… never did work it out… but it kind of suited how diminished I was feeling in relation to the blogosphere,,, i.e I have no idea what I am doing blogging or why,,, but I am inhabiting the ambivalence for now. Anyways, thanks.

  3. Good article. I am an aspiring writer, but I have not written a full novel yet nor been published. I blog and have been for just over two years. I started blogging after I read an article by a science writer about blogging as a way to establish yourself as a science writer / science communicator. This, along with being a novelist, is the profession I now aspire to do and will study for. The article spoke about blogging being a way to write and produce a body of work to show to potential employers. It definitely does that. And as Raelke mentioned, it gives you a chance to have others (beyond your family and friends) to read your work and provide feedback. It is an uplifting feeling when a stranger comments on a post or you look at your blog stats and see how many have viewed your blog in that past day, week or month. It is definitely a way to hone your writing skills, have a portfolio and get feedback.

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