I have a tenuous relationship with this whole blogging thing. It’s certainly a good thing to get thoughts and feelings out for pubic viewing, especially if you’re considering trying to make money with your writing someday. And in one sense, there might not be a better way to practice meeting deadline and such than to hold yourself to a 300-word post every day, come hell or high water. And that’s really great for college students and stay-at-home moms (no offense).
But for writers—real writers now, not bloggers or journalists—blogging goes against some of the foundational concepts of writing life. Writers are process people, they do most of their work alone in the damp darkness of basements or the public accountability of coffee shops or the loneliness of dorm closets (yes, I’ve written in all three places). Writing is a very private enterprise, highly dependent on rewrite, only allowing you to emerge from your hard, often grueling* word-stringing labor when you’ve got something worth showing someone.
Blogging is about showmanship. There’s no denying this: the best bloggers are the ones who know how to direct people to their site and convince them it’s worth their while to stay. Even worse, it’s all about speed—getting your material written, posted and advertised as quickly as possible to maximize and retain readership. This has seeped into my thinking too; I’ve often wondered what time of day most people are on Facebook and Twitter so I can get as many eyeballs on my posts as possible. No time for rumination and certainly no time for significant overhaul, nor the mashing of the once-formed clay in order to have the benefit of making it twice- or thrice-formed.
So I hesitate. It’s easy to slip into a blogging mindset—where you write in order to blog, rather than the other way around. I find it helpful to remember why I write in the first place—not necessarily to be read and certainly not to be published. It’s not even to inform or express an opinion, but to express myself; to fulfill that need to write, to engage in the daily struggle against Hemingway’s nada or Thoreau’s quiet desperation.
Done right, there are even numerous opportunities for writers in the New Media age too. Yes, fewer get published, perhaps, but more are read. You can even learn, as some writers have, to embrace the Internet world as ally, an easier way to make your material part of the marketplace, as it were.
*(NaNoWriMo peeps: You know what I’m talking about.)