Will I always blog? I don’t know but I’m not ready to give up my small patch of the Internet yet. I imagine that I will, in some ways, blog as long as the tools are available to me even if it’s just micro-blog sites like Twitter. The Internet has seeped into our lives, stacking noughts and ones to beguile us with video, images and audio. However, the written word still holds prime position on the Internet. Are authors crazy for not staking their place in the virtual land of opportunity? I can’t tell other writers to blog no more than I can persuade them to carry a notebook. But should we blog? Do you blog? And if not, why not?
At writers’ conferences nowadays there are always a few writers who sign up for the social media talks with slightly stricken looks on their faces that soon they will be forced to join the masses on the Internet. There is always one who will ask the question of an industry panel: ‘How important is an ‘Author Platform’ on the web? Most agents/editors respond with a dismissive shake of the head and a reassuring reply that it’s not all that important now but that they may be asked to begin a blog once they’re signed. Someone recently said to me that writers should be writing books and that keeping abreast of social media outlets and blogging takes valuable writing time away from a serious author.
I can’t dispute this, but I can tell you that there are many serious authors engaging on the Internet at any one time. I can tell you that yes, as I’m typing this post, my novel is open and minimized on my desktop and pleading for some ‘authorly’ intervention. I can tell you that I love reading through my twitter feed and that with a click of a button I can spiral from that feed into a worm hole of interesting and stimulating blog posts, videos and news articles. I can tell you that on the days when I can indulge in a little online reading, something or someone will make me see the world ever so slightly differently than I had a second before. A good thing for a writer surely?
I can tell you that when I write blog posts it helps progress my voice, it gets my backside in front of my computer. It helps develop the habit of writing and that once I’ve typed this post I am more inclined to attack my manuscript with a fervour I can never muster writing cold.
I think the problem most writers have with taking that first step, is that in their minds, they have married blogging and interacting on social media with marketing and advertising. They assume that this is the only reason a writer should blog, vlog, share inspiration or engage on any of the various social media sites. It is true that yes, a nice side effect of having a social media presence is that people who you may not have known but who share your interests come to know about you and these people may be more inclined to enjoy your work but sustaining an Internet presence for promotion reasons only, puts a needless amount of pressure on you.
When I sit down to write a blog post, the post has usually come out of some fascination I have with the topic, or sometimes it is simply a need to express a viewpoint. But whatever the reason, the urge to blog about it feels very similar to that creative urge I have when I get the idea for a novel. That is, I need to write about it. How can you not write about what moves you, motivates you, inspires you?
In other words, blogging and using social media for me is not motivated by a desire to promote oneself.
And, blogging need not eat into masses of your time. As blog posts are traditionally written in a conversational tone, they benefit from a light touch. They should be edited and proof-read for typos obviously, but they should not take you long to write. As it is your blog, you can decide how often you post and you can post about whatever you want. Some writers have dissuaded themselves before they’ve begun by saying, I don’t have time to post everyday or every week, so what’s the point? But there is no one to tell you that posting once a month is wrong. If that’s what suits your lifestyle then that’s okay. It’s your blog.
And that is why I feel justified returning the question to authors who do not blog. Why not?
Disclaimer: Of course, staying mute on the Internet is also and always a valid ‘authorly’ lifestyle choice; just don’t stay mute for the wrong reasons.
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