Case in point…

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

As writers, we know that blogging takes away from our writing. It’s a simple time factor thing: time spent updating your own blog, and surfing around other blogs (following link after link) is time you could be spending working on your manuscript.

For awhile now, I’ve notice a number of other writers vent their frustrations on their blogs, heh, about being ‘stuck’—and if you’ve been checking in here semi-frequently, you know I’ve been a card carrying member of that ‘non-producing’ club for several weeks, now.

Months ago, (and I’ll admit right now, my memory is leaky) Maud Newton posted about her own frustrations re her writing output, and had a friend ask her if she was a ‘blogger’ or a ‘writer’. It put things in perspective for her. Today, while poking around her site I picked up this link to Justin Peck’s Beautiful Stuff blog, where he’s “transcribed a small portion of the excellent Literary Friendships discussion between Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon in which they talk about why they feel blogging is bad for fiction writers.

Again, from Maud’s site, she links to a other author’s weighing in on both sides of the pro/con blogging issue:

Background reading:

• Writers A.M. Homes and Robert Olen Butler say they'd never blog. Neil Gaiman weighs in on the other side of it.

• Neuromancer author William Gibson stopped blogging in 2003, saying, "I've found blogging to be a low-impact activity, mildly narcotic and mostly quite convivial, but the thing I've most enjoyed about it is how it never fails to underline the fact that if I'm doing this I'm definitely not writing a novel -- that is, if I'm still blogging, I'm definitely still on vacation." He revived the site after the last election. Now he blogs irregularly.

• Salon readers denounce Waldman's "display of self-justifying narcissism." Jane Smiley and others leap to her defense.


Interesting stuff. I see authors like Alison Kent and Sheila Viehl, blog regularly on issues that stir discussion (or controversy. ::smile:: ) and yet their phenomenal writing output hasn’t been negatively impacted, at least they don’t allow it to. I guess it’s one of those either you got it or you don’t talents. Either blogging impedes your output, or it feeds it.

I’ve heard writers say that blogging feeds their creativity, it’s a warm up to the real stuff, or makes them feel like they’ve accomplished something writing wise, if nothing else. That used to be my line too, besides the fact that I really enjoy blogging. But now I wonder if it isn’t draining away the ‘liquid’ of memory, experience, emotion, before it gels into something that I would normally use in my writing, the way Ayelet contends.

Or it could be the introspective ‘navel grazing’ and analyzing involved in writing a blog, is different from the thought process that goes into fleshing out a story. The blog is more wysisyg--‘here’s an idea, think about it and or be entertained by it.’ In writing a book, it’s: here are people, and a theme (not stated that blatantly though), think about them, love them or hate them, feel what they feel. *Remember* your own experiences through them.’ It’s bigger, vaguer, layered, squishier. gg . It stays fluid.

Another concern is, a lot of the writer blogs I read, involve a lot of discussion, advice and insight into the background/business stuff of writing. Mabye *some* of that stuff I don't really need to know, or dwell on, right now-- the marketing, the hooks, the editorial biases, etc--maybe that *knowledge* has led to a "face was pressed against the glass so tight I could no longer tell I was at a window" result--as Jordan's terrific hubby suggested to her (Mar22 entry)--and now I'm *over*-thinking plot, character and ultimate target audience, whether it be agent, editor, readers, instead of Just. Writing. The. Damn. Book.

I’m rambling, aren’t I? Time to check out.
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7 comments:

Monica said...

Great, great post. It really made me think (especially since it hit me smack in the middle of some humongous blog procrastination)!

Jaye said...

Monica, blogs are fiendishly seductive. I can stay off messageboards, neglect my email, and log off MSN, but blogs are the tool of Satan! gg

Alison Kent said...

What's interesting is that I blog more when I'm writing. When I'm not, I have little to say! In fact, I tend to blog *while* writing literally - as in I'll open notepad in the middle of a chapter and jot down my thoughts. It's a truly bizarre way my mind works!

Sela Carsen said...

The blogging is the smudgy glasses, hair in kinks, first cup of good-God-who-made-this-coffee me. The writing fiction is the dressed, made up, wearing shoes and ordering a triple grande no-fat low-foam vanilla latte me. If ever the twain should meet, or even impinge on each other, the universe would implode.

I do a lot of bookmarking of blogs. There are things I'm not prepared to think about yet (PBW's article on marketing, for instance.) I have to sell the damn story first and then concentrate on writing another one. But I've bookmarked her blog for future reference when those bits of information will come in handy. Blogs are becoming a sort of reference library now!

As to controversy? I'm learning a new skill. Biting my tongue and taking deeeeeep breaths until the urge to rant passes. Like other friends, I'm in search of a zen-like clam. Becoming embroiled in emotional outbursts sucks all the creativity out of me for days, for both blogging and writing.

Jaye said...

So that's your secret, Alison. And here I thought you were just a freakin genius. ;-) I can understand that though, if you're really groovin on a wip, it seems like the creative juices runneth over, you bombarded with a million ideas for other books, characters, etc. But when you're stuck, you're stuck.

I've slept on this whole thing, last night, while I shuffled through my tbr pile, once again, it hit me that I'm just as dissatisfied with my reading lately, as my writing, so there's something bigger going on than just blogging as an impediment. :-P

Sela, I've found that those marketing tidbits, peeks behind the scenes, etc, stay in my subconcious and affect *how* I write, or approach my writing on some level, good or bad.

As for controversy, I'm usually on the sidelines (exchanging emails, gg) but so far, the few times I haven't been able to keep my mouth shut, no one has 'jumped' on me. ::fingers crossed::

Absolutely agree with the blogger writer vs the author writer. I cringe sometimes when I see the grammatical errors, and typos, ect in my posts. But it's really more stream-of-consciousness, rather than "crafting". My first drafts always sux.

Mad Max Perkins said...

This is a terrific post--really nails the push/pull of blogging, what's attractive about it, what its costs are--both for reader and "bloggist." You cover it so well that I find that I have nothing intelligent to add.

Which doesn't mean I'll stop typing, though--and therein lies at least one of the best cases that can be made that we might all be better off sleeping. Than blogging, I mean.

And still (you see?), I don't stop! Because I'm trying to get up the nerve to offer up a juvenile math-ish formula, a talisman of sorts that we might all hold up bravely to ward off the blog-demon like a cross (or is it garlic?) before a Vampire:

"Write ÷ blog = blight."

(A little word-play there; get it?
I know, I'm not a writer, but the equation doesn't work with, umm, "Work." Believe me, I tried.)

(See what I mean? I could be reading, watching t.v., dreaming of a better tomorrow; instead I'm actively participating in an act of public self-humiliation.)

What I meant to say was, Nice post. You'd think an editor would have the capability to say such a thing the way he'd advise a writer to say it--that is, in an efficient and to-the-point manner. You'd think, right?

Oy.

P.S. Can you tell me, please, how to get the whole "insert photo into blog" thing working? You seem to have a handle on it; but despite thousands of hours of trying, I still can't figure it out...

Jaye said...

LOL, Max, a fellow rambler after my own heart. Thanks for dropping by, and leaving a note. :-)

I've never been able to get the Blogger bot thing to work (and I've tried and tried several times). Try a free photo host like, http://xs.to or http://www.flickr.com. They're very easy to use. Once you sign up, it's just a matter of browsing through the photos on your hard drive, then uploading what you want to the host site, and from there copying and pasting the html code the site provides you to post your pick to your website/blog. :-)

I guess I'll email you this info, if I can, or post it on your blog, since chances are you were passing through, but the info is here for anyone else.

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