Sunday, March 21, 2004

Blogging versus "Real" Writing

Sean e-mailed me a link to this blog post a while back, and I duly bookmarked it and then completely forgot to address it. The basic thrust of the post seems to be that blogging isn't really good for writers, in the sense that blogging helps them improve their writing, develop their relationships with editors, sell their stuff, streamline their prose, compose their ideas, and the like. Basically, blogging seems to be a kind of "cat-vacuuming", just another activity used to avoid doing the real work, the actual heavy-lifting.

To an extent, this is true. I started my new job more than a month ago, and I've kept Byzantium's Shores pretty regularly updated since then. But in that time – and here's an admission I'm loath to make – I have committed fewer than 1,000 words to The Promised King, Book II: The Finest Deed. That's pretty ugly. In fact, it's downright embarrassing and unacceptable. While there are pressures of learning a new job, as well as getting myself up to speed in a new organization staffed by more than 300 people, and while there have been other things to do (I can't just stop reading, especially when I have items for which reviews are expected by various websites), the fact is, aside from blogging, I have spent almost no time since starting the new job writing, except in the sense of mulling over plot-details while wheeling carts around.

And yet, I keep updating here. Why? Well, because it is easier to focus on doing this than on doing that, or at least it has been. But the nagging sense of disquiet is growing, and it's time to get back to the writing that really matters. No, that doesn't mean I plan to slacken my efforts here. It does mean, however, that I'm going to get back to squeezing writing from the time that is given me.

To get back to the linked post above, I'm not sure that blogging is bad for writing, although I am no published writer, so my opinion on this really isn't worth much, I suspect. To me, blogging for the last month has been the equivalent, say, of the kinds of exercises a person who engages in regular weight-training might do when they go on a long business trip and can't get to a gym in the meantime. Blogging might not keep every writing muscle sharp, but at the same time, it keeps all of them from going into atrophy; and besides, I've always viewed blogging as kind of a side-venture that helps writing in other ways: it's another source for grist that I can feed into my own particular mill. I doubt very much, for example, that I'd have ever read Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds had Will Duquette not reviewed it (and had I not been reading his blog in the first place).

So, is blogging a waste of writing time? I'm not really sure. It could be, I suppose, if I define it in terms of a strict accounting of minutes logged writing the novel or a story in terms of minutes spent writing posts for Byzantium's Shores. But then, I've never been much for strictly tallying the minutes of my life.

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