Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is blogging killing writing?

by Miriam

Being the chatty bunch we are here at DGLM, we spend almost as much time talking about whether we should be blogging as we spend actually blogging. For us, the issue is the time it takes to come up with a blog topic on our allotted blogging day each week, the time it takes to find an interesting story to comment on, the time it takes to write our post, the time it takes to read the ensuing comments and respond, if appropriate or necessary…. In short, all of us are conflicted about how much time away from our always reproducing piles of work blogging demands. And, yet, we do it because you can’t be a forward thinking outfit in this day and age without a blog presence (secretly, some of us even enjoy the interaction with our readers and followers).

This piece in the Daily Beast is interesting in that it raises another topic. Is blogging making writers less able to write anything with more substance than a People magazine article? Is it imperiling long, satisfying narratives, replacing them with the literary equivalent of gossipy chit chat?

Obviously a lot of people are worried about the fate of the publishing business. But what about the fate of literary works and the actual craft of writing?


  1. Writing, in the traditional sense, is the opposite of blogging and tweeting and so on. It's all about the careful construction, the refining, the editing and honing. A blog entry can look silly the next day, a great novel ought to still be great a hundred years from now.

    The problem newspapers have is precisely that they're basically blogs you have to pay for, by people paid to fill space, rather than the true enthusiasts and dedicated people who write blogs.

    As for the DGLM blog? Do your jobs, then blog. Don't ever confuse one for the other. Placing a book with the right publisher for a tidy sum of money, then shepherding it until we've all heard of the book and are keen to buy it and the next book by its author says more than mere blogging ever will.

  2. Hmmm. That's an interesting question. I don't believe blogging will dilute the overall quality of writing out there. Good writers should know how to adjust their style to fit different mediums. And recognize that a blog is different from a book.

    For someone like me, blogging has been a great way to keep writing every day. I am currently querying agents for my nonfiction book. The proposal's done. I'm in the waiting period, and I need to keep writing to stay fresh. So I started blogging. Doing so has connected me with other writers and members of my target audience, so it has had many benefits. I do not feel it will impact my writing when I delve into my book. Time will tell, I guess.

    Now, one thing blogging has done, in my opinion, is enable pretty much everyone to "write." Having something to say and being able to do it well are two very different things. I don't think you necessarily have to write well to have an interesting blog. You DO have to write well to develop a book worth reading. In my opinion. But blogs to books are becoming popular. So maybe that will dilute the quality of writing in the publishing world.

    I'm just rambling now. But you have really got me thinking. Great topic! I might even link this to my own blog...

  3. Honestly, I think writing is in way more danger from failure to properly teach love of the language than it is from blogging, or even texting. If a writer is suitably grounded in the language, he or she won't be thrown by writing blog posts.

  4. I resisted blogging for so long because I was afraid it would take away from time spent on my fiction writing. But the truth is, I enjoy the break from fiction sometimes and know I should at least write *something* to keep the schedule going.

    That being said, the key for me is to not schedule blogs. Ie: I blog when I feel like it, not because I've committed to three times a week.

    Blogs are also a great way to network with other writers and promote what you are working on.

  5. The fate of literary works or the craft of writing I think in no way is affected by blogging. At least when it comes to the actual writing. My biggest problem with blogging is the time it takes away from working on my manuscripts. I am told as an up-and-coming author that a blog is a must, but struggle with making enough time to do both. How do you ever do it? Everyday there are a few new posts on your blog. How do you do it and squeeze in the time needed to be the great agency that you are? (I'm speaking as a whole to your entire agency).

  6. I think if we had more classes in schools developing a child/young adult's ability to write something other than an essay and forced poetry writing would be better off, but as it is we don't have enough children exploring creative writing outlets, at least not where I come from and the schools I attended.

    Even at my college our options are limited and not all that great, which tends to put a negative spin on creative writing. So all people are doing is developing a hatred of poetry, writing essays that they can't stand, and turning around and butchering the English language in text messages and IMs for the sake of talking fast.

    Very few people I actually know have a real blog, and the few that do take pride in what they are saying and how they are saying it. I also have to agree with Angela, that if we teach people to respect the language and thoroughly ground them in it, then there won't be much of a problem when it comes to blog posts.

    I feel like I'm not making any sense now, but this is a great topic. Thanks for bringing it up!

  7. I don't think blogging will kill writing. I don't think anything will. It's been around a good long while now and yes every ten minutes some article will site the end of publishing, the end of literature, the end of the written word replaced by 3D interactive robots etc but I just don't think there's any real evidence that it will happen. There are more books than ever, more choice, more stories and genres and it's not going to disappear because we have other options. It's the alternatives that fall in and out of fashion, books and stories stay strong through all of technologies advances.

  8. For me, blogging and tweeting have taught me a certain kind of discipline: to write even when I don't feel like it. I also try to make my posts and tweets interesting, and make them expansive or concise where appropriate. It's also helped me make a lot of writer friends, which is such fun!

    But I have to admit, this kind of thing does take time away from writing a book, especially when you have a lot of other stuff going on in your life. I find myself checking my emails and Twitter and the blog before getting down to actual 'work'. It's amazing how addictive it can be.

    I echo the comments above mine: this is a great topic, Miriam!

  9. F. Scott Fitzgerald said: "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say." The opposite holds true for most blogs: "You don't blog because you have something to say, you blog because you want to say something."

    Will blogging kill writing? I don't think so, but I do think that the proliferation and growing popularity of blogs is making it increasingly difficult for authors to reach their target markets because so many people, especially teens and young adults, are spending (read: wasting) so much valuable time reading gossipy blogs and meaningless tweets that they no longer have the time - or, worse, the desire - to sit down and read a meaningful book.

    Writers will always write. I'm more concerned about the readers.

    Thanks for raising the question!

    Suzanne Evans

  10. I don't think the question should be about whether writers are no longer able to write deep, meaningful pieces. The right question is about what the audience (the readers) want, and can absorb. In a world where 140 characters is the norm, and a writer has 3 seconds to get a reader's attention, blogs are a terrific medium.

  11. To answer franklycreative and to dispel the notion that all we do is blog, each of us has an assignment to do one blog post per week (my day is Wednesday) and one longer post every 10 weeks or so. That way, we generate content every day but no one has to devote an inordinate amount of time to it.

    Thanks for all your feedback. It is an interesting issue, isn't it?

  12. I have found that blogging has actually helped my writing, as it has allowed me to make connections with other writers and to learn from them. Of course, I don't follow a set schedule and only blog when I have something worth blogging about, so it hasn't become stressful for me.

    On the other hand, though, I have noticed that the increase in my blogging presence has led to a decrease in time spent revising my novel, so it definitely does have its disadvantages. I'm aware of that, though, and I am trying to find a balance between delving into the resources that blogging and moral support that provides me and spending time on the writing that is really important to me: my book.

  13. My blog is where I post short story fiction on an almost weekly basis. It has been so useful to have that weekly deadline, and the comments from readers have been supportive and encouraging. So in that respect, it has been a good experience.

    As Jess said, making connections, sharing, and learning make the blogging community an interesting one. The trick is to not let blogging, twittering take away all the time one has to write.

    Moderation in all things. :)

  14. I do have my concerns about the fate of literary works, I fear they will become a thing of the past, and books will be written more for shorter attention spans, such as short story collections centering around a common theme, like blogs turned books. A bigger concern I have is the ability for readers to even be able to read or comprehend books of literary merit when they spend so much time online taking writing shortcuts for texting, emailing, blogging and such. Much as the art of letter writing and cursive has disappeared. I do believe that great literary works will still be written because I see it happening but will they ever see the light of day? I hope so or I will be bored. I also worry greatly about the fate of America's economy, what with all this online fun, is anyone getting any actual work done? Hours were not added to the work day to maintain an online presence and we were all so busy before the internet! Something has to give to accommodate cyberspace.

  15. At one time two blogs were created each second, according to a 2006 study.
    50 million blogs out there and counting.
    I personally think blogging is a fad to some extent, as was myspace, replaced by facebook and even that is not as good as it once was. Once everybody jumps on a bandwagon you can't hear the band.
    I think the numbers still might be close to 50 million because most people peter out and delete, but in cyberspace nothing ever erases completely.
    I took my blog down from blogger because they would no longer support hosting on my server and I was tired of it anyway. It was like a new toy for awhile and then I wanted to do something else. Also, it was a rejection of google/blogger decision to no longer support FTP, which would have transferred control of my files from me to them.
    Right now I browse publishing industry blogs because I am looking for information that would be helpful to getting my novel out there. After that objective is achieved, who knows where I'll graze. No where that doesn't have useful information, for sure. Blogs have kind of replaced magazines in that respect. Specific interest type media.
    I think many blogs are painful to read and it breeds a culture of self-obsession. But, cream usually rises to the top.

  16. Timely post. I've temporarily abandoned my fledgling blog to focus on my WIP. Why do I feel like I left my toddler at the train station?

    I believe we are all hungry for stories: every length, every type, every stripe and color, as long as they are compelling. The popularity of short form forces writers to stay on our game and grab readers by the throat.

  17. I've seen very many profound and incredible blog posts. However, those bloggers aren't usually the type to post every day. Their posts take time to develop, and it almost seems like their is something of an inverse relationship between quality of posts vs. frequency of updates. (Of course, there are exceptions!)

  18. Thanks for the link; it's definitely a question worth pondering.

  19. Hm. No, I think just the opposite is the case: the more you write, the better you get at it. Blogging is much more accessible to novice writers than even short stories and essays. As you continue, there's a natural longing to define your online identity, and one of the ways to do this is by developing your voice. There's also more opportunity to experiment, since you've got next to nothing to lose, and you can get feedback from readers almost immediately.

    If the novel has any competition, it's not from blogs or tweets, it's from movies. I'll be interested to see how the advent of affordable amateur equipment and software shapes film as a genre.

  20. short pieces can be well writing. The craft will remain. But our attention spans are shrinking, so those "long, satisfying narratives" will likely become a dying breed.

  21. I keep my blogging time completely separate from my scheduled daily writing time on my WIP. My WIP gets its morning work no matter what while my blog is only updated if I have time in the evenings. Also, most of my blog posts are reviews of books. Even if no one read the posts, it's useful for me to write one each week to keep up on my reading and to force myself to put into writing my thoughts on other people's writing. When reviewing and writing fiction, it’s not important that I be right, only that I have an opinion. In my case, I think blogging has strengthened my manuscript writing. If I find a situation in my WIP similar to a book I’ve reviewed (though never exactly the same), I can reread my review and apply the lesson I learned there. If I don't think something worked in someone else's book, chances are it won't work in mine either.

  22. I think blogging appeals to our human need for instant gratification, instant feedback. Why spend years “writing” when you can only spend minutes blogging, or tweeting, or whatever?

    But there’s still something to be said for the amount of time it takes to produce something. If babies could be gestated in a day then motherhood would be a trivial thing; anyone could do it. I think writers of the future will have to do both: produce for the instant market and also for the timeless. There’s no reason to complain about it. Just gotta do it.

  23. I like the challenge of generating written text on a regular basis and getting feedback from others. I don't think of blogging as writing per se, but I do feel it has helped me hone my skills to some extent, and work to a deadline. It's easy to churn out indifferent prose, but harder to think of complete pieces with beginnings and endings that make sense.

    It works best for me if I use blogging as a reward after getting a certain amount of writing (or, more likely, rewriting) done.

  24. I'm writing a "blogoir," (blog meets memoir) which will serve as a first draft of a book-length memoir. I love the structure that weekly or bi-weekly blogging provides. I have developed a nice following, and it sure beats writing in isolation, wondering if my work will resonate with anyone once it sees the light of day.

  25. I know people like to make wild claims, but come now. That's like saying the existence of ice cream will keep anyone from eating spinach. Things can actually coexist, people. (Mmmm...spinach.)

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