Lazy blogging? We haz it

15 Apr

Okay, so the other day, there was this article in the paper, and then James Bradley wrote about it on his blog, and I’m so cross with myself because I left the kind of comment I try so hard not to leave, but it’s that whole ‘aspire to print’ thing…it’s so much more complex than that, and it makes me feel so…well, so dimissed. Which says more about me than the person saying it, and exposes me for the insecure creature I really am and so on and etc – I know that, so feel free to think such things (but keep them to yourself, don’t leave them in the comments or I will cry and I’m trying not to cry so much these days).

Anyhoo, in preparation for some other posts I am planning (the ‘am’ being aspirational, because it would be more accurate to say, ‘have been’), and because I’m on this whole post-every-day kick, but oh my goodness, really, every day, what was I thinking…I am reposting a post I first posted three years ago which is vaguely related to the article and post and my comment in the way that things are when you try and discuss something by offering something you already said without modifying it in any way to address the thing the other person most recently said. Get it?

Should I blog
I ask this very specifically, for and about people like me who want to be a writer. I apologise in advance for the earnestness of what is to follow, but I’m preparing a couple of workshops that I’m giving over the next couple of months and as I’ve been trying to articulate how I see blogging as a form of writing, and its potential (or otherwise) for ‘new’ writers, I couldn’t think of any other way to think it through than to write myself a blog post (so I guess the simple answer is ‘yes’).

In asking this question I’m not saying that my blog and my blogging habit all stem from ‘wanting to be a writer’. My blog and my blogging habit are about…well, you’ve got a blog, you’ve read my blog…you know all the things that it’s about. And this question can be easily applied to the wider set of questions, ‘should I blog instead of’, and I’m sure you have your own range of neglected options to insert here knitting, playing with children, getting together with friends and so on.

I’m not going to define exactly who I mean by ‘writers’ or ‘want to be’. You can decide for yourself whether or not it applies to you, but I do think that the discussion is slightly different for ‘new’ and ‘established’ writers (as discussed in posts such as this and this at Sarsaparilla).

So, having apologised for this post, my blog, my writing and myself; having determined that we are simply addressing one very small part of blogging; having broken a most important blogging rule (get to the bloody point) I shall ask the question again (because by now you’ve probably forgotten what it even was).

Should people who want to be writers blog?

First up, the most obvious argument against blogging: blogging is a distraction from other writing. You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you? So is vacuuming the dust from the corners of the cutlery drawer. As is teaching myself to say the alphabet backwards (actually, I did that the night before my matric biology exam, but I offer it here in case you haven’t thought of it for yourself and need a new procastinatory activity). And reading The Advertiser, weeding the grevilleas, watching Grey’s Anatomy. The list goes on. It’s a spurious argument that one about distraction (do you know, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever used the word spurious in a written sentence), presupposing too many things: that every moment I have spent blogging might have been directly applied to some other project; that I haven’t also been writing other things; that other writing projects are all more worthy than this; and that blogging is only about writing.

Perhaps now is a useful time to recall the wise words of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union: abstinence from all things bad, moderation in all things good.

There is a danger that blogging will swallow your best ideas. That once blogged, they can not be used in some other form. The scrape of the spoon on the bottom of the saucepan that led to this post isnt available to me any more, for example. But that doesn’t mean I’ve necessarily lost anything. I love that piece of writing. It works perfectly as a blog post and wouldn’t work so well anywhere else.

I’ve become less worried about it too since I began performing standup. In standup – though I’m a beginner there too, so speak only from a beginner’s perspective – it seems okay to repeat yourself on your way to getting it right. You should polish your pieces until you think they will work, but very often you (I) dont know whether they will work until they’ve been said outside the safety of your empty kitchen.

Blogging has sharpened my writing. I know, when I blog, that someone will read what I have written, and quite possibly that someone will read it only a few minutes after I’ve finished writing it (if I got hit by a bus, would I be happy for that to stand as my Last Post). I’ve been able to experiment with voice and with point of view and blogging has heightened my awareness of the every day. I might think, for example, of the colour lipstick I wear and the sentence I could use to describe that on a blog.

I could have learnt that from my other paper journal, perhaps, but a blog does not work in the same way that a private journal does. Because a blog is not private. Different bloggers deal with this differently, but deal with it they must. Anger, for example. I would never directly blog about my anger with important people in my life. Too hard to mop up. But I do blog about it every now and then. Like here. I cant tell you how pissed off I was that day. And I didn’t need to once I’d written it down that way. And it gave me an idea, and there’s a larger piece of writi ng that’s grown from that, and I’ll be able to use it one day (well, I hope so, you know, maybe).

Not only does a blog bring you readers, it brings readers you get to know a bit about. Because blogging can’t be only about the writing. It’s about reading too. Reading a lot. And somehow, I think that can’t help but give you an insight into your own writing that isnt available in any other form. You get told endlessly at workshops ”write for yourself first'”, but blogging teaches you quickly what that means. Not just how to do it, but the implications too.

On the relationship between your blog and your readers, there’s something to be said about learning how to ‘write what you know’ – direct experience – and transposing it to mean more than what just happened or what you immediately felt. But at the same time, you must be honest, because your blog readers (generally) expect that what you write in this form is true. I haven’t quite worked out how to articulate this point yet, but I know it is an important one. Do let me know if you think you know what I’m trying to say.

There’s a lot that blogging can teach you about other forms of writing. I imagine you could learn a lot about writing an open-ended narrative like a soap for example. And there are endless types of online writing which would blogging could introduce you to. I’m not sure about a novel though (and there’s an excellent discussion about that here). Though possibly if you were very good at forward planning and had a very particular kind of structural control. Maybe then.

That’s enough for now, isn’t it? I”ve spent far too long on this, havent I? Thanks for reading this far if indeed you have. Back to the shoes and coffee cups tomorrow. Promise.

PS – there’s a link or two in here that I couldn’t get to work this time around, a couple to Sarsparilla, and one to elsewhere’s blog which I can’t link to on account of typepad blogs not working here for whatever reason that might be

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12 Responses to “Lazy blogging? We haz it”

  1. franzy April 15, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Can I first say how much I am enjoying your daily blog?
    Yes?
    Thank you.
    I am enjoying it muchly.

    In answer to your ponderances: Blogging DOES take time away from other writing. HOWEVER, it takes it away in the same way that jogging takes time away from playing soccer and not in the same way that gardening takes time away from doing your PhD *ahem*.
    The blogging writer blogs as practice, as exercise, as conditioning. You know how, when you haven’t ridden a boke for a while you wobble around because your brain is a little different and needs to strengthen those neural pathways?
    Dancers call it conditioning, I think. Those basic, fun exercises you go through to keep you pep for the main game: the book, the exegesis, the workshop, the judicial submission, etc.

    Tally Ho!

    • ThirdCat April 15, 2010 at 10:18 am #

      Thank you. I am sort of enjoying it, but feel that I am stumbling at the halfway mark…

      I would agree about the jogging analogy, though equally, blogging can be an end in (to?) itself. Like looking back on my blog now after several years, I have really started to see it as one cohesive whole rather than a bunch of posts (which I think is how I used to see it)

  2. Mindy April 15, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    Have just read the comments on the JB post. A lot of them say …”and what ThirdCat said” so I think you summed it up pretty well. I’m still busy being annoyed the characterisation of “Mummy bloggers who only blogs about her children” by Nigel Featherstone (on his own blog on the article). I wonder if he has ever read any “Mummy blogs”? Maybe I should point him in the direction of BlueMilk?

    Now that I’m over myself, this daily blogging is fantastic. I hope that you are getting as much out of it as your readers are.

    • ThirdCat April 15, 2010 at 10:30 am #

      Yes, regarding the mummy bloggers. Also, the craft bloggers…

      and thanks…nice of you to say…really

  3. jen April 15, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    My only writing – apart from some stuff at work – is my blog but I feel that it can only enhance writing that happens elsewhere. I’ve had feedback that my writing has improved since I’ve been blogging. I remember when at uni, one of my lecturers saying, just write. I find it so much easier to write on my blog than I ever did in a paper journal.

    And don’t get my started on procrastination. I’m expert at it.

  4. penguinunearthed April 15, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    I’m really loving your daily posts, too. Thank you. I agree with you that writing for such an immediate audience really changes your writing. It’s definitely made me a better writer (which wasn’t why I started), and a better thinker – in that I have to work out what I’m trying to say before I say it.

    So thanks for posting this again, I didn’t see it the first time.

  5. Melody April 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm #

    I thought it was only I who couldn’t log onto a Typepad-type blog. I can now though for some reason or another.

    I’m not the world’s best blogger – I don’t find that I am witty or entertaining in my writing, but I enjoy it and especially like the thought that others are reading my words. I mainly blog for family, but I have seriously made some awesome friends in the blog world – a few I have met too – without blogging this would not have happened. So, when are we meeting? *heehee*

  6. elsewhere April 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    Great post. N.B. people often say ‘what Third Cat said’ (in the blogosphere at least).

    And I remember the white sauce thing.

  7. jo(e) April 16, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    I’ve kept a blog for 5 years now, and the habit of writing every single day has been great discipline. Sure, what I post are rough drafts, but the only way to get better as a writer is to write ….

    I think I write in my journal less now that I have a blog — it serves a similar purpose.

  8. Kath Lockett April 16, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    I thought your response was brilliant and I too felt pretty damn dismissed by the ‘aspire to print’ line.

    Why *shouldn’t* bloggers – or journal writers, or ordinary people or those who possess three nostrils aspire to something greater? What kind of snobbiness is he clinging to?

    I blog because, nearly six years ago, I was recovering from a physical and mental breakdown due to overwork and under-fun. A friend emailed me to say that she’d set up a blog. I clicked on her link, started to read and was inspired to set up one of my own.

    It ain’t literature but it’s real and is indeed, as you say so much better than I can, writing what I know. My silliness, self consciousness, breakdowns, heartaches and worries are all there.

    People may pooh-pooh the idea of blogging as not being a legitimate form of writing, but they’re just the ones who are feeling threatened by having to deal with competition from a newer and more immediate form of communicating. Some of the best writers – and the response they elicit from me – are found right here on my humble computer screen.

    Franzy says writing is like jogging or gardening. Too bloody right it is – the more you write, observe and READ what others write, the better you get. Even if it’s just in your own opinion.

    Oh and to read ‘What ThirdCat said’ is the highest honour that a fellow blogger can bestow. I think I might head back there and write the very same thing myself.

  9. Helen April 17, 2010 at 3:27 am #

    Shorter Williamson: “Blogging is a silly hobby for the Little People, except when mates of mine do it.”

    Well, Thirdcat, if you look at his “real writers” versus the Little People who “aspire to print”, you have a novel out and one on the way, while he has… what? One could be cruel and use the writers vs. critics slur which has been around since time immemorial, but perhaps it would be more productive to gently remind him not to just move the goalposts to put himself in the ingroup and create a new outgroup? Do I recognise a common human pattern there?!

    But yes, both you and Kath have books out, I’m not sure about others but there *are* others, so he’s the one who looks like a goose, sorry.

  10. Cristy April 27, 2010 at 5:48 am #

    Just read this after dropping offline while O/S. Great post. Thank you. As you know, I have had this same issue crop up in my personal life and it actually made me stop blogging for six months.

    As you point out, it is ridiculous to assume that time spent blogging would otherwise be put to a more productive use. The time that I spend blogging is “me” time. Much needed “me” time at that. If I wasn’t doing it, I would be playing solitaire, reading crappy novels, eating chocolate, or something equally ‘unproductive’. And none of those would have enabled me to meet so many lovely, interesting people.

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