Am I Writing or Am I Blogging, And What’s The Difference?

I’d no sooner written my first post here than I began to look for other blogs who had more than one post plus hello world put together.

There are a lot of them, and it looks like I’m late to the party. That’s all right. I just hope there’s still food.

There are more “writing blogs” than there are “real estate blogs”, at least according to Google. The difference is approximately twenty-one million to fourteen million. Or make that 3:2 times seven million.

That’s a lot of activity.

When I looked around to see who was early to the writing-about-writing party, I realized that I’d stopped writing and started blogging.

What’s The Difference Between Blogging and Other Writing?

  1. It’s a Social Activity
    I look at blogging as a sort of party-drunk edge of writing. Writing by its nature is somewhat solitary, whereas much of blogging always seems to run the risk of devolving into a cocktail party on a good day, or a brawl on a bad one. This is not to say that blogging is not a legitimate writing career path. My own writing career is being sponsored by my blogging revenue.
  2. It Combines the Role of Author and Publisher
    One way to look at blogging is that it is a form of sweat-equity self-publishing. As the publisher as well as the writer, you spend a lot of time on sales, promotion, and distribution — work that a lot of time feels dangerously like “mere socializing”. Much of our activity as bloggers serves the same sales-related function as a book signing or author interview would in traditional publishing.
  3. Its Often — Though Not Always — of Poor Quality
    Because blogs are not vetted in any way and needn’t be “sold” to a publisher or editor before they appear, there’s a huge variation in quality among them. I don’t mean to idealize print writing as some sort of uniform quality utopia, but editors, agents and publishers do serve an important function of quality control that simply disappears in an online environment.
  4. It May Not Even Have a Human Reader In Mind
    One of the functions of blogging that has fed me quite well in some of my work is establishing my expertise and credibility on a topic not for human consumption, but for computer algorithms — notably search engines. I suppose that writing pieces meant to promote the author somehow are nothing new, but I can’t think of any historical parallel where a writer sought the approval of a mechanism. This is just plain weird.

What’s Beyond Blogging?

One of the domain names I considered using for this site promoted the idea that this blog would be about forms of writing that are outside of or beyond mere blogging. In the end I’m quite happy that I didn’t take the blog in that direction, but I am trying to see how well, and to what extent, blogging fits into my overall writing career. I don’t see any need to bite a hand that’s fed me just because other hands beckon.

To paraphrase an old sixties joke about drugs and reality, above all I hope that blogs are not just a crutch for those who can’t handle fiction. I’m not sure that spending some time working on fiction and continuing to blog are mutually exclusive. I made a fair amount of progress on two stories and discarded a third in about ten hours or so. I see no reason to lock myself in at this stage. On a strictly business level, picking one or two areas to try to master may be far more productive than trying to take on the whole field in a hot week.

OK, look, let’s start crossing stuff off: no poetry or novels in 2008 unless absolutely necessary.

There. I feel more focused already.