Saturday, January 30, 2016

Is Blogging Writing?

I just read a meme about writing, attributed to Sherman Alexie, that said every word in your blog is a word that is not in your book. It was part of a list of 10 - 10 tips on writing, 10 words of advice for writers - something like that. It seems to be implying that blogging takes away from writing, as if blogging is not actually a form of written expression. I have to take issue with that.

Blogging is a genre, just like tweeting is. They are modern genres that find their roots in the essay (blogs) and the epigram (tweets). You could make the argument that they may not be words in "your" book - a.k.a. your novel - but they are words in the massive book being collectively written and rewritten all the time, throughout the ages, by humanity.

There is an implicit assumption that written expression in long form, such as novels, and in analog printed form is somehow of higher quality and greater value than written expression in shorter forms or in digital format. I would say that the length or form itself is not automatically a measure of the  quality. Writing of poor quality can be found in print and in book-length works as well as in digital format.

At issue may be the fact that the shorter forms and the faster forms lend themselves to a lack of rigor, or a lax vigilance towards quality. Granted, the effort required to bring something out in analog (printed) form by its nature may be more likely to result in rigorous and careful attention to detail and quality. But does that mean I must see it as a trade? That somehow the choice to express my thoughts through the digital genre of blogging will inherently detract from my ability to express myself in a longer format or another genre?

Many writers journal as part of their process. Is every word in your journal a word away from your book? I don't think so. Writers write. We interact with our world through a wide range of written expression. I journal as an introspective tool. I blog as a way of engaging in reflection with the larger world. I write poetry as a different means of exploring language and expressing the ineffable. I blog my poetry as a way of extending that process into the greater human conversation. I write short stories, novels, stage plays, radio plays - I write in the form that fits what I want to say and accomplish through words. To express myself in one form doesn't detract from expression in another form. They feed eachother, build on eachother, influence eachother.

Am I working on my novel while I'm writing this blog post? No. But I'm still writing.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree, Cindy.

    Blogging and other social media make contact with your audience, so that they remember you when the book comes out.

    Blogging helps show up and publish, which can be important for some people who are more reticent about letting their work get out.

    Blogging helps test your material and see what's working for people.

    Some people even blog their books, coming up with a workable first draft of related blog posts.

    The problem with 10 Tips for Writers is that writers are of all different stripes and personalities. Possibly the author of that piece has found blogging to be too distracting from her books. But it seems like "bad for me" is a long way from "mistake for you." Like a celiac sufferer standing in the bread aisle shouting, "Don't buy bread!"


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