Monday, August 17, 2015

The Blogging Dilemma

There are thousands upon thousands of writers who are blogging...

“To be a successful writer you need to have a blog.”

This piece of advice comes up alarmingly often in blogs and articles about being a published author. When I was first starting out and looking seriously into building a web presence for my writing, I took it at face value. But as time went by and I learned more, it began to seem like spectacularly bad advice.

Why? Mainly because it’s not supported by facts. Sure there are successful authors who have blogs, but the majority of popular writers actually don’t blog—they spend their time writing novels and short stories. And even when you see a top selling author with a blog, frequently it is something they only started after achieving success in the publishing world.

And once you start looking at the writers out there who have yet to achieve this popularity, the advice really falls apart. Currently, there are thousands upon thousands of writers who are blogging but only a handful them have received a publishing deal or increased sales because of their blog.

The correlation between blogging and success simply isn’t there. One might as well say: to be a successful blogger you need to write a novel. Not only is it equally false, but it helps to reveal the underlying implication of the original statement that blogging is easy and requires no particular skills. Although, it is true that if one wishes to write, one must start by writing, no writer would suggest that to be good at it was easy and required no abilities or practice. And the same applies to blogging. To do it well requires a facility with language, a level of expertise or knowledge that matches or exceeds the reader’s, a touch of marketing savvy, and a unique voice to put it all together and make people interested.

Without being told any of this and simply heeding the advice that I needed to get blogging if I wanted to march down the road to writing success, I was nothing but a newb trying to dish out “expert” advice on a topic I was only just learning. And it wasn’t long before my blog crashed and burned.

What Went Wrong

After about a year of working on my blog, it had no following and nearly every post went unread. This was largely due to the mess I made of it. I did just about everything wrong from the host site (I picked Tumblr, which is entirely unsuited for an article driven blog) to the unfocused content. With each posting, I struggled with my limited experience and my topics often devolved from "tips" to "what I did today." And worst of all, I was bad at it. Rereading some of my posting I don’t blame anyone for not wasting their time on it. What did I say before? Blogging takes certain skills. Not only did I not have them, I didn’t even know what they were.

One day, I realized this and packed it up and walked away.

Here We Go Again

And now I’m back and giving it another go. A couple of years have gone by and a lot has changed. I have completed two novels and published one of them. And most importantly, instead of writing blogs, I have been reading them.

Writer In the Dark is not an attempt to grow popularity through blogging. I still don’t think there is any meaningful relationship between the two. This new blog is born out of thoughts that are continuously circulating in my brain about the things I would love to tell a younger, more naive me. It's about the hard lessons I’ve learned and the things I wish I knew earlier. These are the things I stumbled upon by chance and the things that knocked me on my butt.
I have come to know many people in the writing community and my hope is that perhaps it will help out some of them. Or at the very least, give me a place to write these thoughts down, get them off my chest, and out of my mind.

Lessons In Publishing

Starting next week, this blog will begin a series on publishing. Specifically, the things about publishing that would have made my life easier if someone had told me. Join me for the first article Only Fools Rush In on Monday, August 24th.

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