Saturday, March 16

To Blog Or Not To Blog, That Is Jane Friedman's Question

To Blog Or Not To Blog, That Is Jane Friedman's Question
Well, not really. It's L.L. Barkat's question.

Jane Friedman--web editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review and blogger extraordinaire--invited L.L. Barkat to contribute a post to her blog.

Nice, right? Jane Friedman has one of the most popular blogs in North America; its reach is enormous. So, what did L.L. Barkat blog about?

It is time, Barkat announced, for experienced writers to stop blogging.

This call did seem to possess a certain amount of Chutzpah, being issued, as it was, on the blog of an experienced writer. L.L. Barkat writes:
[I]n 2006, I started blogging. Over six years, I wrote more than 1,300 blog posts, garnered over 250,000 page views ....

But on Saturday, November 10, 2012, I suddenly did the unthinkable. I myself stopped blogging.
.  .  .  .

Is blogging a waste of time? ... For the experienced writer, my answer is yes … in 2013.
L.L. Barkat's post has, it must be said, the advantage of being unambiguous.

Jane Friedman's Response

Contrary to how it may seem, I'm not here to write about L.L. Barkat's post. No. I'm here to write about Jane Friedman's short but eloquent response.

I don't usually share another person's comment without asking, but in this case I think Ms. Friedman won't mind; it was publicly posted on her own blog.

1. Just because it's difficult doesn't mean it's not worth doing

Many writers blog, a lot more than used to even five years ago, and it has become more challenging to attract readers. But, even in this rich reading environment, it's far from impossible.

Besides, just because a thing is difficult (like, say, breaking in as a writer) doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Jane writes:
If it were, then why bother writing fiction or poetry or memoir or essay? Thousands upon thousands of writers are already out there doing it—more so than ever—but yet we all know and agree that a new voice still has the chance of finding an audience.

2. Blogging is less difficult for experienced writers

Jane Friedman writes that  if anyone should  be discouraged from blogging--and she's not saying they should--it would be new writers not experienced ones.

New writers may find it more difficult to split their writing focus between their manuscript and their blog--something I can attest to!

Jane gives us three things to think about when considering whether to try blogging:
(a) what is giving you energy rather than taking it?
(b) what will lead to career progress in your *current* situation, and
(c) do you have something to say—or a voice/personality—that's a great fit for a blog?
Jane concludes:
Blogging can help both new and experienced writers with discipline, focus, and voice development. But it is indeed a waste of time if you're doing it because someone admonished you to (e.g., to build your platform), and it's a forced chore. If you're not enjoying it, neither are your readers.
Also, it's easier for an established writer to maintain a popular blog because one's audience will also be made up of those who read, and liked, your books. Jane writes:
Established authors likely have more reason to blog than beginners for the simple reason that they have an existing audience who seek engagement and interaction in between "formal" book releases (or other writings). It may take less effort to interest and gather readers if you're known, and it's valuable to attract readers to your website (via a blog) rather than a social media outlet since you don't really own your social media profiles, nor do you control the changing tides that surround them. You DO, however, own your website and blog (or should).

3. Growing your blog

Although blogging can be discouraging, especially in the beginning before you've developed any sort of an audience, there are things you can do to attract readers.

New and experienced writers alike can grow their blogs by contributing to writing venues--other blogs for instance--that are more popular than their own. Jane Friedman writes:
Such efforts not only bring you into contact with new audiences/readers, but also drive traffic back to your existing site or blog.
I have also found that blogging regularly--whether it's once a day or once a month--helps build an audience.

#  #  #
What do you think? Is blogging beneficial for writers, experienced or not, or is it just one more thing to distract them from their works-in-progress?

Other articles you might like:

- Hugh Howey's 3 Rules For Writing
- 7 Secrets To Writing A Story Your Readers Won't Be Able To Put Down
- Review Of Grammarly, Its Strength And Weaknesses

Photo credit: "songs about buildings and trees" by Robert Couse-Baker under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.


  1. Blogging also helps us practice writing without having to be under the gun of a new book or short story. It helps us hone our skills in a way that doesn't involve capital. In other words, it's a free way to get better.

    1. Exactly! Yes, for that reason alone I'm surprised more writers don't have a blog. One gets to write every day, is guaranteed publication, AND meets cool people! :)

  2. Thanks for this!
    I admit a mixed feeling about blogging, not that I don't enjoy, just trying to have time to juggle everything in life and writing, it sometimes doesn't seem all that important. And sometimes discouraging.

    1. True, it is sometimes difficult to find a balance between working on ones manuscript and blogging. And, especially in the beginning, it is discouraging.

      That said, many bloggers I've spoken to find blogging rewarding--I know I do!. It certainly has helped me get into the practice of writing every single day.

  3. Thanks, Karen. Great write up, and you're right—I don't mind. :)


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