Against blogging

Robin Hobb is against blogging. In a witty and amusing screed she argues that blogging will suck away all your writing time:

For once a writer has entered that realm, there is no turning back. T’is true, so sadly true. Soon when your precious hour of free time arrives and you sit down to write, you will think to yourself, ‘oh, but I must do my blog first.’ And you will go there, and dutifully blog. At first, you will notice nothing amiss. It is pleasant to receive the daily dose of recognition from your readers, the gratifying feedback, and the responses that invite a response from you.

But my dear friends, it is NO COINCIDENCE that blog and blood begin with the same three letters!

I disagree. (Well, yes, they do begin with the same three letters but it’s DEFINITELY a coincidence!)

Blogging is no more pernicious than knitting or cooking or video games or any other hobby or procrastinatory activity a writer can undertake.

I love blogging. I do it pretty much every day. It makes me happy.

My blogging roughly co-incides with my pro writing career. Since I started blogging I’ve written a book a year. This year (so far) I’ve written a book and a long short story and the first ten thousand words of a new novel.

Blogging feeds into my writing. It’s a way of stretching the writing muscles that’s relaxing and fun. Without it I don’t write so good.

Lately, I’ve realised that part of my writing process is to procrastinate. I need to futz around blogging, reading blogs, cooking, reading books, watching tellie in order to get my brain to the point where it’s ready to write. When I just leap into writing gears grind on gears and it ain’t pretty. Blogging and other procratinatory activities are necessary brain lubricants.

Also blogging makes me feel like there are other folks out there writing and loving/hating it. Other people who are like me. It gives me daily access to several communities. When I blog cricket the cricket fans come out basketball ditto. I’m strongly and passionately in favour of blogging and the intramanets in general.

This doesn’t mean that blogging isn’t a disaster for some writers. If you’re blogging when you should be writing and thus not meeting your deadlines then you’ve got a problem. When the procrastination gets out of control and eats the work then it’s time to stop. But then Worlds of Warcraft is a disaster for some writers, so is sudoku.

I also come across writer’s blogs that seem to exist only because the writer has been told that blogging is great publicity for your books.

No, it isn’t. Not if you don’t enjoy blogging.

Cause if you don’t enjoy it you prolly aren’t any good at it and you’re writing the world’s most boring blog. Frankly, I am bored by announcements of award nominations/wins and other writerly achievements. I’m bored by my own. I don’t read other writers’ blogs to hear about that stuff. I read them to find out their opinions on American Gothic, politics, cats, mangosteens, their writing process and whatever else is on their mind. I read the blogs that are engaging, funny, whingy, moving, informative, mean, gossipy, snarky and fun.

When I started this blog I used to crap on about my various writing achievements way more than I do now cause I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. As I’ve gone on I’ve cut those kind of posts down both in number and in length. And I try to post something interesting quickly afterwards. Blogs that are just a boast-a-thon are dire. I’m definitely considering saving that stuff for the newsletter and the front of my website and leaving this blog skite free.

In short: Blogging rules! (But only if you like it and can get writing done as well!)


  1. cofax on #

    I also come across writer’s blogs that seem to exist only because the writer has been told that blogging is great publicity for your books.

    Oh, god, yes, those are dire. Boring, self-involved, poorly-veiled marketing. I’d much rather read about an author’s cats or their opinion of the latest episode of Battlestar than announcements of their new speaking tour or whatnot. It’s a fine balance, and not everyone can pull it off.

  2. Dawn on #

    I agree with you, blogging does rule! 🙂 If you didn’t blog, I’d have much less to do when procrastinating…so please don’t stop blogging. I like reading your blog too much. 😀

  3. veejane on #

    I think you are spending too much time blogging, missy. I think you should go do something healthy with your time, like watching television.

    …my parents, neither of whom are dead yet, are rolling in their graves pre-emptively even as I type the above.

  4. Chris Howard on #

    I agree, especially with, “Blogging feeds into my writing. It’s a way of stretching the writing muscles that’s relaxing and fun. Without it I don’t write so good.”

    Not only do I think I write more often because I blog, I think it improves the quality of my writing. I also paint, and when I don’t have anything to say, I’ll post a pic or two.

  5. Heather Harper on #

    I totally agree.

    Blogging is a form of pre-writing for me. I also love to blog and blog hop and meet new people. It’s a lifesaver for someone like me who doesn’t get out much.

  6. Caroline on #

    When I was at school, writing papers always seemed to include a lot of surfing the web, making snacks and chatting with my roommates. I’d always be thinking if only I could cut out all that and write the damn paper, I’d get it done so much quicker. But it never seems to work that way. If I cut out my internet time wasting, I’d just look out the window or doodle in the margins instead….

  7. Tim Walker on #

    *anything* Internet-enabled is potentially a black hole of procrastination. You could work sudokus online by the hour, or it could be online chess, mindless blog reading (look! another lolcat site! hahaha!), viewing pr0n, reading ball-by-ball commentary on cricinfo (everyone look at Justine), browsing Facebook, et cetera ad infinitum. But this is no different than the offline world, least of all for us procrastinatory writers. A book of crosswords could sink half a day, if you let it. You could get on an anthony trollope binge and lose a month. Tending the garden . . . cleaning the garage . . . daytime television . . . complicated baking recipes . . . It never ends.

    If you have it in your heart to write the “real” stuff, whether in your world that means books or stories or articles or poetry or blog posts or whatever, you’ll do it. If you don’t, you won’t. Either way, consciously or otherwise, you’ll find the enabling (disabling?) mechanisms you need.

  8. Patrick on #

    Blogging is also highly addictive. I’m trying to quit. In fact, I announced that I quit.

    I have to say that I don’t see blog writing and fiction writing in the same way. One of my reasons for wanting to quit(I haven’t quite succeeded in doing so) is that my thinking time is taken up by blog post thoughts as opposed to fiction/plot/character thoughts.

    Given that I have a day job, I have limited time for thinking, so I am trying to quit blogging so thinking time defaults to fiction.

    Having to choose, I’d prefer Fiction, but blogging is certainly less effort for me.

    I think the problem is that I keep reading blogs still…

  9. Gillian on #

    So when all blogging writers have announced their opinions of mangosteens the universe is complete?

  10. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    It’s hard to measure in a controlled way, but there seems to be a good correlation between blogging in general and increased numbers of customers/readers/groupies, depending upon you industry of choice. So it’s not like blogging is hurting your reader base at all.

    Writer’s blogs are fun. They write well (unsurpsingly) and construct interesting posts, regardless of the topic. They’re interesting. I would never have read any of your books if it wasn’t for your blog. Similarly for Scalzi. I’d read three of Scott’s SF books years ago, but I hadn’t attached the author’s name to the works, so wouldn’t have sampled his YA stuff until I started reading his blog last year.

    Writers mix with other writers, too. Even when you’re writing about daily life, we get links to other writers, who turn out to be interesting and then I might read their books (e.g. Naomi Novik).

    Keep being an interesting person online. It’s entertaining and I’ll support the notion that it’s helping your professionally anyway.

  11. simmone on #

    oops, i skited!

  12. Nate on #

    Yes, yes … clearly it’s a much more productive use of one’s time to write long, carefully edited, metaphorical essays about why not to blog. That sort of thing could never distract a writer from doing something like, say, finishing the third book in her latest trilogy . . .

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