PART TWO: In which Kamy Wicoff
continues to ponder the differences between blogging and writing, and to celebrate the ways in which blogging has made her writing better.
When I first began to dream of She Writes
, I had never written a blogpost in my life. (I wasn't on Facebook, either, and had had a kind of panic attack when I first put a page
up there.) My partner, Deborah Siegel, was an accomplished blogger with a loyal following for her group blog, Girl W/Pen
-- and had even taught numerous workshops for blogging beginners. But for me, a book author and essayist, blogging was utterly foreign, and scary, territory. How could I write so frequently and still feel proud of what I'd done? What would happen when, inevitably, I found I didn't have something meaningful to say, but had to blog anyway? What were the implications of insta-publishing (just add Word Press), and its risks?
As a writer who'd founded a social network for women writers, however, I had little choice in the matter. I was gonna blog, so I might as well get used to it. It's been a little over a year since those early, grim-faced, white-knuckle days, and boy have I learned a lot. The most welcome lesson? Blogging, while different from writing (for me), has strengthened my writing in ways I'd never have imagined.
Here are five ways how.
ONE. BLOGGING STRENGTHENS MY WRITING PRACTICE.
I am lifting this line from a panel I sat in on at BlogHer, "Writing Inspiration: Stoke Your Creativity,"
in which Rita Arens
made a point I hadn't considered before: blogging is an excellent way to strengthen and support your daily writing practice. I don't blog daily, but I should, because right now, for all my love of "writing", I ain't doing any. Starting a new business and parenting my two young sons takes up most of my time, and the kind of dedicated hours I need to work on a novel just aren't available to me right now. Blogging, during this last year, has become my most regular writing outlet, and I am grateful for this unique way of keeping those muscles fit and in shape.
TWO: INSTA-PUBLISHING IS FUN. MOST OF THE TIME.
One of the biggest hurdles I had to get over when I began to blog was my fear of insta-publishing. As a writer who worked for four years on her book, editing each sentence over and over again as she went along, I was worried by the idea that my words would so instantly become public. I got over that quick. The satisfaction of creating something that could so quickly be shared with an audience hooked me from the start. That being said, I have definitely encountered the risks as well: in two instances this year, I put up posts I immediately regretted, and had to do some work to explain my meaning and correct things I'd gotten wrong. Fact-checking and editing are still writerly duties of the highest order, no matter how quickly you can hit "publish."
THREE: BLOGGING HELPED ME FIND A VOICE I DIDN'T KNOW I HAD.
I remember the moment I discovered a new voice for myself on She Writes. Last fall, a colleague sent me an email letting me know that Publishers' Weekly had completely omitted women from its Best Books of 2009 list. When I read it, my jaw dropped. My blood boiled. And oh yes, I was MAD. But for the first time in my life there was something I could do about it, right away, using my words: post a blog
. And I couldn't get to my blog fast enough. The words flew fast and furious. And ideas about what to do with my anger -- ways to use it as the inspiration for meaningful action
, not just a cause for outrage -- came quick and clear. That voice, passionate, fearless, direct, angry, provocative and activist, is one I know I will use to great effect in my fiction writing. And until I became a blogger, it was a voice I didn't know I had.
FOUR: BLOGGING HAS GIVEN ME MY OWN PERSONAL EDITING TEAM.
Writing is a lonely business -- this we all know. But blogging is just the opposite. It is social: a conversation between a writer and her readers, in which readers play a unique role, almost as a members of a writing group where comments, responses and critiques are shared by thoughtful audiences (mostly thoughtful, let's be honest) with speed and fluidity. When I write, rather than blog, I can't tolerate that kind of continuous and instant feedback, as it would threaten fragile new work that needs protecting. But when I blog I welcome it, and I have learned a lot about my writing from the editors/commenters who interact with me. I learn from both the critics and the fans: clues to what works, and what doesn't. (Criticism is often the surest sign that something worked, by the way.)
FIVE: BLOGPOSTS CAN SERVE AS WRITERLY TEST BALLOONS.
In my last post on the subject of writing and blogging
, I mentioned something I'd heard the Nation columnist Katha Pollitt say: that in a 750 word column, there was only room for one and a half ideas. This is also true of a 750 world blogpost (a word count I routinely exceed), and as such it is an excellent place to test specific ideas or arguments and see how they hold up. My fear of having to blog when I didn't have something meaningful to say was misplaced: blogging when you don't think you have something to say can lead to experimentation and discovery that otherwise would never have happened. It's in the spaces between words -- and between blogs -- that we so often uncover the surprising and serendipitous. For me, blogging is fertile ground for both, and that makes it fertile ground to grow a writing project in, too.
And now... I will take advantage of the lovely opportunity presented by blogging to start a conversation! How has blogging helped your writing? Please share with me. I need a hit of some of that addictive insta-feedback, now!