Is Blogging a Waste of Time?

A recent post by L.L. Barkat published on Jane Friedman’s blog has generated a lot of discussion in the blogosphere. Entitled, “It’s Time for (Many) Experienced Writers to Stop Blogging,” the post described the 180-degree shift in Barkat’s view on blogging.

An inveterate blogger, Barkat wrote 1,300 posts in six years, generating 250,000 page views. Barkat’s blogging helped start a large blogging network for which she later became managing editor, test-marketed five books she wrote and sold, and assisted other blogging contacts in securing book contracts. “I was a true believer in the blog world,” she wrote. On Saturday, November 10, 2012, she stopped blogging.

In the post, Barkat argued both sides of the question. She didn’t recommend everyone stop blogging. “It’s an excellent way to find expression, discipline, and experience. But if writers already have experience, and they are authors trying to promote themselves and their work, I tell them to steer clear,” she wrote. “If they’ve already found themselves sucked into the blogging vortex, I suggest they might want to give it up and begin writing for larger platforms that don’t require reciprocity (an exhausting aspect to blogging and a big drain on a writer’s energy and time).”

In the Comments suggestion, Friedman offered a thoughtful response to Barkat’s post. She said, in part, “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.

“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),” Friedman said.

Here are my thoughts on whether to blog:

Have a purpose. As Barkat and Friedman suggest, if you are blogging for the sake of building an audience and have nothing to say or because somebody told you to blog, it’s going to show in the quality of your posts. The initial focus of my blog was to share with novice fiction writers the lessons I had learned over the course of many years as a self-taught fiction writer. My blog has morphed into something much more—featuring book reviews, author profiles, and my reflections on the writer’s journey.

Set limits. Decide how much time to devote each week to blogging versus writing and stick to it. Don’t let your blog infringe upon your writing time. If the blog becomes too time-consuming cut back.

Use it strategically. I don’t write sci-fi so readers are not going to see a lot of reviews or advice on science fiction. I write family sagas so I tend to read and write about that genre more than others. I also follow a number of excellent fiction writing blogs and I leave comments on posts, which has attracted like-minded writers to my blog, which brings me to my next thought.

Share, share, share. Blogging is a great outlet to share your knowledge and insights. In that regard, Twitter is a great vehicle for sharing. I always send out a link to my blog posts on Twitter and I have found followers who do the same and I follow those people as well.

Don’t let blogging take over your life. It’s tempting to blog at the expense of writing. I find it easier to bang out a 500-word blog essay than to write 500 words of quality fiction. Don’t fall into the trap of blogging instead of writing. Carve out appropriate amounts of time for both on a regular basis.

What are your thoughts on blogging?

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Is Blogging a Waste of Time?

  1. I was burned out on blogging – feeling I had nothing to say and feeling I was boring the snot out of everyone. I wasn’t ready to delete it completely so I decided to pull in the fitness/personal training part of myself and link that with my writing – though, sometimes I go off-track a bit and write solely about one or the other – but, now I write a post whenever I feel like it and when I do, I’m engaged and happy about writing it —- because I miss personal training – and because while working out, I often compare and contrast writing and fitness.

    I enjoy your blog – I read it in my email even though I don’t always comment.

    • Kat,
      I remember you blogged about being burned out and wondering if you should cut back. You made the right decision. For me (and I didn’t get into this in the post but will cover it in a future post) everything I went through during my divorce over the past year has really hurt my ability to write fiction. Oddly enough, though, it hasn’t affected my blogging. I guess it’s easier to wrap my head around a 500-word essay than to get into the right frame of mind for fictioon writing. I do follow your blog as well, though I don’t always leave comments. I enjoy your writing. You have such a unique voice! Thanks for leaving this comment.

  2. Blogging has that possibility of starting a dialogue– that is what keeps me blogging on certain subjects. Otherwise, I think I’d stop cold.

    • Mary,
      That’s a great point. Many blog posts lead to enlightening dialogue. That’s a benefit that’s really overlooked when people discuss blogging. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Reblogged this on Anne Simpson and commented:
    Giving blogging some serious thought. 🙂

  4. The timing of this post is interesting as I have recently felt burned out and wondered if I wasn’t losing my voice. I had set a goal to post five days a week and viewed it as my personal “mental yoga.” After 630 posts I have a decent following and felt compelled to “serve something up” for my loyal followers. The stats became all too important and I felt the quality of my posts was declining.

    It is, of course a very personal decision but I agree, everyone should step back and evaluate the role of blogging in their own work. I now vow to post less and not feel pressured by my personal quota, instead seeking higher quality in what I write.

    • I’m with you. I’ve cut down on my blog posts. I have exhausted most fiction writing topics and now I try to focus on going deeper, but not posting as often as I have done in the past. It is important to me to maintain my blog, but I post less frequently now. Thanks for stopping by.

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