Thursday, February 18, 2010

Putting on the blog

Writers-who-blog are popping up in the thousands, which raises questions. Why do we blog? Who reads us? How can we possibly interact/comment on all that's going on? How do we know we're doing it right?

Several interesting discussions have come up this week. Check out Roni at Fiction Groupie for an editor's take on behaving badly online and what the fallout might be; Lisa and Laura Write for dealing with time issues and Hilary Wagner for being prolific or pathetic.

After reading sorry-I've-got-nothing-to-say blog posts or sorry-I-haven't-time-to-comment posts, I think we should cut ourselves some slack. And whatever you do, don't throw any old thing up there because you think you must post or comment; it's a public forum and will be noticed and, perhaps, noted.

I'd like to make a modest proposal. Nobody must post every day. If you post at least once or twice a week, you keep your blog presence and give your readers something worth the visit and time to drop a comment. Since our Google reading lists show when new posts come in, there isn't any need to remember that somebody posts on certain days of the week, either.

How often do you post and why? Do you have any ideas for how to deal with the volume of blogs you follow? Is it worth it? And, for the record, I think it's worth it. I love the people I've met and the things I've discovered. But sometimes I'm stretched as thin as a piece of gum starting to shred.

42 comments:

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, glad you brought this up because it has totally been on my mind lately. I used to blog at least three or four times a week, and now I have dropped down to one or two. (I think that's because I would rather post nothing at all than force myself to get something up when I am not in the right mindset)

And as I follow more and more blogs, I am finding it harder and harder to comment regularly!

Donna said...

I love your description of "stretched thin as a piece of gum starting to shred." I suspect that writing in different venues sharpens one's skills, so perhaps you will be rewarded in your other projects. As a writer-who-does-not-blog, I will continue to serve as your appreciative audience.

Sharon Mayhew said...

I blog as writing exercises. I post on random things because "that's how I roll." LOL (That's our families favorite expression.) I try to post four days a week and if I'm going to be gone, I announce I'll be gone. I hope I only write things that warrent being written about. I'm going through a life management book right now and am publically sharing the journey. It has some great pointers and is worth sharing. Doing it publically keeps me accountable.

When I read blogs, I only comment if I think what I have to say has any value.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Very insightful...of course, I just wrote something similar in Hilary Wagner's comment section. Ha! Okay, actually, you said it much better than I did. But I wholeheartedly agree with you. I can't publish a new blog post every day. Just can't. So I try to make those I do publish worth the read. Even if it's just with some humor. I hope to pick up the pace a bit once I get through query wars, but I'm fairly content with posting a couple times a week, just as I'm content with others doing the same. In fact, if you post every single day, I'm less likely to see all your posts as I generally only browse blogs when I'm posting. By the way, you're doing a fab job. Have loved everything of yours I've read ;)

Rick Daley said...

I try to post once a week, and my posts are generally entertaining anecdotes about family life. I rarely post about writing...but there are a few writing-centric blogs I frequent and share my opinions in the comments.

Char said...

I generally post 3-4 times a week and have lately gotten stale and have considered scaling back more. I think what messed my mindset up was doing daily posts during the month of gratitude. Quite frankly by the end of the month I was just grateful it was over. *smile*

Now, about the volume that I read. I honestly want to cut back but I haven't quite figured out how to do it without hurting feelings on some of them. What is the proper etiquette when a writer has grown stale on you?

It's not quite the old "i break with thee, i break with thee, i break with thee" of the old SNL days. So I find myself sloughing along and making half-hearted comments.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Corey: That's my problem exactly. And the thing is I enjoy the blogs and keep finding more I'd like to follow.

Donna: There is no doubt that maintaining a blog does sharpen writing skills--like any exercise it keeps you in shape. The problem is that part of the deal is networking, which gets more time consuming the more people you connect with.

Sharon: It sounds like you've found a way to blog that suits your needs. And probably that is the way we should all approach comments.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Carolina: I think voice has a lot to do with successful posts--and you have that. Your posts are always fun to read. Good luck in those query wars. And thanks!

Rick: I really like the way you handle blogging--both the personal blog and the query slushpile, which is a service to many.

Char: Ha! Overload on gratitude. Yeah, I think there is a danger of burnout for the individual and repetitiveness in the community if everyone is blogging non-stop.
I don't know how one breaks, slowly fading away might be best. Another blogger mentioned that Google Reader has a limit on how many you can follow so maybe one gets forced at a certain point to unfollow.

Lisa Marie Miles said...

My posts used to be so boring (not that they're wonderful now)that no one read them. Then I recently started putting more time into them and tried to make them entertaining. I went from 12 followers to 122 in a short time. Writing blog posts is a great writing exercise for me. I have about ten posts already written and ready to go. As I think of things, I just start a new one. Plus, I love all the new people I'm meeting!

Melissa said...

I try to post about three times a week, but sometimes that is hard. Life gets in the way, you know. Also, it is so hard commenting on every blog I follow. I try to comment on at least 10 to 15 blogs a day, but even that is difficult sometimes.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great post, Tricia! This is an issue we all face.

I try to post M-F and visit here and there on the weekend. As for keeping up with comments, I have my must-visit blogrolls, and then I use my dashboard if I have more time to comment. I make sure I have an hour or so of dashboard time each week, so that I visit as many followers as I can at least once/week. Not a perfect system, but it's thebest I can do. :-)

Wen Prior said...

Well, as you know Tricia, I blog pretty much every day. I rarely can't find something to talk about, normally I'm bursting to say something. I think it gives my family a bit of peace hehe.

Of course, I end up feeling a bit bad on days when I can't think of a darn thing to say. Luckily it hardly ever happens. I try not to write rubbish, pointless posts, but I still do. Yikes. I'm worried now LOL :D

sarahjayne smythe said...

Thank you for posting this. It's a fine line between posting what we want and what we think we should, and I think a lot of us are wondering where that line is and how to negotiate it.

It's funny, but most of my posts this month have been challenge pieces, so I'm actually looking forward to posting something that isn't a piece of fiction.

Yat-Yee said...

So true. Love interacting with my pals on their blogs (and mine) but also need time to write.

I don't have a set schedule and I don't try to comment on everyone's blog that I read.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Lisa: Wow, ten posts in the vault. Impressive. It sounds like you are blogging for reasons that are strengthening your writing and increasing enjoyment.

Melissa: It is difficult, and my main worry is taking away time from my manuscripts. I'm still trying to sort this out.

Shannon: I am super impressed with how prolific you are. In fact, you earn A+ for social networking!

Wen: You are another really prolific blogger (and funny), and I also know how fast you can write a novel, so apparently it doesn't eat your other writing time. You're much faster than I'll ever be.
:)for you...:( for me

sarahjayne: The challenge pieces are great exercise and exhausting, too. It seems most of us are trying to negotiate these waters as best we can.

Yat-Yee: I'm going to have to cut something back, but I don't know what yet. I wish I could clone myself (or get a shot of extra endurance, ha!)

storyqueen said...

I can only manage twice a week...and it totally works for me.

I like to read blogs for about twenty minutes everyday, and I respond to a blog when I have something to say.

I wish there was more time, because I find so many blog posts by other writers ultra-fascinating.

But even if I had all the time in the world, I would still only post twice a week on my own blog.

That's enough for me.

Shelley

Stephanie Thornton said...

I like to use my blog to air ideas and post historical info that didn't find its way into my novel. I used to post religiously Monday-Friday, but in the last few weeks I've let myself have a day or two off a week.

Jemi Fraser said...

I really enjoy blogging and visiting other blogs, but it does take an enormous amount of time. I feel guilty if I don't comment of every post of my followers/friends. It's hard!!

I usually blog 2 or 3 times a week - no schedule - just when an idea pops into my head :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I blog twice a week. I try to read and comment when I find the time, but it's never enough. I honestly wish people wouldn't blog every day because I miss most of their posts. :(
With so many blogs to read there is no way I can keep up with all of them. Especially the ones that post 7 times a week.

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

This is a great post. I tend to be one of those bloggers who post everyday, and I do it just because I love it and I have a blast on my blog, it feels like a big party to me. Although Im starting to find it hard to blog every single day lately AND comment on the bajillion blogs I read and keep up posts at my critique group's blog, but I try. I have no idea if its worth it, but its fun. So I just do it. I have no rules--if I miss a day I miss a day, if I comment on 20 blogs or just 10, its ok. As long as your enjoying yourself, then its worth it.

MG Higgins said...

Having taken an extended break from blogging, there's some comfort in knowing I can do it again if I need to. I'm not sure why, but that takes some of the pressure off. I'm not a prolific writer, or reader, and I'm becoming more relaxed with that fact. I do wish bloggers would post less, but that's selfish on my part. If they have something meaningful to say, then by all means, they should say it.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Shelley: I'm with you. I usually post two to three times a week and would only post more if something just couldn't wait. Like, say, a three-book deal, right? I, too, am fascinated by many of the writer-blogs, perhaps because these folks talk about what moves me.

Stephanie: I think it's good to let the days off come as they will.

Jemi: That's the problem, feeling like we have to get to everybody. And the more friends we have the harder it gets. I'm all for getting those popping ideas out there, though!

Karen: Yeah, that's why I brought up the every day thing. I sure can't get to all of them and I hate to think what I miss.

Frankie: And I love what you post! You're bright, funny and original. The fact that you're having fun makes it worth it. If I run harder maybe I can keep up. ;)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi, Mel: Yes, that's exactly how I feel. I'm envious of your time off and the way you can be relaxed about it. I'm still searching for my balance.

Yvonne said...

Great links. I haven't read Hilary's yet but I imagine there's as thin of a line between being prolific and pathetic as that stretched piece of gum! I post when I think I have something worthwhile to offer. And I comment as much as I can on the blogs I follow, or when something catches my attention, being ever mindful of those who are generous to me with their time. You, Tricia, are a good example of someone who is doing it right.

Lisa and Laura said...

Thanks for the shout-out! It's 9:48 PM. Only 5 million more blogs to read...

BUT--even though it takes time, it is SOOOOOO worth it. We have met so many amazing people and have learned so many valuable lessons reading blogs. Priceless.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne: Hey, thanks, I'm trying to get it right. You have plenty that keeps me coming back to your blog, for sure.

LiLa: Yeah but you have four eyes to read with. :D
It is priceless. I've loved the experience even when my eyeballs are ready to fall out.

Bish Denham said...

I'm pretty much committed to blogging two days a week. But it isn't written in stone. Sometimes something comes along that I want to share and I wind up posting 4 or 5 times in one week.

As for keeping up on all the blogs...I'm still learning how.

Suzyhayze said...

I've struggled with this too!

I blog to practice my craft. Sometimes I like to put in things that are timely (Holiday posts...) and when I take a break, I wonder if I should let people know... but I've found that going dark for a week doesn't do anything but allow readers to catch up. It allows me time to think and breathe... and then suddenly I find myself ready again. Lately I've been having to concentrate on my novel. All good. But soon, I'll be making rounds again and blogging with the best of you. Thanks for this post. Sometimes we need permission to take a break. I think You've given that to a lot of people here! :)

Paul Greci said...

I try to post one polished piece a week. Hopefully, it inspires a discussion. I try to keep it to 250words and have some photos to go along with it and make it related to writing, Alaska, my life, etc.

Hilary Wagner ~ Writer said...

Tricia,

Look at you mentioning me on your blog! How cool was that to see, by accident no less! :)

Me, I'm a twice a week poster...errr...usually! Life certainly gets in the way and it's okay if we are more pathetic than prolific! Yes, we should ALL cut ourselves some slack. It's only a blog for goodness sake! Our sanity is far more important!

xoxo -- Hilary

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bish: Sounds like we handle it the same way. It's a challenge but a fun one.

Hi, Suzy! Yes, we do need to recharge. And I love the way you practice your craft in those personal essays. Yay for the novel taking front burner. That's something I need to do, asap.

Paul: I think you blog works on many levels. I like your well-constructed posts and photos a lot.

Hilary: I neglect to tell people I link them, and I suppose that's bad marketing but like I said in the post, I'm shredded half the time. Someday I may sort this blogging thing out, eh?

Teresa said...

Like a lot of folks here, I blog to practice writing. I think my posts have become tighter over the last year, and it's made me more attentive to paragraph and scene structure in my novel.

I didn't want to blog about me, because I'm really very boring. I wanted to have blog that was interesting to other people, but focused on writing.

I try to do at least two (Monday/Wednesday) and sometimes three (Friday) blog posts a week, but on January 1, 2010, I promised myself I wasn't going to stress out if I missed a post. Audrey Shaffer at the Writer's Chatroom sends out a Friday e-mail about her Sunday evening author chats at the Writer's Chatroom, and since that's an easy post, I make it my Friday post when I get the e-mail in time.

I enjoy the wonderful people blogging has brought into my life. It's been a great deal of fun, and it's helped me study the craft of writing in ways I probably wouldn't have if I wasn't writing about it.

This is a great post, Tricia! Thank you for bringing up the topic!

VR Barkowski said...

Fantastic post, Tricia! I try to blog at least twice a week. I assume other writers are reading and that's how I gear my posts. My goal is to keep it pertinent but with a positive spin. My one regret is that I don't have enough time to read and comment on all the other FABULOUS blogs out there. I have to "sample" or I'd never get any writing done.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Teresa: I agree. It is the people and what we share that makes it worthwhile.

VR: Right. That's really the challenge. I'm going to have to get better at sampling and at relagating time to write. That was supposed to be my New Year resolution to work on manuscripts before blogging but I slip, I slip.

PJ Hoover said...

I've cut myself some serious slack on blogging. I used to be an every day blogger, but really, I'm fine with two or three times a week.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

PJ: *waves* That's what's working for me, too. And I like to read what other people are up to, so that leaves me time to visit.

Just Another Sarah said...

I was thinking about just this very thing, today! I figure if I post once or twice a week, I'm good. Ah, but it's so easy to forget! And get busy! Etc.! But it's nice to rub keyboards with others who are working on the same things we are. And to meet new people who do similar things. It's so easy to get caught up in other people's lives!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Sarah: Meeting people with similar interests and goals has been the best part.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Some days I feel like the shredded gum that has become disgusting little lumps on your tongue! But I love blogging. I don't think I could stop. I'd miss everyone too much!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sherrie: Me, too!

Terresa said...

Another great post.

I'm reconsidering my almost-daily posts. I spoke with a writer awhile back who doesn't blog and she said, "Wow, that must take a lot to time."

It does. It takes time I could be spending focusing on my MS and other shorter pieces for (hopeful) publication.

Thanks for the reminder. I need to refocus again and realize less can really be more.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Terresa: I love the people I've met and things I've learned but it takes too much time, especially the more connections you make. So I'm going to stick with about two posts a week, and only do more if something comes up. I need writing time!