New writers get a lot of pressure to start a blog. With good reasons:

1)     It’s a free website.
Most writers don’t need any other website. A free Blogger.com blog allows up to ten pages of content, and you can even post a link to your “buy” pages at Amazon if you have books to sell.

2)     You become Googlable.
With a generic name like Anne Allen, I was a needle in the search engine haystack until I started blogging. Now a search of my name brings up dozens of pages of entries—most of which actually refer to me. (Anne R. Allen the stockbroker, I apologize.)

3)     You can leave comments/follow other blogs
I have a lot of followers who don’t leave comments because Blogger insists you post “anonymously” if you don’t have a blog ID. Some email me, but they don’t get to join in the discussion. But with your own blog, you become a member of the club, with easy-commenting privileges. And I don’t know about other platforms, but Blogger.com has a “dashboard” that provides links to the latest updates of all the blogs you follow.

4)     You get to network with other writers and readers.
This is the biggest benefit of all. If you need a reminder of the importance of networking, read how Roni at Fiction Groupie  landed her agent last week. Woo-hoo, Roni!!

5) Blogtours are the new booksignings. If you already have a blog network you’re more likely to be invited to guest blog when you have a book to promote. (More on blogtours from the wonderful YA writer Janice Hardy who will be guestblogging for me October 10th. Stay tuned.)

BUT, and this is a big BUT—blogging takes a humongous chunk out of your writing time. Bloggers are usually advised to post every day. AND run contests and giveaways to bring in more followers. AND post on all their followers’ blogs. AND generally let the blog run their lives.

Which makes bloggers carry a little wad of guilt around any time they’re doing something else—like nurturing offspring, earning a living, or actually working on a manuscript. How many blogposts have you read recently that consisted of apologies for not blogging?

So I’d like to take this opportunity to say YOU DON’T NEED TO BLOG EVERY DAY. If you want to do a daily blog, and it’s not taking away from your creative work, that’s great. But if you’re just starting out, I recommend a once-a-week blog like this one, or even once-a-month. Hey, blog only on national holidays or months ending in “R.” The most important thing is to be consistent.

Several years ago, there was a movement of self-styled “slow bloggers,” who modeled their movement on Alice Walker’s “slow food” movement (the opposite of McBurgerish “fast food.”) The point was quality over quantity.

Thanks much to writer/translator Lee Robertson who brought the term to my attention after we exchanged comments on Tawna Fenske’s blog. Lee pointed out a number of slow, quiet bloggers are suddenly making announcements they’ve found representation or a publisher, while the rest of us are frantically tweeting, blogging, myfacing etc. and letting our real work languish.

This started a discussion with Lee, who wrote to me in an email, “I see a danger for young writers, especially—they start to think it's all about the blog. It isn't. A blog is like frosting on top of the cake. It's not the main deal.” 

She sent me a link to the Slow Blogger Manifesto written in 2006 by a tech consultant named Todd Sieling, who wrote “Slow Blogging is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.” He urged people to write a few thoughtful, well researched posts a month rather than daily blabber. A number of influential journalists, technicians, and academics joined his movement. It built steam until mid-2008, when it merited an article in the New York Times One slow blogger quoted in the NYT article put her philosophy this way: “Blog to reflect, Tweet to connect.”

And the late, great Miss Snark was all for it. In spite of all the pressure to “build platform,” she advised young writers to always put their writing first,

“Your job is to write…
Blogging is not writing.
Looking at MySpace is not writing.
Friending on Facebook is not writing.
Posting chapters and feverishly checking for comments, then obsessing about comments, and parsing out the hidden meaning of comments like "this blog is great. Have you enlarged your penis yet?" is not writing.

…There's a lot to be said for sitting down with your ownself and writing. Nothing, literally NOTHING replaces that. Focus. You're wasting time.”

The Recession seems to have stalled the slow blog movement along with everything else. We’re all in panic mode, trying to work as hard as we can. But what I see is a lot of bloggers who start off with once-or twice-a-day fanfare, then drift into frequent apologies-for-having-a-life, then fade to erratic monthly “remember me’s?” followed by a burnout notice or worse--a pathetic, neglected spam-attractor hanging in cyberspace.  

So instead of intense blogging petering to burnout, I strongly advocate the return of  the Slow-But-Steady Blog. Instead of the daily “OMG what will I blog about?” panic, wait until you have a moment of “OMG I have to blog about this!” inspiration.

Another benefit to slow blogging will be that your readers won’t have to miss a bunch of your posts if they are busy with their own creative writing. If all of the brilliant people I follow cut their blogposting to once a week, I might actually get to read them—AND finish my WIP.

For those of you considering a first plunge into the blogosphere, a once-a-week or -month blog doesn’t sound so intimidating, does it?

Joining the Slow Blog movement is simple. Start a blog and announce you’re planning to post on alternate Tuesdays, on the birthdays of famous poets, when the moon is full, or whenever. Or if you already have a blog, next time you miss a few days, tell yourself you didn’t FAIL to blog; you SUCCEEDED in joining the Slow Bloggers. All you have to do is skip those boring apologies, and you’re in.