books with Athena

books with Athena

Sunday, August 29, 2010

WHY NOT TRY SLOW BLOGGING?

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.







40 comments:

  1. "Blog daily" is an advice given for bloggers that want to directly monetize their blogs. They need to have high search rankings and they need to engage their audience as much as they can. So they need to produce a lot of content on regular basis.

    But that practice can kill a blog. many people blog whether they have something meaningful to say or not. As with any other media, speak when you have something to say :) Also, blogging by command can burn one out. Though writing/blogging daily is a good practice, it's not necessary to publish each thing we type, right?

    BTW, one can comment on blogger and blogspot without having an account there. Just choose name/URL option (as I did now) and you're not obliged to fill the URL part :)

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  2. Fantastic post - you make some excellent points. I do blog quite a bit, I must admit, but I'm always absolutely clear that it isn't writing (as you put it). It's somehing I do in odd minutes, or when I've hit my day's word count.

    I think there's also something a bit overwhelming with a blog that has gazillions of new posts on it all the time. You tend to think, gosh, can't be bothered to read all of those posts ...

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  3. I loved this!!! Slow blogging is the way to go. A few months ago I realized I was spending way too much time blogging/networking. I thought to myself: Self, what's the point in doing all this if you never have anything for the people to read? You don't want to be professional blogger... you want to write stories and books. Now get to work! That attitude readjustment changed my writing life. Now whenever anyone talks to me about starting a blog... I tell them... GO SLOW!!

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  4. Hi Anne. That's much appreciated advice for new bloggers like myself. I knew when I started it that is wouldn't be a daily thing; just a couple of times a week. And yes, I do struggle now and then to come up with something blog-worthy.

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  5. Great post. I'm the epitome of slow blogging. Thankfully my readers are happy whenever I do post. At the very least I do try to write a post every other week. Although, this summer has present it's share of challenges in keeping with that schedule.
    (Hugs)Indigo

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  6. You said it all. I somehow resisted the urge to post daily and only blog once a week on Saturdays. And that takes a lot of time. I can't imagine having to come up with something every single day. Inevitably it must turn into talking about what you had for breakfast or some such. Still, in the end, I love blogging, but remind myself constantly that it is not Writing and therefore should take at best second place to the real stuff.

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  7. Thanks for the encouraging comments everybody.

    dandellion, I didn't know you could use the URL option to comment without a URL. I'll bet lots of people don't. Thanks!

    I should say that I follow quite a number of daily blogs--Fiction Groupie among them--and I'm amazed, but these writers do come up with some pretty great content on a daily basis.

    So all of you who do manage the superhuman feat of producing great daily blogposts AND writing fantastic fiction, I'm in awe! This is not meant to diminish your achievement in any way. Just to say if you ever want to slow down, that's good, too.

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  8. Thanks for the shout out! :) And I think blogging can be hard to balance. I've blogged five days a week for over a year. Obviously blogging has helped me since it helped me get that agent :) but it definitely can take a lot of time. I'll probably go to three days a week soon. I've heard that's just as effective as 5 days.

    However, I think as long as you keep a schedule, like you said, whether that's once a week or once a month, you're good. People just need to know when to expect you. (Although, I will say if someone only blogs once a month, I'll forget to stop by.)

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  9. Good advice.

    Certainly some of my favorite bloggers only post once or twice a week.

    Thanks for the rundown.

    .....dhole

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  10. I loved this post Anne (going to link to it for tomorrow's post on Pens With Cojones). Finding that right balance is rather difficult and I think it is different for everyone.

    If we are honest with ourselves though, we can tell when our blogging is greater than our capacity for it. It gets very difficult to find topics, the writing in our posts suffer, our actual writing time suffers. We just have to listen.

    I'm down to thrice a week from daily now. Might go to twice or once soon. We'll see.

    Thanks for such a great post

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  11. I too am a 5 days a week blogger, and it definitely is hard. I don't know where I pull my posts out of. But, like Roni, I am considering going to three days a week soon, but, like Roni, I do believe in the value of frequent blogging.

    But I may go slower. For one, I no longer have the energy, as certain life circumstances have recently changed. Two, there are definitely times when I blog instead of writing, and I dislike that.

    I like the concept of slow blogging a lot--I think it's in my future. Thanks for the points here and in the comments. This is a timely post for me.

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  12. Great post, Anne. I certainly don't love bloggers who post M/W/F or once a week any less than daily bloggers. In fact, I can't really keep up with daily bloggers. So I usually miss a few posts.

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  13. excellent post Anne, I definitely think it might be something I should consider (although I don't really blog much about writing - lately though lot of issues have popped into my head). Since I've started to seriously write (actually producing words) I've spent less time blogging/responding - this slow blog idea seems like excellent idea :)

    Thanks again for excellent post!

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  14. What an inspiring and refreshing post - one that gives me a few ideas for my own writing schedule. It's so easy to blog, and so difficult to face that novel. Sometimes I use the blog as a distraction. I love the quote from Miss Snark - the reminder that writing must always...ALWAYS...come first.

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  15. I saw this post linked on Roni's site and was intrigued--very glad I stopped by. I've been going the way of the slow blogger, I think, and your post gives me the rest of the permission I need to do that.

    I'm not a fount of useful or useless information that people might find funny/informative, and at this point I've been blogging steadily for almost 8 months.

    The five-days-a-week thing stopped working. The three-days-a-week thing is about to stop working.

    Slow blogging it is!

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  16. I love the idea of slow blogging. I often type up a whole and entry to post and then read back over it and realize it's crap. Producing a few, better written, pieces is probably much better in the long run.

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  17. Great post Anne. I rarely comment on anyone's blog (no time!) but wanted to say that I do not blog daily or even monthly sometimes. Since I write articles for a living (Oh is that what it is!) I really don't have time to do much blogging. I used to post blogs that were similar to the writing I do for a living, but recently I decided to use the blog to stretch my creative mind. Now I only write when it is something that truly inspires me and I try to write in a totally different mode than what is done in my professional life. It was quite liberating to break away and go in this direction. But even with that, I definitely do SLOW blogging!

    Ruth Ann

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  18. Thanks for all the comments. This post seems to be hitting a nerve.

    Welcome all my new followers!

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  19. I agree - once a day is too much. I try for three times a week. I love the idea of thoughtful reflective blog posts (that's what I'm going for) that hopefully offer some helpful tips. I also love google blogger and it's functionality. Blogging has increased my computer literacy and abilities ten fold.

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  20. Hi Anne - well done! I'm a month into my first blog, and am on the slower side where blogging is concerned. I'm posting three times each week because I have a full-time job and also include my photography in most posts. It's busy but doable for now. :o) There certainly is a lot to do though, isn't there, when you write, blog, moderate comments, read other blogs, comment there, Facebook, Tweet, etc?! It's a wild ride! Please keep up the great work with your blog. I'm really enjoying it.

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  21. Oh yes, oh yes. Sign me up. I've felt the crunch recently when my personal life swallowed me whole and I didn't care because I was blogger-burnt out anyway. I'd hate to drop it completely because I do finally have a nice following and even though I'm on a 'supposed' M-W-F posting schedule now, even that is almost too much. I still find I'm spending way too much time in the blogosphere than I am on my own work.

    Thanks for the validation-invitation.

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  22. I am reminded of that famous canard: Snooty literary critic to famous SciFi writer, "Tell me (wink-nudge)honestly, isn't 90% of Science Fiction crap?" to which famous SciFi writer replied, "90% of everything is crap."

    Like SLOW Cooking, SLOW Blogging might allow the flavors to get concentrated (more thought, less water)so the Blog Soup doesn't turn into watery, tasteless thin gruel.

    So, yes to Slow Blogging! Excellent post.

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  23. What wonderful comments! And I'm so glad to see new people commenting here. I think I've hit on something. We all feel so much pressure to do it all--more now than ever with our 24/7 media culture--that we forget what's important.

    I have a sneaky suspicion some of those folks in the publishing biz who pressure us to BLOG! TWEET!! FACEBOOK!!! every waking moment (or better yet, skip that lazy sleeping thing altogether) are secretly trying to cut down on their slush by keeping us from writing our books.

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  24. Fantastic idea! I think I might have to delcare it on my site and at least it means no more 'OG what do I blog about today??'

    http://damselinadirtydress.blogspot.com

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  25. I am 100% for slow blogging! My favorite blogs are the ones that post once a week because their posts are well thought out and because, like you said, I can find the time to read them. I find that people who blog every day often write "filler" posts - asking questions or talking about their cats or repeating what they've already said. I hope more bloggers move toward slow blogging.

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  26. I am the poster child of slow blogging. Once a week is what I want to do, can manage, etc. I tried upping my posts once, to 2 or 3 posts a week, and I found it just made me sloppy. Also, ya know, I know my place in the universe. One post a week is all anybody really needs of Kristen. I don't want to overstay my welcome.

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  27. what, don't blog or tweet all the time? what good excuses for procrastination would i have then?

    i love the idea of slow blogging, since i practice it myself. i think it changes the perception of blogging, however -- for writers, it feels like frequent blogging is for publicity, slow blogging for reflection. and that's how it should be, no?

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  28. I see the wisdom in this. Thank you for sharing.

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  29. Yes'm, I agree totally. It's too easy to get caught up in follower counts and number of comments, but the time investment required to keep both of those numbers climbing is pretty intense.

    I've ceased to feel guilty for not posting every day. The writing has to come first.

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  30. Hi Anne! Great post! It's funny that I'm reading this today, because I haven't been fretting about not blogging, but about not being able to read all my blog friends' blogs (YOURS included, of course!) So, last night and today, I'm catching up! I totally agree with all the points about spending too much time on blogs, facebook, etc....and NOT writing! So, with that, I will say..."Have a wonderful weekend, and bye for now!"

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  31. ah, I love it!

    I blog about once a week, which feels about right to me. As you say, it's when there is something I have to blog about, rather than because I feel I have to blog. I follow a lot of blogs, and when I turn on my reader and find 657 unread posts I feel nothing but despair. Surely, I think, surely there isn't that much to say? And then I read the posts and no, there wasn't.

    I didn't realise slow blogging was a 'thing', though. How nice to find the manifesto- thanks very much for the link!

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  32. And especially "skip those boring apologies"!!!

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  33. Hi, my name is Diana and I am a slow blogger. I'm happy if I post 2xs a week.

    I found more than that I don't have time to write a book.

    Loved you post.
    Diana
    DLBrandmeyer @gmail.com
    www.pencildancer.com

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  34. I've had a blog for years, that began as a family connection, then a hobbyist gathering, and now a writing/teaching focus. It's evolved over time - both in content and frequency - and I must admit that it is much more enjoyable when I write to inspiration (and the posts have more substance too!).

    As a blog follower, I'm sad to say that 100% of the time, when I find a new, exciting blog to follow, I drop out after a few weeks because of the constant bombardment of new posts that often have little new material or begin to delve in to TMI territory. I LOOK for slow bloggers because they tend to be more thoughtful, follow up with comments/correspondence, and are more generally focused on "others" rather than self-promotion. (Kind of like the difference between the "Look out for falling prices!!! at Wal-mart, and the "Dude, love your hemp socks..." at the Farmer's Market.)

    Thanks for this reminder that we don't all have to hop on the hamster wheel!

    Karen Nelson
    kbnelson.wordpress.com

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  35. Refreshing read! I'm a slow blogger, was posting twice a week but then disappeared as life took over. Trying to get back into it, perhaps I need to opt for once a week.

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  36. It's so great to see this 2-year old post is still gathering comments.

    Karen's comment is especially powerful, and I feel exactly the same way. If I love a blog and subscribe, I often end up unsubscribing after a few weeks because of the bombardment of too many posts. Once a week bloggers are much kinder to their readers as well as themselves.

    Sulthana--Good luck. Once a week sure works for me.

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  37. I thought this was absolutely fantastic. I easily lose my authentic voice when I'm writing out of obligation, rather than actually have something to say. I understand a schedule is important so your readers know when to look for your stuff - on the other hand, I have no desire to have a steamy pile of rubbish delivered to their mailbox. Thanks so much for your piece!

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  38. How timely this is for me (two years after you wrote it)! Thank you for validating the slow bloggers of the world!

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  39. Chrystal--I'm so glad the slow blog message is resonating with people. You're right about the steamy piles. Even good blog content gets boring after a while. Readers can't miss you if you won't go away.

    Lori--Yes, this old post still seems to have legs. I'd better post an update soon. Slow Bloggers Rule!

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