The Slow Blog Manifesto...and 8 Reasons Why Slow Blogging Will Help Your Career, Your Love Life, and Protect You From Angry Elephants

What is the Slow Blog Manifesto?

It’s an essay written in 2006 by Canadian software designer Todd Sieling at the height of the everybody-must-get-a-blog frenzy. You can read the Slow Blog Manifesto here. Slow Blogging is modeled on Alice Walker’s “slow food” movement (the opposite of McBurgerish “fast food.”) The point is quality over quantity.

Todd wrote:

“Slow Blogging is the re-establishment of the machine as the agent of human expression, rather than its whip and container. It’s the voluntary halting of the light-speed hamster wheel dictated in rules of highly effective blogging.”

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. 

It’s a principle that’s caught on. I see a lot of publishing industry bloggers cutting back on their number of posts—even uberbloggers like Nathan Bransford and Jane Friedman.

But unfortunately, not everybody has got the message. This week I saw a post on a popular writing blog telling new authors they should blog every single day.

I couldn’t disagree more. I think new authors, especially, need to limit their distractions. Yes, authors absolutely need social media these days, but we shouldn’t give it any more of our writing time than absolutely necessary.  (Especially since we are all supposed to write 12 books a year—more on that nonsense in another post.) 

Also, in order to get a readership in this saturated blogosphere, it seems to me we should be stressing quality over quantity. People don't want more stuff to take up their time.

If you aren’t quite sure what to blog about, check out How to Blog Part III: What Should You Blog About?   in my "How to Blog for Authors" series.

BTW, you’ll find all of my "how to blog" posts—plus a huge amount of helpful, positive information in the new book I’ve written with Catherine Ryan Hyde: HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE—And Keep Your E-Sanity! Which will debut later this month.  

I didn’t start out to be a Slow Blogger. 

When I started this thing three years ago, I was simply too busy bloodying my knuckles on the doors of the publishing industry to have time to post more than once a week.

But now, largely thanks to this blog, I’m about to launch my sixth book in a year. Tenth if you count anthologies and singles. ( But no. I don’t intend to make a habit of that.) The blog has won dozens of awards—and even made the list of finalists for Best Publishing Industry Blog in the Association of American Publishers/Goodreads Independent Book Blogger Awards. (Many, many thanks to all of you who voted for us!)

I did this without blogging more than once a week. In fact, thanks to a wonderful blog partner (the spectacular Ruth Harris, who joined a year ago) plus some fabulous guest bloggers, I usually now blog only twice a month.

Which is why I get really annoyed when I see new authors getting hammered with advice to blog every day.

Don’t. Just don’t.

Need more reasons?

1) A slow blog has a longer life-span.

The average life span of a blog is three years. But you want your writing career to last longer than three years, don’t you? A neglected blog hanging in cyberspace is worse than none.

Of course some people can blog brilliantly every day. But I don’t know a lot who can sustain that pace AND write book-length narrative every day.

So you’ve got to plan a blog that’s going to beat the odds. A slow blog is more likely to do that.

Think marathon, not sprint: slow blog.

2) You reach more people by commenting on other people’s blogs than by madly posting on a blog nobody reads.

Author/publisher/social media guru Bob Mayer pointed out on his blog recently:

 “One of the best networking tools is to go to people’s blogs and leave cogent comments.”

Yes, an author needs a blog—it’s more dynamic than a static website (and free) so it’s the best way to interact with readers and fellow writers. But it’s not your best sales tool, especially when you’re starting out—it’s more like your Internet home. If nobody knows you, they won’t come and visit.

Think of it this way: would you reach more people by sitting in your basement making a thousand signs, or by making one sign, standing in a public place, and getting it filmed for a clip on the nightly news?

So use your blogging time to visit other blogs, and only post on your own blog when you have something to say that you can tell people about on other blogs. Then they’ll come visit. See how that works?

Get your sign on the nightly news: slow blog.

3) Busy people are less likely to subscribe/follow a blog that’s going to clutter their email inbox/rss feed every day.  I sure won’t. I don’t read ANYBODY’S blog every day. I’d be so glad if they’d only send notifications of the good ones. Or—even better—only write the good ones. (Which, um, is called “slow blogging.”)

When you write mostly good posts, people will know a visit to your blog is a valuable use of their time and they’ll spread the word. Then maybe an agent or publisher will visit and like it so much they’ll ask you to send them a novel and you’ll end up published. That’s what happened to me—twice. Seriously. Both my publishers contacted ME because they liked this blog.

So if you want to get published, slow blog.

4) Everybody has bad days. When you have to think of something to say on the day you got that nasty/clueless review/rejection, your emotions are going to leak out. 

You’re going to write what you really think about that agent who has hair like Medusa and the literary taste of an orangutan. You’re going to call that agent Monkey Medusa on your blog. Then it will turn out she wasn’t actually the agent who rejected you. That was a different one at an agency down the hall. Monkey Medusa actually loves your book and was about to offer you representation. So she visited your blog to find out more about you and got seriously offended and you lost your big chance for a major book contract.

If you don’t want to lose out on a major book contract, slow blog.

5) Nobody can come up with that many interesting posts. When you slow blog, and you don’t have anything to say, you don’t have to say it.

But if you succumb to pressure to blog every day, you’re going to blather-blog. You’re going to talk about your stupid boss who’s been acting like b***  in heat since the hot new guy joined the department. And it will turn out your boss’s husband is an aspiring writer who subscribes to your blog, so he’s going to dump that b***. She’ll be so mad she’ll fire you. You will not be able to get another job in this economy and you’ll lose your apartment and end up moving in with your girlfriend who will be so PO’d at you for blogging all the time, she’ll break up with you.

Don’t blather-blog and wreck your relationship: slow blog.

6) Writing nonfiction—which is what you should be writing on your blog—uses a different part of your brain from fiction.

When you’re on a roll with a novel, and have to stop to write something perspicacious on the subject of sentence structure, you can stop that flow dead. Maybe you won’t ever get it back. Maybe you’ll have to give up your writing dream and join the circus. When you join the circus, you could get stepped on by an angry elephant.

Don’t get stepped on by an angry elephant: slow blog.

7) You write narrative--remember? The blog is supposed to be about getting your name out there as a creative writer. It’s an aid to your serious writing, not a substitute for it.

If you spend every day working on your blog, you’re going to neglect your novel. When you neglect your novel, you’ll forget why you wanted to be a writer. So you’ll accept that promotion at work where you have to work all hours with no overtime because you’re management now. You’ll wake up one day and discover you’re middle-aged and have nothing to show for it, so you’ll buy yourself a very fast, very expensive car. But you’ll be so exhausted from all that work that you’ll drive your fast, expensive car off a cliff and die in a fiery crash.

Don’t die a fiery crash: slow blog.

8) Trying to blog every day is impossible to keep up, so you’ll constantly feel guilty. Guilt is bad for your mental health. When you feel guilty you eat/drink/smoke too much and then feel guilty about that too.

See where this is going…?

My apologies to the people who write the Direct TV commercials for the “don’t do this…” silliness.

But seriously: slow blogging rules.

Yes, I am aware these comments aren’t true for everybody. There are always the superpersons who can do it all—and I’m in awe of them. But if you don't have tights and a cape in your closet, don’t succumb to the pressure.

Two examples of successful slow bloggers are:

The insightful Nina Badzin, whose thoughtful, eclectic blog has become wildly popular. In fact, her essays now appear in the Huffington Post. She’s recently discovered she’d rather blog than write fiction. (The world needs more thoughtful essayists, so this is a great thing.) But she continues to blog once a week.

My publisher, the esteemed Mr. Mark Williams of International fame, sometimes doesn’t post for six weeks. But when he does—he always informs, entertains and tells us stuff we never knew we needed to know. So his Alexa rating is higher than most daily bloggers.

And the late, great pseudonyminous agent, Miss Snark was all for slow blogging, too. In spite of all the pressure to “build platform,” she advised new writers to always put their writing first:

“Your job is to write…
…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.”

Tell that to the idiots who say you have to blog every day.

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