When Blogging Takes Away from Writing

August 1, 2011

Before we get to today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to this month’s sponsor, Lisa Romeo. Not only does she have an awesome blog, she also offers coaching, editing, and two online classes this fall, Writing Bootcamp and Memoir/Creative Nonfiction Writing. I can vouch for these because a friend has taken two classes with Lisa and loved both. Consider her if you want to enhance your craft or polish your manuscript!

A woman in our Travel Memoir Writers Facebook group recently brought up the question that never dies: Does she really need to grow a blog? Won’t it take away from her writing?

Yes, and yes.

To write or to blog?

Countless times I’ve sat down at my computer at 8 p.m. after a long day at work, knowing I had to choose. Should I work on the blog or the book?

It’s a Catch-22: Our main goal is to publish the book, and to accomplish that we have to finish it. But to sell the book, we need a platform, and the most feasible way for most of us to grow that is through a blog. We want to make the book a priority, but we’ll need a platform to sell it, which means we can’t wait until we finish the book to start growing a blog.

Is anyone else pulling their hair out?

For many writers, though a blog eventually becomes far more than a marketing tool. It helps us improve our craft. It’s an avenue through which to meet interesting people. A way to put the ideas and insights that bounce around in our heads to good use. And it also serves as a prism through which to see the world, because writing about goals and lessons and what’s important in life reminds us how we want to live.

Yet for all the greatness this blog has brought into my life, I have no doubt I would’ve finished writing and editing and revising my manuscript if I hadn’t also put time into growing this blog. The hard truth is that each of us have only so many hours each day, and while we can always make time for our priorities, time is still limited.

So how can writers find the right balance between working on the manuscript and growing the blog? That’s what I’m hoping we can discuss today.

I tend to give precedence to my three blog posts each week, and then, feeling untethered because that’s done, move onto the manuscript. The problem is that a blog offers so much more immediate gratification than a manuscript. I can literally watch my subscribers grow (about to hit the 500 mark!), interact with readers in the comments and track page views. That feeling of accomplishment is far more difficult to come by with a manuscript, since it can take years to write and sell a book.

For me, that means I have to really push through on the manuscript, looking forward to times like now when it’s off my plate, in my agent’s hands, and I can focus on the blog. Other writers seem to have the opposite problem and loathe growing a blog community, so they have to force themselves to take time out from the manuscript to post online.

How do you strike a balance?

Photo credit: Flickr’s Mike Licht

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    13 Replies to “When Blogging Takes Away from Writing”

    • Lindsey says:

      I struggle with this too, but share your conviction that the blog is meaningful for all aspects of the writing and publishing dream I continue to pursue. I tend to blog 5 days a week, and usually I write about 3 of those over the weekend. When I’m “untethered” (great word) by the pressure of a post teh next day, I turn to the manuscript. I have to be disciplined about it, which is often hard for me, but the truth is I know that the blogging – and reading (books, and a few other blogs) something else I struggle to balance with my writing – improves my manuscript too. A daily balancing act! xo

    • Oh, how I struggle with this. I write fiction, so many out there believe the blog isn’t as important for the fiction writer – a fiction writer doesn’t need to build a huge platform prior to publication. To that I say, “Really????!!!?? If you believe that, you’re reading the wrong blogs.”

      I would say building a HUGE readership isn’t AS important prior to having an agent or a contract, but establishing an online presence has to be important when an agent is considering whether a prospective author is professional and understands the demands of a writing career.

      Oh, but this wasn’t your question. How do I strike the balance? I’m afraid it’s a constant battle. Some weeks my blog shines and others I opt for shorter posts so I can concentrate on manuscript writing. This is especially difficult during the months where my day job takes center stage.

    • Sally says:

      I’m having this struggle right now myself. I just started working on my book, but it’s been hard to balance that with my blog, which I’m also trying to grow. I don’t post that much to my blog — only about once or twice a week, but my posts are really long (like, uh, maybe a bit TOO long) so they don’t me a while to write and can be very exhausting. Despite that I still find myself choosing the blog over the book for the same reasons you state and because, well, I know how to write a blog… a book? Not so much.

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Totally! For me, blogging is easier, even more fun, than writing books. (Don’t tell my agent 🙂 But where would we be in life if we avoided all the challenges?

    • Emma says:

      I only blog once a week, but very consistently. Someday, I hope to do more, but with a full-time job, two kids, and other writing projects to work on, it’s all I can manage. Plus, I need to leave time to read other people’s blogs–I’ve learned so much about writing and publishing this way!

    • Karen Walker says:

      I struggle with this as well. I’m trying to work on my manuscript on days when I don’t blog, but you’re right – the instant gratification is a real pull.

    • Rhonda Lane says:

      This is a problem for me, too. I’ve switched to posting once or twice a week. Daily blogging, IMO, is just too much work for a solo blogger with other writing assignments. Granted, I realize some people can do it. But I’ve also noticed that I don’t read daily blogs as often as I read something that arrives into my Inbox with a little less frequency.

    • Kim Kircher says:

      I finished my memoir before I started blogging in earnest. But I went through a few rounds of intense edits before my editor signed off on it and all the while I kept the blog going too. It isn’t easy. Right now, I’m promoting my book, writing articles for various magazines, guest blogging, and writing my next book all while maintaining my blog. It’s a full plate. I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling with it.

    • I am definitely struggling with this because I use my blog for several things: an online writing portfolio, a way to share great writers I discover, and a daily writing exercise. But, I am also working on a nonfiction book proposal and feel like I should be putting all of my time into that. I am wondering if I should stop writing daily (I would greatly miss it though!) to focus on the proposal, or if I should write a majority of posts in one day so that they are scheduled and ready to go out for the week? Sigh. I wish I was a vampire sometimes so I wouldn’t need to sleep!

    • Steph says:

      This i something I’ve been struggling with a lot- especially lately. I started out as a blogger and it’s only because of my hard work there that I have other opportunities now. But finding the time to work on those is a toughie!

    • Misti says:

      Sometimes I sit down and write out several blog posts for the week in advance and schedule them. Then it frees me up during the week to do what I want to do, whether I’m thinking about future blog posts, taking photos, or working on something else. I’ve just started a book on my Florida Trail hike, not very far into it, but I feel like it will be taking up many evenings in the coming months.

      Great post!

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