Monday, September 26, 2011

Writing vs. Blogging

I've been looking over my most recent blog posts, and I'm worried that my blogging skills have atrophied.  Once upon a time I wrote three posts a day, every day, generally on political topics.  Then I got a real job, started writing fiction seriously, got in a serious relationship, and got married, in that order.  My blogging dropped off to once a month or so.  I decided, fairly recently, to try to blog more regularly, and now I'm writing a post once a week.  But my blogging has taken a hit.  I don't think I'm as good a blogger anymore.  I'm not, however, a worse writer.  I'm pretty sure that I'm a better writer.  But the skills involved in blogging and in writing are different enough that I can be good at one and not the other.

There are several reasons for that:
  • Blogging is shorter.  When I write, I'm generally writing a story on the order of 8,000 words, or a novel on the order of 80,000.  For a blog post, 800 words is long.  My tendency to write longer does not help me write the succinct posts that blogging requires.
  • Blogging has little, if any, chance for revision.  My fiction has a rigorous, four revision process.  A blog post may get a quick once over.  I'm used to pushing through to the end of a story, then going back and making sure I get all the details right.  One of the most important parts of that revision process is waiting.  I can't go back and revise something right after I've finished.  I have to wait some time, typically weeks, to get some distance from it, before I can look at it with fresh eyes.  I can't do that with blog posts.  I might be able to give it an hour or two, but that's all the distance I can manage before it publishes.
  • Blogging has a different purpose.  This one's so obvious that it's easy to overlook.  In a story, I'm focusing on things like plot, characterization, and description.  In blogging, I'm writing about facts and opinions, often in bulleted lists like this one.  In a story I'm making things up; in a blog post, I need to get facts straight.  Oh, they aren't entirely orthogonal endeavors.  I need to get facts straight in stories too, when it comes to the real world parts.  Blogging can often benefit from detailed description, and even a clear plot structure.  Overall, though, they do have different purposes, and require different types of writing to meet those goals.
Since I don't intend to stop blogging, I'm trying to get better at it, or at least recover my atrophied skills.  That requires blogging more, but I don't want to blog so much that I don't have time for other things--such as fiction writing.  Still, I'll be making an effort to pick up the pace of my blogging.

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