I blog, but not for the general public. I live in UT and my family is in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Idaho, and Wisconsin. My friends are even more spread out. I blog so people I know will have an idea of what's going on in my life. I only post once or twice a week, so I don't find that it takes up too much of my time.
Of course, I'm usually blogging to put off writing fiction. I have the hardest time starting.
I have a couple blogs that I never update anymore. I've thought about starting one just devoted to writing...but that seems pretty self-centered since it would really just be a long commercial for whatever my WIP is.
That wouldn't be bad if I could keep it interesting, but I find that I often have different opinions about a variety of thoughts and I would be concerned I would put off some readers simply because they don't like my point of view.
That would not be an effective commercial, so I would have to limit myself to the craft itself which is interesting, but how often could I come up with something? Especially as you said without taking away time from my actual writing.
I blog twice a week. At that rate, it doesn't really take a lot of time away from my writing.
I generally blog about my writing, whatever seems appropriate for what I'm doing at the time. Every once in a while, I'll blog about something in my real life. Right now, the people who visit my blog tend to be other writers. But, I have a blog if an agent wants to look and even a double handful of followers.
I have a blog, I use it for venting, expressing excitement, sharing something new about writing, sometimes I get into lite political stuff, or just sharing general stuff. Like finally getting to go to a certain concert if I do get to go.
It usually doesn't take me that long to write a post or three, I try to keep it short even though some of my updates are a little long.
I don't follow a regular schedule, so sometimes its two or three weeks between posts while other times I posts two to four posts. At times I want to say something but forget when I'm online or get busy and other activities, like writing and reading the hatrack posts, take priority.
I haven't written in my blog for a few months. I'm waiting for something interesting enough to happen to write in it. Or I will abandon that blog and start another when my writing gets serious.
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Life has always favored people who could self-promote, but it used to be that author was a profession an introvert might aspire to. You could be J.D. Salinger, you write your book and leave it up to the publisher to deal with the public and send you your royalty checks. In the future, only two of publisher's current functions will be important: acting as a literary gatekeeper, and promoting the author. I don't think they do much promoting now, but it will become more important because with ebooks the floodgates of self-publishing are open. We'll be in a world of YouTube style literary phenoms.
Personally, I think we'll see *agents* move from wholesale to retail, creating their own literary brands. Why not? Even if people print traditional bound books, it's more likely that they'll be printed at the point of sale on demand, rather than speculatively printed then remaindered. It's already happening in Harvard Square.
Now, as to how to manage the blog thing, if you can build a blog with traffic as an unpublished author, terrific; if not I wouldn't worry too much about it. I have two friends who've taken different approaches. The first takes the iron lady approach and does it all herself; she keeps traffic up by doing book giveaways to readers who post. She's got a three book contract with Tor and she's also a guest blogger there. But it's rough. Another friend had banded together with other prospective and self-published authors to create a writer's group blog.
Personally, I think the writers' group blog is the way to go. It spreads the load of generating content and ensures there's some traffic. I'd do the marketing gimmicks like give-aways on top of that. Over time you can build up what publishers see as your "platform". It might well be that such groups could become the publishers of the future, too.
The key is to have a marketing identity for your group. You might be paranormal romance writers, or classic high fantasists. If anyone is interested in joining with me in blogging about ironic, character-driven stories with a subtle mythopoetic twist, let me know.
As to having nothing to say, use the old singer-songwriter trick of writing about the rough life of a singer-songwriter. You still draw inspiration from books, don't you? So when you read a book, review it. Talk about the process of writing, and some of the structural and thematic ideas that excite you.
[This message has been edited by MattLeo (edited October 01, 2011).]
I've been tempted, but haven't taken it up yet. Yes, I do think it might take time away from my other writing, at least when I'm doing some of that---but, no, it seems there's always something coming along that I could write about.
I worry about it getting kinda repetitive after awhile...like posting here, where I've used up most of my "A" material...
I don't blog. I've thought about it, but I do think it would take up too much time to do regularly. I do like the idea of having a group blog. That sounds fun and wouldn't take too much time and pressure to maintain.
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I do okay and then life events pull me out of blogging. Right now, my writer's blog Owasm.com, is woefully neglected. I just published under my psuedonym (guyantibes.com), so I will be trying to get something up there every week... a marketing tool creates a little more interest.
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As I mentioned in my earlier post I use my blog as a writing diary along with other things, but so do many pro writers. You could try reading some-- some do a better job keeping up than others but they usually say something about how their writing is coming along and what stage their next book is.
One example is http://www.michaelastackpole.com Stackpole has all kinds of things on his blog. Including an interesting new story just read the first chapter of. A thriller and/or detective story.
I include this one since its an example of one that needs some updating. The posts are kept up somewhat but the side links to her books haven't been updated for a while. And this gives an example of a book diary, She lists the revising of her latest. That could be interesting. Even though I haven't been able to find what that latest is about or even its title.
I don't think it is really just a question of whether one should blog or not. The better question is should one be engaged in social media.
A writer's blog by itself will not likely get a lot of traffic unless you have something unique to offer. But if you are engaged on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc., it serves as a nice place to direct people.
I also think it requires regular updating to be effective. Meredith's 2x per week would be the standard minimum these days.
For me, I have a blog, but don't update it regularly and don't get very much traffic (except I get little spikes when new posts go up). So it doesn't accomplish much other than to give me practice, which provides some value.
@MattLeo - Interesting point about group blogs. I follow a few (I think Magical Words does it best), but I never thought about it for myself. I don't think you need to go quite so far with keeping all the contributors in the same sub-sub-genre, but they'd definitely all need to have a consistent vision of what they wanted the blog to be.
@Wordcaster - Exactly. As just one more unpublished writer, what could I possibly have to say that ten or a hundred others haven't already said? And if nobody's reading it, the blog would really just be practice writing, and we're back to the question of whether I'd be better off spending my time on my fiction.
I've just recently started trying to engage more in other forms of social media (twitter, g+), so maybe that's the first step. It seems like it would be easier to find followers for the short-format media than to jump right into blogging.
I blog. I enjoy it and it gets ideas out of my head. It gets me writing when I am stuck on other WIP. I don't know how many times I am clicking away at a blog post and an idea hits me for a story or the next scene in my novel.
I think the big problem with a blog is getting traffic. I have been fortunate with my traffic and I feel for a small time writer I get good numbers of unique visitors each day.
I wish I could get more comments on my blog. I would love my blogs to inspire debates and exchange of ideas.
I don't always blog about things that are new, but even the tips and tricks I regurgitate may help someone. Or, at the least, remind me to use those tips myself.