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Where blogging fits into the writing week

Pages from primary school rough book
Aged 10, my note-taking habit had begun

How does your writing week look? Mine can typically include things like

  • blog posts
  • a client email newsletter
  • a lot of emails (sent and replied to)
  • poetry writing/redrafting/editing
  • commenting on blogs
  • client work: proposals, meeting reports, web or brochure copy, etc
  • an email newsletter for one of my groups (poetry or singing)
  • a guest piece for a magazine or blog
  • a chapter for a (non-fiction) book, if I have a book project on the go
  • cover letters
  • various lists/notes etc for myself
  • tweeting etc

– it adds up to writing every day, even though when asked how much time I spend on writing I tend to um and ah or say ‘not as much as I’d like’ because of course I’m thinking of poetry writing – you know, the really creative stuff.

This morning I’d been thinking about blogging and the purpose(s) of blogging. Then I encountered Josephine Corcoran’s interesting and timely post about ‘why blog’ (in relation to poetry blogging in particular).

Blogging isn’t for everyone. I regularly meet people who, if they find out about my blog, aren’t sure what to make of it, as an activity. But sometimes they admit they too have a blog, but ‘haven’t posted for a while’ or else they’ve been ‘meaning to blog’ but are struggling either to find the time or the ideas of what to write about.

When people come to me for mentoring, if I think blogging would benefit them, I suggest it. But it’s one of those awkward chicken-and-egg things: until you start blogging and you reach that moment of ‘getting it’ (which is usually tied up with the community aspect of blogging – see Josephine’s post), it can feel like a chore. Or worse, a worthless or self-indulgent activity two steps removed from bragging and the slippery slope towards staring at one’s reflection in a pond.

Community is a big part of blogging – after 15 years I’m still amazed who you meet on the internet and I’ve always believed (from personal experience) that connections made online can be every bit as strong as those made ‘in real life’. And the wonderful thing is that it’s still mostly fuelled by the written word.

So to follow on from Josephine’s post, my feeling is that blogging helps my writing, because it is writing. It’s part of my writing life – just as is everything else that goes into the writing week, except on a blog I give myself permission to use cliches, make (sort of) jokes, say LOL or whatever else grabs me. I give myself permission to make mistakes, try out new ideas, ask questions, come across as a bit naive or opinionated or whatever. I give myself permission to write without drafting, or re-drafting, or planning, or reaching for the thesaurus, or (much!) editing. To write 200 words or 2,000 words. It’s my ‘sandbox’ I suppose. It doesn’t mean I’m totally unguarded, but I’ve noticed how people appreciate openness, so I think it’s a good thing to aim for. It’s probably an antidote to all that sales/commercial writing that invades our space (bits of which I’m responsible for – sorry!)

What do you think – does blogging flex our writing muscles, or does it just take us away from, well, proper writing?

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  1. jaynestanton jaynestanton

    Robyn, I love your viewpoint of a blog as a ‘sandbox.’ I think blogs are partly the ‘writer at play.’ Although I fall into the don’t-blog-as-often-as-I’d-like-to category, I’m always surprised and pleased to rediscover that it’s fun, creative in its own way and a bridge between the social and the largely solitary act of writing. And it doesn’t ‘take me away from my (poetry) writing’ anywhere near as much as other social media.

    • Hi Jayne – yes, good point that writing is by its nature solitary, perhaps the contrast with ‘community’ is part of the appeal. By the way I really enjoyed your account of the Poetry Business reading day. I hope your op went well too 🙂

      • jaynestanton jaynestanton

        Thank you, Robin. My op went well and I’m making progress in the mobility stakes. My poetry social life is strictly online for the next few weeks, but I have high hopes of reducing that To Read pile and getting down to some writing. I’ve been very busy sorting out poems for submission, today in addition to keeping abreast of blogs I follow.

  2. I think blogging has improved my writing and sometimes helps me to think aloud and set goals. I found your run through of a writing week interesting because it isn’t just the actual writing of new material but all the other stuff you mention.When I follow other blogs I feel part of a writing community which is supportive. We may write different things but we all have writing in common. Yes, connections are made online. I blog fairly frequently and I enjoy it. Blogging is definitely part of writing.

    • Hi Heather, thanks so much for commenting. Once you start adding up all the other bits of writing it’s quite surprising isn’t it? And I haven’t included the posts I write on one of my favourite (non-writing) forums too.

  3. Thanks very much for linking to my post, Robin. Like Jayne, I like what you’ve said about the freedom to be less than perfect – that’s liberating! I sometimes feel that I’m “not writing but blogging”, as if the blogging is a distraction from the writing, but you’re right, it IS writing, using other ‘writing muscles’, perhaps, but nevertheless practising being more fluent and defining your own ideas. Which is good! Thanks for a great post 🙂 x

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Robin Houghton 2021