Saturday, April 14, 2007

Blogging blog.

If you are a blogger, who also considers writng to be their main focus/drive/employment in life could you spare me a comment?

I'm doing some research into the impact of blogging for writers as part of an MA course. Given that there are millions of bloggers out there, narrowing research down is a duanting task; I spent a week lost in the blogosphere, reading some amazing posts, but having very little to focus the research on. So, if 'the medium is the message', I thought I'd try a live and direct approach.

Blogs are free, uncensored and ever growing. What I'm trying to find out is how you got into blogging, how you feel it impacts on your writing, how it might affect the print based industry and where you think it might be headed the coming years. There's a sense of search engines manipulating/creating a blogging A list, where might this lead? Will blogs keep going or will the bubble burst? Some blogs have been picked up as books, there are prizes and awards - is this a motivation or do blogs fulfil another function? What are your thoughts, in general, about blogging, particularly as someone who writes as a major part of life?

If you could spare a moment it would be hugely appreciated - doesn't need to be much, just a few lines. My aim is to see how far and where this post might leapfrog to over the next week; from this I'll be able to focus on what bloggers have written and get an inkling of how messages/ideas might travel.

A big thankyou to anyone who can help with their thoughts :)

[I reckon I'm due to loose many more hours discovering new blogs to read after this...]

UPDATE: There are a lot of lovely people out there. Huge thanks to all those who have commented, and to anyone else who is going to.


Travis said...

Hi! I may have a little time this weekend. I'll see what I can do.

Thanks for asking and good luck with your project.

james henry said...

Erm, I find it handy to write down lots of little conversations/moments I might otherwise forget. Also it's just good to write something as close to every day as you can manage, just to keep the writing muscles healthy.

Got to catch a train in a minute, but if I think of anything else, I'll come back.

Shots said...

I have a lot of comments about this. I've been doing a little bit of research myself before I set up my own blog. Blogs are interesting, can be brilliant and can also be extremely dangerous. I can give you some good examples of all this. Email me nicola dot valentine at yahoo dot co dot uk.

MsAnn said...

For me, blogging is a useful, portable, remote, way of keeping an online diary/writing warm-ups/collating a written scrapbook of bits and fictional pieces. I see it as a tool, a means to an end, rather than the end itself.

Danny Stack said...

At the very least, blogging is fun as it can give you a sense of community and camaraderie with like-minded writing strangers. At its best, it can be inspiring and illuminating because of its wide-range of advice, insight and support.

Lucy said...

I think that writing every day, even is it's just a diary entry, is the surest way to keep productive.

I find it a great place to do write purely for myself. All my other writing tends to be, in the end, for an employer of some kind; a producer. A blog keeps me 'amateur' in the sense of writing for the love of it.

Far away said...

Yes its fun and addictive -I've just written a bit about this here:

rafael said...

I generally try to keep my newspaper stuff and blog stuff very separate. One reason is that I'm aware that, as a political leader writer I'd get flamed if I wandered into the snake pit of UK political blogging, and I'm not actually a very argumentative type. Another is that I'm sort of superstitious about showing things I'm working on professionally to anyone before they're safely in print.

There are exceptions. Sometimes I try out ideas on the blog. Not so much to test them in the eyes of others (I don't have enough readers) but to see if the thing in my head is worse than half-baked or actually a proper idea. The only way you know is by writing it down.

I could probably bang on about this for ages, because, like most journalists, I am a verbal narcissist.

Jacqui said...

Since I've got into blogging more I've found it's a good way to keep in touch with friends, as writing can be very isolating.
I can switch to freer writing, whenever I need a break, or get a menatl block, and it's keeps me in the writing mode.
I also find it useful to start the day with a blog posting, as a bit of a mental warm up.
On a completely personal level blogging is very therapeutic, and because of this I am wondering if I ought to have a link to it on my website at all.

MsWideEyed said...

You might find these blogs interesting - they're erotic writers - prodigious rate of production! Alison in particular has spoken a lot about why she blogs and what she gets from it as a writer and I am sure that the writers at lust bites have too and if not they no doubt would if you raised the question.

Phillip Barron said...

There are two people who convinced me to start blogging:

John August and Danny Stack.

I've never spoken to either of these people, I've just read their blogs.

I stumbled across John August's whilst browsing the net for writing advice. I liked what he had to say, realised I liked a lot of his films and then ... and this is the important part ... realised I was already pre-disposed to like his next film, because I like his blog and in some small way felt I knew him.


A good position to be in, I thought. If people like you (or your blogging persona) they might view your work more favourably.

Danny Stack is a name which keeps cropping up in writing circles. His blog gets referred to a lot and I'm well aware of him as a writer, despite never having seen or read anything he's written.

This also seems like a good position to be in. Twice now, Danny has linked to my site and each time my traffic has spiked.

Is it working? Who knows. A little, I guess. I've met a director who reads my blog and actually logged on while I was in the room to see what my latest post said.

That was nice.

I started out with very definite goals in mind. The biggest hurdle for me was, why would anyone care what I had to say? Who the hell am I? I've always found the whole blogging thing to be a massive ego trip - why do people assume their lives and opinions are interesting to others?

I've got past that now. I enjoy blogging and I enjoy reading other people's. There is a sense of community, I'm not a massive participant, but I do read a lot more than I comment.

I don't know if any of that's useful to you, but if you have any questions, feel free to email me:

Phillip Barron said...

Sorry for the long comment.

I do tend to bang on a bit.

d f mamea said...

my guild told me that producers liked to skulk anonymously through websites looking for writers. so, being a longtime John August blogreader - and Josh Friedman was hilarious and regular at the time - i thought, how hard could it possibly be to hang a blog off the site, too...?

almost a year later, the blog's a great way to just write how i wanna (sometimes especially when i don't wanna Write). haven't had any business come through either the site or the blog but i'm having fun anyway.

(and my blog reading is expanding - name-checks to Danny Stack, James Henry and Tim Clague.)

Dave said...

I'm not actually a full-time writer (but you did ask for my comments at Blue Cat). I have had a couple of books published, but don't make a living from them.

Four years ago found I'd lost my creative writing spark completely. Blogging is what gave it back to me. Making myself write something every day - and then finding there were people who enjoyed reading what I'd written - spurred me on.

I discovered, through someone else's blog, a few months ago that people had been enjoying an on-line novel that I'd started, and then given up. That got me back writing that again. For me, the immediate feed-back from an audience is a great inspiration.

patroclus said...

I write for a living about software for financial accounting and personnel management. After ten years, this has started to get - hmmm - somewhat repetitive.

But I love the English language, and I like writing, very much. So I use my blog to write about all the sorts of things I never get to write about at work. Like indie music, and the lost language of the Picts. And to use words and styles I never get to use in my day job. And also to make new friends, and just generally have a laugh.

I can't remember now exactly why I started blogging, but it was a lot to do with the fact that I work in the tech industry and I've always read magazines like Wired and (the now-defunct) NTK, which made me aware of blogging, and I think I just wanted to try it out, and practise some HTML at the same time (in the old days you had to write more HTML by hand in Blogger than you do now).

Being 'discovered' or published on the back of my blog isn't even a consideration for me. (As I've been blogging for five years, on and off, I would probably have heard by now if my blog was of any interest whatsoever to any publishers - and frankly I can't see how it would be.)

Re. A-list; in any community or industry, A-lists will always spontaneously form. I'd like to think that in the blogworld, they are at least based on merit. But then I read things like about how that woman in Northumberland got a book deal after just six weeks of blogging, and I'm inclined to think that was because of contacts she had made in the political and media spheres before she started blogging, which goes against the whole idea of the blogosphere being a sort of level playing field where only talent matters. Still, hey-ho, it's the way of the world and all that.

Re. how blogging will affect the print industry, that is an enormous topic. From the press point of view (someone else can answer for book publishing), lots of newspapers are adopting blog-style formats for their online articles, even as their journalists slag off blogging. Eventually there will be a symbiosis, I think, because amateur bloggers do certain things a lot better than professional journalists (e.g. those that are experts on a certain subject, or are very close to a certain issue or geographical hotspot, or have more interesting lives than so-called lifestyle columnists). At the same time, the professional media does certain things better than most amateur bloggers (e.g. factual reporting, undercover investigations, getting access to interesting/high-up/powerful people for interviews, deploying huge news-gathering forces on the ground etc.).

After all, for all the antipathy between professional journalists and amateur bloggers, blogging is really only a format, and both sides are free to make use of it as they see fit.

Hm, I don't think that answered the question at all, if your question was about how blogging will affect sales of printed paper newspapers (and therefore advertising sales). That is already in decline, but not just due to blogging - more people are reading newspapers online anyway, just because it's cheaper and more convenient. I don't think blogging really has anything to do with that. It is interesting though that some blogs are garnering larger readerships than some newspapers, and the reasons for that. You could compare the readership of BoingBoing, for example, with similarly-themed print publications (BB is at a kind of intersection between the Fortean Times, Wired and the New Scientist), and draw some conclusions from that...

I think this is the longest comment I have ever left. Good luck with the research!

Pillock said...

I was clicking around, and came on James Moran's blog. I read the first few entries, where he describes getting his start as a screenwriter.

I had just done well in a contest, and got a couple of agents to request to read my feature, so I thought I'd blog my exploits, both as a work journal and way to make contacts with other new writers.

Now I'm addicted.

Pillock said...

'Stumbled upon,' obviously. Sorry Spork. I didn't mean it to...come out that way.

potdoll said...

I started my blog because I wanted to share information on courses etc. and was inspired by Danny Stack's blog.

writing can be very isolating so it's a good way of being part of a community who understands.

I keep it anonymous because it means I can have more fun that way.

Lianne said...

I think I was also inspired by other bloggers - namely Danny and Lucy. I started it as a way of sharing information and thinking about my own writing process. Never assumed my witterings would be of interest to anyone else though!

Fi said...

Wow - what a brilliant response. Well done!
Ingenious using your blog to reach out to the bloggy community... so obvious but not, if you know what I mean(?)
Blogging for me started off as a chore - doing it purely because it was a course requirement.
Then having had a bit of a shit personal time, it was a wy of off-loading. To begin with, no-one ever read my blog, but now a couple of people pop in from time to time.
So before, I could write any shite and it didn't really matter. Now, I'm beginning to feel really self-conscious and less inclined to even bother-don't want to be that exposed.
Discovering other people's blogs is fascinating, but frustrating - I honestly don't have the free time to explore them properly, (and they make my crappy low-tech site look utterly pants).
My Industry Analysis is specifically looking at books to blogs, so if any of your vast swathe of readers out their is willing to throw some comments on that topic my way... please do!

All the best miss-cellany

Fi said...

It's 1am and I'm knacked.

That should have said 'blogs to books'..!

rivergirlie said...

i'm half a writer - in that i co-write novels and non-fictions (mostly tv spinoffs). i started a blog to support a book accompanying a tv series, then found i enjoyed blogging in and of itself.
on the downside, it's a huge distraction. on the upside, it gives me a place to explore random ideas that don't fit anywhere else, and has also allowed me to read some amazing stuff written by some very talented writers and humorists, both published and not. i fear there is a danger of getting narcissistic when blogging - checking for comments is as addictive as checking your amazon ranking ... if not more so. i no longer use blogger, but you can find me on

JonnyB said...

Here via James. So here's my 5p's worth:

I started writing a blog because professionally I was good at creating lovingly-crafted and brilliantly wonderful things, each word honed to perfection. Unfortunately I was rubbish at being able to sit down for half an hour and bash something out that was 'pretty good'. Blogging is great help for the latter.

Tim Footman said...

I started blogging because I was going through a fallow patch in my professional writing (lots of dull business stuff) and wanted to see if I could reignite the spark. To a limited extent, it has a function as a publicity tool for my work, but I'd still do it if this were not the case, because it's fun.

I'm fascinated by the attempts of old media to deal with the phenomenon: attempting to milk it (publishers turning blogs into books, rather missing the point); coming to terms with it (Comment is Free at the Guardian, which isn't a blog, but has some bloggish qualities); reacting to it with fear and horror (half the columnists on The Independent).

The bubble may burst, but blogging will carry on in some shape or form. These things always do. Some people are still playing Dungeons and Dragons, after all...

wcdixon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wcdixon said...

Dropping by from Canada...wcdixon here (aka Uninflected Images Juxtaposed).

Like others, I found my way into blogland via John August which led me to Josh Friedman who pointed me to John Rogers (Kung Fu Monkey) who pointed me to another Canadian blogger, Denis McGrath (dead Things On Sticks). And this was exciting for me because here was someone talking about the Canuck tv industry for a change.

I read with interest for a while, and then decided I wanted to play. And chose to use my name as I had no reason to hide or saw the blog as place to vent or gripe. And it's been great fun, in a hobby sort of way. We're all so spread out across Canada, and so to find a small albeit like-minded community to learn from, exchange ideas with, etc. has been a joy.

Some potential work has come my way via the blog, mostly through connecting with other more established bloggers (eg Alex Epstein). But mostly it's been newbies asking for advice or wanting me to read something. One interesting development has been contact from some of the major newspapers in Canada requesting input or a writeup for a larger peice they are doing. Again, all via the blog.

Of course, now it's spread beyond Canada's borders and includes a lot of the world.


Rach said...

Like a lot of other people, I tackle relatively boring stuff for a living (editing/writing academic material at the moment), and my blog is just a place for me to witter on blithely and have a little fun.

And all in the knowledge that two people and a small white dog will be reading it at any one time - my blog is absolutely no use as a calling card because it's more a diary than anything professionally orientated. And that's quite nice - it makes me write creatively, and get something down on (virtual) paper at least once or twice a week.

It's something I've done since, oh, god, 2002, in one form or another (I'm on my second blog, having run out of inspiration with the first), so it's definitely addictive (as is reading everyone else's...)

The Film Diva said...

Thanks for stopping by. I'll have to think about this and get back to you. Great questions!!!m

mark g said...

Motives are ego, venting, nosiness, and work avoidance. Now the raging ego's temporarily assuaged, I've done the venting I needed to, and can't avoid work anymore (apart from writing this, obviously, which rather negates the previous statement).

I blog instead of work, so now I'm working full tilt, the blog's ground to a halt.

Nosiness hasn't stopped, though.

Clare said...

I run a Yahoo! Group for bloggers-who-are-also-published-writers.

More details here.

Let me know if you want to pass details onto the group, or whatever. Sorry, am on my way to bed so haven't explored this in any detail (it was the SpittingMadWomen lot who put me on to you), but if you too are a blogger with a published or soon-to-be-published book, you can join the group and explain it all to them yourself!

Travis said...

I followed the leader into blogging - many of my friends started doing it. I thought about it long and hard, and finally decided it was a good way just to write.

I don't blog to change the world. I don't blog for awards or recognition, although it's nice to know that someone is reading what I write. I enjoy posting my poetry and prose. I'm particularly drawn to the sense of community I feel.

I like to discover new sites and see what others have to say. I think memes are fun. I like to share my musical tastes, and find out what others enjoy too.

I feel like blogging is something I can do in my own time and in my own way - I have complete and total control, which isn't always the case with life in general. I'm not tied to a clock when I blog and that is liberating.

Finally, it's fun. And when it stops being fun I may stop doing it, or I may evolve it into something else. For now, blogging suits my life quite well.