Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blog Guilt

Mike Duran's blog post from a couple days ago, in which he talks about the importance of keeping a blog schedule, included the following symptoms of something he calls "shizo-blog":

--You feel guilty for blogging because you should be writing your novel
--You feel guilty for writing because you haven’t updated your blog in two weeks
--You feel guilty prioritizing one over the other because with some creative management or self-discipline, you should be able to do both
--You feel guilty about feeling guilty because you expected this writer’s gig would be a lot more fun.

After reading that list (all of which I've experienced), and then the following description of the blog schedule Mike keeps and his massive database of blog topic ideas, I guessed it...guilty. 

Of course  my brain had to twist the issue even further.  

Hang on--let me back up.

Way back when I started blogging, I thought it was putting the cart before the horse. I mean, why have a blog in place for readers when I had no readers? But I figured the practice would be good for me. Get me out of my shell. And it gave me a place to chronicle my journey to publication, vent the frustrations related to said journey, and just kinda share about little ole me. 

So blogging became a thing in and of itself. Until now. Because now I've got that book published, and the horse is in front of the cart. 

And it still feels backwards.

Now I feel pressure to use the blog to gather, I mean, readers. Like a marketing tool. You know--make the blog so cool and interesting that people will flock to it and ultimately want to read my book. Completely opposite of my original thinking in which readers would read my blog because they found and loved my book first.

Which brings us back to the guilt I felt after reading Mike's blog. That twisted feeling of worrying that I'm not making my blog cool and interesting enough to attract minions--I mean readers--yet feeling guilty that I'm worrying about such a thing when deep inside I believe the blog should be here for an expressly different purpose.

Now, I'm sure Mike's intention was not to guilt his readers. And he in turn should not feel guilty about making me feel guilty--I promise I could have taken any post down that road on my own. But from now on, I think I'll ignore any posts on proper blogging. And hope my minions (oh, forget it) will join me here because they want to, and because they know that what they see here is what they get. Guilt and all.


Caprice Hokstad said...

You said: "Now I feel pressure to... make the blog so cool and interesting that people will flock to it and ultimately want to read my book."

I so relate to this and this is why I feel so inadaquate about blogging. It's NONFICTION, and I don't DO nonfiction. I can't think of very many worthwhile things to SAY and I don't seem to be attracting that flock of minions, no matter what I say or where I try to advertise it. The only people who read my blog are other writers and I suspect, deep down, that they probably just do it to be nice or to "keep up" with me, like people follow my lame updates on Facebook.

I'm not sure I'd dump mine if given permission, but it sure would be nice to find out it was more a "for fun", optional thing than a "marketing tool" whose main function is to make me feel more guilt.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Well, I read your blog--although I am a fellow writer and I do so to keep up with you--but you've written some blogs I've found very interesting. The two that pop out at me are the one on sharks and the one on bees.

Maybe that's a place to start--they were posts on something you felt passionate about, and that came across and made me really think. Don't worry about using the blog as a marketing tool--seems kinda pointless to do so if you are hating it and you feel it's not being effective anyway--so write about those things you feel passionate about.

It seems to me that if you reach a set of people who you connect with over *something* there is a chance that a certain percentage of them will end up being the type who like your books (and if they aren't, you have at least found some cool people with whom you share common ground). But if you're continuing to post about stuff you don't want to post about about and just trying to reach the same people over and over who aren't responding you won't get either readers or new friends.

That is what I intend to do. Focus more on being me, not on "marketing" other than trying to get into situations where I can be me.

Caprice Hokstad said...

ROFL I've had the blog for FIVE years and in that whole time, how many "passionate subjects" have I had occasion to write on? Three, maybe. (That's counting the "why?" series which is decidedly too "me-centered"). I also count the shark and the bee rants.

Yes, I would do more of those kinds of posts if and when I ever felt the passion, but once I have laid out my case and got it off my chest, I don't feel a great need to keep harping on it or beat the dead horse. I'm not anything close to an "expert" on either sharks or bees or any other subject on the planet that isn't already being well-covered (e.g. does the internet need yet ANOTHER blog on writing tips? Methinks not.), so I can't really offer a fount of knowledge. And therein lies the reason why my blog has very often sat empty (except for the occasional book review).

Even if I'm free to forget marketing (which I knew it wasn't helping) I STILL don't have much of anything to say.

Alan O said...

Hey, Kat

I had the same reactions as you describe here: Mike's list of symptoms was spot on and I've lived every one of them.

Ultimately, the thing that keeps me sane on this topic is a little essay hidden towards the end of "The Art of War for Writers" by James Scott Bell.

In his piece on social media, he argues that many selling authors do little or no social media marketing. Your primary marketing tool is a superior book. And if time spent blogging, twittering (tweeting?)FaceBooking, etc interferes with your primary job...writing quality fiction...then it's a bad Return on Investment.

Because, despite all the loud and confident opinions on the subject, I'm not sure *anyone* has proven (with data) that extensive social media usage is unquestionably correlated with a proportional increase in sales. Certainly not in the absence of a top quality product.

And I know what my own personal reaction is, when I stumble across an author who presents a stellar "face" in the promotional sense, but who can't write their way out of a paper bag.

Bell's philosophy is: Write the best possible book. Then, with whatever time you have left over, feel free to market using whatever methods fit you best.

Kat Heckenbach said...

Well said, Alan. If blogging and social networking impedes us from getting our writing done--and getting it done well--it's more of a hindrance than a help. And absolutely, a great online presence does nothing without a good book to back it up!

Thanks for the comments!

Caprice Hokstad said...

Alan, you say James Scott Bell's essay is in "The Art of War for Writers"? I believe I want to buy that book and quote it extensively.

FINALLY, someone with clout has said what I have always heavily suspected: blogging, tweeting, and facebooking are not effective marketing tools. Yes, you may pick up a reader or two here and there, but I really intensely DOUBT that the amount of time and frustration (thinking up "fresh" material) is worth the meager results. And even those who do well with it (and I bet it's the small minority) might find their time better spent writing more or better books.

No, I'm not giving up my facebook account. No, I'm not going to stop posting OCCASIONAL promotional status updates, but now I can finally stop feeling guilty for not constantly "selling myself" or trying to "garner attention". Thank you, Mr. Bell!