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Schizo-Blog

So I got scolded by a writer friend because I blog too much. Of course, this is the same person who often bemoans not blogging enough. Such is the affliction of many novelists, a condition which I call Schizo-blog.

Do you have Schizo-blog? Here’s some of the symptoms:

  • 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 a week
  • You feel guilty prioritizing one over the other because with some creative management, or self-discipline, you should be able to do both

Please note that the common denominator of Shizo-blog is “Guilt”. Closely related to the guilt of Schizo-blog is the guilt you may be experiencing as you read this — because you probably should be writing. I haven’t found a name for that condition yet, but I suffer the symptoms as well.

Before I signed a two-book contract, it was not this complicated. Blogging was my platform, it helped me develop my writing chops, my brand, and connected me with lots of new people. The problem is that now I am on a deadline, and something’s gotta give. Yet when the options are arrayed — my spouse, my job, my church, and my blog — the blog always seems to get the shaft.

A long while back, an editor friend linked to this article. Freelance author, Sarah Hepola, pulled the plug on her blog and explained the reasons why:

At times, I started to feel that jokes and scenarios and turns of phrase were my capital, and that my capital was limited, and each blog entry was scattering more of it to the wind, pissing away precious dollars and cents in the form of punch lines I could never use again, not without feeling like a hack. You know: “How sad. She stole that line from her own blog.”

Blogging had been the ideal run-up to a novel, but it had also become a major distraction. I would sit down to start on my novel only to come up with five different blog entries. I thought of them as a little something-something to whet the palate because it was easier, more immediately satisfying, because I could write it, and post it, and people would say nice things about it, and I could go to bed feeling satisfied. But then I would wake feeling less than accomplished because a blog wasn’t a whole story told from beginning to end. I had shelves lined with other people’s prose while my best efforts were buried on a Web site somewhere, underneath a lot of blah-blah about American Idol and my kitty cat.

Unlike Ms. Hepola, I do not mind stealing punch lines from my own blog. However, the sense that my blog has become “a major distraction,” that I am “pissing away” great lines and creative flushes on posts that will be buried in long-forgotten archives, wasted on visitors who will leave me for the latest celebrity author, is a reality I cannot deny.

But there’s something else I can’t deny: Despite the demands it creates, blogging can really benefit an author. That’s the conclusion I reached in Blogs and Brands. A writer’s books support his blog, not vice-versa. Your blog does more to further your “brand” than your novels do. Of course, this shouldn’t diminish the necessity of a good book, but heighten the importance of a good blog.

Which makes me feel schizo.

Okay, so I have a confession:  I currently have 196 outlines in my blog Drafts folder. That’s right — one-hundred-and-ninety-six. You see, I enjoy blogging. It helps me process things. It allows me to vent. It lets me minister and encourage and inspire. And argue. It forces me to keep thinking, keep writing. It connects me with people I would never had had a chance to meet. And I could go on.

Yes, I am on a deadline. Yes, I feel like I’ve pissed away a few more precious hours of writing time. Yes, I feel guilty. But I don’t think I can stop.

My name is Mike Duran and I have Schizo-blog.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Jessica Thomas August 25, 2010, 6:55 AM

    You have how many outlines?? Heh heh.

    I’ve been thinking about this myself lately…does an author HAVE to have a blog? Because I haven’t decided if I enjoy blogging yet. It’s definitely a distraction. Not just from writing, but from everything. Then, when you pour your heart into a blog post and all you hear are crickets in return, it can be very disheartening.

    You obviously have a knack for blogging, for coming up with topics other writers find intriguing. I think you’ve got a good thing going here. Keep it up!

  • David James August 25, 2010, 8:20 AM

    Mike,

    I think you’ve described what a lot of writers feel whether they blog, go on Facebook, or just in general spend “more time than they need” on the Internet looking at things of interest to writing, instead of actually spending the time writing. Very articulate and obviously thought out. Good post. 🙂

  • Nicole August 25, 2010, 8:41 AM

    My name is Nicole. And I am a Schizo-blogger. It didn’t used to be this way, but before I knew it, I was an addict. At first it was fun, you know? Partying with the writing set. Buying an occasional round. Sitting out a few days recovering from the last par-tay. You know? But then, I just couldn’t live without it, you know? I didn’t want to be left out. I wanted to prove I could party with the best of them. I’m in over my head now. (Sniff). I can’t help myself.

    Oh, and by the way, Monday I’ll post an interview with top literary agent Chip MacGregor!

    Ahh, gee. See what I mean. I need help.

    • Mike Duran August 26, 2010, 5:17 AM

      That’s funny, Nicole. Perhaps we can start our own chapter. No electronic devices allowed.

      • Nicole August 26, 2010, 12:32 PM

        Will you be my sponsor? You being so far away and all . . . 😉

  • Donald S. Crankshaw August 25, 2010, 9:58 AM

    I know that feeling. I let my blog languish for a while to focus on my writing, and found that it hurt my blog more than it helped my writing. I’m trying to get back into it.

  • Jeff Chapman August 25, 2010, 12:20 PM

    Now I feel guilty for reading because I feel like I’m helping an addict further his addition. Another form of guilt. : )

    • Mike Duran August 26, 2010, 5:19 AM

      We have a name for people like you, Jeff — Enablers.

  • Jason Joyner August 25, 2010, 12:59 PM

    I, for one, am happy to enable you Mr. Duran!

    Thanks for putting a name to what many of us “pre-pub” writers face these days. For a little while I was thinking the blogging bit was running out of steam, and as said previously, stealing from my writing time.

    Today (it might change tomorrow) I feel like blogging is my warm-up to my exercise. I’m stretching so I’m ready to go when the muse calls.

    Nicole – hilarious!

  • Kevin Lucia August 25, 2010, 4:20 PM

    I think it’s a case by case thing. Some of the finest writers I know – writers I’ll never be able to touch in terms of craft – never blog, ever. Some of them blog every day.

    I think I’m going to disagree a little, Mike. I’m not sure how much blogging really helps. I think it CAN be a useful thing, but I think if the writing is what it needs to be, blogging doesn’t come into play as much, and as you said – it doesn’t diminish the necessity of a good book. If the writing/story isn’t there, then the blogging will be irrelevant.

    • Mike Duran August 26, 2010, 5:22 AM

      Kevin, I agree with you. However, I think that most of the authors who can successfully do without blogging are those who already have a platform, a fan base, and books in print. It’s us beginners who need to get our names out there.

  • Brenda August 25, 2010, 10:18 PM

    As Spock would say, “I grieve with thee.”

    I feel guilty for reading blogs and writing them. But I too have found a blog helps me sound things out for myself (albeit in public).

    The one thing that has this week begun to tame my blog habit—and this won’t make a bit of sense to you tech savvy folks–I just got my first laptop. Yep, I never used a laptop before now–my first time to get annoyed by that little square thing that serves as a mouse, never had my hand reaching for a ghost-of-a-non-mouse that isn’t there when I go to grab and click. Never before had to squint to read a little laptop screen before. So it’s reducing the amount of time I”m on the net. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ll take advantage of the slowdown while I can.

    Until guilt drives me back (like it did tonight) *-)

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller August 28, 2010, 10:32 AM

    My name is Rebecca LuElla Miller and I an a For-the-Joy-of-It Blogger. 😉

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