Everybody’s Doing It
October 25, 2016 § 22 Comments
More accurately, as Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) puts it,
The only thing that’s dead is the possibility of making a million bucks on blogging, which honestly never existed as an attainable goal for any of us in the first place. If you’re blogging to make a million dollars you should probably switch to something more lucrative, like…I dunno…making a sex tape. But not with a dead person. I’ve been very clear on this, y’all.
(go read the whole post, I promise those last two sentences make total sense in context)
None of us are going to make any money blogging, unless our blog is part of a global, social-media-exploiting, traffic-driving, email-collecting, drip-campaigning, algorithmic, Twitter-metric, SEO-conscious plan. And in that case, we wouldn’t actually be writing very much, because all our time would be spent driving clicks.
Years ago I kept an old-school Blogger blog. I wrote 3-5 days a week for two years. I linked to other bloggers and participated in “blog carnivals,” which is how we shared links to stuff we enjoyed reading, back when Facebook still insisted on an “is” at the beginning of your status and Twitter didn’t exist. I posted regularly enough that if I missed more than a couple of days in a row, readers emailed to ask if I was sick.
That’s the first value of blogging. Connecting with your audience, and with other writers. Not “building platform,” although that’s a nice side effect, but genuinely interacting with people who care about what you say, and finding out what they care about. To learn what you, as a person with the ability to write, should be examining about yourself and putting into the world on behalf of every reader who has the same story and needs to tell it, but doesn’t have the words, or the bravery (yet). Jenny Lawson’s vivid, hilarious, brutal posts about depression got her a book deal, yes, but she also let thousands of readers know they weren’t alone, that they were allowed to tell what they were experiencing, too.
Blogging taught me to put out work regularly without being precious about it. I blog here for Brevity most Tuesdays and Thursdays (sometimes I’m sick). I keep a list of topics to write about, scribble down ideas when I have a great conversation about writing in person or on Facebook, copy-paste when I get over-explain-y about writing in an email and think, this could just be a blog post and I’ll send them the link. There are still mornings I wake up without the faintest idea of what to write. There isn’t time to wait for inspiration–as it is, I’m daily thankful I live 8 time zones ahead, so I have my morning to figure out a topic before the Brevity HQ’s 7AM. Sometimes I look at the literary news and see if there’s another essay to respond to. Sometimes I remember the theatre director Anne Bogart saying,
If what’s on stage in rehearsal isn’t working, I shout ‘Stop!’ Often I have no idea how to fix it, but I always sit in the very back of the house, and by the time I’ve walked all the way down the aisle to the stage, I’ve usually figured out where to start.
Then I open the New Post window and hope my fingers will figure out where to start. There isn’t time to agonize over every word–thankfully, readers don’t have the same literary expectations of a blog as they do a book. A blog post should be the best we can do, but it’s just as important to get it out there on time. Blogging regularly increases your speed, and your ability to turn an idea into words by force of will, whether ‘inspiration’ has graced you that day or not. Blogging doesn’t replace long, slow, thoughtful pieces that coalesce from many drafts, but it keeps us in the habit.
Blogging gives us something to share on social media. We contribute positively to our civilization by sharing an idea instead of a meme, starting a discussion about a book we liked or an essay we read or an experience we’ve had. It lightens the heart to care passionately about a subject that might stir disagreement but is unlikely to dredge up hatred.
You might like Medium, or Tumblr, where Roxane Gay keeps her blog, or a curated site like The Manifest-Station, which is a little more like submitting to a literary magazine. You might like to write long posts on Facebook, like sex-icon/disability activist Erin Clark. I use Instagram as a place to post micro-essays, because carefully crafting words for 20 minutes in an airport lounge makes me feel like yes, I wrote today, and the little hearts popping up on my phone remind me, someone’s listening. Someone likes my words. I should keep doing this.
Allison K Williams is Brevity’s Social Media Editor and the author of Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book. Want writing news, events, and upcoming webinars? Join the A-List!
Tagged: anne bogart, beyonce, blogging, erin clark, jenny lawson, Roxane Gay, Social Media, the bloggess, writing
I’ve been blogging regularly for a year now, and I love it. I don’t have a book to blog about, or to promote and market. I don’t even have a lot of followers. It’s just a fitting venue for me to write in, a way to connect with other writers, keeps me writing, and holds me accountable. I’ll never make money off of it and it will never make me famous. It’s just part of my writing routine, one that I enjoy, and I’ll never give it up if I can help it. Thanks for confirming my decision to keep blogging!
That sounds like a perfect way to stay in touch with your writing! You’re welcome 🙂
Reblogged this on Her Headache and commented:
A wonderful reminder of why I do this.
Thanks for the reminder. I often drop my blog for weeks (sometimes months). When I show up to write I don’t usually have to much trouble coming up with something to write about. Will you be joining us for NaNo this year?
In the sense that I’m finishing two books, yes 🙂 But I don’t have it in me to start one from scratch this year!
Thanks for sharing this thought provoking post. I’ll admit, my blogging comes in spurts, but when I’m in the groove, it feels wonderful to share my words. @sheilamgood at Cow Pasture Chronicles
[…] fellow bloggers, you’ll love Allison K. William’s post over on Brevity today, Everybody’s Doing It. I’m going to let her post speak for me tonight because I’ve been writing all evening […]
Really appreciate this pitch for blogging. I’ve lately been semi-obsessed with the way it has changed for me. When I started out (2010) I feel like there was still more energy to the blogging world, or maybe just *my* blogging world, with regular commenters and followers and conversations. Since then I dropped off largely, and although I still do write, so many followers have (naturally enough) dropped off. Some say if I posted on FB they would read it, but without that, they can’t remember to. For a while this was gnawing at me, irking me, like Jesus, all these people who ask me what I’m up to and say they want to reconnect, the least they could do would be to read my blog. But now I am enjoying that quiet space, away from social media world. Anyway, you’ve given me a lot to think about. Thanks.
There was definitely more personal energy in the blogging world a few years ago – now it seems like a lot of blogs are more marketing-driven. I’ve had good luck with posting links to my blog posts on FB, and I do find people either comment on FB or I find out later that they went over and read it. But I also took FB off my phone and have cut my visits there down to once a day 🙂
Thank you for this! I needed this encouragement. My little notification that you have posted here on Brevity makes me smile. I find all your posts very helpful and real!
I’m so happy that you wrote this and that I read it! Like some of the writers above, I’ve been blogging for a couple of years, but in spurts. I’m trying to commit to 3 times a week now. Like you, if I don’t have a burning topic in mind, I just write. But I am going to make a lot of money….kidding 🙂
I have a question, though. When submitting at any literary site or publication, does previously publishing on my WordPress site “count” as publishing? Many sites say they will not accept previously published material. I don’t know if my personal blog is considered in the category of “previously published.”
Thank you for this great article.
That’s a great question, and yes and no – I actually wrote about this in Get Published In Literary Magazines (the book linked from my bio). Basically, yes, most publications consider something ‘published’ even on a personal blog.
1) Morally, if you have a tiny reading audience (and most of us do), switch your post to “private” or delete it (BEFORE submitting) and you’re almost always fine.
2) Ethically, do enough revising that if your post pops up in the Wayback Machine or someone connected to the publication did see it, you can describe that post as “an earlier draft.”
Thank you! And I’m getting your book 😃 Thanks again, and I look forward to reading more of your Brevity work.
[…] takes away the sting is work. Putting my head down, tapping out words, showing up to the blog, showing up to the page. Showing up for the writers I edit/advise/coach, reminding them it really […]
“Blogging taught me to put out work regularly without being too precious about it.” You’ve captured how I feel about blogging and one of the reasons I do it. Some of my blogs are definitely better than others, but when a blog’s due, I suck it up and put it out there, even if it’s imperfect. I like the discipline of blogging and love the real connections I make. Thanks for reaffirming the value of blogging!
Excellent article, too many people think blogging is over and it’s great to read your point of view here. I’ve been blogging regularly for ten years or so and still have lots of readers and lots of reader interaction. Some loyal readers have been with me for the whole ten years!
[…] “Everybody’s Doing It” by Allison K Williams from BREVITY’S Nonfiction Blog […]
[…] Everybody’s Doing It […]
[…] here’s the thing: Blogging – Everybody’s Doing It, at least according to Brevity […]
I’m a new blogger and have just recently started my blog, this post was very useful for me as I understood the richer meanings behind blogging! 🙂
Also I thought that what my blog is about may come off as too cheesy or whatever but it’s one of the things I’m greatly passionate about, my relationship with my boyfriend and our experiences that have taken place and that are yet to come so thank you for confirming that no matter what it is that you want to blog about, just go ahead and don’t hesitate!