Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Slow Blogging: Why It's Okay To Take A Step Back

Although I'm set to graduate with a BA in English and Creative Writing in little over a month I'm always eager to read, do or learn about anything that might make me a better writer.* And, as I was trawling the internet for writing related blogs and/or articles I stumbled across this article, by Anne R. Allen about the benefits of slow blogging.

Apparently slow blogging isn't what I usually do where I tap away at an article in between checking my Twitter, seeing how the stats for my blog are doing and generally screwing around on Youtube. Slow blogging is to the internet what Slow Food is to McDonald's. Before you ask, I'd never heard of it either. But I looked up their website for more details and it's actually a really cool concept, aimed at getting people to think about what they put into their bodies and how it's affecting them and the environment.

Allen describes slow bloggin as writing "a few thoughtful, well-researched posts a month rather than daily blabber". Which makes sense. Although I often wish my favourite bloggers would write more often, I follow them because I find what they have to say interesting, not because they say a lot. Not to mention that you have to get away from your keyboard and experience the world to actually have things to blog about.

It's a common complaint among the new generation of writers that they spend so much time online promoting their writing that they have no time or energy left to actually write. I thought it was a thing we just all had to live with. Anne Allen is the first person to actually tell me that it's okay: that you don't have to blog every day, that the way to get attention isn't just to scream into cyberspace and hope somebody hears, that it's okay to sacrifice quantity to quality. And it's a profound relief.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have written twenty-odd posts in a month if I didn't sincerely love entering into this dialogue with the internet but it takes time. Time I need to send out job applications and work out if I can fund an MA or MRes (like an MA but scarier sounding) next year, or wonder how I'm going to cram all the stuff I've accumulated into my parents' car. Time I need to write.

I recently read an article of quotes and writing advice from the late great Ray Bradbury (a man whose work I've sadly never read but am trawling libraries for**) one of which was: “I always say to students, give me four pages a day, every day. That’s three or four hundred thousand words a year. Most of that will be bilge, but the rest …? It will save your life!”

That seems to fly in the face of slow blogging but in a weird way it actually kind of confirms it. The way I see it, the way to be effective as a writer*** is to write and write and write all the time, be ready to cut your losses and admit that something isn't going anywhere when it isn't and to be ready to hack away and edit and revise and rewrite when it isn't yet but might. We all have those very few posts or poems or stories or scripts where everything was perfect in the first draft, where you only needed to make a few cosmetic changes before it was ready to print. I only know one writer who has a writing style like that and to my knowledge she hasn't written anything in a year. Perfect first drafts don't come along often but okay second drafts and good third drafts do.

At time of writing this blog has been running for a month. As of today I'm going to start limiting myself to regular weekly posts and put anything that can't wait on my (sorely neglected) Tumblr.

What do you think? How often do you update your blog (assuming you have one)? What do you look for in other peoples? Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcome.

*This should in no way reflect on degrees with a Creative Writing element: I am a hundred thousand times more knowledgeable, experienced and disciplined than I was when I started the course. It's just I'm not arrogant enough to think that I can't be better.

**I don't have money or space to buy more books right now, at least not if I'm going to a) get my stuff back home, and b) have money to come back.

***Obviously there si more than one way to be an effective writer as no two people are the same. This is just the only one I know. If you have an easier method I'd love to learn what it is.

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