Sunday, March 7, 2010

Op-Ed in the Head: The Dark Side of Blogging ...

"Blogging is a necessary evil..."

Lately I have been experiencing a catharsis (Which, according to psychoanalysis, pertains to the purging of the body by the use of a cathartic to stimulate evacuation of the bowels, which is not the catharsis I am speaking of), more accurately, it's the purging of emotional tensions; or still more accurately, a purifying or figurative cleansing of the emotions, especially pity and fear, described by Aristotle as an effect of tragic drama on its audience. I don't know what Aristotle was on about, but pity and fear have been dogging me the past few months like June bugs on a porch light; it's the book I fear won't get written, and the pity I feel about it. I've narrowed the problem down some: too much concentration focused on blogging, and not enough on the book.

I've been long neglecting the prose writing process, and haven't been giving it it's proper respect. Writing is a profession, a job, an art form, and that has to be respected, and that means putting in the time and work to get the words down, and to get things finished. I'm afraid I stretched myself a little thin by blogging too much, a sentiment that is rapidly going viral among the many writers I know.

Blogging is still a vital tool; it limbers up the mind, the fingers, the imagination and the creativity, but I've encountered "Prose Re-Lapse", the switching of gears between Op-Ed writing, which is in essence "free-style" composition, and "Prose" writing. As anyone knows, writing a blog post is relatively easy, you pick a topic and riff on it, like throwing your fate to the wind.

Try that with a novel! Unless you're Jack Kerouac, that's not happening.

There are indeed two sides to the writing brain; the journalistic side, and the authorial side, and never the twain shall meet. Writing a novel requires a different level of discipline; characters must be fleshed out, story arcs developed; prose must be considerably less journalistic and clipped. In other words, it takes practice, and the whole time you're blogging you are practicing the wrong thing.

I've found it to be a difficult transition, but maybe that's just me.

Some of you may find the swing between blogging and prose writing easy. Just don't fall into the trap; after blogging for a while you may feel that writing a book is just as easy; it's not.

There is also a time factor involved; while I love blogging, I should be writing chapters for my book instead, and blogging too much just stops that flow. Ultimately, finishing the book will benefit me more in the long run. Priorities.

Blogging is a necessary evil; it's still an integral part of a writer's skill-set. It should not be abolished completely. Balance is the key; if you have a good flow of words happening on your manuscript and time isn't an issue, blog till your heart's content. Remember though, the book is the master, it may deliver you from obscurity, from poverty, from a creative abyss, or from having the title "blogger" permanently tattooed on your ass.

That said, I still love my blog. I love all my readers, and I love the interaction with them. I don't plan on abandoning this site anytime soon; it's just a shift in perspective. Please don't think I've become anti-blog or anything!

So, what's new? I have chosen to whittle down the bunch of blogs I have accumulated, and concentrate on the Writer's Den. New features include a poetry page called Den Poetica, where you can find an assortment of poetry (requests are welcome), and a page called "Lit Bits" which features historical bits of info on literature and famous writers. This week spotlights Jack Kerouac, that reluctant Canadian cum Beatnik, and a story about the Poe Toaster, the mysterious person who leaves a bottle of Cognac and a rose on the grave of Edgar Allen Poe every year on the anniversary of his death.

Keep scribbling!

- David Hunter

Related Posts -

The Art of Not Doing: By Jessica Maybury at her wonderful blog Perfect Fourth

The wonderful Samantha Hunter, her blog "Life's a Beach", and her post "The New Acronym: JOTF"


  1. I think it's because blogs, FB, Twitter, etc are social -- there are people to talk to who will talk back -- and when we're facing a page we're usually there alone.

    But not entirely -- I think about the writing being seen by my editors, my agent, my readers, and so there are people on the other side, and they will "write back" eventually, when they read it. But it can be very lonely at the time.

    Still, JOTF is the best route. If you think about it for too long it gets too big. Better to just dig in.

    FWIW, Sam

  2. I think you may be right. Blogging, Tweeting, it's all very immediate. An instant gratification not easily found in the lonely art of novel writing. It makes the transition to prose very difficult..

    Thanks for your comments, they are appreciated.

    (Just Open the File and Just Dig in)

  3. blogs and facebooking tend to eat up writing time.
    But the advantages outweigh the obvious drawbacks

  4. To blog or not to blog? That is the question. And I think you've found the answer. We just need to cut back. So simple, yet it's so hard to push away from the Internet. :)

  5. I like your suggestion -- still blog, but keep the priorities straight. Thanks for telling me something I needed to hear today!

  6. In the end we always do what's easiest; work on a blog post instead of working on the book.

    The manuscript must be king! Or else we'll end up Paupers!

    Thanks for the comments..

  7. I agree with Samantha; perhaps my lack of writing has been because I'm afraid to be alone before the blank page.

    I blogged on a similar topic at, and referenced you because you made some good points. Glad I found you!

  8. Thanks Jessica. I posted your link under "Related Posts" at the end of my piece.

    Glad you found me too!

    - David


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