On writing

How polished should the writing in our blog be?

People write blogs for different reasons.

As writers, I would say that some of the major reasons would be:

  • For writing practise
  • To maintain enthusiasm
  • To showcase our talent.

This last is important. Some agents (e.g. Miss Snark) mention that if they are interested in an author’s submission they will check out their web site. I know, as a reader, if I find a writer I like, the first thing I do is look up their web site on the internet.

Which leads to the question—how much should we polish what we put in there?

When we write novels they go through a few major drafts, plus numerous minor ones, and every draft is reviewed by both of us. We take time between the drafts. Yet this blog gets one draft and one revision, by the person who wrote it. Not only that, it is generally reviewed on the same day it is written, so there is not even the distance of time between the initial writing and the revision. I still find mistakes in earlier posts, months after I posted them.

What does that say about me (or about us, really) as a writer if you come to this site and see first draft material?

How much should we worry about what people see?

In an ideal world we would polish our blogs until they are as sparkling as our other writing (or at least, as sparkling as our other writing aspires to be), but for a basic return on investment, wouldn’t we be better polishing our novel instead?

Time we spend writing blogs is time we aren’t writing the novel.

It takes me around two hours to write a post and review it.

My aim was to post two articles a week each for this blog and two for my technical writing blog.

Four posts, eight hours.

That is eight hours per week of novel writing I have voluntarily given up. One full working day.

If I wrote novels for a living that might be reasonable time out, but it’s actually time out of the few precious fiction writing hours I can scrape out of a full working week and other life. It’s quite a sacrifice.

I’m not complaining, by the way, it’s my choice to do it. However, should I be worrying that anyone who visits our site sees writing that is not particularly polished, or are my priorities right?

I don’t know. I don’t know that I will ever know.

One thing is certain. The impact of your blog is not just in the writing. It’s also in the design. If your web site looks good then people are predisposed to think of you as a better writer, unless your writing is appalling.

I am no web designer, and I have come to the conclusion over the years that you don’t have to be a brilliant graphic artist to create a functional web site. You just have to be competent. You may not end up with the ‘wow’ factor (to quote that advertisement currently doing the rounds) but at least you end up with something that doesn’t prejudice people immediately.

I think writing a blog is a bit like that too.

While we would all like to put up dazzling prose, mostly it just has to be competent.

For those of us who write novels but are unpublished as yet, we’re far better off spending the extra time writing them, than polishing our blog posts to that final 10% brilliance.

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