Blogger’s brain, a writer’s dilemma?

I used to have writer’s brain, that tendency to cast every experience into a scene in some as-yet-begun novel or short story. Now this has suddenly, to my dismay, become displaced by blogger’s brain: a similar, displacing tendency to cast every experience into an as-yet-written blog post.

Like other writers, I started blogging about a year and a half ago because I wanted to connect with readers and other writers who share my interests. The wisdom nowadays is that you need to do this. You need a website, and you need a blog, not necessarily in that order. So I started blogging. It was a learning curve, but they were right: after a while, I began connecting with others who (like me) enjoy writing and reading and fairy tales and fantasy, with a bit of sci-fi in the mix. That has been the good part.

The downside is that it was a learning curve. You have to learn to write for a blog. It isn’t like writing in other venues, including (most dismaying) fiction. Oh, to be sure, I have written a few sketches of a creative sort; normally what they call “creative non-fiction,” short and essay-like, strong on imagery, exercises in the craft. These I have enjoyed. And then there are the sorts of life-chronicling bits, sometimes (as with this post) with a writing-craft angle because that’s where my interest lies. But the writing style of blog posts is something you have to find your way into. And part of how you do that is by reading other peoples’ blogs, and writing a lot of drafts.

In the last year and a half, I’ve written over 44,000 words of blog-copy. Not all of that has made its way onto the blog itself; but most of it probably has. That’s a Middle Grade novel’s worth of writing (that I didn’t do, even though I have an idea sitting in the hopper, with a few pages done).

I have no record of how much blogging I have read. At least once or twice a week, I’ve often spent an entire evening reading blog posts. This isn’t a waste of time, don’t get me wrong. It’s a bit like sitting down with friends and listening as they tell you what’s on their mind, what they’ve been reading about, what dreams are stirring in their souls, or what their pet-peeves are. Before this year, I haven’t done as much of that since I left college. The difference being that I actually knew (saw, spoke to) those college friends and, oh also, that I had a lot more time back then. I don’t know why, but it’s true: in college, you just have a lot more time to swap ideas and thoughts. At least I did, even though I worked part time and was good about doing (most of) my coursework.

What I’m driving at is simply this: a lot more of my mental space has been co-opted by blogging than I expected, and I’m feeling a certain dismay (third time!) about it. I don’t feel especially good about the fact that my lawn-mowing alone-time today was wrapped up in this and another (potential, as-yet-unwritten) blog-post. It could be just that I now have an outlet for thoughts I used to keep mostly to myself. No doubt that’s part of it. But, on the other hand, it’s also true that I have trained my brain to look out for blogging topics. Your brain, you know, is sometimes a (dismayingly) obedient thing.

If I’m a writer who blogs, the blogging is supposed to serve the writing. Not displace it. (Writing) Time is too valuable to give it over to something secondary–even if that secondary thing is fun and interesting.

Once upon a time, my brain was on the look-out for story ideas. And I’d write those ideas, too. I remember those days. I miss them. I want my writer’s brain back.

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4 thoughts on “Blogger’s brain, a writer’s dilemma?

  1. Very interesting perspective on this! I started my blog about the same time and the exact same reasons but I don’t find quite the same issues with it. Blogging seems very connected with my writing aspirations, and provides a place to share some of the insights and frustrations of the business with other like-minded folks. Plus, so far, they don’t seem to be stealing “cycles” from each other, although I do let my posts slack off in periods where I’m very busy with writing and vice versa.

    However, I do find a similar issue, just not with blogging: I can’t really referee D&D any more, at least not they way I like to ref which is spending months on a campaign premise and then 5-10 hours prep’ing each session. The D&D creative muse is the same as my writing muse; and if I have to chose one over the other, it’s clearly writing. (But having some amount of blogging-on-the-brain, I do intend a near term post on this 🙂

    I’m guessing writer’s creative processes do overlap with other tasks. For such overlapped tasks, doing one takes away from doing the other. For you it might be writing/blogging, for me writing/D&D-ref’ing. But just a gut feel.

    • Interesting. I can see how those two would overlap for you. I like the notion of “overlap,” too, by the way. I think because I write some non-fiction and also I tend to absorb various experiences, which then become part of my story-characters’ worlds, I’m experiencing a drain in my creativity from some of the blogging.
      Plus, another factor is time, for me. Given an evening or an afternoon free, I can only usually write one or the other. (I imagine the D&D could be a time issue for you, too.)
      This post, in some ways, is a kind of self-realization, honesty check for me, I guess.
      Anyway, thanks for the feedback.

      • There is a time factor on D&D but the real problem for me is that, the why I ref, I spend hours thinking up a situation and characters. That’s the same “think time” I use to puzzle out scenes or what not in fiction. If it was just a matter of raw time in the day, I really would have enough time to do both. It’s more I only have so much creative time in one day and I had it really hard to split it between two tasks.

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