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.