The Joy and Pain of Blogging and Writing
Everyone starts out blogging because it’s fun and they have something they want to say to the world. But after a bit, it’s easy to become obsessed with the wrong things like checking your Twitter following compulsively or watching your Google Analytics and wondering how you can get people to stick around for five seconds longer. Worse, a blog can become a serious burden when life encroaches on art and pressures you from all sides. When you just don’t have enough time to write, publishing a blog starts to compete with your actual writing or selling your writing. The two most important parts of writing are writing that story and selling that story. Blogging is about promoting that story.
Sometimes it’s just easier to write on your blog than it is to sit down and do the real work of writing. You know why? Because writing is hard. It’s lonely. Anyone who tells you different, just got out of the high of writing 200 pages of crap during NaNoWriMo. Don’t get me wrong, NaNoWriMo can work wonders for some people, but writing is not a month long process. It’s a 24/7 process. It consumes your life. Real writing is a slog, a marathon, never a sprint. There are moments of jubilation when you break through and come up with something fantastic and there are moments of intense pain when you just can’t put a sentence together, much less a story. Writing is a kind of insanity.
When your writing goes off the rails, as my current novel seems to have done, 300 pages in no less, it is a depressing experience. It’s hard to get motivated to do anything at all.
For me, blogging is generally pretty easy. I think up new articles with ease and writing them feels natural and straight forward, most of the time. But even blogging can feel like a strained process when you’re failing at writing. Writing stories is a different process. It requires planning, insight and a whole cascading series of steps that all build on each other. It’s like those long math problems you had in school that were 20 steps and if you got one part wrong, you got the rest of it wrong. Writing is cumulative. Screw up your premise and the rest of the story fails. Succeed at your premise and deliver a flat character and you’ve still failed. Any misstep brings the whole house of cards down. And when it happens you have to give it time. It’s like experiencing a death. You need time to morn. Sometimes this can be hard to face. It’s like getting into a fight with your lover. You need time away, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Few people can understand the psychological pain of not writing to a writer. When I can’t write, I feel sluggish and unmotivated. I do the minimum necessary to get by and nothing more. I look around the world and have to fight off visions of doom. I look around and I see the Euro threatening to collapse, massive protests at home and abroad with the worst possible result starting to shape up in Egypt’s elections, uprising across the Arab world, stupid and dangerously unconstitutional bills working their way through the Senate that allow indefinite detentions of American citizens, and I can’t help but think we are sweeping towards another depression and a world war. But the past is not the future. Nobody can see ahead, even sci-fi writers. Especially sci-fi writers. In the end, there is only one cure. Shake off the constantly shifting external world and get back to doing what is necessary. Sometimes you can’t crank out 200 pages in a month. But you have to force yourself to crank out a few sentences, or stare into the abyss of the blank page for as long as it takes for the Muse to return and ignite your mind again.