Why blogging is the opposite of writing

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Lots of writers blog – it’s almost part of the job description nowadays.

And it’s great.  blogging allows you experiment with ideas, interact with your audience and play with themes and thoughts that aren’t ready to become stories – or never will be.

Now, I’ve written in lots of different forms – novels, short books,screenplays, TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and non-fiction, and I’ve found that blogging requires almost exactly the opposite mindset from all other writing.

When you write a book, or a newspaper article, or a screenplay, you start by defining the voice of the piece, and its story.  You develop the narrative and plan how everything will pan out.  You decide ahead of time what the themes and subject matter will be.  Only after all that is decided do you put pen to paper and start writing.  Finally, you place your work in front of an audience and find out what they like or don’t like about it.

Blogging is the opposite – in a blog, you just write.  You’ve got an idea of what you want to say in a given post on a given day, but the themes, the narrative and the voice are not planned.

You don’t know where you’re going – you rely on your readers to tell you, and it’s the conversation with them that develops the story, and the themes, and even to some extent the voice of the blog.

Does anyone care about the recipes for ostrich in plum sauce I’ve posted? Or my dilemma over whether to sell my books in bricks and mortar bookshops?  Does anyone think my piece on the “top 5 children’s books that should never have been published” is funny?

Those are the questions that will define where this blog goes – and that makes blogging very different from writing a book.

The question I’m asking now, though is how I make those two mindsets compatible?  How do I go from the freedom of writing a blog post in the morning to the discipline of writing books in the afternoon?  Will one writing form infect the other?

If I knew, I’d tell you – but then if I knew, this would be a story, not a blog post.

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