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The Blogging Habit: How It Affects Your Writing

Blogging is a powerful writing habit to develop. With time, repetition and regular practice you’ll find that:

  • Your creative mind generates new material, day after day, week after week
  • New ideas for posts will pop, unbid, into your mind, asking to be written up and shared
  • You notice words, images, resources, ideas that you can use as quarry for posts
  • The feedback, responses and comments from readers help you to develop new material to share
  • You develop ideas in response to the material you read on other blogs
  • It’s easy and quick to generate new material
  • It becomes easy, enjoyable even, to share your written work in public, online

Fast Fingers by KatieKrueger on Flickr Or… Blogging can be a dangerous habit for writers to develop. With time, repetition and regular practice you’ll find that:

  • Your creative mind generates new material, day after day, week after week… squeezing out the room for other types of writing
  • New ideas for posts will pop, unbid, into your mind, asking to be written up and shared…reducing the creative energy you have for other pieces of work
  • You notice words, images, resources, ideas that you can use as quarry for posts… rather than articles, stories, books you want to write
  • The feedback, responses and comments from readers help you to develp new material to share… in the format you’re used to sharing it, rather than testing out new boundaries
  • You develop ideas in response to the material you read on other blogs… and risk getting overwhelmed with the constant seduction of the new
  • It’s easy and quick to generate new material… hard to write slowly again, in longer, more thoughtful form
  • It becomes easy, enjoyable even, to share your written work in public, online… creating a comfort zone, which can keep you stuck, and comfortable

Blogging can help you to find your writing voice.

Give you the confidence to test and develop new ideas.

Blogging might well give the inspiration for a new project: a business idea you want to develop or a book you want to write.

But does it also give you the freedom to head off and explore those new opportunities?

To test, develop and apply that new found writing confidence?

Comments are welcome, please! Is blogging a writing habit that you want to cultivate and develop? Can you see any risks or threats to your writing from the blogging habit?

Are there ways that we can learn to capture the best of what’s good, and avoid the risks of over blogging?

Photo Credit: Fast Fingers by KatieKrueger on Flickr

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Comments

  1. David Garcia says:

    I’ve discovered that the same thing can happen with Twitter-or any other kind of writing that we engage in a lot. It becomes easier to develop that kind of content, but easier to push others to the side.

    While I’m still working on the solution, I’m making a conscious effort to rotate writing styles more: some Twitter, some blog, some articles, some journal, some fiction, etc. Keep stretching!

    David Garcias last blog post..Back to blogging–soon!

  2. Ulla Hennig
    Twitter: ullahe
    says:

    Joanna,
    you describe blogging more or less as an easy, quick way of writing. That’s not my experience (well, most of the time, there are exceptions). For me, it takes some time to develop a piece, and then to write it down, and sometimes it ends in an other way than I originally planned it to be.
    I am experimenting with different forms and I am considering having a fiction post once a month or so. So blogging gives me the freedom to head off and explore new opportunities and to test, develop and apply a new found writing confidence. However, I can only speak for myself here - and maybe things will change in a few months…

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..Walking back from the Mountaintop Or: The Powers of Nature

  3. Jen says:

    I find that my mind-sets when I write fiction and when I write my blog are so different that they don’t bother each other at all. And since I’m so much more invested in my fiction and enjoy fiction writing so much more, there’s never a real choice: that’s where all my good brainpower goes. But I have known people who haven’t quite built up their writing habits and their energy can leak into blogging and away from everything else. Maybe that’s it: you need habits already that you aren’t going to break.

    Thought-provoking post!

    Jens last blog post..Quantum narratives

  4. Brad Shorr says:

    Sometimes I feel like I’m in a groove when every idea falls into place - this one is good for blog A, that one is good for blog B, this one is good for an article, etc. Other times ideas seem to fit everywhere or nowhere. For me it comes down to cultivating clarity of purpose. From time to time I must go back to square one and ask, why am I writing this blog? What is the purpose, what is the value? The answers change, but that’s OK, I think.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..How to Prepare Yourself for Launching a Business Blog

  5. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome says:

    I love this comparison of good and bad habits. I’m big on the blogging, etc… squeezing out the creative thoughts, but I’m working on a system for them to share the schedule. ;)

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Help Me Cure Someday Syndrome: the Someday-Busting Affiliate Program

  6. --Deb says:

    Interesting point, Joanna! There really is a dichotomy in the way regular blogging can affect your other writing, both good AND bad, but who ever points that out? Well … you do! Love that.

    -Debs last blog post..How NOT to Get Your Novel Published

  7. Lori Hoeck says:

    Blogging, like self exploration and personal growth, changes over time. Sometimes we get in ruts; sometimes we jump forward with creativity and drive. As I start blogging again, the main thought I want to have in mind is Gratitude. That has been the best balancing factor I’ve found in blogging. It opens the mind, heart, and writing naturally to move forward in healthier directions.

    Lori Hoecks last blog post..Defense Against the Dark Hearts

  8. Robert Hruzek says:

    I know exactly what you mean, Joanna. I’m startin’ to feel the dichotomy myself - especially as more and more projects begin to materialized out of the murky gloom within my poor, overworked brain.

    I don’t really want to give up on any of ‘em, though, so the only solution is to work out a means to accomplish them all, right? Now, how to do that… (scratches head…)

    Robert Hruzeks last blog post..Oh, the Places I’ve Been

  9. Anne Wayman says:

    hmmm, dunno, not sure… probably because this morning I realized I really do need a vacation! Like Robert I’ve got writing projects to do. And I’ve set a two-posts a day except Saturday goal for my blog about freelance writing.

    Of course, I’ve also missed my workouts for two weeks, and that always makes me sluggish, and one of my cats is moving today from my house to another, which is the kind of good news that makes me sad if you know what I mean.

    And finally, San Diego is experiencing June gloom a bit early - and I always function better with sunshine…

    Self-knowledge? I guess so, and I will get everything done that really needs to be done, maybe not quite when I planned it.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    Anne Waymans last blog post..Freelance Writing Jobs Friday May 29, 2009

  10. Sean McRoy says:

    I have done structured text before, creative story telling, and many other forms of slow, processed, outlined and directed writing. Bloggin’ is a release in a lot of ways.

    If I wanted to site down and just write a post about the lunch I just had…. I could.

    It is the freedom of the endless expanse that can be covered … or not be covered. You choose what to write and how to write it.

    P.S. Do you ever find that even while writing a Blog post your brain is picking keywords out to be used as other posts to be linked to? I have MS Notepad up when I am writing cause I consistently get brainstorms.

    Sean McRoys last blog post..Billy Gillispie sues University of Kentucky

  11. Chris says:

    Blogging has been both constructive and distracting for me. Your points and questions are excellent. I often allow blogging to consume too much time and at the end of the day regret not working on a more meaningful project… one that might actually pay.

    I personally need to be disciplined about time management and priorities. This post came at the perfect time for me. Thank you.

    Chriss last blog post..Stubbed Toe

  12. Julie - Inspired to Write says:

    This is a good post for me because I have been neglecting my other writing - you know the ones that earn me money - to write more in my blog - the one that earns me NO money. I guess, I find it the least amount of actual “work” in my mind, whereas articles can be a little more difficult. However, it is something I need to get back to! Thanks!

    Julie - Inspired to Writes last blog post..13 Ways to Find Inspiration During Stessful Times

  13. Via Geoffrey Philp « Professor Zero says:

    [...] Geoffrey Philp Jump to Comments The blogging habit. This is really good. I am still on strike, but it does not mean I cannot repost important things [...]

  14. wilson says:

    Joanna, before I entered the blogging world, I’ve settled up several rules for myself here (And, I’m not tend to break the rules, no matter what’s happened on me):

    Rule No.1
    Never ever try to engage myself into the political issues, as this is a very sensitive topics, where we might get in trouble anytime!

    Rule No.2
    Stay away from all those porn related stuffs, as it’s not good to talk about it on the website/blog.

    Rule No.3
    Try to be friendly with our readers, but no to compromise with those that threaten us for doing something that against our wills.

    Here’s the “Wilson’s three blogging rules”. Luckily, I didn’t break it until now…lol

    wilsons last blog post..Lotions Are Not Too Good For Newborn Babies!

  15. Lillie Ammann says:

    Joanna,

    You always make us think. Blogging is a chance for me to write for myself rather than for clients. I enjoy the freedom to write about what I want when I want (though I try to post about three times a week).

    However, finding time for working on my novel is a challenge. I don’t know if I can blame it on blogging or if it’s just that I’m still in the thinking stage, not quite ready to put words on the page yet. But it’s beginning to come together in my mind, and I’ll be ready to start writing soon. We’ll see what that does to my blogging.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Comments, Spam, and Comment Spam

  16. Olivia Mitchell says:

    Hi Joanna

    I can relate to this. I love writing on my blog - just having the wordpress edit screen in front of me seems to work. But I also want to be writing an ebook - which I’m writing in Word at the moment and struggling with. I’m wondering whether I should write it in chunks using the WordPress editor just to help get the juices going! Olivia

    Olivia Mitchells last blog post..New survey: How people are using Twitter at conferences

  17. Naoko says:

    This subject made me laugh, because I just wrote on my Twitter that not writing for a few days in any capacity (including work- in between my night classes and falling sick for the past few days, I barely had enough energy and creativity for work, much less my own writing) made me itch to write.

    I’ve been blogging for the past 4 years, and in that time, I’ve found developing my own fiction writing in a completely separate context from my blog tends to help my writing for both fields.

    The only thing I need to lookout for is the possibility of being burnt out, and unfortunately, I think I’m rather close to that now.

    Naokos last blog post..[Geekiness] Track Revisions/Changes in Open Office From MS Office Docs

  18. Tumblemoose says:

    Joanna,

    Well I just have to say that this is one of the most thought-provoking posts I’ve seen in a great while.

    I think a successful writer can find a happy middle ground where their efforts are spread across the different writing arenas available. If they pay attention, that can use the skills that they develop in one area to bolster their writing in other areas. The key is to be careful and not get stuck in one particular rut.

    This is where the journaling of ideas can be a very valuable tool. Ideas for posts, fiction writing and possible non-fiction books come to me all the time. Having a journal allows me to get the basic idea down and at a later time I’m able to sit down and cogitate on the ideas and make decisions on their validity and the appropriate format.

    Cheers

    George

    Tumblemooses last blog post..Community expansion challenge

  19. Catherine Franz says:

    Blogs can also be a distraction from where you really need to be focusing. As well as each up your time and energy so there’s not enough left for the other things you want to write.

    Catherine Franzs last blog post..Hourly Rate Calculator

  20. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    David hello and thanks for joining in. It does seem so easy to push other forms of writing to the side, doesn’t it? I also think that rotation will work, but it needs to be scheduled with some discipline to start a chance of sticking (for this particular blogger anyway)

    Ulla you’re right, I’m probably describing the way I blog, which I admit won’t be the same for everyone. Your approach sounds a good deal more thoughtful ;-) I love the way you have and continue to experiment on your blog, it is an inspiration to many

    Jen hi, and thanks for such a thoughtful response. I think you have hit on something there - it depends on the habits we already have. For many of us blogging is a first step into some writing waters, and we might find we want to write more as a result of blogging… we then need to carve out the time and space to build up that different writing habit, and make sure it’s well ingrained… I’m thinking aloud here, partly because this post is (of course) aimed at trying to work out the solution for myself :-)

  21. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Brad going back to the purpose and value are always good questions to ask, and a sound way to question and challenge our own habits. I love the way you’ve developed and stretched into what you teach us at WordSell, you too are a blogging inspiration to many :-)

    Alex that’s where I get a bit stuck too. I think some of your systems and schedules might be just what the doctor ordered for this particular patient too ;-)

    -Deb why thank you, I’m going to take that as a compliment cos I do love to be different :-)

  22. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Lori you’re right, these are things that change over time and that’s probably where some of this questioning about the good / bad habit comes from. I’m very interested in how gratituded might provide the healthy way through… I’m going to mull over that one, thank you.

    Robert yes, I can see that as you put more into MZM other things start to spin out of it, including new writing opportunities and business ideas. It can be a challenge to find the time and energy to work our way through, without losing the opportunities or the ‘home’ that allowed us to create them in the first place… but I do think there is a solution that will allow us to achieve if not all, then those that matter (coming back to Brad’s point about values)

    Ann thanks for taking the time out from articles, June gloom and cat moving to share a few words here :-) I hope the sharing helped to give a little bit of breathing space…. There’s no magic answers, but knowing how and when to take some time out is surely part of the equation.

  23. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Sean sounds like bloggin’ is a good habit for you just now :-) I don’t think I’ve had that particular brain sensation before, though I have had many sleepless nights with my brain dreaming up brilliant ideas for new posts just when I was ready to go to sleep… :-)

    Chris hi and thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you found the post useful. I feel a bit like you that I allow blogging to consume too much time and it’s useful to find out from others how they manage to get a balance that works for them. Good luck with your future time management :-)

    Julie well if the post has helped inspire you to go off and make money that can only be a good thing :-) I’m glad you found it useful and that it came at a good time for you.

  24. Davina says:

    Hi Joanna. This is Oh So True. Your mention that “our creative mind generates new material, day after day, week after week” is comforting, but on the other hand I have experienced the pull of blogging away from that writing project we discussed. It IS very time-consuming and I agree that somehow a balance has to be found, because writing and blogging can feed each other nicely, when they coexist with synergy.

    Davinas last blog post..Mindful Melancholy

  25. Bavardess says:

    You raise some good points, a number of which I have thought about a bit in the last couple of months (e.g. am I spending too much time blogging instead of on ‘real’ work?).
    I’m a graduate student in history, so I spend a lot of time writing within fairly strict constraints. For me, blogging is a less structured way to explore ideas and make connections. I think of it as a kind of free writing exercise that helps my academic writing flow more smoothly. I also used to be a journalist, so in a way, it’s a chance to re-connect with that more immediate style of writing.

  26. Paul says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Your blog is always such a great conversation! The posts and comments combine to offer a multitude of perspectives and I always end up with a better understanding my own thoughts, opinions & feelings on the subject in question.

    Blogging has got in the way of bigger priorities for me at times but I have found that it always gives back without fail too. For me there is something very comforting about the consistency blogging reveals in our character :)

    All my best,

    Paul

    Pauls last blog post..Career Heroes

  27. Dwayne Phillips says:

    I go with the good as blogging is writing and writers should be writing. Don’t, however, let a blog keep you from writing that novel or whatever it is you depend on.

  28. Jamie Grove - How Not To Write says:

    I believe that any form of writing, if practiced long enough, will some how cause major disruptions in some other form of writing. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on the writer. It may be that a writer who believes they are destined to write fiction is really meant for some other practice. They struggle to write fiction for years and then stumble on the blog (which at it’s best is a form of personal essay). After awhile of working with this form, they try to return to fiction and find that they are unable to generate the necessary mental framework to write fiction.

    This can be frustrating.

    Not that I know personally or anything…. :)

    Jamie Grove - How Not To Writes last blog post..Your Favorite Word Games

  29. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Davina it’s hard, isn’t it, when we find ourselves being pulled away from projects that mean a great deal, and have the potential to make a big difference. I think that does give us cause to review our habits and see what adjustments need to be made. Like you though, I do think synergy can be found… we just need to set the intention to find it, and keep adjusting it as and when circumstances change

    Bavardess I know what you mean - the style and tone of blogging can be a great antidote to or relief from more structured or formal writing. I think when I first came into I was still shaking off the confines of my former civil service style. Perhaps now I’m adjusting a bit to the informality and lack of structure…;-) There are probably no absolute answers here, just what works for us, and what matches our purpose and intention. Good luck in working out your own answers

    Paul blogging does give back… or at least, the people who write the blogs give a lot back. I wonder if some of the dynamic has changed though with the advent of Twitter? We get a lot of the learning, connection and conversation through that more immediate medium. Of course though, that wouldn’t give us much credit in the consistency of character stakes…

  30. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Dwayne I like the clarity of your response. Blogging is writing, therefore writers should be writing… I wonder though (still) how we keep on top of it so the blog / writing doesn’t get on top of other forms, especially when it is (for so many people) very addictive. Perhaps it’s all a question of balance?

    Jamie thanks for those perspectives. Interesting that you see writers as being ‘meant for’ a particular writing style or form… Do you mean that the fiction writer in this case has been rescued by blogging rather than waylaid by it, because they were never going to be brilliant fiction writer anyway?

  31. Emma Newman
    Twitter: emapocalyptic
    says:

    I just wanted to say that I read this on the day you published it and I am *still* thinking about it! Nothing succinct for me to say yet - this has created a roiling mass of thoughts that refuse to be teased out into something sensible.

    Emma Newmans last blog post..Confession

  32. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Emma gosh, I’m not sure if this is positive feedback or not… sorry for the roiling mass of thoughts… but maybe glad to help you reflect. I’m still turning it over too.

  33. carla | green and chic says:

    I think for me, its too easy to get caught in a tape loop of not evolving or switching thing around on my main blog. I feel like I need to come up with new and more diverse subject matters. I just find it difficult in the particular niche I’m in.

    carla | green and chics last blog post..Make Green the New Wedding Color

  34. Emma Newman
    Twitter: emapocalyptic
    says:

    It’s most definitely positive - the best posts haunt me :) I just wanted to let you know that I’d found it so thought provoking.

    Emma Newmans last blog post..Confession

  35. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Carla I suspect that might be a more general feeling and not just your niche - after a while you think you’ve said it all before, and can’t imagine constantly being able to thinki of new things to say. Is there a way to change the voice at all, perhaps so there’s some material that’s a little more personal - that way you could always find new content, because (as a human being) you’d constantly be learning and discovering new things…

  36. carla | green and chic says:

    @Joanna - After reading your response, just remembered when I change my routine a bit, it helps me with new ideas for my blog. Nothing big, just a simple change in my daily routine (that can get pretty repetitive at times) can help get the juices flowing in my brain!

    carla | green and chics last blog post..Where did the time go? Belated birthday for Green and Chic

  37. The Blogging Habit « Weave a Garland of my Vows says:

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  38. Alexis Grant says:

    Blogging forces me to write every day, and write well since other people will read that work. And writing every day makes me a better writer. Unfortunately, you’re right that blogging sucks some of my creative energy, leaving less time for projects that actually pay.

    Great post!

  39. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Alexis yep, that sounds pretty much like where I’ve got to as well! I guess we’ll just find our way through it, bit by bit…

  40. [...] feels good, creative, fun.  A good way to get out of some bad blogging  habits, and experiment with the pleasure of something [...]