Remember back when MA101 was ostensibly about writing?
That was a stupid idea.
Writing blogs are a popular stupid idea, at least, but by that measure I should take up smoking, too, which would at least make me look cooler than blogging does.
Nonetheless, people are still starting new blogs-about-writing every day, and there are lots of authors, publishers, and agents out there encouraging the trend.
They are wrong, and here is why:
#1: You Don’t Know Shit About Writing
This was true of me back in December 2009, and to a great extent it’s still true about me today.
If you’ve got some success in the business, people want to know how you achieved it. Writers who’ve made a decent living (or at least a decent critical impact — the two don’t always go hand in hand) have some authority when they talk about their process. The process worked, demonstrably.
Until your process has worked out for you, however, both critically and fiscally, you’re not in a position to dispense advice. Accept that you don’t know how to make your career work yet, and figure that out before you start writing how-tos.
#2: There Isn’t Enough to Say
Just how long are you planning on running your blog? And how many times a week are you posting?
If the answers are “at least a year” and “at least once,” you already need a bare minimum of fifty-two unique, writing-related topics. And if your writing process has fifty-two unique steps in it that you can talk about, you’re a hideously inefficient writer.
You can keep the writing focus and move beyond your own experiences by keeping an eye out for writing-related news and other blog posts — but at that point you’re putting quite a bit of time and effort into becoming an aggregator of stories that other people already covered.
And did you really go into the writing business to become a content aggregator? If you want to do that, go aggregate fuzzy kitten pictures for Buzzfeed and make some real money.
#3: The Audience That Cares Is Useless to You
Who actually wants to read writing tips?
Aspiring writers, and pretty much no one else.
That means that your primary audience is A) your competition and B) probably pretty broke. Neither one is likely to make them want to buy your books, in the event that you actually start publishing some.
I’m not saying you won’t acquire any loyalists who just love your blogging style and will feel they have to try your books — but you certainly won’t be attracting the thousands and thousands of them you’d need to make a discernible bump in your sales.
So Don’t Do It
Blog all you want. Blogging is fun, it can attract audiences that will want to buy books, and if you work hard at it you might even be able to sell some on-page ads for a couple bucks a month.
But get over the idea of a “writing blog” sooner, rather than later. It’s overdone, it doesn’t interest anyone outside of a small and relatively poor echo chamber, and there are already a couple of seriously established heavyweights filling all the content-aggregating demand. Go write about something unique instead.
Or just post fuzzy pony pictures — that’s worked out okay for me.