Monday, May 27, 2013

Kristen Lamb's Blog: "Why writers blogging about writing is bad"

I am a writer who sometimes blogs about writing who is posting about a blog post by a writer who says that blogging about writing is bad.

Kristen Lamb is her name and she blogs at "Kristen Lamb's Blog." She has written two books about writing that have been on the best-seller lists. One is We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media. She advises writers to put their name on their blog. You will notice that I did that. Thanks, Kristen. Go read her blog. It's helpful and very funny.

That's the extent of my writing advice for today.

In a blog post from 06/07/2011, Kristen examined five reasons why writing blogs are bad.
1. Writing blogs limit our following.
2. Writing blogs limit content and can create burnout
3. Writing blogs will collapse if we change content.
4. Writing blogs increase the competition for book sales.
5. Writing blogs are not creative.
I looked up "writing" in my blog's search box. It came up with 32 entries. I've been blogging for eight years. During that time, I've written an average of four blogs annually about writing. I average about 200 posts a year so, on average, about 2 percent of my posts are about writing. What are my other topics? Heck if I know. My main topic, as you can see from my log-line, is progressive politics. Not so rare unless you live in conservative Wyoming. I can count my fellow Wyoming prog-bloggers on one hand, the ones who live in the southeast quadrant, anyway.

I began this blog with a simple idea. I was writing a nonfiction book about our family's experience with our ADHD son. I thought that the book would be instructive and a best-seller. But I quit halfway through as it was making me depressed. Our son was taking detour after detour, as often happens with those with hummingbird minds. So I went back to my short stories. I've published one volume of those stories thus far and have another one that needs publishing.

I found that blogging about ADHD has its limits. Substitute "ADHD" for "writing in Kristen's five points and you see the problem. Writing about any one topic is limiting.

Your next question might be: "But Mr. Shay, I was told that blogging about one topic was the key to success."

Good point. I know some fabulous one-topic blogs.Many are political. Others are by quilters, St. Louis Cardinal fans, high-altitude gardeners, bakers, dog owners, cat fanciers, model railroaders, Trekkers, etc. They have loyal followings. As Kristen explains it:

Want to know the formula for a hit blog?
Topics you are excited about + topics readers are excited about = hit blog.
Kristen urges us to have "flexible and dynamic content" because "we are humans and not robots."

But that is the point, isn't it. If you are a rabid Denver Broncos fan and you blog on that topic, you are asking for trouble. Just kidding. You should blog about the Broncos. You will get the most interesting responses, especially if you write anything bad about John Elway's management style or Peyton Manning's throwing style. If you're still writing about Tebow, you're hopeless. Your Broncos blog will get lots of readers and you might even find a way to make some dough with it, although don't go messing with that official NFL brand -- they'll sue your ass!

Good writers have always been flexible. Think of your favorite newspaper and magazine columnists. Did Mike Royko write about one thing? Molly Ivins? Erma Bombeck? Does Carl Hiaasen write about one thing? Rick Reilly? David Sedaris?  They have their specialties, but within those specialties they have lots of leeway.

If you've read my blog, you might be able to tell that my writing heroes are flexible and dynamic.They include those about and humor writers such as S.J. Perelman, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley. Ring Lardner, P.J. O'Rourke, Bruce McCall, Alan Coren, all of the Monty Pythons, the Irish, and a whole bunch of others whose names I can't remember right now.

Do I have a successful blog? It's not commercially successful, but that's not my goal. Does it have its own brand? Probably. Is it me? Definitely. I write about topics that I'm excited about. Some of those topics are ones my readers are excited about.

Still, it makes me happy. That's what really counts. I can say this because I am not a robot, although next month my heart will be outfitted with electronic parts. The major part of my mechanism will remain flesh and blood.

And I have one question for Kristen: When can you travel to Wyoming to talk to us writers in the High, Wide and Lonesome?

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