Thursday, November 1, 2012

Beware of Blog Overload

Writers have always faced obstacles. Lack of skill with grammar. Lack of inspiration. Lack of technique. Lack of knowledge concerning the publishing process. Lack of a literary agent. The list goes on, but so often the barriers seem to be a lack of one item or another. In an effort to solve these deficits, some would-be authors get bogged down in a massive, new quagmire: blog overload.

Yes, blogs can be great. By following the blogs of experienced agents, editors, and fellow writers, any aspiring author can tap into unlimited knowledge concerning the publishing biz. Without visiting the library or even subscribing to Writer's Digest, you can receive a wealth of advice and insider information for free! All you need is a computer, a mouse, and one finger for clicking.

There's the danger. Free insider tips can become intoxicating. You want to write better, right now, so why be stingy on yourself when the info comes gratis? Your finger goes to work clicking and subscribing to blog after blog. Some of these web logs are more helpful than others, but hey, since they're free, what's the harm in following them, right? Besides, your fellow writers appreciate it when you subscribe. They're delighted when you leave comments on what they've written.

Before you know it, you've clicked your way into a veritable Niagara of writing lore. Your craft gets swamped by endless cascades of tips, questions, answers, pet peeves, query letters, good proposals, lousy proposals, success stories, horror stories, examples to imitate and bad examples to shun. If finding time to write was hard before, now it becomes nearly impossible because the multitude of blogs consumes all your spare minutes. Worse, each blog that gushes about yet another writer's new contract for a 20-book series paralyzes you.

"Why don't I get offers like that?" you wonder. "What do they know that I don't?" So you plunge back into the endless current of blogs in search of the ever-elusive secrets to success.

Don't. Blog overload can smother your writing career. Whittle down that list of blogs you follow. Pick three, maybe four, that deliver the most precious nuggets of gold and stick to them. Don't worry about that new friend from the conference being offended if you stop commenting. Don't fret about not having your name and avatar plastered in daily comments all across the web.

Now, use those freed-up minutes to add new sentences and paragraphs to push your manuscript forward each day. This way, you'll still be learning, but you'll also be applying that new knowledge and creating manuscripts of your own.

Happy writing!

Rick Barry has been freelancing articles and short stories for over twenty years. His two novels to date are Gunner's Run and Kiriath's Quest.


  1. Great points, Rick! It wasn't all that long ago that I took over as blogmaster for Hoosier Ink, as well as decided it was time to have my own site. It was a learning curve each and everyday. It took a while to get the look and feel just right. But, as you said, it's important to create a smooth style not overloaded with data.

  2. So true. In the beginning I tried to follow a lot of blogs, but I soon realized I was writing a new story called "The Case of Diminishing Returns." Now I only follow three (including this one, of course). If I find out about an interesting topic on a different blog, I may check it out, but only as a one-time thing. Otherwise, I'd never get any writing done.

  3. Kathryn, thank you for pointing out that this blog is, of course, one of those to be checked regularly! :)

  4. Great blog, great comments! (And nice to have a real blog by one of us (my definition) -- HI has been posting quite a few reviews of bloggers' friends' books lately. . . :-) I'm so glad I can be part of a group blog like this one, as I doubt I'll ever want to keep my own blog. I've reached my Biblical "three-score-and-ten," so I want to use each additional gift-year for book writing, not blogging and responding to comments. I'm also selective in reading others' blogs -- I just dip in now and then to the many I'm subscribed to. . . HEY, any of you going to Indy's CW Conf this weekend?? If so, see you there. This will be my first time to attend it. :-)

  5. This is why I subscribe in Google reader so I can just skim the titles, and know whether a post is relevant to my needs. Which brings me to the point that we need to have a good post title that really explains what our post is about so our readers will know whether or not to take the time to read. Which brings me to another point: only write worthy stuff. You know, something that has a good take-away for your readers. That's not always easy to do!

  6. Karla, thanks for considering it worthy! ;)

  7. Karla, finding the right title can be the hardest part of writing the post. I always struggle with whether to write a descriptive one or one that intrigues. The legal stuff I cover can sound dry in a descriptive title, which I hope makes that kind of title misleading. (Meaning I try hard not to make the contents dry.) But a creative title may not clue the reader in to the contents. "Is a puzzlement."

  8. Rick,

    Thanks for your insight. I am keeping my blog viewing down -- it's limited to this one and the other blog I contribute to, with an occasional visit to a third.

    For me, the temptation is not in getting more info from blogs. Rather, it's wanting to support my other friends and be loyal to them.

    Contemplating launching my own blog page, I hit the typical contradiction: I limit my blogging, but I hope other readers take the time to read mine as well.