real/brilliant, inc. finally has a web site up specifically for authors! Check it out here.
It seems a bit stuffy on first glance, but many well-published literary authors look askance at blogging. To them, it’s hack writing. It’s not thoughtful, it’s not publishable, it’s not something to spend a lot of time on.
1. It’s the print versus digital divide. Years ago, I had to trick myself when I read something in print. As an editor, my job was to “doubt it all” and our brains have convinced themselves that if it’s in print, it’s final, set in stone, perfect. Now that we’re digital, we’re having the reverse problem. We’re doubting too much. We think that just because anyone can put up a web site, that most of what’s online is garbage. I hear the point and I agree; there is garbage online. But just because the format reminds your brain of garbage doesn’t mean it is, just as words in print do not mean they are correct. We have to get over this. Many authors and writers have to just get over this.
2. Let go of some control. Great revolutions happen when established cultures resist losing control. Just as the Boomers enjoyed their years of ignoring the constraints of their parents and their parents’ society, the next generational divide is happening. The Millennials/Generation Y are trying new things with communications, news, publishing, journalism, advertising, sales, literature, books, magazines, newspapers, anything that was set in stone with print is being attacked. A lot of “print” purists are freaking out, JUST like another set of purists freaked out during the 1960s and 1970s. This is the current revolution. Let go. Just let go. Trust the next generation. It’s their world too.
3. Embrace change. 2010 has positioned itself as the battlefield for ebook rights, ebook readers, ebook everything. Publishing stands once again on the precipice, just like it did when the printing press was developed. It’s good. It’s going to be just fine. It will be bumpy, just like back then (during King Henry VIII’s reign; alas!), but it will be just fine.
So, are blogs hack writing? Yes and no. I know a good many people writing blogs that are authentic and real, much better than the hackneyed fakeness of much of print journalism in the past thirty years, much better written than the horrific nineteenth-century newspaper headlines that screamed false news from every street corner. Newspapers can be just as much hack writing.
How to not exhibit hack writing on your blog?
1. Be thoughtful. Really think through what you’re writing. Test it out, revise, edit. Sleep on the first draft. Remember that if you can’t back it up, you can’t call it fact. But you can call it opinion. A great tutorial on writing op-eds is here, gleaned from the Huffington Post’s Guide to Blogging.
2. Be authentic. When you write truth, no one can call it hack writing. When you write from your heart, it’s yours. I don’t think the critics of blogs mean we must have these literary tomes as blogs (no one would read them), but we must not glaze over human emotion like a lot of people do when they write quickly (I certainly do).
3. Read it twice before posting. That catches grammar and punctuation errors, thought process errors, and perhaps even shows you when you need more time to process. And above all, write! Don’t just write when you’re at a computer, write constantly.
We’ll talk more about blogs and writing and the fears of social media taking over the writing industry in upcoming posts.