Writing vs. Blogging

Are you a writer?

She is a writer?

I am beautifully naïve when it comes to writers–or at least aspiring writers–online.  I realize that blogging is a great way to both express one’s literary genius and promote one’s personal brand. But unless you explicitly state that you are a writer and talk about things like agents and real deadlines, I won’t suspect a thing.

And that is why I am continually shocked to find that hidden beneath the perfectly nice blogs I read are eager little writers just waiting for their moment(s) in the sun. Really, people? But you seemed so nice and innocent!

No, really.

It seems that all of the dear, gentle bloggers in the world really want to be writers. There are dreams, and sometimes even plans for someday. Someday to be discovered. Someday to be published. Someday to make money off of words.

And I am baffled. I mean, I can understand a few people wanting different things than I do, but this is like finding out that everyone in the world secretly aspires to be a taxi driver in Tulsa! And then there is still the issue of why these aspiring writers are all masquerading as normal bloggers.

Let’s get real. The typical blogs that I read are not a good way to market oneself as a writer.

Maybe blogging is good practice for sitting down regularly to write, but then maybe that isn’t true at all.  The very nature of personal blog-writing is so very different from writing a novel or working on an article based on someone else’s interests and deadlines.

And then there is the fact that these blogs are not well-designed or at all optimized for exposure to anyone beyond, well, a small handful of readers like me. So they can’t actually be that helpful in finding people to pay for one’s writing, either directly or indirectly.

This is why it would never make sense to me to hide my writing ambitions behind my little blog. And this is why I am continually baffled by the fact that this is what everyone else is doing, and it is an open secret that only I am not in on.

She is a writer.

So here I am, finally admitting that I am not a part of the club I never knew secretly existed around me. I blog, but I am not a writer.

Are you a writer?

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29 thoughts on “Writing vs. Blogging

  1. Anni

    Very interesting post! I had never thought of this before. The funny thing is, I just wrote a post on my “short list” of things to do in life, and one of them IS to write a book. But that’s way, way, WAY in the future, when I’ve lived life and gone on adventures, and mostly for myself, not as a career goal of any sort.

    I can definitely see why career bloggers would benefit from writing a book. Not only would it expand your audience greatly, but the book sales are likely way more than you’d make off a little blog. Most of the personal blogs I follow, though, are more of vents and daily happenings.

    1. Rae Post author

      All good points! And I think there should be a respected place for vents and daily happenings, but that is different from things like your dream book someday–especially if you *did* actually want it as part of your career.

  2. Katarina

    Nope – not even close :-) Cant even do an essay to save my life .
    I just read on a whole bunch of topics – reading & writing inclusive
    I do blog though – cos its much easier than keeping a diary . I will admit that i started one for the wrong reasons – i wanted to process what i was discovering about NFP but its a mostly a web journal .

    1. Rae Post author

      I don’t think that is a wrong reason to start a blog! But then again, I don’t think there are very many wrong reasons. It really is about whatever works for you, I am just always surprised that “what works” for so many people is an outlet for their writing ambitions.

  3. Kathleen

    Not a writer! I try to blog well, and sometimes when I read really good memoirs I wish I was a writer, but no, I’m not one, don’t intend to be, don’t ever really want to be.

  4. ShoutLaughLove

    this post is so strange to me. i feel like i am a writer, and blogging has given me the experience and courage to call myself one. i don’t have a book in the works or even a dream for one, but i still do think of myself as a writer. for me, and i suspect others, it’s about the words and the craft–not the paycheck, publishing, or audience.

  5. Kris M

    I didn’t realize it was that common…

    I actually majored in English and Writing (Humanities, but those were my focus’s and on my diploma). I’ve wanted to write as long as I can remember… I have some half started books, a few finished ones I’m not overly sure about (need work still, so not really finished). But… big but here… I don’t see that as having anything at all to do with my blog. Entirely separate. If anyone came up to me on there and asked me about writing professionally I would probably look at them like they have 2 heads… or more. My brain has turned to mush with the kids… Some of my posts I look back and cringe at how they’re “written”. Its just a place for me to share our lives, my thoughts, etc. So not related it isn’t even funny… I don’t even call it writing.

  6. Samantha

    I’d love to make money off of my blog, but it’s more of a pipe dream than a reality and it’s directly related to having no income of my own to blow on hobbies or frivolous things. Writing is a huge outlet with my PPD and I’ve met some amazing people through it. I am amazed by how many people are writing with the intent of making money rather than it being an added bonus if it does happen.

  7. Young Mom

    I call myself a writer BECAUSE I write and hit publish, willing to share with someone else what I always hid in my journals before. After having every little effort in writing picked apart and criticized, I hid all my writing for years, and I was terrified when I first started blogging. But over time, the posts come together more easily than they used too, I don’t question every little thing I say anymore, I feel that I have ideas and thoughts that are my own, I don’t have to correct every other word with spell check anymore, and so I tell myself that I am a writer. But I am under no illusions that I will “be discovered” or use my blog to promote myself, I post sporadically about a large range of topics, there are billions of blogs out there, I’m just one of many (and sometimes I am still shocked that I have followers). I would love to write a book someday when my experience and confidence is strong enough, but I realize that will take discipline and time and hard work.

  8. Marc Cardaronella

    I’m not sure I get this. Why can’t bloggers be writers? I give you that blog writing is different than book or magazine writing. But don’t writers write? And these days, publishers often expect an author to have a social media presence before they’ll take a chance on publishing them. What better way to do that than by showcasing some of their talent on a blog?

    1. dweej @ HouseUnseen

      This was my thought too, Marc. Publishers these days want an aspiring author to be able to demonstrate a ready-made audience. Popularity trumps talent in many areas, writing included! Many aspiring writers I know started their blogs specifically because their professors/mentors/would-be publishers instructed them to do so.

  9. Christine

    I’m with you. I’m not a writer and I don’t make any illusions to being one. English was my least favourite (and worst) subject in school and I never had any dreams of being an author or anything growing up. I think that if I wrote something, it would probably be a cookbook or something. haha.

  10. Kelly @ The Startup

    Thanks for the shoutout! :) This was fun to read, mostly because it kind of confirmed that surprise I always feel when people like my dentist or my parents’ friend who hates reading or my non-reading non-writing cousin tell me they’ve suddenly decided to write a book. (I should just stop being surprised, but every time I am!) To me, writing seems unglamorous and sort of irritating and like a lot of work, and plus most of the time it’s soooooo utterly unrewarding that it’s always startling (you put it so well! I laughed at taxi driving in Tulsa) to hear so many people announce that it’s a long-time dream of theirs. But now that you mention it, you’re totally right–I think the population of people who consider themselves writers is higher among bloggers, which obviously makes sense because most of those people are spending a fair amount of time writing.

    I can definitely appreciate and relate to the distinction you’re making–I think especially because I adore blogging BECAUSE to me it doesn’t feel like real writing. (This of course is because I treat it that way–there are many, many bloggers who write beautifully on their blogs and I love reading their writing FOR the writing.) It’s more fun, it’s more communal, there’s no real pressure, it’s not about like wording or craft for me, and the gratification is much more immediate (blog friends, and a record of life). For me it’s somewhere near the category of ‘fun hobby,’ and not really a career kind of thing. Like–blogging’s where I go to relax, if you will, and even though it’s technically ‘writing,’ for my purposes it doesn’t feel like it. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t feel like it’s about ‘writing,’ per se!

    P.S. I love your blog and I love the writing in it!

  11. Kathleen

    I’m one of those writer-bloggers. I started out with a blog to try to develop a “platform”…and to some extent that purpose is still there..but I learned long ago that what I write about on my blog is not focused enough to attract the kind of following the experts say you have to have. I’m finally (mostly) at peace with that. The blog gives me fodder for essays, practice writing, and it’s my journal, and darn it, I like it. In the meantime, I do my paid writing behind the scenes (I have four humongous deadlines coming up in the next week) and I try to write the novel in the space between, hoping that someday it will actually get sold.

    I will admit that I’ve also been surprised by how many bloggers have writing aspirations. We all read the same conventional wisdom, I guess. :)

  12. Thomas Manning

    I’m not properly a blogger yet. I try to evaluate the various technologies. I hate cell phones (phones that stay in one place are bad enough), but love e-mail. I write e-mail as though I were writing a letter that just gets there more quickly. As Confirmation Preparation facilitator (awkward, but better than instructor) I started sending brief e-mails to the candidates every day during Advent and Lent and every other day or so the rest of the year to show that Christianity was not just for Mass and Class. When we ran out of books, I assembled my own. When I learned about the http://www.usccb.org/education/framework.pdf, I thought I might upgrade what I had already done to meet its criteria, seek the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, and publish. Does that make me a writer? I have something more web-based in mind, and an initial attempt can be seen on the Confirmation Preparation page under Faith Formation on the website. I am also trying Facebook and Twitter to do the same thing for the candidates that I was doing with e-mail. Facebook seems to work, but I must “be much more clever” with Twitter. That is how I came to your attention and you to mine. Your writing, sorry, blogging, is both engaging and endearing.

  13. Jackie

    I blog because I like to write. But honestly, I don’t put much effort into my posts. (I hardly ever edit). I could if I wanted to and I’m sure they’d be much better then. But usually they are just sort of a brainstorming exercise to get my mind juices flowing before I start writing my thesis paper stuff.

  14. alison

    haha, too funny that you pointed this out. my husband is the one now saying “honey, get that blog to make us money”…I don’t think he realizes how this blogging thing works and how infertility blogs (which mine is despite all attempts is quickly becoming/has become) are not really the type that appeal to mass audiences and thus, would not be predisposed to make money. blogging however made me realize that people will voluntarily read my opinion, and i think that can go a long way for boosting ones confidence, although I don’t necessarily think that means what I write people agree with because the most controversial posts are often most popular precisely because people don’t agree!

    as more of a mathy/sciencey person, i think i was just aiming to not suck so much at writing! oh well. i hope the real writers out there still find a way to follow their dream!

  15. Claire

    You’ve said this before Rae–how you are not a writer. But a blog IS writing–in the sense that it is not painting, or dancing or using another medium for self-expression. Now, if you mean that you do not consider yourself a writer-artist, that’s a different thing altogether.

  16. Kacie

    I am not a writer…. in the sense of writing books and such. I believe way too many people write books. We should be adding quality literature, not just our own random thoughts and advice. That is what blogs are for! :)

    I am a writer in the sense that I need to write to process. Blogging is an outlet.

  17. Angi

    Love this post…. I “write” but I don’t know if that makes me a writer…. many volumes of diary and some poetry and a blog, nothing really published, but friends and fam seem to think I am a writer…

  18. Amanda

    I guess writers come in all shapes and sizes…I don’t necessarily think you have to be this scholarly, heady person to be a writer, but at the same time, you have to have a certain skill level to do it. Kudos to all the people who try to write fiction and serious pieces on their blogs, but in all honestly, I skip over those almost every time. I read blogs for fun and to get to know people. If I wanted to read fiction, I’d read fiction. I also write my blog for fun, not to be serious or get discovered. There are certain places that encourage women to write the serious stuff and then syndicate and pay them for it….but one syndicated pieces doesn’t make you a writer…it makes you someone who was paid for something you wrote. There is a difference to me.

    I used to want to write a book, and now I don’t. If I were to be paid to do anything, it would be blog. But realistically, that’s not going to happen, so I’ll continue writing for money at my job and continue blogging for free on my blog :)

  19. Adrienne Szewczyk

    I am both a blogger and writer.

    My day job is in marketing and I’ve written professionally in other capacities. My marketing role is fairly writing intensive, but I write a personal blog because it satisfies my desire to write something that isn’t work related. Something on my own terms and in my own time. I plan to write a book one day, and writing regularly outside of work in a more personal tone has helped me sharpen the techniques I hope to apply in my fiction novel.

    It is hard for me think of writing a book as a career “ambition” (though it is a huge task) because even authors with books on the New York Times best seller list barely come out of the process with more than 20k to show for it. I see it more as sharing a piece of yourself, something to leave behind for future generations. The same can be said of a blog.

  20. Scott Morizot

    I have noticed a large number of bloggers seem to have some aspiration to one day be a paid, published author of some sort. I have no such desire.

    But I am a writer who blogs, not a blogger who is not a writer. I don’t really limit the the designation ‘writer’ to those who write as a profession. If you have to write, whatever the medium, then you’re a writer. If writing is something you can take or leave, then in some sense you aren’t even if you get paid for it.

    I’ve always had to write. Sometimes I can’t get something out of my head until I write it. I’ve only recently and somewhat reluctantly added blogging to my writing activities. And my blog is deliberately visually bland.

    Just a slightly different perspective.

  21. Sarah

    I write because I *have* to. If I don’t write, at least something every few days, I start to feel itchy. I have been this way since middle school, filling notebooks with my ramblings and ideas. I’d love to be paid to write someday, but not via my blog. My blog is my own, and if someone else is paying me to write, they get to have a say on what I write about. I don’t like that.

    I’d like to write a book about what it’s like being a Catholic mother who doesn’t have a mother. But the primary goal of that would be to tell a story, and to reach out to other women who might be in a similar place. The money would be nice, but def. not the motivating factor.

  22. Elisa

    I do like writing and English and papers and proof-reading, but I don’t think I have anything to say that hasn’t already been said, you know? One day, I wouldn’t mind writing a children’s picture book about the way I grew up in Switzerland. I probably will never do it. Words could never explain the beautiful scenes of my childhood. It really does bug me when the average blogger turn their blog into a book. Have you read “Julie & Julia”? I couldn’t even get past the first couple of chapters, the woman’s voice was way too strong and I just did not even like her personality or style of writing. It wasn’t any style. It was just a woman writing, kind of like Bridget Jones style, only worse. I don’t think she is a writer. She just had a fun idea: cook her way through Julia Child’s book. A lot of people have books published, but that doesn’t really make them a writer. But for goodness sakes, I’m overthinking this. Anyone who writes is a writer, I just don’t think all people should aspire to get their writings published.

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