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Writers: To Blog or Not to Blog?

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If one is a writer, keeping up a blog would seem a no-brainer, right? I mean after all, you're a writer, so wouldn't it seem obvious that you'd be the perfect person to dash off 300-800 words a day?

Not so much. First, there are the warnings you'll get: Don't blog -- it will take suck up all your creative juice. Everyone's already blogging, your words will just get lost in interspace. It will take up all your time. You'll never have time to write.

Maybe. Maybe not. When I was figuring out whether to have a blog or not, my agent advised, "try it, see if you like it. If you do, blog, if you don't, don't."

I tried it and found out that it became my place to rave about books I love, rant about social issues, and opine about writing. See the theme here? It's not so much that you gotta have a gimmick, as you gotta have some passion and that passion should be about something other than your book, your self, or your life, except where you are using it as connective tissue to more universal themes.

As example:
a) The walk I took with my dog: probably not interesting.
b) The walk I took with my dog as a jump-off for musing on 'can animals be your children?' Probably interesting.

Should you blog if you're an author? Some will find it a drain from their other writing. Others will find it hones their skills. There is no should or shouldn't, it's about the want and the can-do-well.

Good author blogs have fresh content at least twice a week, a minimum of 'all about me and my book,' and offer insight on chewy topics. They're written with passion and want -- the want to share. Below is a sampling of writer blogs where you can learn about writing, learn about the industry, learn about great books, learn about the author's passions, and learn by following their examples:

Tayari Jones, the author of two novels, has a blog notable for generosity towards other writers (in writing about their books and successes,) honest thought provoking think pieces, links, and inside-scoops. She also gives insight on MFA programs, race-related book topics, and other writer-related issues,

Jungle Red Writers and Beyond The Margins (I am a member) are multi-writer blogs providing topics as diverse as the posters, from gender roles (who programs the DVR in your house) to interviews with Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding, to guides to POV.

Author Carleen Brice's blog, Welcome White Readers is wry fun (including the brilliant 'Welcome White Folk's Video' which addresses the need to get more White Folks to read across the racial divide.) A generous, smart, and fun blog.

Paulo Coelho's blog is dense, different, and dazzling. The author of multiple novels, his site is an amazing amalgam of literary and technically brilliant (beyond my imaginings!) touches including free postcards. An example of blending promotion and information by offering interesting material.

I nominate Debbie Ridpath Ohi's Inky Girl for best in multi-tasking author blogs. An illustrator, comic writer, blogger, she provides material for iPad, Twitter, and is often featured on Writer Unboxed, another great blog featuring multiple authors and co-founded by writers Therese Walsh and Katherine Bolton.

Allison Winn Scotch's blog, Ask Allison, is another generous blog. She is honest, forthright, and when she writes about herself it always seems in the interest of helping and connecting to others (she pulls out the universal themes.)

Author Beth Hoffman, is another example of a bighearted writer blogging. Shorter and more diverse in her topics than Scotch, Hoffman gives lots of space to other writers and topics that she cares about, such as a woman starting a library in the place where she gets her chemo treatments for breast cancer. Blogs should always have personality--Beth's brims with her warmth.

Lee Goldberg, author of The Walk has written lots of books, scripts and more. His opinionated blog, A Writer's Life, filled with funny tough-love advice, gossip, and tutoring on what writers should not do (such as his example of someone offering a review copy) is an example of sharp judgments making good reading.

Most important: It takes many hours -- is it worth it for you? And if you write it, they may come. In a world filled with content, is what you're writing worth it for the reader?