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Strange Horizons Blog Editorial
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Thanks for Mike Jasper for pointing me to this Strange Horizons editorial on writers and blogging.

Mary Anne Mohanraj and Jed Hartman informally discuss the way blogs form around communities, the relative merits of keeping a blog, and they even mention a few writers who keep them (and hey, this blog even gets a small nod...thanks, guys).

But I was most interested in this bit by Jed:

So it's certainly good for providing a support network. (That's true of some other systems as well, such as the author topics at the Rumor Mill and the personal newsgroups at On the downside, it provides Yet Another Online Timewasting Tool. Is it better for a writer to waste time talking about writing with other writers, or to waste time playing Solitaire? I guess that's one of the Eternal Questions.

Is it a waste of time? I've had other writers ask me why I journal. Seems to me, when you're putting words together, you're writing, right? You use slightly different muscles to compose fiction as you do to bitch about religious intrusion in public life, but you're still laying words end to end.

Jed and Mary both note the communication aspect of blogging, but I don't think they give enought credence to the functional role of blogging aside from the social aspects.

It can be used as a warm-up, and a form of free-writing, as a way to simply grease the pistons. But I think it also serves as a way to explore issues, whether they be personal or public, which is nearly always going to inform your mental life. Articulating how you think or feel about your life and the world around you is damn near always useful.

Consider this: Nearly every famous writer I've ever heard of, from Mary Shelley to Franz Kafka, kept extensive journals or diaries of some sort. Most writers also carried on extensive correspondences with colleages, friends, and family. Great novelists didn't just set around concocting great works of literature. They spent huge amounts of time writing down their thoughts about this or that.

The only difference was, they didn't have the internet to disperse such journals. Would all great writers of the past have been bloggers? Probably not.

But I have a suspicion that quite a few of them would have.

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