The fine line between blog as prewriting tool and procrastination enabler

For the record, let me say at the outset that, despite the fact that I played golf today and I am temporarily a “single parent” while Annette is at a children’s literature conference in Canada, I actually did get to work on chapter 2 this evening. I now return you to the blog….

I came across two different blog postings today that spoke (at least in part) about the practice of blogging. The first was Collin in this oddly titled post, where he talks about writerly habits and how keeping a blog can figure into that in a positive way. Collin writes a lot of interesting stuff here, but one brief quote:

I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say that bloggers write better dissertations, but I do think that there’s a case to be made that weblogs can provide an opportunity for daily writing, an opportunity that will serve a blogger well when it comes to a larger project. Keeping a weblog may help students develop the kind of procedural knowledge that receives so little attention in the formal venues of academia.

Okay, fair enough. Then, over on Maud Newton’s blog (which isn’t all by Maud anymore but which covers a variety of issues of interest to “creative” writers/literati-types) there’s this post by Maud, “celebrating” the third year of her blog:

Frankly, the anniversary depresses me. Three years, and I still haven’t finished my goddamned novel. Worse than that: I abandoned the first one in late 2003 and started a second. Meanwhile, my OCD tendencies rage unabated. I’m still a slob. And I remain estranged from my parents.

The post kind of goes downhill from there.

Now, I think what we have here is the proverbial double-edged sword that is blogging. On the one hand, I completely agree with Collin. I find blogging to be an excellent invention/prewriting/thinking/note taking activity for me. But beyond that, I’ve found blogging to more or less be an end in itself. I mean, I’m not getting huge amounts of hits here, but I am pretty sure more people read my blog every month or so than have ever read my official “scholarship,” at least the print versions of my scholarship.

On the other hand, Newton has a point. I will be the first to admit/confess that posting to my blogs (this one or my unofficial one) is all too often a way of me avoiding something else I should be doing, things like grading student projects, reading, doing stuff around the house, and, of course, writing. It isn’t fair to say that I could be spending all of this blogging time doing “something more productive.” Still… uh… I could be doing something more productive.

Ultimately, I think that Collin is absolutely right when he offers the same advice that I give to students and anyone else who asks: when you’re working on some academic (or other) writing project, you should work on it every day, even if you can only work on it for a little bit. Of course, it’s a lot easier to give advice than to follow advice.

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