It’s crazy to think that I’ve been blogging for over a year now. After having written for a whole slew of games journalism publications (even having founded one), as well as some mainstream ones (USA Today, Digital Trends, Complex, Heavy), I was ready to hang up the towel on writing online. The truth is, writing online doesn’t pay that well, and there’s a reason I switched to marketing as a full-time career. Not only does it pay the bills, but it’s allowed me to create the travel lifestyle I’ve always wanted to live. Still, I did miss writing online, which was the impetus for starting this blog. But as I’ve written close to seventy (!!!) posts in the last year and two months, I’ve come to realize that blogging is not writing, at least not in the traditional sense.
To me, blogging is more like graffiti with punctuation. It’s a self-created sketch that conveys meaning, but it’s not writing. It doesn’t need to be refined in the way a piece for an online publication does; it doesn’t need to fit any particular voice or style except your own. And unlike creative writing, it doesn’t necessarily exist to entertain, represent, or even inform. It just exists. Writing on a blog (like all writing online these days) can be thought of more as content, content to sit around and wait for a pittance of page views, competing with millions of other points and thoughts not only on blogs, but on social media and forums.
In essence, there’s nothing that really separates a blog post from a passionate rant on Facebook except for the skill of the person writing and promoting it. People aren’t more likely to see a blog as an authoritative source these days (if they even understand what a source is at all), except in the case of niche queries like a food guide to a specific city.
That being said, there is an inherent value in creating and writing your own blog, as long as you are aware that blogging is not writing. It’s more like vomiting on the page and then cleaning up the mess to form something resembling an article. Because it’s your own platform, you set your own rules, and for most bloggers, that means that most blog posts are somewhere between a draft and a half-baked idea that tackles an issue from a place of nuance and personal experience. As a blogger, you’re never the only person to write about a topic, but you are the only person that can put your personal spin on it.
The good thing about blogging, and why I think that blogging is not writing, is that you are free to put in as much or little effort as you want. The only person you are beholden to is yourself and your hypothetical audience. Unless you’re in the top echelon of bloggers (maybe the top 10%, if even) you’re not making anything close to a living off it. This means that what you write and what points you are trying to make are totally up to you. There’s actually a certain liberating factor to that; whatever you wrote came from your thoughts and beliefs on a topic you care about, and not something you’re writing for special interests or to make a buck (although there’s nothing wrong with that).
While there’s a lot of crap out there, and there’s no real meritocracy to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak, blogging is inherently rewarding. It’s more or less the self-publishing of writing online, which has become more and more acceptable these days. Hell, as of this writing, I’m planning on self-publishing my graphic novel. In the industry, that’s not seen as any less legitimate, and although a publisher certainly has its benefits from a marketing and cost-savings perspective, anyone now has the power to get their work out there.
And that’s the thing about blogging; it’s creation and communication in its purest form. Any readers that come through to your blog came to read what you had to say about a particular topic, not because of the publication you are associated with or the coattails you are writing on.
While blogging is not writing from a creative standpoint, you are still banging away at the keyboard and slinging (semi) coherent sentences. It’s more like the trainings days before the marathon of creative writing or pitching articles to publications. And for that, blogging will always have a strong place in my writing toolkit, even if it’s not all that I do.