|Posted by Mark Cantrell on June 22, 2014 at 10:45 AM|
Clutching at chores
There's a time and a place for everything, but these days a writers' time and headspace are being devoured by a rapacious brood of craft-hungry cuckoos that forever want more MORE – and this blog is one of 'em...
BLOG when you've got something to say, that's what I reckon; otherwise you'll just turn your writing activity into a chore that will choke your creative spirit.
If you're a naturally chatty person, then great: there are writers for whom daily blogging is an aperitif that gets them in the mood for the day's serious business. But not every writer – be they of short stories, novels, poems, or whatever – are of that ilk.
But Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – and keeping that blog fed with new, quality, original content is all part of it – has no regard for the natural inclinations of individual writers; all too often, it becomes a bullying force, piling on the pressure, stoking the stress, until the poor writer can't think straight for the nagging voices demanding they get out there and engage with their audience.
So, you're wracking your brains, searching for ideas; you ought to be thinking about the next critical scene in your novel, pondering what your protagonist does next, but no – you're looking for a way to fill that oppressive silence because you haven't blogged today.
Some days an idea springs to mind and flows easily onto the screen, but there's always the next day, and the day after that; soon you find yourself clinging to ideas you'd once have discarded as dross. The whole process has become an ordeal. And still the mind vampire sucks the life out of your writing with its endless demands for more.
That's SEO. It might have gestated in the tech-world, but it's a marketing beast through and through, and there are two things about marketing to bear in mind: first and foremost, it doesn't care about your writing. It might lecture on quality material, but essentially all you're generating is 'content' and content is King, which is just another way of saying fuck the content, it's the fancy wrapping of the marketing brand that matters.
Crazy, right? Because at its most basic level, marketing is a useful necessity; everybody from local activity clubs all the way up to multi-national corporates need to find and identify their potential audience and then sell their goods and services, so there's no getting away from the marketing function.
Unfortunately, marketing is a multi-billion pound industry in itself, and essentially what it aims to sell is itself, ultimately, alas, to the detriment of what it proclaims to be selling. But lets leave the cuckoo nature of marketing to another time; we're talking blogging here.
So, you're expected to share something every day, or at least once a week; you've got a job, maybe kids, a busy life, and somehow you've been managing to crank out the words. Despite all the odds, you sustained your writing sufficient to call yourself a writer. Great.
Now, you've got to blog about it too. A piece a day, or a week, something that reflects you, your writing, your inspiration, your whatever, and squeeze it out between your actual creative writing. And that's without even considering all the other 'extra-curricular' demands that are being thrown an author's way these days.
Sooner or later, something's got to give; lo and behold, it tends to be the writing that begins to wilt as the creative juices are siphoned off by the demands of irrigating the blog.
Me, I want my writing back; I'm tired of clutching at chores, and bleeding out my creative juices feeding a parasite that has little regard for my literary aspirations. And if that also means I'm flicking the finger at the SEO priesthood, well that's only a bonus.
Forget the chores; writing is hard enough as it is, but at least it brings its own rewards and satisfactions. Unlike SEO and blogging, you don't have to starve your creative soul to keep it fed.
And on that note, I'll leave you with this from CommuniCATE, so you know I'm not the only dissenter out here.
Relax – and write.
4 May 2014
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