June 13, 2012

Are you a writer or a blogger?

Screen shot 2015-01-11 at 13.19.15

This is what someone asked me today. (This person was none other than @rmitty, the cutest NYC’er you’ll ever meet).

I wasn’t immediately sure. I wondered if there was an obvious difference between the two. My natural brain reaction was to float towards the ‘I am a writer’ mentality; if anything it conjures up romantic images of the usual late-night coffee shops, retro typewriters, smudged loveletters and let’s not forget, Carrie-f*cking-Bradshaw. Blogging conjures up images of inappropriate .gifs, memes, article syndication, images of clothes and objects, and of course, followers. Writing is all of this stripped away; simply speaking it is words that are put down on paper/virtual paper and then left to be discovered by readers. Like a notebook left on a train. You are always welcome to read it.

It’s for this reason that I want to think I am a writer. This blog started only because I needed to archive my thoughts, to make sense of them, and to understand and develop my own style of writing. Blogs are often made with an intention in mind, an intention to spread, to share, to gain a following or indeed market something: an idea, a product, a person. To make something known and get something back in return. 

Of course, as we know, writers are renowned for not earning much money which of course adds to the romanticised notion of a struggling poet unable to pay their rent which makes it all that tiny bit more ironically glamourous and twisted. Blogs on the other hand are starting to become synonymous with money-making schemes, with paid advertising, brand value and offerings of freelance consultancy.

This to me marks the difference – we would never have seen an advert on the side of Shakespeare’s manuscripts, or a plea from Syvlia Plath to ‘comment on my Facebook page’ following her pained poems. In fact, I’m sure they wouldn’t have cared less about the online discussion surrounding their work. They wrote because they loved to write. Not with the intention of capitalizing on their audience. For all they knew, there was no audience. When you’re writing a memoir, opinion or the fiction instead your head, you are alone with your thoughts. What’s interesting, is that these are the pieces of literature that are most universal and long lasting. Blogs are short-lived. In 100 years, will that blog with an impressive following really make history with its images of ‘the best 50 cocktails you’ll find in Shoreditch?’ Blogs are timely. They are the here and now. They are perpetually updating in the desperate attempt to remain relevant.

On this note, I would like to have answered that question with conviction that I am a writer. I enjoy updating this blog with things that I hope people will find interesting, but what I hope for more than anything else, is not discover mechanics to keep myself modern, but for the things I post to hold value in some way and as a result have an extended lifespan. To hold meaning without too much context or era-dependency. This might mean coming off this blog and one day writing a book. Then hopefully another one. And another one.

Image source: Pinterest

40 Responses

  1. Very well said. I have contemplated this of late as well. I would agree, you are a writer. I’m a follower now!

  2. Ally says:

    I’d like to say I’m a writerbloggerfollower type!

  3. Isn’t a blog like a public diary? And isn’t a diary a tool that a writer uses to understand their own life better so that they can write more profoundly?

  4. I think about this all the time. You clearly sound like a writer…your style is beautiful!

    Courtney Hosny

  5. I agree – I definitely use a blog as an open diary. But a diary can be pictures/videos/links..it seems like the amount of blogs solely for writing alone are on the decline…

  6. Haha, I like that phrase x

  7. Thanks Stephanie! and thanks for following ! x

  8. This is great, and so often the question I ask myself. I’d like to think that anyone who writes (despite their platform) is a writer. Of course, I also tell myself that anyone who runs (no matter the distance) is a runner, so that I can sound like I accomplish things. Perspective.

  9. That’s an awesome definition. Thanks Ashley x

  10. Wayne E. says:

    I’m a writer/journalist who also blogs. My first blog post (2008) was on the Huff Post; A piece I wrote was rejected by The Atlantic, The Village Voice, and Harper’s. I didn’t want my piece to just die on my laptop, so I pitched it to the Huff Post’s blog editor. He liked it and said that I could post it and other pieces.

    What I like most about blogging is the ability to get immediate feedback-positive and negative. You know? I like knowing that my post has touched a nerve; it lets me know that my post has moved the reader.

    My main concern about blogging vs. writing is that it is making some aspiring writers sloppy writers. Writing for a blog and writing a novel/nonfiction book are not the same. Know what I mean?

    BTW, I’ve created a few comic strips about being a blogger. You might find this one funny!:

    Great post. It made me stop, think, and comment.

  11. Hi Wayne,
    Thanks SO much for commenting, really interesting points you make. I also write longer articles for places like HuffPo and like how I need to sit down and really think about it, but it’s still a short life-span piece I feel sometimes. I feel like if I wrote a book it would have to be something that would live forever. Maybe I should stop thinking I can only write things that are relevant for a short period of time on my blog. If that makes sense.
    Just checked out your drawings, they’re great!!
    Ps. would love to read your Huffpost piece.

    E XX

  12. Wayne E. says:

    Glad you like my cartoon!

    You might find this one funny. It’s my first Huff Post piece:

  13. Katie says:

    This is a really interesting piece, thank you. I would love to blog but don’t really know where to start and finding that first step a bit daunting. Your blog has provided a lot of inspiration for me.

  14. Hi Katie, thanks so much for your comment. I found it all a bit scary too but the main reason I started it was my love of writing. I almost didn’t care who read it I just wanted to put my thoughts down. If you feel you need somewhere to store your thoughts then definitely start one! 🙂 X

  15. Apocalypstick says:

    Why did this post make me sad? I suppose it’s the notion that blog don’t have shelf lives. Not literal ones, for sure. But there are lots of frothy books that disappear, too. We can’t all be Fitzgeralds and I find that…fucking fuck. I like your blog.

  16. Thanks, big fan of yours too.
    I guess the Internet is so vast that I worry that writing can get lost. With books at least you can physically hold on to it and pass it on. I dunno. You’re right about books getting swept away too. But perhaps anything meaningful will always somehow find it’s way back to people.X

  17. Jatinda says:

    Yes, totally agree, I would never put up a post without writing, and I am not talking a couple of sentences. I mean I am a new style blogger, but I definetly understand the beauty and vitalness of writing no matter what your blog is focused on.

    Please feel free to check out my blog, I would be very appreciative. Feel free to leave comments, even positive criticism. I am following your blog now, feel free to follow my blog if you like it.
    Typewriters – last time I saw one was when I was in year 10 at school, at the age of 15.

  18. thanks!!! just checked out your blog love how visual it is. x

  19. Kathleen says:

    I love this thought-provoking post. I think the Internet has changed many things about the writing profession, especially in terms of how writers are viewed. For example, you used to be able to find length creative nonfiction articles in many newspapers, written by writers who spent weeks on their masterpiece. Now there are websites looking for writers to dole out quick posts and articles for nearly nothing, that just seem to get breezed over by readers online spanning content quickly.

    I think you are a writer who blogs…nothing wrong with using some here-and-now tools and to help you writer every day and perfect your craft. Look forward to reading!!



  20. Thanks so much for your comment! Glad you enjoy reading and I agree, i love nothing more than sitting down and reading a lengthy, well-crafted article instead of short pieces that wash over me. thanks again! x

  21. Loved this – I agree, I write because I like too, and it helps clear my head. I have to write commercially for work, but I love my blog because it allows me to dribble drabble to my hearts content, and if people enjoy it, then that is a blessing.

  22. This is so lovely. I started my blog, Collegiate Feminist, because I love to write. I thought I could get more into the trendy blogging that I find so entertaining, but I just can’t do it. I’m drawn to lyrical prose that gives each word meaning. I want to be a writer and so my blog has become more of a place where I ramble and find my own style as a feminist, a woman, and as a person. Thank you so much for writing this and helping me to answer this question for myself as well.

  23. hey kimberly. thanks for your comment, i know exactly what you mean – it’s like a little place to keep work separate and just write your raw thoughts! and sometimes this is just the stuff people enjoy reading the most! i’ll just checking out your stuff 🙂 x

  24. Hi Danielle thanks so much for your comment! I’ll def have a read of your blog. love discovering new writing. i know what you mean about the ‘trendy blogging’, i’ve kind of been aware that my blog doesn’t look like the standard popular type, but its always been more about the content more than anything else. definitely agree it’s nice to have a little sanctuary to write your thoughts in a place that’s yours and make sense of them piece by piece xx

  25. Charlotte says:

    I enjoyed this and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot myself over the last few weeks. I write a blog myself (http://nothinggoodrhymeswithcharlotte.blogspot.com) and I do it solely so that I have somewhere to write and then perhaps, if I’m lucky, some people might read it and, if I’m really really lucky, maybe like it and find it funny. I have recently been bold enough to change from referring to myself as a blogger to a writer because – for some reason – I feel like this will help me in being taken more seriously for the words I produce. I’ll let you know if it works!

  26. […] “Are you a writer or a blogger?” Which camp do you sit in? Which one do you side with? Do you think someone can be both? This article raises some excellent points and certainly got my cerebral cogs turning. My answer? I am a writer. Simple. […]

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  29. alitanaka1 says:

    Loved this post! Quite thought provoking. I try to answer this question all the time. I loved the point you made about Sylvia Plath and Shakespeare, how they wrote simply because they loved to write rather than capitalize on an audience.
    I initially thought I would start my blog, Alisa Yui, as an online diary of sorts, but I gradually became disillusioned when I realized that no one wants to read about how you waited in a doctor’s office for 3 hours. As I continued blogging (after I shifted my style a bit), I realized that I want to have a career that incorporated writing in some way, that having a blog would be a great way for me to practice that, develop a style, and have a living CV of sorts. It also brings me structure, especially now that I’m searching for work. My main concern now is that the blog is making me a sloppy writer. I’d love to hear your opinion!
    Thank you so much for writing this post. This has definitely given me some great food for thought.

  30. Great post – it did get me thinking what was I and then it became rather clear as I read on that I consider myself more of a writer… who blogs. I recently started my own fashion, style and music blog (so would really appreciate it if you’d have a read) to develop my writing and journalism skills. In saying that, I do hope blogging would help me build a wider audience so I suppose I’m a mixture of both and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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  32. Faziana says:

    I’ve recently been struggling with this a lot. Sometimes I find myself being drawn into the allure of having many followers, likes or comments on my blog. And then I end up compromising my writing. So instead of writing something that reasonates with me, I’ll find myself extremely tempted to write something like “How To Shop For Fall Clothes”. And while that might be a fun post to write sometime, it’s not the type of post that I want my blog to be filled with. I think that being writers online, we need to find a balance between trendy and timeless! We do want people to read our writing, so we have to write what’s relevant, but a large part of us (well, me at least) is like “here’s something that affects me deeply, can you relate?”

  33. Shannon says:

    I think you can be both a writer AND a blogger, but hey. Maybe some say you’re not truly a writer until you’ve written and published a book. In that case, I remain a lowly blogger…

  34. This is my first day reading your blog and I am loving it! You’re definitely a writer, I totally love your answer

  35. […] and the cheesy menu-bar. I clicked on the site to get a better visual. Titles like, “Are You a Writer or a Blogger,” and “Podcast That I Love,” instantly  grabbed my attention. With her […]

  36. […] comes in so many forms. I read this blog post by Emma Gannon of Girl Lost In The City where she investigates whether she is a writer or a […]

  37. Amal says:

    I love this post and I’m totally in love with your blog!

  38. […] get this, bloggers are real writers too. If they want to be anyway. I’m sure that there are some bloggers out there who don’t think of themselves as […]

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