Robin Hobb is Not Entirely Wrong
First, yes, quite enough of you have sent me Robin Hobb’s rant against blogging for today, thanks. No one else needs to send it to me. Also, hasn’t it been up for a while? I seem to remember seeing it earlier, although that may just be a fuzzy brain talking — I’m working on very little sleep, thanks to a kitten who thinks what I need to be doing in the wee hours of the morning is being his scratching post. Strangely enough, that seems to affect my sleep schedule.
Second: What am I, a hit man or something? The tone of many of the e-mails to me about Hobb’s rant have the whiff of Hey! Robin Hobb is being mean to the Internet! Let’s get Scalzi to beat her up! about them. Yes, I have a reputation of laying down the smack, but you know, I try to limit myself to smacking about those what need to be smacked. I know Robin Hobb a bit, and I think she’s just lovely, and thus have no personal inclination to lay down any smack on her. My apologies for those of you hoping to be entertained thusly.
Third: What Robin Hobb is saying, basically, is don’t blog when you should be writing your work. Yes, she puts it somewhat breathlessly and dramatically, with much gnashing of teeth and renting of garments, but essentially, this is what her advice here boils down to. And you know what? I don’t disagree with this. Blogging is fun and it can even be useful in a number of ways, but it can also be the writing equivalent of empty calories. It feels like real work, because you’re typing and all, but at the end of it you haven’t written any pay copy, and you’re no closer to something you can submit somewhere than you were when you began. You haven’t done work, and ultimately work is what you need to be doing, if you’re planning to make a go at being a fiction writer.
I don’t think it has to be an either/or situation, quite obviously — as you know, I write and blog, and I have a perfectly cromulent career, as do a number of other writers I could name off the top of my head. On the other hand, one of the reasons I stopped doing the AOL gig was that all the blogging I was doing was taking away from time that I could be writing fiction, and I’m at a point where it makes sense for me to focus there. Also, even having pared back my blogging committments, I have been known to procrastinate quite substantially online rather than, say, getting to my actual work.
No! You say. That can’t possibly be true! Not you! Alas, yes, me. Because it is easier to blog than write. It’s also easier to comment on blogs than write, get into flamewars on SFWA’s private boards than write, answer e-mail than write, and so on. All of that is, in fact, typing that is not work. Do enough of it and it’s very possible that your brain will say well! I’ve certainly done enough work for the day — I think I’ll fall into a vegetative state now and then pretty much shut down for the purposes of active and creative work. And then you’ve lost a day. Trust me on this, my pretties.
Again, I’m not going to tell you not to blog. I like blogging; I think it’s fun and it’s certainly done well by me. Also, you know, it’s your life, and your career. Do what you want. But I will suggest to you that if your blogging is getting in the way of your writing, you might consider not blogging for a little while, until you get a handle on your actual work (as some of you may recall I did at the end of writing Zoe’s Tale), or at the very least that when you sit down at the start of the writing day, you consider doing your work first, while your brain is still fresh and willing to be creative.
Basically: Put your work before your play, or the work won’t get done. That’s what I think Robin Hobb’s really saying here, and I think she’s right.