Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writing, Blogging and Niche(ing)

(A version of this was posted to my Tumblr.)

I can always tell what's been going on in my mind by re-reading seemingly dissimilar links I've left on my Tumblr. Yesterday it was this post about finding something to blog about when your stumped for ideas, and this one titled Writing and Mortality from a site new to my feedreader, Big Other.

The blogging advice:
1. Go read and comment on ten brand new blogs in your niche.

2. Go read and comment on ten brand new blogs in a totally different niche.
The general writing advice:
I feel like saying “I *have* to write” is a way of absenting oneself from agency over the decision, consciously or subconsciously. Writing is a risky career choice and one that doesn’t always yield a lot of concrete reward or social approval. But if one pretends it’s not a choice, then one doesn’t have to worry about those things, or at least not in the same way. It’s not their fault that they aren’t making more money; they *have* to write. They don’t have to doubt themselves; they had no choice. Likewise, how could you be so cruel to doubt them when this is something they must do to survive?
I don't take advice well.

In the five or so years I've been blogging, I've yet to find my niche. I am not currently a paid blogger, nor am I trying to brand myself, so I'm not sure if I'm losing out by not having a nice, neat hole to wedge myself into within the big ol' blogosphere. Ergo, I rarely comment on blogs these days. I aspire to mix politics with pop culture as most of my favorite blogs do (so apparently there is a niche for that). It's kind of a hard line to walk, always fearing you'll alienate one side of your audience or another, plus but don't feel comfortable positing myself as a pundit, even a pop culture one.

As for the latter, I wish advice given to novice writers was more than "write your heart out," or "just get it down on paper." Writers must write. There's some underlying privilege at work here that rarely gets menioned: not everyone has the same set of resources, nor does everyone handle the act of writing in the same way. Writing is hard work. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes a lot of instructors make with beginning writing students: neglecting to mention how much effort goes into writing clearly and coherently and with passion.

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