Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Short Isn't Necessarily Simple...

by Janis Patterson

It's an old story. The other day I was catching up with a friend I seldom see and in the course of our conversation I mentioned that I had written five novels last year. Her eyes grew wide and she asked in wonder how could I get that many ideas, let alone in one year.

Like I said, it's an old story; I've written many times about the plethora of ideas that constantly swirl around and how getting an idea is one of the easiest things in the world.

An idea for a book, that is. Blogs are a totally different animal. I blog of three times a month on three group blogs - Classic and Cozy, Ladies of Mystery and right here at Make Mine Mystery. About once every six to ten weeks I serve my turn at Not Your Usual Suspects and I also do a guest blog every once in a while. Blogs usually shouldn't be over a thousand words and generally closer to five hundred, so you'd think that writing a blog would be a walk in the park compared to the sixty to one hundred thousand words of a book, wouldn't you?

You're partially right. Writing a blog is easy... once you have the idea. And that's where I fall flat on my face. Blogs should be short, concise and focused. Sadly, there are those of us afflicted with hyper-verbosity who can't even say 'Good morning' in less than three hundred words.

Plus, there is the minefield of subject. I usually try to stay on the subject of writing, but let's face it, after half a dozen years of writing blogs there's only so much you can say about writing without starting to repeat myself. I don't want to say too much about my personal life, and though I am a tireless activist for the political and other causes I believe in, I don't think a professional blog is really the place for such subjects. (Though I do confess to having slipped a time or two...)

Which leaves the problem of finding an idea to write about. Once an idea is nailed down writing five hundred to a thousand words more or less is a cinch. It's getting the idea that is the stumbling block. Books are easy - they're a big canvas I can paint with a broad brush and put in lots of exciting events and subplots. To mix metaphors, a blog is a surgical strike - a short, hopefully sweet focus of information.

Sigh. It sounds a lot easier than it is. But I will keep trying. You can decide for yourself if that is a promise or a threat!


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Five novels in one year--very impressive! I agree about blogging. I also try to write blogs that other writers will find helpful. But sometimes, the well dries up!

Maris said...

Janis, I'm facing the same problem you are with my blogs. I've been blogging about writing for several years now and there's only so much one can say without it being a repetition. I love going to conferences so I can paraphrase all I hear in the sessions I attend, but I can't really afford to sign up for conferences just to obtain material for my blogs. (Of course I personally gain from what I learn, so I can't say it's all for my blogs). It's also easier for me to write long rather than short. I've tried a few short stories. It's not easy.

Morgan Mandel said...

I wish I even remembered to post blogs, but when I do it's difficult to think of something to say. I'm afraid I've learned a lot over the years, but a lot of it I don't even remember anymore!

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

you do way better than I do, and the older I get the longer it takes me. Good post.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Forget the old nonsense about a blog should be 500 to 1K words. Short and frequent works way better for the mobile platforms as well as visibility.

Linda Thorne said...

I feel exactly the same way. I certainly don't write the number of books you so (and may never get there), but I can come up with ideas for a zillion books. For blogs, I'm fighting to come up with something new and interesting. I've got two coming up in the near future, so I'm fretting over that right now.