Can a “blogger” write a book?
How different are the two skill sets?
I’ve been blogging for 8 + years and I’ve written over 1,100 blog posts.
I’ve never taken more than a week off from writing on the blog.
98% of my posts have been centered around the successes and failures in my 2-acre New Jersey garden.
I sum up the blog like this:
One man’s journey from novice gardener to obsessive gardener and all that has come with that journey. This isn’t a “how-to” but a “what I’ve done” or “where I’ve failed” or “what I’ve tried”.
Some days I salute myself in a post and other days I wallow in self-pity.
It’s all very “of the moment” as I believe a blog should be. One day is different from the next. This is how I feel today in the context of today.
There are references in blog posts from six years ago that make no sense today. Posts fall out of style on a daily basis. What was funny in 2011, not so much any more.
There are bad posts (like a lot) and embarrassing posts (like a lot).
There are posts I’m super proud of and posts that include the kids that make me cry.
All posts will remain on the blog forever; I refuse to go back and self-edit.
Which brings me to a question I’m grappling with today:
Can a blogger transition to a writer of books?
Maybe a better way to pose that question is:
How do I transition from blogger to book author?
How different are the two skill sets? Why do I feel the need to write books? Is it a means to validate myself as “writer”? Do I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder that as “blogger” I’m not really a writer?
I released a self-published gardening book earlier this year. I’m proud of it but know that there is drastic room for improvement. I did it to say I did it, to test myself and to initiate a test run.
I’m now formulating the concept for book#2 and I’m engaging my blog readers for their input. What would they want to read? What book would they buy?
As I work through this process, I’m still posting on the blog a few times per week and I’m writing here on Medium almost every day. The blog and Medium always become the priority (this post is Exhibit A your honor). I set aside time to dedicate to book planning/outlining/writing but almost always venture back to my enjoyment of daily blogging/writing.
When that happens, I question my book writing sincerity. I self-analyze my motivations.
What is so appealing about blogging? How does it compare to writing a book?
If you don’t mind, I’d like to try and work that out now in real time.
Quick note: I reserve the right to change my mind as I work through all of these.
I like the daily ebbs and flows of writing a blog
Today I’ll write a post with obnoxious sincerity.
Tomorrow I’ll try to be funny.
The next day I’ll experiment and it will fall flat.
I enjoy riding the wave. The inherent flexibility of a blog keeps things interesting. It allows for a shift in writing mood or scope.
There are basically no rules.
A book needs to stand the test of time. It needs to be perennial. Old information and references can render it obsolete.
That scares me.
It’s easier to insert myself into a blog post
Blog readers want to learn or laugh or cry, often within the same post.
They want to see the human behind the writing and the photography. It makes it that much more enjoyable and relatable.
I’m able to do that in small chunks when blog writing.
I may be wrong, but it feels much more difficult to pull that off when writing a book. Too much of me in long form would become a turn-off and get old fast.
Plus my memoir ain’t that interesting.
I feel more authentic when writing a blog post
I focus intently on being transparent and honest. Authenticity is everything to me.
It’s easy to write with that conviction in a blog post.
Here’s a plant I tried growing.
It died within a few months.
I made the mistake of watering it too much and I didn’t give it enough sun.
In a book, do you want to see a dead plant? Do you want to know that the author is flawed?
I fear having to be an expert all the time.
There is immediate validation (good or bad) when writing a blog post
This is huge. In only an hour’s time, I can write something, hit publish and then wait for the accolades to pour in.
It’s great for a quick self-esteem boost.
But it can also be maddening.
Hello, where are my frickin claps? Why have only 3 people read my brilliant work in the past few hours?
It’s a dance I’ve participated in for years now and I honestly love the ups and downs. It’s a fun and educational and stressful process and it takes time to be OK with it.
It’s never dull. It often messes with me while I’m trying to sleep or when I’ve driving in the car.
A book release is terrifying. It’s too much at once.
Here’s what I’ve been promising for a year now. Please dole out some cash and love it. Oh this isn’t what you expected? The stellar Amazon reviews don’t align with your take? You feel like you’ve been duped?
I’m sorry. A refund is on the way.
Writing a book poses a bigger challenge
I think I’ve said it three times already and here we go again.
Blog writing is easy. Writing on Medium is easy.
There are no rules.
If I write a post and it generates no noise, so be it. I’ll move on to the next one.
Writing a book is another animal. It requires discipline. It requires nothing but coherent thoughts. It requires planning, and pivoting and editing and deleting and starting over.
I’m exhausted after typing that.
There’s a reason so few do it.
Having said that, I want to challenge myself even more now. I want to suffer and I want to test my stick-to-it-ness.
I think I want to write this next book.
A book provides instant credibility
In the past, I tried to book speaking appearances at local libraries and gardening clubs. Zero said “yes”, even with a blog that has been around for a long time.
I write my first book and suddenly doors opened. Even if the book may be garbage, it’s still a book. A book for sale on Amazon.
I hate this quote but I’ll leave it here because I hear and read it constantly:
Books are the new business card.
It feels a little gross but I’m already reaping the benefits.
I can write a blog post on my phone sitting in my car at my daughter’s field hockey practice. Even more thought out and heavily edited posts can be done in a few hours and those hours can be spread over a day or days.
A book requires larger chunks of time. It’s difficult to jump out and jump back in an attempt to maintain a focus. Continuity is a must. Writing for hours on end is a must.
I’m not complaining (seriously family, I’m not) but time is an issue with a full time job, a family and two young children who are involved in like everything. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but limited free time lends itself to blog writing.
Not so much with a book.