This week, our She Said, He Said blog posts focus on the differences (if any) between writing and blogging. Make sure you stop by tomorrow for Shelby’s point of view and chime in on Twitter at 8 p.m. CST tomorrow using the hashtag #shehechat to tell us what you think.
If I’ve never been paid to write, can I really call myself a writer? That is the central question Shelby and I are trying to answer this week. It’s not really a fair fight because Shelby was paid to write, edit and design newspapers for 17 years. She’s a writer. She even shared a blog post with me the other day that, in a humorous manner, exposes the contempt professional writers have for those of us who also write.
“Don’t be surprised if we’re not impressed when you say, “I’m a writer, too.” No, you are not. The fact that you sit in a coffee shop wearing black while scribbling in your journal does not make you a writer. Nor does the fact that you “wrote some poems in high school” or that one day you want to pen “the great American novel.”
Look, we’re paid to write. Every day. What’s more, our writing matters. It changes opinions, affects decisions and connects people with the world around them.” – Tom Chambers
But wait Tom and Shelby, I actually am paid to write. When a proposal I’ve written for a hundred thousand dollars in services is accepted by a customer, aren’t I getting paid for that writing? Similar to an investigative journalist, I put in a lot of leg work and research before the proposal was written. Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that we “non-writers” are not done when the well-written story is put to bed. We still have to deliver the reality that the story presented to be fully compensated.
Those of us who are “non-writing” proposal creators don’t just write stories. We have to make the stories come true as well. After all, what is a custom software development proposal? It’s a story I’ve sold in words and pictures. That’s my snarky response about my writing abilities, but let’s get back to the central topic of blogging vs. writing.
Is blogging writing?
I don’t think that all blogging is writing; not in the polished, professional sense. Many of the posts on this blog that are more than a year old didn’t benefit from Shelby’s editing and could be considered just blog posts. They have poor grammar, typos, spelling errors and all the other things that cause a piece of writing to fall into the “not-so-well-done” category. I clearly started out as a blogger.
A year ago when Shelby offered to edit my posts, I guess she liked what I had to say but was having a hard time getting past the poor writing, grammar, punctuation, etc. Now, not everything I wrote before Shelby started editing was “not-so-well-done.” After all, there are almost 700 posts published on this blog. I’m sure there are one or two dozen good ones in there. Still, somewhere along the continuum of those 700 posts, I transformed from being a blogger to a writer.
If you think you need to be paid to be considered a writer, remember that compensation for writing can occur in many ways. It can come in the form of speaking opportunities, affiliate revenue or even just brand recognition. Frequent comments from ColorMetrix customers and partners reveal that they like reading what is written on this site. Some clients have even commented on the She Said, He Said project, which also grew out of the writing done on this blog. The growth of the She Said, He Said project has made me a better writer and public speaker. If that’s not the highest form of non-monetary compensation, I don’t know what is.
What’s the verdict?
I’m a writer who has a blog. I’m a blogger who writes. Mostly, I’m a businessman who communicates. Much of that communication occurs in the form of the written word.
Love the verdict.
I am a writer who blogs too. I don’t think of my blogging as “writing” all the time and I’m happy being called a blogger.
Clearly when I am writing and being paid for articles and content, I consider myself a writer, but that snooty attitude about being a writer – meh to that!
Great post 🙂
Jim Raffel says
The verdict seems to be popular.
I think I’m also with you that not everything I write on my blog qualifies as writing but some of it does.
I’ve had a peek at Shelby’s post for tomorrow and she makes some great posts – you know after she dresses me down a bit.
Melissa B Wiese says
As a journalist, I have to agree with Shelby on this. Writing a proposal is doing your job, but it doesn’t make you a writer. Writing is a process of creation, not a business proposal, even if the proposal is well written. However, if you are blogging, then yes, you are absolutely a blogger. Whether you’re writing well-honed pieces or personal musings about what you just ate. Becoming a blogger with an audience is another tier above. I like your ultimate verdict: a businessman who communicates.
Jim Raffel says
Hmmm, the proposal I’ve been thinking about took almost two weeks to write and was about 12 pages long. It was not fluff, it was facts and conclusions. It resulted in a conversation that turned into a 3.5 year business relationship so far. But I respect your opinion to disagree.
As for that whole audience thing, isn’t the real goal an audience of “one at a time?” If I’m reaching one person with each post I feel like I’ve succeed.
As for the verdict, I guess at the end of the day we all have to communicate and we do that best with words. I happen to like writing mine (as much as Shelby will tell you I love to hear myself talk).
Thanks for jumping in. Shelby’s post tomorrow is good stuff, come back and take a peek.
Randy Murray says
I could come down on either side of this, but to me it’s clear. Being a writer doesn’t have anything to do with getting paid.
I do get paid. I’m a professional writer. I make a good living writing for others. But my love, the core of my writing, is Playwrighting, and frankly, I haven’t pocketed a dime from that (although I did get a nice trip this year paid for by the college producing one of my plays).
Saying “I’m a writer,” is a statement about what you do and who you are. If you claim that, you really should strive for writing well, learning the craft, mastering the art. It does not matter if you get paid, if you publish, or if you find a reading audience.
Frankly, I don’t care for the term “blogger.” A blog is a publishing vehicle. I publish a blog, but I’m not a blogger, I’m a writer.
And you, Jim, are a writer, not because you write a proposal or two, but because you’re using writing to help yourself understand the world and are letting the world in on the discussion.
Keep it up (and keep getting Shelby to help you, too!).
Jim Raffel says
Thank you sir.
I joked the other day with Shelby that if “writer” would be something you’d want on your tombstone or in your obituary, then you probably are one.
I also like your distinction that a blog is simply a delivery mechanism. So, I am a blogger because I am a writer who delivers my writing that way. *smiles*