There's been a bit of a debate raging on the blogosphere recently which you might already be aware of. I keyed into it via this post on Freya Morris' blog, wherein she unveils her new blog which goes along with the subject matter of her book. Follow the links back from Freya's post to see the discussions that inspired her. The blogger that started this advocates targetting your blog towards your potential readers by posting about material related to your book, rather than focussing on writing itself which would be of no interest to those readers.
While I can see the logic in her argument, I find it difficult to imagine how it would be implemented in practice - at least for me. Of course I wish Freya all the best with her new blog and hope it generates a lot of interest in her book. But it wouldn't work for me and here's why.
As writers, we tend not to be experts on whatever subjects crop up in our books. When it comes to research, we tend to learn just enough to allow us to get by and tell the story. The main topic in my story is amnesia, but I could in no way call myself an expert on this. I'm not a doctor. So to post articles on the subject would strike me as pompous, even fraudulent. For a lot of us, research is a necessary evil. We'd rather be getting on with writing. And when it comes to blogging, we want to offload about the ups and downs of our process, not raking over our research again. And I want to write about lots of different things. Will I need a blog for each one?
What if you write fantasy, for example? As this genre doesn't have its origins in the real world, but goes back to various folk tales, all you can talk about are your literary influences. So this would just come back to a discussion about the craft anyway.
Some writers, of course, have a particular passion that infuses their books, so it would be natural to blog about it. And the idea makes perfect sense when applied to non-fiction. But I would say that for the majority of us, our passion is the writing. People blog about what's most important to them; to do otherwise would be inauthentic.
The argument for the "blog on topic" approach states that the ordinary readers you are trying to reach won't care about your agonising over your craft. But I would argue against this as well. A lot of people who care about books may have more than a passing interest in how those books come into being, even if they have no intention of writing one. Why are there behind-the-scenes bonus features on DVDs, if film buffs don't care about the creative process? What about that quoted 80-90% of people who say they want to write a book? I don't know if those figures are true, but if my blog inspired just one person to start writing, I would consider that a triumph.
I might have taken the idea far too literally. I'm eager to hear more opinions on it. Personally, I'm quite happy to carry on blogging about writing and making connections with kindred spirits. It's a lonely job and we need people to vent with. What do you make of the on-topic argument? What do you blog for?