IVP - Andy Unedited - How Valuable the Blog?

May 7, 2007

How Valuable the Blog?

Since I'm writing a blog, I suppose it is obvious that I think they have value. But how valuable are they for publishers and authors in particular?

Awhile back I was on a panel for those interested in Christian writing and the question arose about the usefulness of blogs for writers. I told the over two hundred in attendance that I thought blogs could be valuable for getting early feedback from readers and for helping writers maintain the discipline of regular writing. A pianist needs to practice to keep at top performance levels. A tennis player needs to practice for the same reason. Likewise a writer. We need to practice our skills, work in a focused way on different techniques, keep our writing muscles in good shape. A blog is one way to do that.

To one side of me on the panel sat another Andy--Andy Crouch, a well-known writer and observer of Christianity and culture. In his cheerful, smiling way, he said virtually the opposite of what I did. He thought blogs were way too undisciplined, random, unfocused and unpolished. He thought too many bloggers were foisting their half-finished work on the public. That, he said, was not helpful to the writer or to the reader.

He valued the discipline that is created when you know what you write is going to be committed to print, that it is going to go through a rigorous editorial and review and revision process before it ever gets to print. Blogs? He didn't have much use for them. What's in print is more likely to have staying power and value than what is in blogs.

One exception he allowed: It is a good way for established writers to stay in touch with their audience. So it had value for writers knowing what their readers were thinking and interested in (on the one hand) and for keeping readers loyal to authors and raising interest in current and future books.

Would I be too diplomatic to say I think we are both right? Some people can spew out brilliant (or at least interesting and valuable) prose on a regular basis. But they are few. The rest of us have to work at it. And if a blogger doesn't work at it, most likely it isn't worth the time of the blogger or the reader. So I agree with Andy.

Posted by Andy Le Peau at May 7, 2007 8:57 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments

“Some people can spew out brilliant (or at least interesting and valuable) prose on a regular basis.”

Oh, stop it Andy; I’m blushing!

It’s hard to predict this sort of thing, isn’t it? When we glance back 20 years, there are some things that are downright embarrassing, but there are other things that we wish we could have been a part of. I tend to lean towards your pre-diplomatic position.

I’ll tell you a secret. Do you know why I love blogging? It has the potential to bring ordinary people close to some great minds, but the really, really big thing for me, is that it makes it easy to make friends with non-Christians and invite them into conversation in a manner that is easy and unthreatening. I have had a few opportunities already to share the Good News with people via the Internet. Anyhoo, all that to say that I like it because I think God can use it.

Comment by: Craver-VII at May 7, 2007 5:13 PM

Great post! I like blogging because it makes all of us more human and down to earth-from illustrious authors to the writer wannabes. :)

Comment by: Eve Nielsen at May 8, 2007 11:00 AM

I was amused to see that the other Andy has been at it again. I reported similar comments on my llbarkat.com site, after I heard him, Lauren Winner, and Jana Riess publicly address the subject at Calvin (and disagree).

Here's a writer's perspective (mine). For years, I haven't kept a journal. I am a social person, so blogging has become that journal opportunity for me... because it serves my need to connect with people. And my writing has improved because of it. Maybe not always my blog writing, but definitely my off-line writing.

Furthermore, I now have a larger platform (especially with unexpected links like the one from Christianity Today's newest blog.) And I signed a long-term writing contract with an organization through blogging connections. And I've gotten other print article opportunities through blogging.

I could go on. There are more reasons a writer might consider blogging. Mostly, though, I have found a side of myself I really enjoy. And I love my blog community. It puts me in a good mood, which any writer as intense as I am might find to be a blessing.

Comment by: L.L. Barkat at May 11, 2007 3:05 PM

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book cover"Some publishers tell you what to believe. Other publishers tell you what you already believe. But InterVarsity Press helps you believe," says J. I. Packer. Andy Le Peau and Linda Doll describe how this came to be a hallmark of InterVarsity Press in Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength, an anecdotal history spanning the sixty years from the founding of IVP in 1947 to the present day.