To Blog Or Not To Blog

I love a rollicking dialogue on the web.
Last week Rachelle Garnder posted about the need  for authors to have a platform, the hot topic of 2012. The first commenter was none other than James Scott Bell, author and writing teacher and a man on the forefront of the churning waters of the changing publishing seas.
He opined that writers should focus on writing to build their quality, publishing short stories and books. He suggested that blogging was the biggest time-suck for authors, especially unpublished ones. The return on blogging was perhaps there in 2007, but not in 2012.
Another well-known writing blogger, Jody Hedlund, answered with a post on this issue. She took a more measured approach to blogging, relating side benefits that can come from blogging: networking with other writers, finding a voice, and learning about the industry. She couldn’t point to her blog being a major reason behind her success, but felt it did play a role.
The irony of this discussion being played out on blogs is not lost on me.
Bell answered back on Jody’s blog, conceding that there are ancillary reasons for keeping up a blog. He held to his main point about a blog being a poor option in creaing a platform. He noted that Rachelle and Jody have created strong platforms through their blogs, but that is a rare position to create a new blog that really puts someone’s name out there.

I’d have to agree with Jim. I’ve been blogging since 2006. The advice at the time was to start blogging and build a base that would end up following you into publishing.

Well, I’ve been pretty consistent through the years. I wish I could say I’ve created a large tribe that would spread my message hither and yon. Alas, that’s not the case. I did have Anne Rice comment on a blog post once. Whoo-hoo!

So if I was only doing this to build a platform, it hasn’t played out very well.

The thing is, I also agree with Jody. Blogging has done a lot for me even if it isn’t counted by numbers.
Through blogging I’ve been introduced to several people online that have continued to encourage and challenge me in my writing life. It has kept me disciplined in writing regularly, even when my fiction writing sat idle for a couple of months at a time. I’ve reviewed a lot of books through here, so it has fed my reading habit. I would suggest it helped open some other doors, like writing a column for the local paper.
I’ve seen some friends develop a platform through their blogs. Mike Duran started around the same time. He’s managed to build a healthy community of commenters that make it an intelligent site to follow. Becky Miller is a go-to person in the realm of Christian speculative fiction since she works tirelessly to promote it. Jordyn Redwood found a niche by answering medical questions on her blog, which plays into her primary job as an ER nurse and her medical suspense. These folks have managed to build something special.
But the common thread here is that I’ve interacted with each of them through the years because I have a blog.
If I were talking to a brand new writer, I probably would point them to Jim’s advice about putting their effort into fiction that they can start to get out there. I’ve been doing this too long to quit, although I’ve tried to do a two posts a week schedule this year to stay consistant but not as pressured as when I tried to do 3-4 a week.

Most of my opinions are similar to the comment threads of the blog posts by Rachelle and Jody. If you’re interested in the discussion, check those out.

As someone who has done the blogging thing for a while, I couldn’t resist throwing out my experience. If I had to do it over again, I wish I had spent a little less time blogging and more time on writing, but I don’t think I’d say I wouldn’t blog at all.

What say you? What value does blogging have for a fiction author over other writers or professionals? Do you lean toward Jim or Jody?