In my little hiatus from daily posting on the blog, I started to think about the idea of keeping the momentum going. Not just as a writer establishing a personal routine. (I think it IS important for a writer to develop a pattern and habit of writing. When you’re spending a steady amount of time writing, I think it makes it easier to see ideas in the rest of your life and to give them shape.) But this weekend I was thinking about it from the perspective of a fan, of a reader.
I don’t subscribe to blogs, but I do keep a favorites list of blogs that I regularly read. (Like, I don’t know, Patricia C. Wrede’s?) And what I’ve found is that, no matter how interesting the blog, or how good the entries are, that if someone doesn’t post regularly, I eventually either delete them from my list of favorites or move them into a different folder that I only look at when I’m really, really bored and can’t decide what else to do. (It’s labeled “meh.”)
The same happens for me with writers. If a writer takes too long between books, I tend to lose interest. I remember liking George R.R. Martin’s books, but at this point in time, for me to read the most recent one, I would have to go back and re-read the whole series and I just have no interest in doing so. So, he lost me. (Obviously, others were far more engaged and hung in there, but who knows how many others like me he lost?)
This is where feeding the fire comes into play. As writers, we need to keep that spark of interest in our readers going. If someone finds your blog or your book and they like it, they’re going to want more. But if there isn’t more, eventually that spark of interest will die and they’ll move on to another blog or book or whatever.
That’s where consistency and timeliness come into play. I strongly suspect that an author who steadily publishes good books will do better over time than a brilliant author who publishes books on a very slow, intermittent basis. Obviously, the more readers like a book the more leeway they’ll give and the longer they’ll hold in there (just like you’re willing to hang in there a little more when you find a special someone who really sparks your interest), but ultimately a writer has to deliver if they want to keep someone’s attention.
So, to me, the best approach is the slow and steady approach. Find a schedule you can stick to and follow it. PCW blogs twice a week like clockwork. Scalzi blogs pretty much every day. Whatever you can manage, do it. And try like hell to stick with it. I really think that’s part of the key to sustainability. (That and writing something people enjoy…)
(Anyway, flying home tomorrow and then I’ll hopefully be back into my routine and be somewhat more coherent than I seem to be today.)