Susan Orlean: ‘I’ve always been skeptical about the value of blogs’

Author and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean recently did an All Write Already! podcast. An excerpt:

If you want to write, there has never been a better environment for writing and getting your work broadcast to the world. On the other hand, I think it’s harder to get paid, so you have to begin thinking in a rather different way.

Susan Orlean

Susan Orlean

I’ve always been skeptical about the value of blogs. It’s not the thing I tell people to do; I don’t say: Number one, start a blog. The reason for that is very specific, which is, it’s not only that you don’t get paid, it’s that you have no editor and no opportunity to have your work filtered through a critical eye.

Sure, [blogging is] a writing exercise and there’s an argument that writing is just good the more you do it. But I still feel that there’s more value in trying really hard to find somewhere where you’re going to write and have to kind of square off with another perspective — somebody who says, ‘This doesn’t make sense to me,’ or, ‘Why are you writing this piece?’ or, ‘This lede just doesn’t engage me.’ A blog just doesn’t offer you that.

She says of Twitter: “All writers should have as many forms of unproductive distraction as possible. For me it used to be that I would clean drawers or rearrange my closets or start cooking lunch. I had many, many ways of pretending to be working, but not really working. So Twitter is quite marvelous at that. It is a wonderful, wonderful way of just procrastinating …

“But secondly, I do think the more you write – whatever the form – the better; it’s a valuable thing, even if it’s writing 140 characters.”

faulkWhat writer – living or dead – would you most like to have a drink with? “I would probably have to say William Faulkner because I’m, first of all, I’m such a fan and his writing has meant so much to me. Also, because if you’re going to have a drink, he was a big drinker; you would certainly have somebody who was very good at drinking.”

* Episode 29 – Susan Orlean ( | @susanorlean (