When Connie and I began our blog at wordpress, we did so as two writers who understood the need for a web presence. That need has altered over the years while the presence of everyone marketing everything–actors their shows, authors their books, soap makers their products–has probably risen a thousand percent.
I still believe the internet is a writer’s tool, but how I use it reflects my changing needs. That has got to be true for every writer. I would not dream of instructing people how to be better writers (outside my classroom) since there are some folks who already do that fantastically well, like John Yeoman of Writer’s Village.
Others, like Kimberley Grabas, discuss marketing online for self-published authors. There is no earthly reason for me to stick my pinkie finger into either pie since both of these writers do what they do formidably well. Additionally, writing phenomenon Hope Clark sends out a newsletter to any writer who wants one, encouraging others while listing contests and other opportunities. (She has become an institution unto herself.)
So what does a writer need the internet for when not Googling agents? The presence is the main thing: a steady potpourri of life interests, steady as the changing of seasons if that is all one can muster. Most job-holding, family-nurturing writers with hobbies on the side (mine is doll making) will be able to manage just about that. When the time comes, due to a book sale or a sudden maniacal desire to scuba dive for sunken ships, those interests will be reflected on that writer/scuba diver’s blog.
I don’t think any writer should beat him or herself up over not being more present than that. The internet is a strange thing: for bloggers, it may sometimes feel like a mirror that the occasional stranger will walk past.