Being a writer who also blogs is a bit like being on a seesaw – one week you’re high in the air, working away on your manuscript while the blog crash-lands on the floor, the next week – wheeee! – up goes the blog while – THUMP – the writing hits the ground.
I often struggle to find the balance and have even wondered, given that my desire to write creatively is never in doubt, if I should quit the blog to focus on my novel and picture books. Juggling blogging with motherhood, work and household stuff means progress on my books is achingly slow so imagine how much more I’d get written if I wasn’t constantly sidetracked?!
I can understand why a published author would have a blog – they can be great marketing tools and a way of engaging with readers. It’s almost expected these days. But I’m barely published – what about writers at an earlier stage of their writing career? Is blogging not just using up our valuable time?
Well, I’ve been thinking about it and my answer is no. Here’s why:
Ten reasons for writers to blog:
1) The community – I’ve put this first because it’s so important to me. Being a writer can be a lonely business but in the blogging world you can find many like-minded souls. I particularly love our #WhatImWriting linky group. This lovely bunch all cheer each others’ successes, support each other in bad times and assure us, through it all, that we’re not alone. This kind of support is priceless for writers.
2) The satisfaction of publishing – Ok it’s ‘just’ on your own blog, but it’s still getting your work out there. Each post is a little piece of writing that you created, refined and published yourself. It’s an achievement.
3) The ‘instant hit’ of comments – you write something, post it on your blog and (hopefully) people say nice things about it. This is a real boost and much better than keeping everything hidden in the dustiest corner of your hard-drive (been there, done that).
4) Learning from other bloggers – writing a blog – unless you’re completely insular about it – means reading other people’s blogs too and there’s so much out there to learn! You experience many different writing styles, ideas and forms of expression and glean masses of information on just about everything you’ve ever thought of. Spend enough time in the blogosphere and you start to pick it up via osmosis (kind of).
5) Motivation to improve your writing – the thing with unpublished, un-submitted work is that there’s never really the motivation to polish and refine it. It’s more likely to remain a rough draft. Putting something on your blog though, makes you more likely to look at it again with a more critical eye and before you know it you’ve polished your rough-hewn stone into a gem.
6) Practicing your craft – You’ve got the motivation, now you need the practice. The best – the ONLY – way to become a better writer is to write. Admittedly this could be a reason not to blog (but rather spend time on your manuscript) but you still learn masses about writing through blogging.
7) It’s the perfect procrastination tool – all writers need something to procrastinate about, right? Blogging is perfect… I just need to get this chapter written… PING… oh, new blog comment, I’ll just check that… and then reply… oh and that sidebar really needs tinkering with… I’ll just check my blog stats while I’m here…
8) It’s the perfect ANTI-procrastination tool - When you’re focussing on a novel you’re often working to a deadline far off into the future and unless you’re very good at self-motivation you can get a bit lost sometimes. A successful blog however, needs regular, focussed attention. If you look at your stats you get the sense you should post at least once a week and quite possibly more often. So you get focussed. You write to a deadline. It’s great anti-procrastination writing practice.
9) Understanding your readers – Ok your blog readers aren’t necessarily your potential novel readers but a) they might be and b) they’re still an audience. Listen to them and find out what they respond to. Blogging is a type of market research and you don’t have to be a big-shot author to make use of this.
10) Confidence – Before I started blogging I never dared show my stories or poetry to anyone. I was too scared they’d hate it. Then I finally published a poem on my blog and got positive feedback. So I published another and another and before I knew it I’d plucked up the courage to submit some work to a few publishers. I got some rejections, sure, but I also got an acceptance! Without a blog I think it would have taken me years to pluck up the confidence to make any submissions at all.
Well I think that’s quite enough confidence-building, motivational, procrastinatory, anti-procrastinatory, satisfying writing practice for one evening – I’m off to bed.
Let me know if you can think of any more additions to the list!