I’ve been writing in a serious, dedicated way for about nine years now, but I’ve only had a blog for a little under two years. I had heard for a long time that writers these days should have blogs, but I resisted for the same reason I resisted getting a smartphone: I had gotten along fine for years without one (yes, in some ways I’m a mental octogenarian). Here is what I learned, however, and why I have very glad one of my friends finally convinced me to start The Green-Walled Tower.1. It’s great practice
This is partly bad. Since I started my blog in June, 2012, I have worked a lot less on my novel writing and editing. On the other hand, I have still made progress on several of them while also writing about 450 blog posts, almost 350 of which are fiction pieces. Not all 350 are great, but not all of them are bad either, and some are really good. A few have even been published in literary magazines. Writing is not just a numbers game–quality counts for a lot–but quantity is important too. Before my blog, I probably write fewer short stories in a year than I currently write in a week. And like anything, if you do it enough, you will inevitably get better.
2. You get practice interacting with an audience
When it comes to my blog, page views are great and Likes are awesome, but it is the comments that really make it all worthwhile. People point out things I never noticed, offer good constructive criticism, and make suggestions I never would have thought of on my own. When I wrote my story, The Girl Who Could Snee, one of the commenters said I should turn it into a novel. I hadn’t thought of it, but I liked the idea, so that November I wrote the novel version of the short story and while it still needs a lot of work, I think it definitely has publishing promise (if/when it does get published, I’m going to give a dedication to you, Samesides, for the suggestion.)
In the same way, when I wrote Peregrine’s Bar, another commenter suggested doing more with it, so I turned it into a series and now I’m writing a novella version of it. My point is that comments add an interactive element to writing which is totally different than the traditional method of writing alone, showing it to some trusted friends, and then sending it off to an editor. There is still a place for the old way (I’m not suggesting we all post our novel drafts online) but I value every comment I get.
3. It’s all about the relationships
I don’t like to use the word ‘networking’. While blogs are useful for that, it seems much too cold and calculating. When it comes down to it, I don’t blog to market myself or promote my writing or even gain valuable business contacts. Those things may come, but for me it’s about the relationships with real people from many different countries and backgrounds. There is always the temptation to go on a blitz of Liking a million blog posts I haven’t read or Following hundreds of blogs I’ll never read, in the hopes of gaining more readers, but that would be missing out on the most important thing, which is getting to know the people behind the blogs and blog posts. Because I have gotten to know so many wonderful bloggers, I have done collaborative stories with several other bloggers, gotten tips about publishing opportunities, and I am even working on a book with a good blogging friend of mine. And most importantly, I’ve made a lot of good friends.
Blogging is not always an easy addition to a writer’s schedule. It take time to do it right: writing posts, reading others’ posts, commenting, and replying to comments. Still, I think it is a good investment for any writer. In today’s world, writers do not have to be isolated units–they can be part of a community that is beneficial to all involved.