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.
February 27th, 2014 at 8:07 pm
I arrived into the blogging world in much the same way David and I agree with all you said, plus, it pushed me beyond my comfort zone in a way that I have found hugely beneficial.I have been blogging for less than a year but I can see the improvement in my writing and I too love the interaction with people from around the world.
February 27th, 2014 at 8:38 pm
wow. your experience is impressive! i’ve only been at this thing for a few months, so i have loads to learn, so keep the tips and posts coming…
February 27th, 2014 at 10:40 pm
Ditto and learning….if I have a question or two, I can approach anyone for help…and that’s very hard to get in the real world.
I wonder at times why are people so nice here…really!
February 27th, 2014 at 10:43 pm
I know what you mean. Based on other areas of the Internet, I was expecting my share of nasty comments but all bloggers are really nice. It’s a great environment.
February 28th, 2014 at 12:17 am
I absolutely agree with you, writers should blog seriously, not merely to publicize their writings, but to grow as a writer blogging can work as a priceless tool, my writing has improved so much, due to reading the works of talented friends like you.
it gets honed every day, not only that, new ideas pour in…
February 28th, 2014 at 2:17 am
I was starting to think maybe blogging cuts too much into time spent longer pieces, but now I’ve reversed that decision. Thanks for writing this.
February 28th, 2014 at 6:49 am
I am not a writer in the true sense of the word, but I agree with you too. The balancing act can get a bit wearying, but the connections we establish with people are priceless.
February 28th, 2014 at 1:41 pm
Blogging does offer practice and discipline. The readers, commenters and friends – lovely icings on the cake.
All good wishes, David, with your writing,