I’ve been writing a novel for a while now, which means that people keep asking, “Got that book published yet?” As if it’s easy. As if I could be published if I wasn’t so lazy, dumb, and distracted. With that kind of pressure, it’s hard to think about anything but what you can do to make your book better. To draw the attention of an agent. To get a contract and be published.
A few months ago, after a request for a full manuscript ended in disappointment, I put my book aside. I didn’t write anything, and with time on my hands, I started reading about the business of writing. Want to get published? You need a website, a Facebook presence, and a blog. Writers really need to blog.
Oh, man. Really? Bloggers are narcissists. They are relentless self-promoters. The world already has too many bloggers. And so on.
I’ll spare you the details of my conversion journey, but I rolled up my sleeves and built a website on WordPress. I’ve been blogging since November 2013 and I highly recommend it. Here’s why:
- A blog demands a commitment. Unlike the essays, short stories, and books that languish in forgotten Word files, “in progress” doesn’t work for blog posts. They must be completed and posted, on a schedule—once a week, or ten days, or two weeks. Finishing a piece of writing feels good. I’ve written on deadline—usually someone else’s—so setting my own deadlines and sticking to them was a discipline I needed to learn.
- A blog teaches you to be concise. Like any writing, a blog is a story—in 500 words or less. Beginning, middle, end. Tell the story. Notice what you had to cut to reach the right length, and apply the same principles to your other writing. Try it on short-short stories.
- A blog gives you objective feedback. When you’re writing a book, your only readers are people you know, people you ask—too often, because they’re friendly and safe. With a blog, your fans (and your critics) self-select. They tell you what they think. Whether you like it or not.
- A blog makes you human. It shows who you are as a person. Imagine an agent reading your dozen or so posts and saying, “Hmm. How interesting. I’d like to get to know her.” The same is true for any business person. Blogging puts you out there and makes you approachable.
- A blog connects you. Writing is lonely, even if you love it. Writers need isolation, but we also need companionship to feed our minds and our hearts. Following others’ blogs helps you make a different sort of friend, one who shares your interests—and often your concerns.
Blogging will make you a better writer. It will expand your confidence, and if you let it, your self-knowledge. Sometimes what you learn will make you cringe; other times it will make you smile. All of it will help you move through life—as a writer and as a person.
So yes, I admit it: I love blogging.
But I still hate Twitter!