Why Blogging Can Improve Your Writing by Alana Kirk
Blogging is one of those activities that you either love or hate. It can be seen as a global audience for narcissistic rantings, or a platform for the everyday Joe and Jane to explore their creative musings. Perhaps it’s a little of both. There are good blogs, bad blogs, funny blogs, sad blogs, shameful blogs, self-indulgent bogs, inspiring and uplifting blogs. There are blogs about politics, celebrities, lifestyle, hobbies, careers, passions, passion. Blogs for nerds, survivors, parents, grandparents, children, teachers, tinkers, tailors and candlestick makers. Blogs that move, blogs that hurt, blogs that inform and blogs that explain. There are even blogs dedicated entirely to the pictures of puppies.
With a new one created very 7.4 seconds, it is estimated that there are currently over 8 million blogs at our fingertips from every subject under the sun (and a few about the sun and beyond). A voice for the common people, a window to share, a platform to create, a discipline to develop.
And it’s that discipline I want to focus on. For writers (and there are many, many great blogs about writing – see below) keeping a blog going is a discipline in commitment, honing your writing skills and showcasing your writing in a fresh and exciting way.
There is no getting around the fact that – whatever they are about – a blog involves writing (except the one dedicated entirely to pictures of puppies). The thing about blogging is that all the work is in your head. YOU have to deliver it, and each post starts with a blank sheet and a bleeping curser. (Is there a reason why the blinking line that demands you write a word is called a curser to mimic the person desperately trying to think of that word?)
It doesn’t have to require any real technological knowhow (thank goodness, says I), or much expense other than a hosting fee. There are many platforms that just require you to choose your style, and fill in the title and sections (WordPress is one of the simplest and most adaptable). Then you are good to go. Write. For a writer this can be like catnip. For me, regardless what else I am working on, my blog is a space to be free, to not be constrained by the boundaries of books or newspaper articles or campaign materials that I write for charities. My professional blog is here, it has a totally different mood and feel to my personal blog Grin and Tonic)
Blogging can be a really useful tool. And not for the reasons many might think. We’ve all heard the stories of bloggers making it big in the publishing world, but they are rare, a bit like the JK Rowlings legend of being rejected 56 times before becoming a multi-gazillion selling author at the hands of a small publishing firm. That’s not to say a smaller, less ‘Daily Mail headline’ version of that can’t happen. I got a publishing deal from a blog, although it was really the writing style and the premise of the blog that my book Daughter, Mother,Me: a memoir of love, love and dirty dishes became (sadly of the 70,000 words I had to write, very few came from the actual blog itself). But the key lies there in the last sentence. The publisher loved my writing style and saw a potential in the premise of my blog (in this case, documenting the highs and lows of wading through the sandwich years of caring for parents and babies with some modicum of sanity left).
They loved my writing style. And the premise of my blog gave them an idea that led to a book. If I had never written a blog, I wouldn’t have been seen as a writer worthy of being given a publishing deal. I had submitted a novel and while they liked the writing style of that, felt the story wasn’t strong enough. It was a first attempt and I take with me all their feedback. But importantly they knew they liked my style and I had the capacity to write a lengthy piece of work. But the blog also showed a broader skill and a wider scope.
A blog creates a body of work that shows not only your voice but your capacity as a writer and an author. It answers questions like who you are, how you relate to and with the outside world, are you serious, poetic, witty, observant, bold, brave, sensual, funny, generous? It also shows you have focus and stamina. To write regularly and consistently, to follow a path and let your writing take you places, to explore and explain and develop is a showcase for how you, as a writer, can be, takes a level of commitment that can be appealing.
Every writer needs to write regularly to hone the craft. There is nothing more regular than a blog, especially if you are able to grow an eager audience. The subject matter does not have to do with your writing. It can be a wholly independent part of you from gardening to parenting. The point is, it’s a creative way to write regularly and build a platform of your work.
Even when I can’t write, even when I’m stuck or can’t get the headspace to think out plots or tricky scenes, I can write one of my two blogs. One is to do with me as a writer, and very much supports that persona. But the other is personal and I write that as me the person. It has evolved from the sandwich years I wrote about previously that became my first book, and has a new focus, to explore the new phase of my life, and a new topic I am passionate about writing about in and outside of that blog – redefining middle age. It is a subject I hope will become a second non-fiction, in many ways it is also the subject of my novel (but with a little more drama), and is the subject of a series of newspaper articles. The blog is central to all of those – it is my private, yet very public, place to work through some of my experiences, theories and language.
Despite the fact they are shorter, complete pieces of writing, they still require that skill of finding a point and making it well. It is all practise, and as a practising writer who sometimes struggles to get the chance to ‘write’ the big stuff, I can always find the time to write the small stuff, no less well written for it’s brevity. It keeps me writing, no matter what.
And every time I open a new post page, and that curser blinks at me, willing me to write, I smile and let my fingers do the talking.
Great writing blogs that I love include:
https://libranwriter.wordpress.com/ (Lia Mills)
Check them out and see what you think.