To blog, or not to blog? It’s not just a question, it’s a constant debate within the writing community. Is blogging a useful way to build a platform, or a waste of valuable writing time? A relevant resource, or just another soap box? A genuine way to connect with readers, or a lost glimmer in the galaxy of content?
There’s no easy answer. While it’s true, blogging isn’t the trendiest or most-accessible platform, it’s one that makes a lot of sense for writers. And while it does take time and creative energy away from your newest manuscript, the modern writing career is more than first drafts and bookstore appearances.
What we miss in all this debate is the chance to discuss is how blogging can benefit writers outside of stats and marketing potential. While blogging may not be your fast track to viral fame and bestseller status, there are other things that make the experience worthwhile.
1. I Blog, Therefore I Am
No matter how you choose to blog, there’s a very personal element to creating content. Feelings, opinions, goals, and wonderings are left behind as we forge ahead. Before too long, you’ll look back and see a pattern emerging. It becomes easier to intentionally strengthen the things that make your blog feel indisputably yours once you’re able to recognize your voice.
As a new writer, discussions about writing voice terrified me. This magical factor was supposed be that special ~something~ that made a book irresistible and addictive. But nobody could explain exactly what it was or how to pull it off.
Writing from a personal place as a blogger taught me that I already had a voice. I knew what I wanted to share, which words I preferred to use… and overuse, and when it was too much to add another joke or informal phrase. I began to see my own lovable personality in the posts I was writing. So, I tried a little harder to make every paragraph sound like something I’d say.
For me, writing voice wasn’t something that could be learned by reading how-to books or attending an hour-long workshop. It took time, trial and error, and a space where I could get to know my inner writer. Blogging has helped me hone those writerly skills and put in the necessary practice to become a confident storyteller.
2. Live as if You Were to Blog Tomorrow
Blogging requires a level of consistency. If you want to post something every other Monday, someone’s got to do the legwork to make it happen. Spoiler alert, it’s you. We don’t usually think of creative types as fastidious schedulers. Truth be told, time management is not my natural bent. But, like any skill, it can be learned.
Setting goals is said to be the cornerstone of success. If my goal is to write two blog posts per month, I achieve something every time I make that deadline. And it feels fantastic! I do a better job of incorporating blog-related tasks into my week when it’s on my calendar and treated as a priority. Learning to be self-motivated and initiate progress on personal goals is a skill every writer NEEDS. Big time.
If we can set aside time to plan next month’s blog posts, what stops us from scheduling in some brainstorming for a new novel? Getting better at setting realistic goals is helpful for ambitious writers who want a long-term career. And if blogging can be treated as a priority, it should be easy for us to give our writing projects the same kind of consideration.
If you need evidence that you have what it takes to be a career writer, a blog can become your proving ground. Turns out, if you write a little bit every week, you improve a lot faster. When you’re used to publishing thoughts and ideas online, sharing your precious WIP with a beta reader isn’t quite so scary. And making your self-enforced weekly deadlines makes those long-term goals seem a lot closer than “someday, maybe”.
3. Even While We Blog, We Learn
If you’re a writer who wants to start a blog, I’d bet money that you’re thinking about something related to reading and/or writing. It’s kind of our thing, after all. Our brains are filled to the brim with observations, advice, and opinions about character creation, plot holes, and pacing. Why not share?
With so many other writers thinking in the same direction, maybe it sounds like a waste to even try. Surely there’s someone more experienced, intelligent, or interesting out there doing something similar. But that’s where you’re wrong. Much like storytelling, there’s nothing that hasn’t already been done. All you need to do is take what you like and put your own, authentically-you spin on it.
Instead of chasing what you think people should hear or might like, I recommend you start out by blogging for yourself. What topics do you want to explore? What discussions do you want to have? What do you want to learn more about? What are you excited to share? Whether you’re talking about a favorite novel, critiquing a bad movie, or creating a list of the best literary heroines, blogging should be an experience that fulfills and educates you just as much as it helps or entertains the people who follow you.
The things you learn as a blogger will inevitably make you a more informed writer. Don’t be afraid to dig deep, try something new, and test your personal limits. You don’t need to be a know-it-all to be a blogger. You just have to be curious.
4. Our Blog is What Our Thoughts Make It
Writers run on ideas. We gather them up and fit them together like puzzle pieces until we have enough parts to form a usable concept. Where those ideas come from is a total mystery, and that unknown factor can be a little scary. Especially if we’re thinking about signing up for something that requires speedy and high-quality creative output every single week.
Running a blog is a great way to learn how to generate unique ideas and get in touch with your creative instinct. Pushing yourself to come up with fresh topics, fun questions, or an interesting segue is surprisingly tough work, but the mental gymnastics are worth it.
Facing the blank page is a lot less scary when you’re used to creating interesting and attention-grabbing content on a weekly basis. It’s easier to be objective with your writing once that editor’s eye has been trained to catch your most common mistakes. And your endurance for the less-fun parts of writing grows stronger with every post you push yourself to complete.
5. Life Was Meant for Good Friends and Great Blogs
We usually forget blogs fall under the social media umbrella. If Tweeting into the void or becoming a bookstagram hand model isn’t your true calling, blogging might be the alternative platform you’ve been secretly wishing for.
Finding your place within the blogging community may take a little time and courage, but it’s an awesome and supportive place once you’ve found your niche. Don’t be afraid to jump in, leave a comment, ask questions, and take part in the discussion. That’s what we’re here to do!
If starting a blog from scratch sounds like too much for one person, consider inviting with a friend or two along for the adventure. Co-blogging is an awesome excuse to hang out and brainstorm with your best buds, gives your blog a broader range of content based on each bloggers’ experiences and interests, and helps you spread the workload so it won’t interfere with your writing as much.
Co-blogging is also a great way to have some sense of community while your blog is starting up. Blogs are notoriously slow to grow, but your combined enthusiasm and encouragement will keep you going even if there’s not a lot of feedback from the worldwide web.
How has blogging helped you as a writer? Share your experience in the comments!