I confess: I was, for a long time, one of those writers who wants to be successful without giving a reading, using social media, being interviewed, or blogging. I did all of those things, but only sporadically and with much annoyance. I just wanted to live in a cottage by the sea and write.
It took me awhile to arrive at the conclusion many writers came to long ago: If I wanted to keep publishing, I needed a web presence. So, last spring I made a commitment to post to my blog regularly: five times a week, every week. I made this decision with all the enthusiasm of a sullen teenager on a family outing.
I never imagined that I would soon come to think of blogging as the life blood of my work. Not only do I find it an exciting challenge, but it has connected me with readers in a new way. It has also taught me some important lessons about writing—lessons I could not have learned any other way. Here are four of them:
1. Blogging has taught me to write efficiently. Yes, it is possible to come up with 600 relatively well written words nearly everyday, even on a day in which you also have 30 student papers to grade, a faculty meeting to attend, and two classes to teach.
Doing a good job on this blog is important to me, and it’s part of what has brought me more readers than I ever would have imagined. But what I’ve learned from blogging is that “doing a good job” doesn’t necessarily mean meticulously weighing every idea, image, word, and punctuation mark. I’m not denying the value of careful, fastidious writing here. I’m just saying there is also a place for quick, nimble writing with a limited amount of agonizing and deliberation.
2. Blogging has taught me how to write when I’m not “in the zone.” Like most writers, I have days when I stare at my computer screen and think that every thing that can possibly be written already has been. When I’m writing articles or books, it’s easy to let myself stay there—and use it as an excuse for poor productivity.
When I’m blogging, I can’t cop out that way. I have to get a good post up, regardless. Thinking you can’t write unless you’re inspired is an easy trap to fall into. Blogging has shown me that I don’t need to be surging with creative energy every time I write. I just need to write.
3. Blogging has taught me to be resourceful. One of my biggest fears about blogging was that it would suck out so much of my creative energy, I wouldn’t have enough left over for my fiction.What I've found instead is that being challenged to come up with fresh topics every day and find interesting ways to discuss them has forced me to find new sources of creativity within myself. Blogging has helped me realize that creativity isn’t a finite substance that can get used up. The more of it you call up, the more you have.
4. Blogging has taught me to value readers more than publications. The biggest barrier I faced when I started blogging seriously was the feeling that I was wasting my time on work that wasn’t generating income or publications. Being published—and getting paid for my work—are important to my identity as a writer. They are what tell me I am a professional, not an amateur or a wannabe. But blogging is something anyone can do, and almost everyone is doing. Professionals, amateurs, good writers, bad writers, nonwriters, they all have blogs. No editor has to judge their work; No reader has to pay to read it. All I could think was, What's the point?
What changed my mind about the value of blogging was watching my readership soar from a few dozen to hundreds, and then to several thousand a week, especially on the Redroom website, where most of my readers reside. As the numbers grew, I realized something essential: How many articles I publish isn’t as important as how many people I reach.
Of course, I still want to earn money on my writing, and part of the reason I blog is to promote my work. But blogging made me realize that the thing I want most isn't publications or the pathetic amounts of money I make from magazines, but readers.
Causes Jill Jepson Supports
Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Interational Society for the Protection of Burros and Mustangs, National Wildlife Federation,...