Monday, June 8, 2015

Why Blog?

Photo: xandert via Morguefile
Last month, not long before my nine-year blogiversary, I attended Joel Friedlander and Joan Stewart's webinar, "How to Sell Books Using an Author Blog." Loaded with information, the webinar helped me generate a list of new directions to explore, as well as sparking ideas from a creative perspective.

But it also reminded me that it's not opportunities for promotion that have kept me typing out posts for nine years. Unlike a lot of writers who blog infrequently -- or not at all -- because they consider blogging a waste of good writing time, I find that creating and maintaining a blog benefits me as a writer in numerous ways. Here, in no particular order, are eight of them.

Blogging teaches self-discipline. There's very little that motivates a writer more than knowing someone is waiting to read his or her words. Creating a posting schedule and sticking to it keeps me writing regularly, even when life is busy and/or I don't feel like it.

Blogging teaches you to write efficiently. After nine years of blogging, I can hammer out a decent 750-word first draft of almost anything quickly and easily. Over time, sheer practice has made me a faster, better writer, not just with blog posts, but with drafts of chapters, articles and query letters as well.

Blogging chips away at perfectionism. When you know readers are expecting a post and the clock is ticking and you have other projects you want to work on, you learn to allocate a set amount of time to writing a post and to accept "good enough" as a standard. Posts should be error-free when it comes to basics like grammar and spelling, but when you're posting regularly, not every post has to be stellar. And if you decide you're disappointed with a post (or you find a typo after you've already put it out there), you can always go back and fix it.

Blogging helps you establish your voice both creatively and professionally. Posts are conversational and informal, which takes the pressure off, but at the same time, they're very, very public -- much like a book. Writing posts on a regular basis helps you find the line between sharing and oversharing and helps you put your thoughts into words that can be released for public consumption.

Blogging helps you connect with readers. Long before my novel released, I had "regular readers" thanks to my blog and social media. Sure, every blogger harbors the not-so-secret hope of being "discovered" by an editor or agent proffering a contract, but even if that never happens, you're still starting a conversation with an important audience: readers and book buyers.

Blogging improves your tech skills. If the mere mention of technology makes you cringe, you can begin with just the basics and expand from there. I started with a free template and for the first several years, posted text only. Over time, I've learned how to find free clip art and photos and integrate them (with credit!) into my posts, as well as adding gadgets and links and pages to my blog. Since it's your blog, you're in control of the learning curve. Not ready to venture to the next step? Take your time, and just keep posting.
Blogging is a plank in your platform. As writers, we're always looking for ways to get our work seen, and a blog can be the perfect way to do just that. In addition to providing online writing samples for those people we hope will discover us, we attract the attention of search engines when we post regularly. This means that if we query someone, they can find us online -- kind of like building a resume. And if we point friends, family and potential readers in the direction of our blog, they can become fans as well.

Blogging is fun. Sure, there are days that I struggle to put something on the page, but most of the time, I genuinely enjoy coming up with posts, and I love it when someone comments favorably on something I've written, or when a reader finds one of my posts helpful.

Looking back, I can't believe I've been at this for nine years. But, when I see how much my writing has improved, I know that the benefits of blogging go far beyond promotional opportunities. Someday, someone with clout may discover me, but until then, I'm happy just to be discovered by readers.

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