Every blogger–no matter his or her topic of choice–has a bit of a love/hate relationship with that blog. Still, as an author, blogging has a lot of benefits that I’ve touched on before. The one that I feel helps me most makes me wish I had started blogging long before I did.
BLOGGING MAKES FICTION LESS OF A SOLITARY PURSUIT
That’s the truth in a nutshell: writing is lonely. Publishing a novel feels like a lonely, gargantuan, always years-distant goal when you type the first word of that first novel.
- We all know how tough it is to write a good novel.
- Some write faster than others, but we all know how long it takes most of us to craft a decent novel. My first took me a year and a half just to finish a first draft.
- We all know how hard it is to break into the publishing industry, and how many times even GREAT books were rejected by agents and publishers.
- We all feel life’s pulls and other obligations, and even when we meet them, we wonder if we’re wasting our time and should be pursuing a “hobby” that’s more practical.
- We all wonder if it’s worth it. ALL of us.
Writing being the solitary beast it is, we often don’t understand that these problems afflict ALL of us.
BREAKING THE ISOLATION
I’m lucky in that I was in college when I started writing seriously, and after a year of writing was able to enroll in creative writing classes.
Those classes helped me so much! They not only taught some of the basics of fiction, but they showed me, plainly and simply, that I was not alone.
Last week I wrote posts about writer’s doubt (how we all doubt that our writing is any good and whether we should give it up because plainly and simply, we stink) and writer’s guilt (how most of us feel guilty for pursuing income in a field that is so fickle and so difficult and how we wonder whether we should give it up because plainly and simply, writing fiction isn’t something responsible adults do.)
These posts were some of the most viewed and most commented of any posts I’ve written. They seemed to resonate with people, and they resonated for a reason.
We have all been there, some of us are there right now, and many times, we forget these fears, doubts, and guilts are common to us all.
Writer’s guilt and writer’s doubt can pack a powerful one-two punch. When you “know” you aren’t any good, and you have other stuff you should be doing anyway, what’s the point of writing?
We writers can’t exist in a vacuum. We need a community of support and solidarity: a community of people with similar interests and similar goals who understand what we’re going through when we’re facing struggles, don’t cheapen what we’re up against but neither catastrophize it, and whose simple presence reminds us that we aren’t crazy for doing this writing thing.
We all need that kind of community. We can find it in various places.
- Creative writing classes, where I first found it
- Writing retreats and critique groups (if formed of people who give honest feedback in a way that is respectful and encouraging, even when it must be critical)
- Reading books about writing
- Having one or two “writing buddies,” if you’re lucky enough to have close friends who also write fiction and with whom you can really talk about the ups and downs. (I have a fabulous writing buddy who doubles as a beta reader for me. I beta read his stuff too).
A BLOGGING COMMUNITY: YES, IT’S ABOUT COMMUNITY
I have said this before, but it bears repeating: blogging is all about interaction.
I have beefed up on my social media skills through the free webinars of the Social Buzz Club. Many times these presenters link blogging with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the rest of social media. Why?
Blogging is meant to be social. It is meant to be a forum for and to instigate discussion, healthy debate, and mutual information sharing. This makes a blog the perfect place to communicate with other writers.
For the most part I lost my writer’s community after graduating undergrad. For four years during graduate school I wrote when I could, but I had no support.
That was TOUGH. I began to feel strange and embarrassed talking about my fiction. For stretches of time, I put my fiction way on that back burner.
I didn’t read blogs back then; I was in my own little grad school universe and didn’t even realize such things as author blogs existed. It wasn’t until I began blogging that I felt like I got my community back.
To get those reminders that I’m not nuts, and all my ups and downs, doubts and fears, and wavering confidence are normal: that doesn’t just help me keep writing.
It’s essential for me if I want to keep writing. It’s essential for all of us.
And THAT is the biggest benefit I’ve gotten from blogging and reading blogs and generally being present and active in the blogosphere.
THAT is the reason I squealed inwardly with excitement when you guys started suggesting that I put a writer’s handbook together, and why I put one together at all.
I want to pay it forward. I want to help other writers the way my fellow writers have encouraged and inspired me (and continue to encourage and inspire).
How have author blogs most helped and supported you? If you run one, what is it you hope readers take away? What’s your goal? Where do you find your “writer’s community”?
If you’re new to this blog and would like to keep up with new posts, I invite you to sign up to follow the blog via emial (at the top right of the page.)
If you’re interested in learning more about “Writing for You,” my upcoming writer’s handbook, you can find that here at goodreads.com (and even enter a giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy!)