On Fiction and Blogs: The Biggest Way Blogging Has Helped Me As An Author

what blogs provide

what blogs provide

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).
  • BLOGS.

A BLOGGING COMMUNITY: YES, IT’S ABOUT COMMUNITY

I have said this before, but it bears repeating: blogging is all about interaction.

There's a reason people often link blogging with social media sites. Blogging, too, is about interacting with others and fostering relationships.

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!)

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41 responses to “On Fiction and Blogs: The Biggest Way Blogging Has Helped Me As An Author

  1. Hi Victoria…!!
    Loved this post. You have presented the reality so beautifully, the reality of a writer. For me, writing is hobby & dream. I always, want to write a book, I tried to start a couple of times but with no feedback, no one to discuss, I really felt isolated, lonely & scared to move forward with it. So, for the time being, I planned to settle with blogging. It’s totally different but atleast gives me a faint idea of what readers are looking for & how to make my post worth reading & capturing reader’s attention. Above all, I love this platform for helping me meet people like you. There is a long way to go…& I believe with the support of my blogging community , I will surely reach the destination one day.
    Thanks..!! 🙂
    Akanksha.

    • Best of luck to you!!! I love what you say here, Akanksha. Blogging is a great way to meet your target audience, show them snippets of your work and get feedback, even to find beta readers. It’s never good to feel isolated in your art…. I’m glad you discovered blogging as a medium to break that the way I did!

  2. Hi Victoria,
    I think maintaining an active blog allows you to keep your writing in front of an interested audience. As you wrote, it takes a LONG time to write a novel, so why should you lose touch with your readers? On a blog you can communicate with them on a daily or weekly basis. Your blog helps build a community, and that community serves as your potential readers when your novel is published.
    Ellis

    • That’s a fantastic point here, Ellis! When you blog regularly you can keep in touch with your readers and more importantly, keep them interested in you.

      My blog is kind of out-of-the-norm in that I meant for it to attract fantasy fans at the beginning and ended up attracting fellow writers: which is awesome! It worked out: I got my writer’s handbook out of the deal.

      I need to find the time to start a fantasy blog maybe, or take one day a week and devote it to fantasy. We’ll see!

  3. So true. Blogging about writing helps me remember what it’s all about, and readers comments help me realise that I’m not alone. And yes, I like having the chance to give something back too.

  4. Great post. Before I started blogging, I was prepared for a long, lonely road in self-publishing. I never expected to make so many friends that I could talk to about this. It’s like walking into a surprise party.

  5. Ah, Victoria, great thoughts. I have a blog, which encourages and discourages me at times. I began writing fiction seriously in grad school. I miss the close community as a student. Maintaining relationships has taken serious intention. We are beta readers for each other, which has been really helpful.

    As for my blog, I didn’t have a plan when I began it, other than using it to reach out to others, particularly writers. I love the discussion of a writer’s process. I occasionally give tips, but many of the bloggers whose blogs I follow (especially yours) are far better at it than me.

    • I’m so glad you find the blog here helpful! I didn’t start with a plan either; over the first few months my blog kind of evolved into what it’s become.

      There isn’t any one way to write a blog. I know that some people, to keep on track, have a “schedule” of what to write about each post: Mondays have one theme, Wednesday another. I’ve never done that as of yet because I don’t want to feel ‘walled in’ as to what I write about.

  6. Bang on. You’re exactly right that blogging makes writing less lonely. It totally changes the relationship between a writer and her audience. Blogging is so new and has yet to be really put under the microscope. The world is changing at lightening-speed and as a writer/filmmaker come to the blogosphere, I am excited. Thanks for this!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post! I hadn’t considered what you say about blogging being such so new, but it really is, in the grand scheme of things. That’s a great point to consider. What changes will blogging end up instituting in the entertainment industry, across the board? Already writers are expected to “have a blog.” I don’t imagine it’s different for musicians and filmmakers.

  7. I loved this post. I’m not an author, yet, but through blogging (especially with WordPress) I feel more of a sense of belonging than I do in real life…I feel accepted and free to ask questions, no matter how dumb they sound. I have just gotten into reading tips for writing a book since I’m in the process and have genuinely become adiccted. Thanks for the helpful posts!

  8. Great post as usual. Hey, I would like to let you know I nominated you for the Super Sweet Blogger Award. Please check out my latest post for details.

  9. I love this. I am just now starting to actively pursue my dream of writing and it would have been so much scarier and daunting without great blogs like yours. We are a part of a community: I feel as though I have friends and a support system that I can go to for help, encouragement, and constructive criticism when I need it. My blog is brand new, but I hope to make it a place for me to be helpful and supportive to others and build connections with people I never would have had the opportunity to without blogging. I love Rinelle’s comment about giving back. That is my favorite part about it all. I love what I can get out of it, but it’s more rewarding to lift another in some way, large or small.

    • There really is a community: any blogger who doesn’t seek or promote that is doing things entirely the wrong way!

      I’m so glad to hear the blog here is helpful for you: that always makes my day, because it’s why I run it 🙂 Best of luck to you in your pursuits, Rochelle!!! I’ve been really enjoying getting to know you a little bit through your comments and our interactions!

  10. Vicky,
    I have a question. You see as a new author I only recently started blogging and the beginning is so frustrating., and a struggle to reach your audience.
    so how do you refrain from just quitting all together, and finding another way to create a platform to promote my soon to be published book?

    also if you could take a look at my spot and give me some pointer they would be more than welcomed.
    Chillingthrills.blogspot.com

    • I cut the tension by spending just as much time promoting my blog as writing it in the beginning. Make heavy use of social media and make sure your blog URL is in your bio. Make sure you’re going to other blogs and reaching out (like you did here.)

      I loved your mix of fiction and “how to” posts. The query letter post is dead on!!! Market that one, for sure. Tweet it out. (I just tweeted it because I found it very helpful).

      Hang in there, and don’t forget to add a call to action to the end of your post: invite (don’t demand) readers to share your post and follow your blog.

      Hope that is helpful! Best of luck…. it is always rough in the beginning, but things have a way of growing organically if you keep at it.

      You can also join the social buzz club for increased exposure. They’re great! And they have a free member option if you don’t want to or can’t afford a paid membership; free members can still submit “buzz” for sharing

    • Frank, Your blog is great! I will be there often, count on it.

      I know what you mean by starting out in frustration. You are writing your heart out and you want people to read it and take notice. I’m in the same boat, but it seems as though you’re way ahead of me! I’d pass out if I got as many comments as you have! ha ha ha. I don’t have words of wisdom for you, just a supportive high five *up high*. Check me out if you get the chance — don’t click on my name it takes you to some random place, but my gravatar has my website linked up.

      I’ll be checking out the social buzz club as well, thanks for that Victoria.

  11. Thank you for this! I so agree that writing is a lonely world, an island amongst other jobs. Which is why we do need to reach out to others via social media and connect to support one another. I’m still new to blogging and trying to make an impact overall to get myself heard and noticed. I’ve benefited from other blogs (such as yours) over the last couple months and have learned a lot in regards to writing and inspiration. I hope to utilize what I’ve learned in my WIPs and blog posts.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Chris! I love the perspective you share here: it sums up nicely my own perspective and how I try to approach blogging and writing and forming a community 🙂

  12. Hey Victoria,
    Brilliant post 🙂 Exactly like you said – I am a novice writer(at least these days I’ve summoned enough courage to call myself one :)) – who had no idea that author blogs existed and moreover how these could immensely help one’s writing – without compromising on uniqueness and originality. Hat’s off to you for responding to our queries as well. You deserve a lot of credit
    The problem that daunts me at the moment is that I feel my writing has become one-sided – i.e the style remains more or less the same in every article I write ( I usually do non-fiction) ; http://ambreezesj.wordpress.com/ ; I’ll stay tuned to your posts and I am sure I’ll run into something which will help me solve this. Thank you,
    Ambareesh Sr Ja

    • Welcome, and thanks for your link!

      I don’t think a consistent style is a problem with blog posts. I actually think it’s a benefit, especially for non-fiction writing. It allows you to create pieces rapidly and your readers know they are getting consistent quality from you. I wouldn’t worry about being “one-sided” style-wise as a problem.

      Every now and then, if you decide you want to write a post in a different vein, you can, for sure. But I wouldn’t force myself to do it. I don’t vary style much myself here on my blog.

  13. Another excellent post Victoria. I don’t know how you do it. You are a blog writing machine! Fess up, how many cups of coffee do you drink a day? 😛

    • hahaha! usually one. I do drink tea, though!

      Hopefully I will find a job soon and have to cut down on the blogging…. somehow the posts don’t take me that long to write, though. Since I publish so often, I don’t do research or anything like that…. I just talk from personal experience.

  14. Thanks for the advice. Having a group of people support you and your interests is very helpful.

  15. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday 07-18-2013 | The Author Chronicles

  16. Your comments about writing, needing interaction and loneliness resonate with me. I resisted social media, etc. for a long time as I labored on a first novel. I had another writer friend who shared stuff with me, but, looking back, it wasn’t enough. A couple of summers ago I got aggressive (ish) at a writers conference and pulled a big group together. Now we meet twice monthly to critique each other’s stuff and socialize, and it’s been wonderful. I’m getting ready to self-publish the first novel and am 10 chapters into a second! Also preparing a web and blog site and venturing out into social media. But hearing someone else voice what I experience helps to keep me plugging away… so thank you!

    • That sounds wonderful!!! Meeting with a writer’s group every 2 weeks sound just about the perfect amount…. enough time to make changes and write more between sessions.

      Best of luck with your launch and your writing! It’s really so exciting, isn’t it??? I’m so glad this post was helpful. I know I took baby steps getting into blogging and social media. If I tried too much new stuff at once I’d just do it wrong and/or feel overwhelmed.

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