For many writers, starting a blog is the first step in creating an online platform. Whether the goal is to publish through a large publisher, small press, or go indie, everyone from agents to editors to marketers will expect not just a blog, but one filled with ongoing, engaging content. Add to that guest posting, blog tours, and interviews, and the whole thing starts to sound like a never-ending chore.
It doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of reasons, despite the time and effort involved, why starting and maintaining a blog is a smart thing for a writer to do – reasons that have nothing to do with building a platform. Here are five:
Success breeds success. Writing is less about discipline than it is about habit. Getting a blog post out every week can prove something to yourself: that you can produce, and produce regularly. If you can blog every week, you can write every week, and if you can write ever week, finishing that novel or short story doesn’t seem so out of reach.
2. The Joy of Finishing
If making progress is a good feeling, finishing is a better one, and one that novel writers rarely get. Most can’t produce more than one, book-length manuscript per year, and of course that’s just the beginning of a process that then spins into revision, editing, submission, publication, and finally marketing. A blog post is something you can conceptualize, imagine, write, revise, edit, and publish in half a dozen hours (or less).
3. Writing Time
Anyone who writes novels knows that a lot of the time you’re not, well… writing. You’re thinking, or outlining, writing up character histories or world-building. You’re waiting, while people read what you’ve written and come back to you with feedback, or going over a manuscript line-by-line to get it just right. Blogging is a great way to keep writing, all the time, and avoid feeling as if you’re a writer who never actually writes.
4. Getting Out There!
I’m a writer, not an actor. An introvert. Writers spend a lot of time on their own, and for many of us there are long stretches where nobody is reading our work. If a writer doesn’t have a critique group (and every writer should), the first time someone outside of your family and friends reads your work might very well be when you send it to an agent or editor, or even when you publish it. Showing your work to people you don’t know can be intimidating, and there are enough hurdles out there, without taking on one more. Getting used to strangers reading what you’ve written, week after week, will prepare you for when they’re reading and commenting on your novel.
5. Becoming an Expert
Whether the content you’re creating is meant to attract the kind of people who read your work, or whether you’re just writing about something you’re passionate about, maintaining a blog gives you an excuse to become an expert in something. Blogging forces you to dig into your subject matter with every post, not only deepening your knowledge, but deepening your connection to the community of people interested in that topic. Learning more about something you enjoy, becoming part of a community that shares your interests – sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
As big publishing houses take less risks, and small ones have less money, the onus falls more and more on writers to have an online presence, which for many takes the form of a blog. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that a lot of people blog for fun, without a book to promote or a platform to build; it’s in a writer’s best interests to tap into that passion.
Blogging can bring you a feeling of satisfaction complementary to producing fiction. Unlike fiction, though, blogging is something that can be controlled at all steps of the process. Let go of that persistent niggle in the back of your mind that says I’m only doing this because I’m supposed to. Instead, focus on how much fun it is, and what you’re getting out of it.