You’re a writer, not a blogger, so should you still write a blog?
There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about whether authors should have blogs. Some say it’s a waste of time, others say it’s a benefit.
Personally, I’m in the benefit camp. For the reasons you’ll learn below, blogging is probably the best thing you can do while you’re not actively writing your novel to prepare you for the task.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Reason #1: All Writing is Writing
In other words, you need to write to be a writer. You’re not going to roll out of bed one day, head to your computer, type out the perfect novel in one sitting, and then go back to bed. It takes years of writing to create perfection (and good news, I’m including your troubled high school years in this equation, too).
Unfortunately, a lot of folks have the idea that they can sit at a computer on any day of their choosing and force a novel to come out.
Come on, you know the folks I’m talking about.
The ones who think, once I have time to write, I’m going to write my novel. I just don’t have time to write right now.
But the truth is, once all of their perfect conditions are met and they finally sit down to write, they’re rusty as nails.
This is the type of person who has a talent for writing, but never honed it. Now instead of prose that flows, it’s prose that blows (maybe a little harsh, but I’m a slave to rhyme).
But there’s an easy way to guard against this. It’s to write.
You don’t have to write novels constantly—no one has time for that. But you can write short stories, editorials, and yes, blog posts frequently.
Simply writing will help you write faster and more efficiently when it comes time to pen your novel. You’ll already be familiar with the process of writing, such as quieting your mind, gathering your thoughts, putting them into words, and then editing those words. Starting with a blog will help cultivate your writing skills so that it won’t feel so foreign when you begin writing your novel.
Now, let’s talk about how to create a successful blog.
Decide What You Want to Blog About
There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of topics you can blog about. It doesn’t have to be about literature. It can, and should, be about a topic you’re passionate about. Bonus points if it ties back to your writing in some way.
For example, let’s say you’re interested in writing crime novels. You may create a blog around the topic of forensic science or discuss cold cases that pique your curiosity.
On the other hand, you can simply write about writing. Discuss your process, offer tips and tricks to fellow writers, and build a community around you.
Of course, you don’t have to reference your passion for writing at all. You can blog on some other passion you have—maybe it’s home decor, sports, beauty, auto repair, barbecue, you name it. Even if you’re writing about a subject that’s completely unrelated to the type of novel you would write, it still helps you sharpen your writing skills— and that’s what this is all about.
In a notebook, create a top five list of potential topics you could write about. Next, for each topic, come up with at least five post titles you can blog about. It’s okay if they’re not perfect, you’re mostly looking for subject matter here. If you can’t come up with five titles, cross that topic off your list—you’re not passionate enough about it, and populating a blog on that topic would be more of a chore than anything else.
To narrow down your blog topic further, decide which one of the remaining topics you’re most excited about tackling, and then go for it.
If it doesn’t work out, no big deal. You can always go back to the drawing board and choose another one.
Reason #2: Use Your Blog to Connect with an Audience
One of the biggest benefits of blogging is that you can interact with your readers.
Novel writing offers a different experience. While you can still connect with your readers, you won’t know for months or years, if ever, how the readers feel about your novel.
However, if you manage to build readership around your blog, you’ll get quick feedback on how readers feel about your writing.
This can build your confidence around writing, for sure. Don’t discount this need. When others enjoy your writing, it can be a powerful motivator that encourages you to write even more.
Depending on the topic of your blog, you can also use your posts to get critiques for your writing.
It can also help you build an audience who’s more likely to read your upcoming novel. The more exposure you achieve as a writer, the better your chances of selling to a wider audience.
To this end, I highly recommend starting an email list so that readers who enjoy your blog can stay connected to you through their email inbox. This way, when it comes time to send them the good news that your newest novel is for sale, they get that news delivered directly to their inbox.
Be aware, though, that it takes a while to build readership around your blog. It takes at least a year of actively pursuing connections to establish a community. You’ll also need to be blogging quite regularly (two times per month or more) on a consistent schedule to see results.
As for writers who are already published, it’s even more important to grow and maintain a blog. One reason is that your readers want to learn more about you. They want to read more of your work. By having and maintaining a blog, your readers get immediate access to you in a way that was inconceivable 25 years ago.
Keep It Private
Who says your blog has to be open to public scrutiny? You can keep a blog for your eyes only—no one else has to know about it or read it.
In this case, your blog is your journal. You can use it to collect your thoughts and random musings.
So why a blog and not a notebook?
With a blog, there’s no paper trail, everything’s in the cloud, and you have the benefit of delete and undo at your fingertips.
When You Shouldn’t Blog
So, to be fair to the topic, let’s discuss the reasons why blogging isn’t always a good idea.
If You’re Looking for Something Quick and Easy
Blogging is time consuming, especially if you do it right. There’s no way conceivable (to me, at least) that you can blog while also writing a novel. That’s a guaranteed recipe for mental overload.
If you plan to blog for an audience, you’ll need to go through the extra step of editing your posts for spelling and grammar errors.
You’ll also need to let your audience know that you’ll temporarily suspend writing on your blog when the time comes to write your new novel. You may lose some of your audience when you return, so be prepared for that.
If You’re Looking for a Book Deal
Unfortunately, blogging doesn’t usually lead to book deals. Unless you’re a crazy-successful Internet celebrity, you’re not likely to get approached by a publisher who’s interested in turning your musings into a book.
Don’t blog for that, but celebrate if it happens. And then let us know if it happens, and we’ll celebrate, too.
Writing is hard but it gets easier the more you do it. That’s true for all artforms. With blogging, you can improve your discipline and focus simply by writing on a consistent basis. If you open yourself up to an audience, you’ll have the added benefit of community and possibly even feedback.
If you have a blog, let us know in the comments below and we’ll check you out!