From One Writer to Another

From One Writer to Another - The Truth about Blogging

Today's post is the second in the series "From One Writer to Another." The series is tips, advice, and encouragement for fiction writers. You can read the first post in the series here. I have been blogging for roughly five years. My first blog was youth ministry centered and primarily for the youth and families of my church. I enjoyed blogging so much I decided to start a second blog in June of 2010 called Break the Mold. Break the Mold was about living differently. I wrote about changing your life through simplicity. After about two years, I stopped writing at Break the Mold. The blog was mildly successful, but I grew tired of writing about those topics.  Finally, in September of 2012, I launched my current website with a target of readers and writers of fiction.

Through this tangled web of blogging, I've learned two important truths about blogging.

First, blogging is one way to build an audience for your writing. Many writers read that you need to blog to gain traction for your fiction writing. But, blogging is not the only way to find readers for your writing. I use my blog and website as a landing page for new readers. The blogging is secondary and I find more readers through leading workshops and personal connections. I know this isn't true for everyone, but finding readers in a crowded blogging world is tough.

Second, I've learned blogging can easily become a waste of a fiction writer's time. If you want to write fiction, spend 20 hours a week writing fiction, not blogging. Blogging will not get your books finished, but devoting time to writing will.

So my advice for newbie writers is to blog and set up a web home for your work. However, if you are spending more than a couple hours a week on your blog, you aren't doing it right. Make writing the novel and getting published the first priority. Blogging is second.

From One Writer to Another: Advice to Get You Started

The other day I was hitting a blank for what to write for my next blog post. So I asked twitter for some help. Luckily, my twitter friend Lydia came to the rescue and gave some great suggestions for posts. But, my favorite was the first suggestion: What advice would you give to less experienced writers? My initial response to Lydia: am I an experienced writer? I don't feel like an experienced writer many days. But, after three years of blogging and three self-published books, I guess she is right. And in the past three years, I've learned so much about writing, publishing, and myself. And so, I've decided to write a few posts on advice and tips for fiction writers- especially those who are getting started or have hit a roadblock. Today's post deals with the basics, but in future posts I will dive more into specifics on marketing, writing, blogging, and more.

My first tip is to figure out what you want to write. Not what is popular today or the latest fad in writing, fiction, or blogging.  I spent the first year or so blogging about topics which were popular at the moment, but I wasn't passionate about those topics and I quickly burned out. However, when I decided to write short stories about a pug named Zelda, the words jumped onto the page. Find the stories you want to share, the story that you are itching to put into words and write that, not what's popular at the moment.

Second, make a time slot for writing into your schedule. For me, I try to write for a few hours a day five days a week. The days and times vary from week to week because of my irregular schedule due to my job. But, I know I can't ever be a successful author without writing, so I make time for it. Honestly, I could make more time for writing, but then I lose time with my husband or friends. And both of those are important for me (and keep me sane). But, I still write as much as I can.

Finally, very few writers have immediate success. The path to a writing career is slow and arduous. Be patient. Keep writing. Keep your spirits up. Don't let a flop or rejection letter keep you down. Surround yourself with those who encourage you and plow forward.

What basic advice do you have for new writers?

Thanks for reading. The next post in this advice series "From One Writer to Another" goes up next week!