Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Social media is constantly changing and evolving. One of the things that is changing is the nature of blogging for fiction-writers. Many are coming to the conclusion that blogging doesn't build a large platform for novelists, particularly before publication.
That raises the question, "Should fiction writers blog at all? Why bother?"
Well, I for one don't think we have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Yes, I still think blogging can have a role in a fiction writer's career. It can still be beneficial in many ways. Here are the top two benefits:
First, blogging can help us build friendships, a team of people who can support us through the ups and downs of the writing life. Those friends will usually become some of our strongest supporters during publication and beyond.
Second, blogs can serve as a home base for unpublished writers who aren't quite ready to put the time and money into a website. If agents, editors, or other professionals want to find out more about us, we will at the very least have a page with a professional-looking picture and our contact information.
Yes, blogging has many other benefits as well. But . . . fiction-writers need to be careful about how much time and energy they're pouring into blogging. Writing our books and stories always needs to stay paramount, because those are the things that build a readership, not blogging.
Fiction writers who take the plunge into blogging invariably grapple with the question: What should I blog about?
I'm of the opinion that there really isn't a right or wrong choice regarding WHAT a writer blogs about. I don't think WHAT we blog about is as important as HOW we blog.
What do I mean?
I mean, blogging is a lot like crafting a novel. Some writers can take any setting or idea and can craft an exciting, enchanting, and endearing story from it. Other writers can take the same basic setting and plot and put us to sleep with their story.
No matter the medium (books or blogs), we have the power to shape words so that we grip our readers. Or we can bore them to tears.
So how do we take ANY subject and make it gripping enough for a book OR blog? Here are a few things I consider:
1. Write about something that elicits passion inside of us. If there's a niche, topic, or subject of expertise that we love, then we should go for it. When we LOVE something, that tends to come through to our readers versus writing about something that excites about as much as scrubbing a toilet.
On the other hand, if we don't have a niche or area of expertise, then we shouldn't worry. We can keep a running list of ideas that interest us and draw from that. We should approach idea-hunting for blogging the same way we do with our stories: view the world through writer eyes, see things others don't, take notes, and keep a growing list of possibilities.
2. Balance our passion with something that also interests potential readers. Yes, we want to write about things that get us excited. But . . . we have to continually keep in mind what our readers will want and need. This is a fine skill to learn with our stories and one I think we can also attempt to do in our blogging.
Again, I think we can take any subject and turn it into something that can elicit pondering, discussion, and even debate. Perhaps we'll encourage, motivate, or inspire our readers. The point is that we have to connect with our readers on some level. Otherwise, our blog simply becomes a personal journal.
3. Say it with our unique voice. We can't stop with putting our passion together with reader interest. We have to take the next step, and that is to find our unique writing voice. I personally think blogging is a great place to experiment with our voice, to try different ways of writing and expressing ourselves until something begins to click and feel natural.
So what should fiction writers blog about?
Anything goes. Write about your writing journey, your family, your interests, things you're thinking about, issues that bother you. Dig deep. Discover what makes you tick. And then share it in such a way that is worth reading.
The above saying by Robert Frost is so true: No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
Ultimately, good writing has to move US before it can move our READERS.
Have you struggled with WHAT to write about on your blog? What are you currently writing about? Are you taking into consideration HOW you're shaping your words?
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