Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writers and These Things Called Blogs

If you're reading this post, then you read blogs. (Or at least you read this one.)

Why?

Yes, I'm asking a direct question. Responses to this question can be entered in the comments section. (You might as well scroll down there, anyway, because there's juicy stuff in the Do it Now section this week.)

Still not sure? Well allow me to answer the question.

Why do I, personally, read blogs?

(1) To catch up on my writer friends' lives.

My circle of writer friends live all over this lovely planet. One big cluster in the Toronto area (since Toronto is fairly close to where I live), many scattered across Canada (which is a huge geographical area), several scattered across the United States (because they are our big neighbours to the south), and a few scattered across Australia (because I attended Clarion in Australia).

Since visiting all of these people is financially and logistically impossible, I see them at occasional conventions, and keep up between cons via social media (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LiveJournal, Blogger, and the like).

Five years ago (pre-Facebook), LiveJournal was more active and I would read my friends' blog posts on a regular basis. Today, I catch snippets via Twitter or Facebook and then search them out via links to their blogs. Back then, having a blog presence was more important for a writer.

Now, most writers have a presence on as many social media as time permits them to update on a regular basis.

What if all of your friends live close by? Or you simply don't want to endure the nuisance which is posting all of your personal crap onto the internet?

Post anyway. Even if the process feels a bit silly, or makes you a tad uncomfortable, or you don't seem to have the time.

Do I have to?

Short answer: Yes!

Which leads me to the second reason I read blogs:

(2) To learn.

If you're a writer then you have information in your head about how this whole writing thing works. You understand on a fundamental level How To:
- put words on paper
- express ideas
- stay motivated
- endure rejection.

I've learned what I know (currently) about my craft from:
- workshops
- books on writing
- writing and receiving critiques
- reading other writers' blogs
- writing.

Notice how reading other writers' blogs is in the list. Writers write about the process. They whine when they're in the middle of the book and full of doubt. They jump for joy when they submit a round of edits to the publisher. They brainstorm when they're toying with a particularly difficult concept.

I find it comforting to share these moments with others. Hearing about their activities gives me hope that I might also experience these joys and frustrations. If not, (or if my experiences are slow in the making) then I can enjoy them vicariously in the mean time.

The old adage: Misery loves company is true. Especially when the majority of your work as a writer is done alone, in a quiet (or loud) place, butt-in-chair, pounding away at a keyboard.

So how else would you love all of that misery-company if not by reading blog posts (or posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.)

Which leads me to the third reason why I read writers' blogs:

(3) As motivation.

During NaNoWriMo, when all of my friends are posting their word counts, I get a little competitive. (Okay, a LOT competitive!)

At the end of the year, as people post their summaries of number of words written, number of stories sold, number of rejections received, etc. I also reflect. And my competitive juices flow like a river in spring.

Reading about how hard other writers work, gets me to thinking about how hard I will need to work to (hopefully) be at least as successful as they are.

Have I convinced you to read blogs?

Have I convinced you to start your own blog?

The cool part is that blogs are free to set up. (And it looks as though Blogger is winning over LiveJournal on the popularity/ease of use front.)

If you are a writer, and you've ever considered starting a blog, there's no time like the present.

You've got 19 days left in 2012 to come up with a good name for the blog and then set it up so that you can begin 2013 as a blogger.

You might not blog much at the beginning. You might not be able to think up a topic every week (or every month, or every day, whatever frequency you decide to aim for).

Keep blogging.

Keep writing.

And one day soon, you might find you have a following.

Or not.

What matters is that you try blogging. Even if only for a few days/weeks. Blogger does allow users to delete a blog if you feel as though the exercise wasn't right for you.

You'll never know unless you try.

Do It Now:
Like last week, write down the names of two authors who inspire you. (Yes, get a pen and paper and write them down if you skipped this part last week, or find the piece of paper if you did write them down.)

Now Google the authors to see what sort of presence they have on the web.

If the authors have blogs, read a few entries. If they don't, you might want to check out the following "popular" blogs for writers:

Neil Gaiman's blog. Need I say more?

John Scalzi's blog . Search on "taping bacon to cat" and you will not be disappointed. :)

Jane Espenson's blog archives . Although she is no longer an active blogger, you can find a ton of great writing advice in the archives here.

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