The Case for Blogging


The box holds my just finished WIP;
the blue folder is my WIP mystery;
the slim notebook in front: WIP #3!
The tulips? A gift from MEH!

Yesterday WordCount Blogathon 2012 started, and I was tempted to join…because it brought back great memories. One year ago I participated in Blogathon 2011: pledging to blog daily for the month of May. In fact, for the first four months of my blog (February through May) I posted daily. Because I started out that way, it didn’t seem like any big deal—daily blogging was a way of life.
One of my original blogging goals was to kick start my fiction writing—and that happened. By June I was writing fiction every day and blogging about every other day. Then gradually it started to shift. In October I blogged twelve times, in November ten, in December seven, until finally last month I blogged four times—I am now consistently blogging once a week.

I also finished one of my WIPs, something I haven’t done since around 2001 when I finished a middle grade novel entitled Sciurus Maximus. This book—which was never accepted for publication—was finished when both my children were at home, and my life was much different. My days rose and fell by the school day, meals were arranged around sporting events and other extracurricular activities, and I had two built in beta readers anxiously interested in reading everything I wrote. I was a full-time, very happy mom. I should add that I was also a part-time, very happy writer…until something happened.

One very close and very good rejection from a big publishing house, a mere re-write short of a sure thing (as it turned out it was not so sure a thing). It took the wind out of my sails, that close call. And now, I have three middle grade manuscripts in a filing box under my desk—in the drawer so to speak. And it took me all those ten years to want to write fiction again. Sure I dabbled, but nothing very regularly—at all.
When I stopped writing fiction all that time ago, I had a partially written women’s fiction manuscript. I had it outlined and about one third written. Last year, after beginning to blog, and kick starting my writing, I pulled that manuscript out and I started writing again. My life was very different. Both my children out of the nest—one in college and one in medical school—now my days rise and fall by the call of the computer: to write. And last September I finished a draft, and two weeks ago I started to query agents with The Cottage on Quarry Island.

Now, I have two more WIPs. One I started a few years ago—a mystery starring Maggie and Joe, amateur detectives—it is fully outlined, and I’ll start to write next week. The other is women’s fiction—dark and suspenseful—that I’ve almost fully outlined. It came to me one night last month as I was lying on the couch, from a simple and very random comment from MEH (My Engineer Husband). It is developing into a full-blown, very deep and rich, very exciting story.

I know there are a lot of different opinions about whether blogging is a good or bad thing, necessary or not, to do as a fiction writer. If I hadn’t started blogging, I don’t know if I ever would have started writing again. It gave me the boost in confidence and the daily deadline I needed to get started. In fact, blogging kick started me so well that I wrote an estimated 200,000 words last year. It kick started me so well that I spend eight to ten to twelve hours every single day either writing or thinking about writing. My WIPs run through my mind as though they are movies, and I see my characters in the faces and actions of many people I cross paths with every single day. My ideas and energy for writing are seemingly endless.

So back to that question about whether blogging is a good or bad thing for fiction writers? I can’t speak to everyone, but for me? For this writer? I owe blogging and you, my blog readers, a huge debt of gratitude. Because I will take the opinion that blogging is good—no make that very very good—and for me I would even say a necessity. Blogging kick started my writing and is now my lifeline to continue to pursue that passion.

Writers, what do you think, is blogging good or bad for your fiction writing? And if you’re a reader—do you enjoy reading blogs by fiction writers whose books you love?

Cheers,

Julia

Comments

  1. I actually started my blog back in March 2010 in order to help me finish writing my debut novel, BABY GRAND. I thought blogging would keep me fresh, keep me motivated and help me connect with other writers like myself. It did. And even though I finished writing the novel by August 2010, I’ve been blogging ever since. :)

  2. Julia, what comes across most in this is your absolute passion for writing and enthusiasm for blogging and your manuscripts – I love that! It’s lovely to see you finished manuscripts and ongoing ones too, along with your lovely tulips! I’m with you on the blogging thing. I think it trains your brain to write, to think of new things to write, to write in shorter bursts, and to engage with other writers. I find blogging a really reflective process too – much, I think, as you do, and this has to be good for the writer’s mind. I love reading about other writers journeys through their blog posts too… so, it gets a massive thumbs up from me!

    • I’m glad you mentioned the benefit of reading about other writers’ journeys, Abi, because that’s huge for me as well! No question, a very different kind of writing, and that really jolts my brain into the writing mood somehow! Thanks for the lovely compliment about my passion for writing, too. :)

  3. YAH!! That’s wonderful for you, Julia. You are so productive now! All your many projects sound great!

    There’s no doubt that blogging can help. For me it has got me exploring voices and styles, and it has allowed me to meet so many other writers, and get inside their shoes a little.

    But posting more then once a week, (or even commenting more than once a week on others blogs) does steal time from my novel writing. Although nothing does that like Twitter. I’ve had to really cut back on hanging out in THAT virtual coffee house. Or I never would get ANY writing done…that wasn’t 140 characters. :-)

    • I hear you about Twitter, Cynthia — I’ve cut way back myself. I find that that and the commenting on blogs is so necessary (for me as a writer to connect) yet so very time consuming…it’s an ongoing dilemma in my mind and in my time scheduling! I agree about blogging being great to allow exploration of different voices and styles — that’s a great point! And as you say, blogging has allowed me to meet other writers, like you! :)

  4. Blogging is like a lot of things – good in moderation, easy to get carried away. I know I’ve used blogging as an escape from working on my latest WIP. I’ve also used ideas and suggestions gleaned through blogging, through comments on my blog, through reading other blogs, to jump start me.

    And, without blogging, could I say for sure I’d be writing? Maybe I’d be avoiding my WIP through watching TV or movies or reading.

    In the end, I’m going to come down firmly on… writing, anything, is better than not writing.

    • You and I have talked about this before, Beverly — our pull toward blogging with all the consequences it can have on our WIPs… I so agree that it’s easy to get carried away and/or use it as an excuse to keep from writing. It sounds like we may have similar styles in using blogging and reading of blogs both as a spark but sometimes as an escape… and I firmly agree, writing (any writing) is better than not writing.

  5. CMSmith says:

    It looks like you have been a flaming success at one of your blogging goals. I am in awe of your dedication and commitment to writing. I’m hoping this post will inspire me to get it in gear.

    Not ready to try fiction yet, but still have two non-fiction stories I want to write.

    Keep up the good work. I believe I am going to see you in print soon, and then I will be able to say, “I knew her when.”

    • Thanks, Christine! I love writing non-fiction too, so I can definitely relate to that pull of yours. One of the great things about blogging is how we do inspire one another so I’m glad you might find inspiration from my experiences. (as for seeing one of my books in print soon, I hope so… let’s keep our fingers crossed!)

  6. 200,000 words! Amazing!

    Blogging has helped me stick to a writing schedule because I want to have progress to report, but I’ve had to back off from posting once a week to posting twice a month. I need that writing time for my fiction. No regrets about starting the blog, though. I feel like I have colleagues now and it’s so comforting to know I’m not writing alone.

    • I completely agree, Shary — I feel like I have colleagues (and writer friends, too!!) — and, like you, I can easily see the possibility of cutting back even more on blogging at some point, if I am not finding that right balance with my fiction. I’m leaving all my options open! :)

  7. So fun to see how blogging has ignited your passion, Julia. I’m going to say the jury is split for me, personally. Blogging is so completely different from fiction writing (for me, personally), that I have a hard time switching between the two. They require two different mindsets. And I found, early on when I began blogging in 2010, that my BLOG became my priority, instead of my fiction.

    And, like Cynthia, I have experimented with serious ‘time away’ from social media, including my blog, and guess what? That’s when I am THE most productive with my fiction. (In fact, now that I am in the social media stream again for the past two weeks, my fiction writing has seriously declined).

    So while the blog has actually ignited some ideas FOR my fiction, the creation of it/photo selection, responding, tweeting, etc. means that actual novel writing is not getting done. So, yes, I’m conflicted. I absolutely love writing my blog and corresponding with readers. But the whole time I’m doing it, a little voice is whispering in my ear, “You should be writing your NOVEL.” 😉

    • I completely understand the split jury thing — there are times, no question, when blogging goes by the way side. One of the things I love about your blog is that it is such a work of art combined with such a huge passion for nature — so I can well see how it would take a lot of time. And I can also see that if I had to choose: fiction or blogging? I would hands down pick fiction. So, as I said to Shary, if I ever found blogging to encroach on my fiction completely or slow me down? I’d definitely step back. All this to say: Write, woman, write!! Go for the NOVEL! :-)

  8. Ann says:

    I’m SO glad that blogging has gotten you writing again. One of my favorite things regarding you blog (aside from the amazing writing and a peek into your day) is how INTERACTIVE it is. I love reading the conversation/comments and they are always a delight!

    • I love the interactive part of my blog, too — so I’m glad you do, Ann! You are such a wonderful friend to say you enjoy my amazing writing. It doesn’t always feel amazing so it’s nice to have someone say that — another thing I love about blogging is the amazing support from other bloggers! Thank you! :)

  9. Chris Fries says:

    Congratulations on a successfully completed WIP!!!! I wish you tremendous success with it!

    For me blogging is kind of a love-hate thing. Like many wannabe-writers, I started blogging to connect with other writers and to highlight my works of fiction. I’ve really enjoyed the connecting and growing relationships with fellow writers, but it’s awful easy to shift into a “blogging-for-blogging’s-sake” mindset, and then my limited time to write gets spent not writing. I just completed my first-ever month-long blogging challenge (A-to-Z) and while I enjoyed it, I’m pretty certain I’ll never do it again.

    So I guess I’m conflicted — I think it helps tremendously, but it can be a huge time-sink that devours my real goals as a writer — to write!

    • Thanks, Chris! I understand the conflict, of course, and I know it is a huge time sink — those blogging challenges really take a lot of time! Agreed that blogging for blogging sake is an easy shift to make, and sometimes hard to avoid! Here’s to great writer relationships and great writing too! And congrats on the A to Z challenge completion!! :)

  10. Erika Marks says:

    Julia, there is some much exciting news in this post, my friend–where to begin to cheer you!!??

    Oh, I hear you on the blogging…It is a question I’ve been thinking about so much lately, since my own blog has been SO QUIET. I don’t know that I have the gift that so many of you have (you, Melissa, Cynthia, just to name a few ladies!)for managing to work on your WIPs and still write such thoughtful (and thought-provoking!)blog posts. I know I love to visit everyone’s blog to stay current with everyone but then I feel remiss for not keeping up my own.

    It’s a work in progress, too, I guess.

    Oh, and those tulips!

    • Thanks, Erika!! But… no need to feel remiss! We each find our own balance with our writing — I think that’s one of the reasons blogging is so fun: gives a glimpse into how we each manage the writing-life balance! Thank you for thinking my blogging is thought-provoking — that’s the one thing I worry about with frequent blogging: it will get too introspective and boring! As in everything, still a work in progress here, too! (p.s. yes, the tulips are lovely and hopeful here in Maine :)

  11. I had no idea about your close call and split from fiction! The fact that you went from putting everything away in a drawer to writing so vigorously on a daily basis is truly inspirational, Julia! I’m so happy that blogging has affected your writing in such a positive way–I know for many of us it can be a struggle. Like you, I started out blogging much more frequently, but now keep it to about once a week. I’ve found that this is what works for me. It’s enough to keep me accountable, but not so much that it takes over other writing duties (most importantly, my fiction). And aside from helping me connect with other writers, blogging has helped me nurture thoughts and ideas that I might not have discovered had I not sat down one day and thought, “I need to update my blog. What to write about?”

    • Thanks, Natalia! That’s such a good point about the blogging helping to nurture ideas — I agree! There are so many times that I have no idea what to write about, then after I sit down to blog I have so many ideas; I think that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. I feel the same way reading other bloggers’ blogs, too — helps me look at things in ways I never would have thought of looking at them! (p.s. glad I can be inspirational… I often wish I’d managed things differently in those intervening years, but I guess that’s what life is all about, figuring things out as we go!)

  12. I also didn’t know about your close call … but I’m glad you got back into it. I do understand how creatively debilitating a close call like that can be, and how you get back into the rhythm of your life and realize 10 years has gone by!

    I think blogging has the opposite effect on me, but the fact that it is a motivating force for you makes me happy. And your productivity definitely shows the benefits of it. Keep on blogging and I’ll keep on sending the good vibes for your finished novel and the novels to come. :-)

    • Thanks so much for your support, Mahesh — it really means so much to have such supportive blogging friends! As for the ten years, it’s so true, I was in a completely different rhythm, and never thought of it the way you described it: creatively debilitating. Exactly!

  13. Julia, it sounds like blogging has been a very good thing for you. It got you writing fiction again. I’ve also heard that editors are more likely to buy books from people who already have an audience through blogs and social media. At least this seems to be the case with food writing. I wonder if it is the same for fiction writers?

    • Yes, blogging has been very good for me! I’ve heard it both ways about platforms for fiction writers: some say it’s good and some say it’s good but not necessary. I know I’ve met amazing people through writing my blog, including writers, editors and agents, and that in itself has been wonderful!

  14. Nina B says:

    What a great post! I’ve followed your journey since the beginning of your blogging and I’m always blown away by how much you’ve accomplished–both on the blog and in your fiction–over the past year+.

    I think blogging is great for any writer, but for people with a full time job and/or little kids who also want to write fiction, I think the time suck can be distracting. (see my post today by the way!)

    • Thank you for the kind compliments, Nina! I read your blog today and I was struck by how you and I are about twenty years apart on very similar paths! For me, with the amount of time I have, fiction and blogging has worked well. I wish blogging had been around when my kids were young; in any event, I wish I’d started sooner. I think we all find our own way with the writing/life formula and balance — but to write fiction and blog and raise young kids seems like it would be distracting to say the least.

  15. You’ve written lots of posts on wordsxo that I’ve loved and I must say that this one gets added to my favorites list. I loved-loved-loved hearing more about how blogging kick-started your fiction writing again, and I feel privileged to be one of the readers who watched as you caught fire with your WIP and finished it in front of our very eyes. I’m very impressed that you’re already querying agents. I wish you the deepest, tallest, widest good fortune with that endeavor!

    I’m excited about your other two WIPs as well. You know I can’t wait for Maggie, but the other one that came to you from something your MEH said sounds amazing!

    So thrilled for you, Julia. You sound like such a happy and contented writer.

    • What a kind and sweet comment, Milli! I certainly have come to rely on the support and encouragement of my blog readers so this comment means more to me than you probably realize. Your well wishes are so gratefully accepted, too. As for Maggie, writing as commenced, and I hope she (and more importantly I) won’t disappoint! Thank you again :)

  16. Blogging has been a very good thing for me because, without it, I would’t be writing at all. However, I never do any other kind of writing. I always find excuses. Maybe the writing life just isn’t for me, even though I always wanted it to be. I’m just not dedicated enough. I’m too lazy. I’m so thrilled for you that you have been able to accomplish so much recently. Yea!

    • Thanks so much for your support, Susan! I agree, blogging is a very good thing — and I wouldn’t have re-started writing if it hadn’t been for blogging. Here’s to good blogging times!

  17. I can’t imagine why blogging would be a bad thing for writers of any kind. To me, it’s about writing and if blogging gets your creative juice flowing, good for it! I’ve been behind in blogging lately because I’ve had so much work going on. I can tell I miss it and I feel better when I blog.

    • I completely agree, Leah — to me writing has always been writing, whatever style or type it is, it all gets me writing. And I’m with you about time away from blogging too; I always miss it when I haven’t been blogging for long!

  18. Girl Parker says:

    Julia — Loved this post!! You echoed my feelings exactly. I’ve been blogging for about 18 months, but I’ve slowed way down because my actual writing voice is talking to me now. And I owe that voice to the discipline of blogging at least three times/week. I’m excited to hear more about your WIPs!

    Yes, I love reading blogs by my writerly favorites. Always hoping to glean a gem of truth or be tickled by something we have in common. Makes the hard work seem worthwhile, somehow.

    • So happy you loved it and could relate! :) It’s amazing isn’t it how much blogging can ignite the writing? I am completely flabberghasted; glad it’s worked for you too!