Blogging regularly offers me that mix of self-imposed deadlines combined with the opportunity to riff on my favorite subject—the craft of writing. Much of what I have learned over the past four years has been through researching topics for this blog.
When I first began, I was only blogging under duress—my former publisher was forcing me to. This, he said, would help get my name out there, and give me a regular platform for my opinions. That blog is long gone, and those posts were pathetic attempts to write about current affairs as a journalist, something that has never interested me.
It wasn’t until I stopped trying fit into a mold someone else had designed for me and began writing about my interests that I learned to love the craft of blogging. That is also when I began to grow as a writer, because I have to work hard to proofread my own work and then publish it. If I am not vigilant, it posts with “warts and all.”
I don’t like warts in my work.
Blogging has made me a “thinking” author, as well as a “pantser.” I can write using the “stream of consciousness” method as I am now, or I can write it several days in advance by putting together a quick outline about whatever is interesting me at the time. I just do the research, and the post begins to write itself.
I use WordPress for this blog—and many of you know how aggravating I have found some of the changes recently implemented by WP. I am a contributor to two other blogs hosted by WordPress, and the other authors I am working with tend to find WordPress technical “support” just as exasperating as I do.
Giving me a list of canned questions and redirecting me to threads filled with complaints by other users is not “tech support.” It is, instead, clearly an effort to maintain separation from the user and any real-life problems he/she may have with using their product. (See my post of March 2, 2016: wanted: flatiron for curly quotes and other blogging twists.)
And just today they have introduced a new “less invasive” way of inserting links into the post, by which I mean with fewer options (unless you know the magic trick) and less useful. However, although it is evident the fine people at WordPress are not done messing with our heads, I am still not going to change this blog to a different platform—yet.
Instead, I will continue to work around things until they force me to switch to a platform run by people who are genuinely involved with their users and who care enough to respond to technical questions with more than circular, canned responses that go nowhere, like a snake eating its own tail.
I am a contributor to several blogs hosted on Blogger (Best In Fantasy is one), and I do like the way Blogger does NOT keep changing and fixing what isn’t broke. But I’ve been here at this little corner for several years now, and I hate moving so this will remain a WordPress blog.
I have made many friends through blogging, people all over the world who I may never meet in person, but who I am fond of, nevertheless.
This place is where I develop seminars on the craft of writing. I find that talking to you about my obsession helps me organize my thoughts. And, although I hate to say it, my first publisher (Lord Voldemort) was right about blogging. Blogging regularly does get your author name out there and showcases your work and your voice.
But only if you are passionate about what you are discussing.
I recommend blogging to anyone who has a craft they are fired up about. For novelists, I also recommend publishing short pieces—flash fiction. Little off-the-cuff pieces of less than a thousand words are fun to write and often find their way into your larger work, as they are a great way to brainstorm ideas.
If you want to know more about getting your own blog up and running, see my post of December 14, 2015, Blogging is Writing Too. This post talks about how to use the new default system here at WordPress so that you can insert pictures and make a nice looking post.
- Keep it down to about 1000 words more or less.
- Use the spellchecker tool to look for obvious errors.
- Write in draft form and don’t publish it right away–come back and read it over again, and make corrections.
- If you use information found elsewhere, quote it and credit the author
- Use images that are either public domain, or that you have the right to use
- Put links to other informative sites in the text
Rule number one: be consistent. I began by blogging once a week on a now defunct site—but my actual posts were more often made only once or twice a month. I dreaded it and didn’t want to do it. My blog stats were in the tank because I wasn’t applying myself to it.
One day it occurred to me that because I am a hermit and spend all day writing, my only way of communicating with my potential readers was through blogging. And it also occurred to me that communicating with other writers in the process could only benefit me.
I hated the thought of it but sucked it up. Once I realized that I could talk about whatever I wanted, Life in the Realm of Fantasy was born. My first posts stunk like last week’s garbage, but they were a beginning. With every post I wrote, I felt a sense of accomplishment, and the next post was better.
Now I am writing three posts a week on this blog, and at least one post a week for each of several other venues. I spend Sundays putting my blog posts together and look forward to the time I spend here, exploring the craft of writing.
Life in the Realm of Fantasy has evolved over the years because I have changed and matured as an author. Four years ago I would never have felt comfortable publishing my poetry. Now, I regularly post short works and poems on Fridays, some bad and some worse—but all them exercises in creative writing.
At first it took courage to lay my work out there because letting people see my work unedited by my editors made me feel like I was a teenager all over again, getting ready for the prom and hating my hair. I feared the flaws I saw in it.
Now I feel more like I am sharing it with my friends and I feel good about it.
To repeat myself ad nauseum: If you really want to grow as an author, you must write. Try to write daily, even if it is only a paragraph or two. Consider writing that paragraph as a short blog and dressing it up with a picture or two. Someone will read and enjoy it–and you may have made a fan.