I’m part of a writer’s group on Yahoo!Groups. Well, OK, I’m part of many, many writer’s groups on Yahoo!Groups, but I really only follow one religiously. Those writers are serious writers. (Which isn’t to say the other groups don’t have serious writers, I just haven’t connected with them the same way.) Novelists, journalists, freelancers, etc. Like always, there are a hard core group of participants who always chime in and post the most, and there are people like me, who stay on the fringe and jump in once in a blue moon, but read everything that goes through.
Once I peeled myself from the fringe and jumped in to correct some of the core users when they jumped down a newbie’s throat for asking if having a blog would help her writing career. They were adamant that a blog would kill her career right there. Dead in the water before even starting out. They were convinced that “real” editors would poo-poo her self published work. They were brutal in their insistence that she take down her blog stat before people started labeling her as a hack.
So I stepped in. I said “I have a blog. And all the work I have gotten to date has been based on the virtue of my blog.” They stopped pontificating long enough to listen. Or maybe they got bored with the topic and moved on. Either way, I kept talking. “Maintaining a blog for a long period of time shows clients that you have staying power. Keeping the content fresh and interesting shows them what you are capable of. And frankly,” I added, “I think people like knowing who they’re going to hire, and reading someone’s blog is a great way to get to know them better.” No one ever replied to me, but the girl didn’t take down her blog and soon after, a spin off of the group, focusing on all the bloggers, was started. Boo yah.
Beyond helping with my writing career, I actually strongly believe that my blogging is also helping me become a better writer.
Want to know how?
Of course you do! That’s why I love you.
- Posting every single day come Hell or high water has forced me to become more observant. I have to pay attention to every little detail during the day because I have to find something to write about. Amazingly? There’s always something to say or recount. Making it interesting for the reader is the challenge. It’s all about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and then putting it into words.
- In order to describe the minutia of life and make it interesting, I’ve had to master the art of showing, not telling. I’ve gotten very familiar with my thesaurus and dictionary. And I’ve gotten good at trying to see a scene through the eyes of a stranger. What would a passer by notice? What do you notice? What do you need me to show you so you can feel like you’re standing there with me?
- The nature of the blog post and the way people surf the Internet has pushed me to become more succinct. No, really. My posts used to be WAY longer. Seriously. You’re welcome.
- Blogging forces me to be more honest in my writing. Sure, it’s safer to gloss over feelings and emotions. But no one wants to read something Plain Jane Vanilla. Readers want the no holds barred honest painful truth. That’s what makes writing pop. People want to feel like they’re seeing a piece of your soul every time they stop by.
While I feel like I more or less manage the first three things on a daily basis, the last one is my Sword of Damocles. I know I have to open up more. I know I have to dig deeper, but it’s not an easy feat. I might be able to let complete strangers to see my deepest darkest fears and my most private emotions, but I have family and friends who read my blog on a daily basis. And while I love, love, love that they all tune in, some things are a little too raw and secret to share with someone who’s going to be looking me in the eye three hours later.
That said, nothing I write will catch the eye of my dream agent until I know for a fact that what I write makes people squirm a bit in their seat or hold their breath as they wait to read the resolution so I better keep trying no matter how much it makes me squirm in my seat. Wish me luck, it might be a rough ride some days.