For the past few weeks I've committed to writing a blog post every day. I've had a couple of gaps, mostly on the weekends, but I've been pleased to see that I'm keeping it up. It's something I tell will-be writers to do to develop a daily writing habit that can help them improve their work and build a writing career. I've always regretted that I wasn't following my own advice.
Of course, it helped that I was already writing daily by the time I added blogging to the routine. I write in a journal every morning (I currently use Day One on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone). And I write to a word count every day for my books, which is kind of the real point of it all. Adding blogging, though, brought with it a few advantages.
Blogging is public, which changes the timbre a bit in comparison to my journal. Honestly, a lot of the content is the same—I practice the habit of making all writing "professional," because you can only improve on something if you're doing it right to begin with. But writing something that's public, every day, also gets me into the habit of thinking in terms of readers. The details I share, the style I write in, the cadence of the whole thing—it's different when you know someone's reading it.
Blogging is immediate, letting me get nearly instant feedback from my readers. This is a luxury I miss out on with my books, which can take a couple of months to go from my screen to Amazon or Apple iBooks or everywhere else. And then there's the marketing time and the reading time—more lag. If I get an email or a social media message about one of my books it's a prize worthy of an epic, mostly because it's so long in coming.
Blogging adds content, keeping my website fresh and giving people a reason to come back here every day. Which means I can make announcements about promotions and giveaways and appearances, and they have a better shot at reaching someone. Also, it's just a good idea to keep something new churning through your website. The days of people being excited or even interested in your site, just because it exists, are long gone (if they were ever here to begin with). So if you want to attract new readers or visitors to your site, and keep them around for a bit, and keep them coming back often—writing a daily blog is the easiest route to take. Fresh, daily content that makes you more discoverable and more relevant? What's not to love?
But one of my favorites—blogging lets me explore new topics daily. I'm a fiction author, but I don't always get to use the interesting tidbits I encounter in daily life in my books. And even if I do, I may not get to explore those topics as much as I'd like. Writing a blog post in the form of an article gives me a way to dig in a little deeper and learn a little more, as I share what I learn with my readers. It also lets create a body of work that is ever-evolving, showing my range and the way I think, and demonstrating the ways in which I grow as a writer, over time.
Doing this publicly can have a few disadvantages, of course. The adage is "the Internet is forever." Which is mostly true. And there are certainly things I've written, spread far and wide on the Internet, that no longer represent who I am or what I currently believe.
That's kind of one of the downsides to everyone's thoughts being so public these days, right? We get held accountable for who we were, while who we are can be totally ignored. Something we posted on a website a decade ago can resurface, out of context, and be used against us based on the temperaments and attitudes of readers and our culture today. Everyone forgets that there was a time when they might have thought differently. Everyone forgets that we grow and change as time goes by.
But that's the risk of the writer's life. And as I blog daily, I'm embracing that risk and accepting the potential beating I may get down the line for opinions and ideas I thought were worthy today. The same is true for my books, for the articles and scripts I've written, for everything, really. That's a risk worth taking, for a writer.
As for writing a daily blog, I think everyone should do it, even if your posts aren't much more than a paragraph or two about your favorite restaurants, the comics you read or the movies you watch. You gain so much by putting words on the screen and posting them for the world to read. And the biggest thing you gain, in this Wordslinger's opinion, is a body of work you can look back on to take measure of how you've improved and grown over time.
That's worth the effort, right there.