Friday, May 4, 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog

It is my pleasure to welcome the newest member of the Book Blather staff. Cheryl Dale has published in multiple children’s and adult magazines and is currently working hard to get that first book contract. Shel writes Christian fiction and non-fiction, young adult and middle grade novels and loves to dabble with picture books as well.  She is trying to keep up with the social media explosion but still resorts back to a number two pencil and a lined tablet to get her jumbled thoughts out and in order. Be sure to check out her blog, Climbing Out of the Valley.

To Blog or not to Blog – That is the Question

If you are anything like me you resisted starting your own blog for a long time, knowing it would be a lot of work, take a lot of time and probably not be read by anyone anyway.  I finally got tired of resisting the constant nagging voice in my head that kept telling me to just do it. 
I gave in a few weeks ago and can honestly say I’m glad I did.   Blogging has helped me as a writer in several ways.

1)     Discipline:  I decided I would post twice a week, on Monday and Friday.  That hasn’t always been easy.  I didn’t consider the fact that Monday and Friday are often the busiest days of my week.  But, I’m doing it.  Some days a hundred excuses come to mind for why I should skip it just this one time.  I have not given into the temptation and the discipline has helped me develop a great habit called plant it and write it – before you tweet, surf or do anything else.

2)    Education:  I am learning so much about social media by developing my own blog, checking out other blogs for examples, challenging myself to try something new, and troubleshooting when I get in a bind.  I’m the original “all I need is a pen and paper” girl but through this activity I am moving into the new world of writers.  It’s been enlightening, exasperating and fun.

3)    Encouragement:  There’s nothing like feedback to get you pumped up (or not depending on the flavor of the feedback).  My experience is that, for the most part, people are kind and only respond when they have something nice to say.  And isn’t that fuel for every writer – the knowledge that someone is reading your stuff and liking it?

4)    Friends:  I am meeting like minded people and being invited to read their blogs.  I’m finding some great stuff out there to inspire and nurture my own creativity.  As a writer yet to snag an agent or get a book in print, I’m finding so much support from first time authors, prolific authors and authors striving just like me for that big break.

5)    Satisfaction:  I’m seeing my writing in a new dimension when I call up my blog.  Instead of just the typed page in my computer, or the scribbled page in my notebook (I still revert to pen and paper now and then) I am seeing it in a published format.  I’m proofreading better.  I’m critiquing better.  I’m spending more time making sure there is depth and purpose in what I write.

6)    Marketing:  I am taking a small step in the area of marketing myself.  I don’t think this part of being an author comes easy to many.  Some of us struggle more than others promoting ourselves.  The blog has me stepping out a little more.  I started by sending the link to a few friends and my voice was kind of “hey, you might want to read this”.  I’ve advanced to mentioning it on Twitter and including my web address in correspondence.  My voice is more “Hey, check this out.”  Who knows, I might get to the “Hey, you don’t know what you’re missing!” stage one of these days.

Here’s my encouragement to anyone thinking about blogging.  Do it.  Don’t worry about how many people read it or follow it.  Do it for yourself as a tool in your writer’s tool box.  Just be willing to take suggestions.  I recently had a friend tell me my picture was too matronly and I needed to exchange it for one of me in my Harley garb.  I’m thinking about that.  Be critical of what you put out there, check out other blogs, ask for advice, ask for help.  And if you are like me, pray a lot.  My best inspiration comes from divine intervention. 

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