Blog your head off, by Jean Hannah Edelstein
Jean shares her top tips for authors who are ready to get blogging…or bloggers who are on the cusps of being authors.
Before being an author was anything but a distant dream, I was a blogger.
I started in earnest in late 2007. My initial intention was simply to create a space on the web where readers and editors could find me in a Google search (until then, I didn't typically use my middle name, but another Jean Edelstein nabbed jeanedelstein.com first!) But soon it became an important outlet for me to work on my writing, as well as to connect with other writers and readers - indeed, I've met many wonderful people through my blog.
It's my unscientific guess that nowadays, more and more writers are bloggers before they become authors. So here are my top tips for authors who are ready to get blogging...or bloggers who are on the cusps of being authors.
1. Revel in the freedom to write about whatever you feel like
There's plenty of time to write about things that other people want you to write about. One of the greatest joys of blogging is being your own commissioning editor: the only limits on the content are those that you impose yourself. A whimsical attitude leads to a more authentic blog - and to giving your reader a sense that they understand what makes you tick, how you think, and what you love. Which will likely make them more inclined to read things you publish elsewhere.
2. Be open to conversations
Blogging is a dynamic form of writing; being open to reading, and responding, to comments from your readers (and other bloggers) is a rich and exciting part of the process. Some writers find this a bit intimidating, and indeed I have received some nasty comments and emails from readers of my blog from time to time, but they are few and far between in contrast to the interesting and positive correspondence my blog has evoked. Ultimately, the level of interaction you want to have with readers is up to you, and it is always within your right to ignore or delete.
3. Use your blog as a space to think and experiment
The ad hoc nature of blogging means that posts will tend to be less polished than pieces you'd publish elsewhere. I think some writers are slowed and held back in blogging because of this. I often use my blog as a place to explore themes and ideas that crop up elsewhere in more polished pieces of writing. A blog can be a very nice halfway point between scribblings in one's notebook and a finished piece.
4. Allow your blog to develop organically
It's important to be mindful about the content of your blog - it is, dare I say, an important part of your personal brand as an author (sorry; my day job's in marketing, I can't help myself). But overthinking it - what you're writing about, how often you're writing, the voice you're using it - is a surefire way to make blogging feel like a chore, rather than a pleasure. Which I think would be a shame.
5. Don't start a blog if you don't want to. Don't keep blogging if you don't like it.
Which means if your agent/editor/publicist is encouraging you to blog, and you find it an unpleasant chore, just say no. The best blogs are authentic ones, and if there's an authentic whiff of reluctance about your blogging, then it's not going to make potential readers get excited about your work. And it's also going to make you waste time feeling guilty and inadequate when you should be working on writing that you do want to do.