It’s funny how certain types of writing remain popular, even though the format in which they are presented may change over time. Keeping a diary was something I did when younger. These days I blog! Most of us who kept diaries had no thought of publication (just as well too, you would have had to have been incredibly lucky here).
Bloggers are after readers. Most diary writers are just after a form of personal expression. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It can be amazingly therapeutic. Of course, some diaries change history – Anne Frank’s one is probably the best known example.
Chandler’s Ford Today’s blog, of course, covers a wide variety of topics from gardening to writing but many blogs focus on a single topic. For writers, this topic has to be their writing and blogging is a good way of sharing publication news etc with readers they know are already interested in their work. Equally you can discuss topics around your book. For example, in my case, I could talk about writing for online magazines or how to write flash fiction. From that can come posts on the difficulties of writing flash or finding topics for your next magazine slot!
Blogging either directly or via a website is a crucial part of most authors’ marketing. It is a great way to engage with potential and actual readers. Many a writer will share their book covers ahead of their books coming out to generate interest in the official launch. Writing a blog piece to go with this makes perfect sense.
So why do I blog? It is for a mixture of reasons from self expression to marketing but above all it is fun! It is easy to do and it is lovely being able to use images from free to use sites such as Pixabay to illustrate your posts. I usually start my evening’s writing by blogging and then finish with my fiction. I find blogging a very useful writing “warm up”.
I thought I would take a few soundings from fellow writers as to why they blog and share some of their comments here. Many thanks, everyone.
Alas I don’t blog enough. It’s really about having time for me, Allison. I do feel blogging is important when it comes to getting your words out there. A blog is open to a wider audience rather than say ‘Facebook’. Facebook is a place I keep for stuff I want to share with family and close friends. My blog is where I share my writing news. Unlike Twitter, having a blog means you can go into more details and set up different pages when sharing news and information.
To me having a blog is a positive thing, but the most important thing is to keep it fresh, interesting and updated regularly, unfortunately for me at the moment I don’t, but hopefully when I have more time I will get back into it. Paula Readman, Cafelit and Bridge House author.
About Blogging –
Elizabeth Hopkinson, fellow flash fiction writer and Swanwick Writers’ Summer School regular.
Sometimes it can seem impossible to get a word in. From the gobby kid in the playground to the friend who apparently breathes through their ears, there is always someone who can out-talk you, shout you down, or simply never shuts up. And online it is even worse. Twitter and Facebook are not the ideal place for nuance and measured discussion. A complete stranger’s comment can upset you for the rest of the day. People seem to want to make a quick comeback or have the last word. Sometimes it can feel as if no one in the world shares your interests or opinions.
That’s where blogging comes in. For me, it matters less whether someone is listening, as it does that I have had a chance to voice my viewpoint. I have written about asexuality, gender diversity and physical difference. I have offered my literary criticism of books and films. Sometimes, I have tried to connect with others, as when I blogged the whole of Bradford Literature Festival. And recently, I have branched into vlogging, sharing my childhood writing and my reading pile. All of it essentially amounts to the same thing: getting a word in.
The great thing with what Elizabeth is saying here is not only do you get a word in, you control that word!
Blogging allows me to share my views, reviews and experiences. I began blogging six years ago when I was being treated for breast cancer. The treatment was difficult to live through: I was bald, exhausted, and miserable: but it worked! During this period, I was too tired to do anything, or so I thought. All I could do was read, sleep and work on my computer. Then I had an idea: I would help other people by blogging about my recovery at www.survivingbreastcancernow.com
I have always been a voracious reader but, while I was ill, I read even more than usual. It was one of the few things I had enough energy to do and I thought it would be fun to share my opinions. It also occurred to me that it might be helpful to readers and authors if I made my views available to others. I do this through my book blog which is www.bookreviewstoday.info
One of the other things I enjoy is travel. It was when we got back from a vacation that I was diagnosed with cancer. I am a great believer that travel broadens the mind, not just the feet! With that in mind, I decided to set up my third blog, www.hotelandrestaurantreviews.com This is where I feel able to share my opinions on places I stay and restaurants where I have eaten.
The only promise I made to myself was that my reviews and observations would be honest. This sometimes gets me into trouble if I do not enjoy a book or stay in hotel that fails to meet expectations. Still, blogging allows me to share news, views and reviews. It helped me in my recovery from cancer and is now an important part of my life.
Yes, blogging can be immensely therapeutic (as is keeping a journal). Over time, you can look back and see where you have come from. That can inspire you to press on. Incidentally, I don’t understand why people can get sniffy about a blog. It is someone’s honest opinion, there is absolutely no point in writing anything which isn’t honest, and you don’t have to keep following the blog if you dislike it!
From a writer’s viewpoint, anything that isn’t an honest review of your work is useless. People will and do see through the “fluff”. An honest review which hasn’t liked a book has made me look into the book for myself to see if I agree with that review. Sometimes I think the reviewer was spot on, other times, well it is a matter of personal taste here.
And from Richard Hardie:-
Like many people who write, I started a blog linked to my website because I thought I ought to. It was only later that I evolved my own rules for blogging:
1. Post at the same time and on the same day each week, so that people actually come to expect and look forward to it.
2. Be consistent about what you blog….. social comment, humorous stories, interviews, marketing promotion.
3. Use photos and make the blog colourful.
4. Know why you’re blogging
5. Know your target audience and play to it.
6. Promote your blog post on Facebook and Twitter.
Unless I have a special reason for posting a blog I send it out at 6.00pm on Friday and decided to concentrate on interviews with well-known authors, partly because it will attract readers, but mainly because they tend to be interesting people. Since then I’ve interviewed Bernard Cornwell, Carol Davenport, Helen Rappaport, Mandy James, Sue Cook, as well William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe (though I have to admit the last two were spoofs, even though they were rather good!).
I also interviewed Bamber Gascoigne, although his answers were more like questions, and Chris Tookey, the film critic and author. To my regret I was scheduled to interview the great Terry Pratchett, but his illness became too severe and we had to cancel.
My audience tends to be my readers and those who I’ve met at signings and book events. Some came across my website and followed the link to my blog, which you can also do by going to www.rhardie.com and click on the “Blog” tab. Either way, I always post on Facebook and Twitter a day before I make the blog public so people are prepared and know the rough subject. I then post again an hour beforehand so there’s no escaping my blog!
Excellent advice from Richard here and it is why I stick to a Friday for my CFT posts as a rule. Consistency is important. I usually give the heads-up as to what is coming on my Facebook page in particular round about mid-week (and yes I am consistent about that too).
More on blogging next week…
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.