Daily writing: Journal for you, blog for community
One of the common goals that writers have often concerns the frequency of their productivity: I will write every day, or I want to write so many words per week, and so on. I keep a journal, but I also write a blog.
Why blog? The simplest answer is because we want our work to be visible and to make connections with other readers and writers. Bonus points if you have some area of expertise you want to make a focal point of your blog. I’ve blogged for myself, for small literary organizations and publications, and for larger media companies. My blog posts might be intensely personal, or offer advice to writers, or respond to a current event, offering my two cents in the way of social commentary about issues that are important to me.
But the biggest reason I blog is because once I’ve built up even a few regular readers, I feel responsible for producing regular content. I write more. Readers can hold you accountable without ever saying a word to you. Readers become part of your writing community and support system.
If one of your goals is to reach out to other writers through your writing, have you ever considered starting your own blog?
First, you need a sort of mission statement for your blog. Do you want to talk about writing, or books, or your creative process, or will it focus on something else entirely? A blog can be a great way to write outside of our creative work, to marry our other interests with our writing. Perhaps you’re great at DIY home décor and crafts, or at always finding a bargain online. A great number of successful blogs share tutorials and tips related to both of those things. Maybe you love to cook. Your blog could explore different ingredients and recipes, but also be a place to write elegantly and descriptively about something that is universally appealing to nearly everyone: food.
Once you have your mission, you need to be honest about your level of web-building expertise. Are you brand new at this? Blogger and WordPress have easy and intuitive blogging platforms, complete with user-friendly templates and a totally navigable content management system. If you don’t know what some of the words in that previous sentence are, then Blogger and WordPress are for you! I have experience with both and much prefer WordPress, but a simple Google search of the two will help you learn more and make an informed decision, and there are also tutorials out there that will show you step by step how to create and maintain your blog. Also, what are some blogs you like and read? If you don’t have any, again, the Internet is your friend. Browse around. Find some blogs whose topics and designs you like and emulate them on your new blog.
Next, create your blog and start building an online presence through your existing or new social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. This way you can “socialize” what you write and hopefully get some readers. Again, if you’re blogging about writing, find some other writers whose blogs you like, and follow them on social media. See what they’re doing to promote their blog and their writing and try to replicate that.
But remember, you’re doing this to build a community, so the golden “Do unto others” rule applies. Read blogs. Interact with their writers. Leave comments on posts you like. Share and retweet the work and posts of others. Be an active participant, and you will draw active participants to you.
Writer’s Digest has a great list of tips for starting a writer blog, but much of the advice is useful for a blog on any topic. Write to Done compiled a list of the top ten writer blogs of 2013. And here is a very short list of some blogs, on various topics (mostly food and lit), that I visit often:
- Smitten Kitchen
- Fork, Knife, Swoon
- The Chubby Vegetarian
- How I Pinch a Penny
- Harriet (The Poetry Foundation’s blog)
- dulcetly (writer, editor, publisher Kristy Bowen’s blog)
- Poetry on the Brain
- WriteLiving (writer Martin Ott’s blog)
Do you have a blog? Share your link in the comments so we can check it out.