Dec 05 2014
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Daily writing: Journal for you, blog for community

Blogging is a great way to write regularly and build a readership. Photo by Flickr user Michael Sauers (Creative Commons license).

Blogging is a great way to write regularly and build a readership. Photo by Flickr user Michael Sauers (Creative Commons license).

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:

Do you have a blog? Share your link in the comments so we can check it out.

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Comments on ... Daily writing: Journal for you, blog for community

  1. Sarah Alan says:

    Thank you so much for this post!

    I was on Facebook on Saturday and there was a post about writing a blog on the Center for Creative Writing page written by Stacia M. Fleegal. I have been toying with the idea of writing a blog for a few weeks now since starting this new hobby of running. Combined with a piece I wrote on a class assignment about “My Amazing Body,” I felt that I may have something interesting to say. I know that there are many blogs out there about running, but I had yet to find one that seemed personable and aimed at a beginner, just like me. I am so inspired by runners who are competing in the latest Ironman, but what about the regular “Joes” just starting out and trying to run a simple mile without stopping? I couldn’t find that blog and with the push of the blog entry by Stacia about becoming your own blogger, the answer was right there.

    I took what I wrote about “My Amazing Body,” cleaned it up, had it edited by my librarian husband (a fantastic technical writer) and published it as my first blog entry. I wanted it to be my mission statement, in a way. I was so nervous on Saturday letting my Facebook friends know since I have not really shared my writing with anyone (even my husband!) outside of class. I was so scared, worried, anxious, yet very excited at the leap I took with the help of the Creative Writing Center, not just with the blog, but the opportunity to grow in my writing and get the feedback that makes me feel like what I have to say may be worth saying. I feel like a success story, ever changing and ever learning of course. As the mission statement for the Writing Center says, I am becoming the writer I only dreamed I could be. Except it doesn’t feel like a dream anymore, but more of a way of life for me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there is so much to learn, to see, to do, and of course, to write. But (and I am taking these words from the Center’s site), because of this school, I have “both a training ground and launching pad” to take me to all the places I want to go with my writing, as I am discovering every day.

    And of course, here is the link to my blog: Running North With Cats at sarahcalan.blogspot.com.