I’m a contracted author, which means my blog can no longer be simply an online journal. It needs purpose now, vision, poise, and professionalism, right? With a touch of humanness, of course.
Many different words of advice have gone out about fiction authors blogging, or just blogging in general:
- Don’t write about yourself, but be personal.
- Always end with a question.
- Try to create blogging “lists” (ex. “12 Things Not to Do as a Blogger”, “5 Ways to Engage Your Readers”)
- Have a vision or main topic behind your posts.
- Use Links
- Use Images
- Limit your word count to 300 words or less (this blog, for your information, is above that word count. [grin])
- Update at least twice a week/month
- Have a goal (ex. “gain 200 e-mail followers/Facebook likes/etc. in three months”)
There are so many shoulds and shouldn’ts, how-tos, social media goals, and outlines. I have a document on my computer with “100 blogging ideas for the fiction writer” taken from different bloggers’ lists, yet every time I look at it I just can’t bring myself to force out a blog post. I don’t want to blog just for the sake of blogging. I want to know my purpose behind it. This doesn’t mean I want to create a purpose, just so my blog has more meaning. I want to examine why I want to blog. Is it just because I like to write? Type? See black words on white background?
“All of the really committed writers blog,” I’ve heard, and yet I ask myself why doesn’t J. K. Rowling have a blog? Or Suzanne Collins? Or some of those other well-known authors? I like to imagine they’re so busy writing new brilliant novels that they don’t have time to blog, or a need to blog.
So why do I blog? I asked this of myself as I spent three days wondering, “What should I write about? What will be good enough?” Good enough for what? Sure, it’d be grand if I wrote a post that captured the attention of 1,000 readers and they all signed up to follow my blog. But then, 3 to 5 days later, I’d have to come up with another post to satisfy those new followers.
Well, here’s what I realized about myself. I blog because I have a vision of connecting, authentically, with you. No matter how much I bold that statement or italicize it, it’ll never convey the honesty and genuineness behind my writing it. I have a vision of addressing deeper matters of life, which is why I wrote A Time to Die (<– tada! Link inserted. That makes me a better blogger!) But connecting with you is truly the only reason I want to blog. Not because I want to “gain readers” (which is hard to do since my book isn’t even out yet.) I don’t want to connect just so you can see how witty I am (which, in case you’re wondering, I’m really not witty at all.) I want to share my story–both my fiction story and my life story. I want to hear your story. I want to build trust. Community. I want us to be authentic, hence my tagline: Fusing authentic faith and bold imagination. I want to imagine that, instead of being states or even countries apart staring at the same webpage, we’re new acquaintances chatting over coffee (or tea, or water, or italian sodas, or orange juice…my treat, of course.)
But, as some professionals say, “Don’t just blog about yourself. Come up with a defined, specific purpose.”
But purpose by whose standards? The universal writing criteria? The needs of social media? That sounds so impersonal, and the moment I start writing in an impersonal way, my books and blog and probably even my private journal will deteriorate. My authenticity will decline. So here’s my answer to whether or not fiction authors should blog:
Only blog if you have a ‘why’ behind it. Examine your purpose behind it. Figure out your ‘why.’ Blog for that reason. And commit it to prayer.
My publisher once said in a clinic, “Whatever you like in what you read, that’s what you should put in your novel.”
Personally, I think this can apply to blogging, too. After you’ve discovered your why behind your blogging, write what you like to read. What is engaging to you is engaging to another group of readers out there. If you like reading about the morning routine of Anne’s pet cat, Fluffy, then write similarly.
I like reading genuine and transparent posts about life. I relish the hard questions. I enjoy small writing tidbits and book reviews. I love discovering the ins and outs of other authors’ books. All of this, and more, is what I hope to share with you.
Readers fall in love with your writing, which is a part of your heart and identity. Why change that for the sake of a blog? Instead, pour it into your blog. Don’t fret about how many comments you get or new Facebook likes. Sure, some readers like posts shorter than 300 words. Others like posts 1,000 words and up! But blog with authenticity.
I’ve committed my book to God. Why is it so difficult to do the same thing with my blog?
Perhaps I’m completely off or I really don’t have a clear picture. I’m not even sure if I answered the original question. Maybe this is even bad advice, but this post comes from my thoughts and my own purpose behind my blog. This doesn’t mean I’m going to sink into diary-like posts about what I did in my day. I’m going to try to keep my posts interesting, but they may just stray from the social norm or expectations. I don’t know. I haven’t planned them all out. And that is, I think, how I like it.