Blogging is a big commitment. I’ve done it for three-and-a-half years now, and there have been times I’ve been tempted to let it lapse. When it’s felt like too much of a burden, another deadline, a time-sucker.
I’m not a quick writer, and I can’t just dispatch hasty blog posts. Mine tend to be longer and take me hours, sometimes days, to write. I like to write something original and genuine and of substance—not that I’m saying quick blog posts can’t be all of that, just that for me to do it takes time! (I tend to take things to the extreme—I’m like that with everything!)
I knew when I started blogging that I was making an undertaking to post regularly, but I was a little naïve. I thought I’d have heaps of ideas and the well wouldn’t dry up. I didn’t realise how uncomfortable I’d feel posting some of the pieces I have, and I forgot that there would be days, sometimes weeks, when I wouldn’t feel like writing anything.
In addition to all of that, I didn’t realise how much my blog would take me away from my ‘real’ writing—my novel.
In short, I had no idea what I was really committing myself to.
Why have I kept going, then?
I could say it was because I was told I would need a ‘platform’ if ever I was published and I was told to start building that early.
I could say it was because my blog gave me instant readers, which is something you don’t get when writing a novel—that takes years, if it ever happens. One of the best things about blogging is that people read your words almost instantaneously.
I could say it was because blogging introduced me to a community, a supportive and encouraging writing community, with whom I’ve formed friendships and from whom I’ve learnt heaps.
I could say it was because it gave me a deadline and forced me to write, and made me keep writing, and write many more thousands of words than I otherwise would have written. That alone helped me improve as a writer.
I could say that now that I am going to be published, it’s a bonus that I’ve already written about the process of writing a novel for my blog, otherwise I’d have forgotten much of it.
All of those are valid reasons and are more than enough to justify blogging. But, for me, the most important reason I’ve kept going is because this blog has provided a safe place where I could practise my writing. It’s been a haven. A place where readers were on my side—not reading to edit my work, or to check for typos or grammatical errors, or to criticise or judge, but to enjoy and encourage and connect.
For that reason, my blog became the place where I could write the urgent, the things I needed to say, things that would have exploded out of me otherwise. The things I needed to tell someone, because writing them in a journal wasn’t enough.
It was a place where I could sort out my thoughts, as half-formed as they’ve sometimes been. A place where I could be me and write what I wanted to say. Where I could write about private, painful experiences. Where I felt safe enough to take risks and make myself vulnerable, and by doing that develop as a writer and as a person.
When I look back over some of my older posts, I can see not only the evolution of my writing and how it’s improved, but that I’ve changed, too. Me as a person. I’m more confident, less apologetic, less self-admonishing.
There are a few posts that make me wince when I re-read them, but I leave them because they show how I thought and felt at the time. There are a few I wouldn’t write now, but again I let them stay because they show how I’ve changed, and I’m sure that change was due in no small part to writing them.
Last month, our book club read ‘Seeing the Elephant’ by Portland Jones, and Portland came along to our meeting. Her book is told from the viewpoint of a Vietnamese man and Portland is an Australian female. When asked how she managed to write as someone of a different gender and ethnicity, she said she just put herself in his shoes, imagined how she’d feel.
I firmly believe that at our core we’re all the same, therefore in order to write realistic fictional characters, the best person to get to know is yourself. To know how you would feel in a situation, how you might react, what you might say.
Blogging has given me a forum, a place to write and get to know my thoughts and myself. For me, that’s been its greatest benefit, and I think it’s been worth all the time I’ve spent on it.
*If you’re a writer or blogger you might like to read the comments below, too, in which other bloggers have talked about their reasons for blogging and how it’s benefitted them and their writing.