Should You Blog? And If So, What Are Best Practices?

This post, from Jane Friedman, originally appeared on her Writers Digest There Are No Rules blog on 9/14/09.

More writers are blogging than ever. And if you’re not blogging already, you’ve probably considered it. Recently, a writer asked me via Facebook about blogging.

 She said:

[It is] my impression that blogs related to writing are primarily written by people with expertise in their field and who have valuable advice and connections within the industry. Now, however, I am checking around and I see that many writers, even writers who are unpublished — and some who appear very far from being published — have blogs, also where they discuss writing and their completed works and/or works in progress. These people generally have direct links to their blogs that become available when they sign their name (or their blog name) when commenting on another blog. So, I suppose they are doing some marketing for themselves.

So, my question is: Should I have a blog?

This writer had some serious reservations about starting a blog, and here’s how I answered her questions.

1. I don’t feel like I have much in the way of valuable advice. What kind of advice do I have to dispense?

For aspiring writers (especially novelists), it often comes down to a matter of voice—an engaging voice, humorous insights, or a unique perspective to bring to the table.

Sometimes you may have specific advice, sometimes not. For many aspiring writers who blog, it’s about a community—writers who are learning from one another. It helps if you can identify what about your experience sets you apart, but this insight may not occur for 6 months or more of blogging.

Don’t assume your blog should be specifically about writing. It could be about whatever sets you apart, makes you unique. The writing life can simply be an accent.

2. One person mentioned on his blog that a literary agent looked at his blog, saw his complaints about the issues remaining with his book, and decided not to look at his book. I suppose it seems obvious that you shouldn’t write negative things about your work on your blog, but to me this seems like one example of potentially many examples of why a BAD blog could be worse than no blog at all.

There’s always that risk that an editor/agent will be turned off by your site or blog. Frankly, though, if you’re sending out material knowing there are still issues to resolve, you should be getting rejected. (Never send material out that isn’t as final as you can make it!)

If an agent/editor is turned off by your site/blog, they may not like your style or voice, regardless of content or professionalism. If your blog is a good representation of who you are as a writer (and most blogs are), then it would be like worrying about a potential mate who decides not to start a relationship with you because he/she doesn’t like your personality. Saves you both some trouble, right?

3. I know nothing about blogging, so I feel my chances of writing a bad blog are sufficiently high that I should be concerned.

Maybe you worry too much. This could a unique angle to your blog.

Read the rest of the post, including questions and answers #4-6, on There Are No Rules. Also see the follow-up piece, The Benefits of Blogging, in which Jane responds to reader feedback on this article.

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