In the era of social media—a time when news, gossip, insults, and praise travel as fast as the press of a finger—I have undertaken the daunting task of completing my first novel. And if that wasn’t an audacious enough act for a self-professed introvert and perfectionist, I have started a blog to match. A foolhardy venture, I know, but such is the pull of a great story on the heart of a writer, even a novice one. But becoming a "writer who blogs" was not an easy transition for me. Here is my story.
After spending several years developing and writing my first novel, I had come to a standstill. The story wasn’t working in places, and the word count had grown so enormous it could have sunk small ships. Alarmed, I put my manuscript on hold to study the craft of writing, which was time well spent, because I discovered several structural errors I had made along the way. During this recess phase, I thought it prudent to research the publishing business as well, including genre, literary agents, and promotion. I read scores of books and online articles dedicated to helping aspiring novelists write well and get published. The word “blogging” came up again and again.
“Start a blog and post regularly to cultivate relationships with your future readers,” the experts advised. “You can’t get published without a blog,” they went on, “so you might as well start blogging ASAP to give yourself adequate time to build a readership. Three posts per week should suffice. But don’t worry. You’ll love blogging, and so will your readers. Put yourself out there. Blog, blog, blog! Post, post, post! Blogging will change your life.”
Not wanting to make any further mistakes and believing I was doing the “write” thing, I followed their counsel. I designed a website (the fun part), and, somewhat dubiously, prepared to blog. Meanwhile, I continued to consume book after book on writing and storytelling, reworking the structural elements in my story bit by bit.
But I overdid it. Too much learning and not enough doing made me start to doubt my own writing instincts. “Analysis paralysis” set in. Years of researching and revising went by, but I had nothing to show for them.
So I dutifully refocused on the blog. However, each time I came up with a solid idea and started writing the post, I couldn’t finish it. And among those I completed, I couldn’t muster the gumption to press publish. Nothing felt good enough; nothing seemed relevant. The few posts I did polish to perfection and publish, I ended up deleting.
Desperate to achieve something during that period, I revised my website half a dozen times with new categories, slogans, and formats, but the same thing happened time and again. I would start blogging and stop within weeks.
What was wrong with me? Was it my introversion, my perfectionism, the antagonistic nature of cyberspace? Why couldn’t I commit to blogging? After all, I needed to blog to get published—or so I thought. Because I heeded too many voices over the years and absorbed endless snippets of advice, I had completely lost confidence in my decision-making abilities. As a result, my book was on life support.
My novel! Oh, how I missed it! I longed for my characters and the world I had created for them more with each passing day. Was this what a modern-day author’s life supposed to be about? Social media, blogging, hits and likes? What about storytelling? What about creating characters so real and compelling they leapt off the page and into readers’ hearts? Emotionally exhausted and plagued with self-doubt, I was ready to give up writing entirely.
But I couldn’t. My characters wouldn’t let me lose heart, and I couldn’t let them go. I loved them too much. And their story was too meaningful to me.
And so my psychoanalyst side ruminated over the problem. More weeks of investigation went by, delving deeper for the “perfect” solution, always analyzing but never finishing, forever in my head. I was so sick of thinking. Then, one night in one of those moments of clarity that come after yet another day of paralyzing analysis, I blurted out the truth to my husband at last:
I don’t want to blog!
(Not in the conventional way, at any rate.) It’s not that I hated blogging. It’s just that I wanted to focus again on what I loved, what I did best: telling stories. All kinds of stories. Adult dramedies, middle-grade fantasies, sweeping futuristic family sagas, romances, grand Narnian-like trilogies, and everything in between.
Man, it felt good to speak those words out loud—a queasy-but-exhilarating kind of good. It was a turning point, a sensation of pure freedom.
I was terrified.
Had I just driven the stake into my book coffin? All at once, I no longer knew nor cared. Even as I heard the publishing police charging toward my door to arrest me for my folly, I was at peace. I had found the courage to admit traditional blogging wasn’t for me. You know the sort I’m talking about—that all-encompassing, never-ending, daily-to-weekly grind that keeps fiction writers away from their true calling: crafting wonderful, page-turning stories.
Then what kind of writer should join the Blogosphere, I wondered? After more research this is what I discovered.
Regular blogging is for:
Those whose end goal is to be a professional blogger.
Those who write non-fiction books and need an online platform to market them.
Those who have time both to blog frequently, and, in turn, promote their blogs through their social media accounts.
Those who can occasionally guest blog to drive readership back to their own sites.
Those (and this one’s a biggie) who are not actively trying to finish writing a novel while blogging.
And those who passionately LOVE to blog.
None of those were me. Interestingly, nearly all sites agreed on one basic premise: Blogging because an aspiring writer is “supposed to blog” was a terrible reason to blog. (However, they did recommend all writers at least have a static website.)
Accordingly, I revised my website one last time. The new site focuses on all things intellectual, inspirational, and geeky from a Born-Again Christian perspective and includes a bio and Q&A section, as well as a full page of inspiring quotes from famous writers, thinkers, and nerds.
And—yes—despite my angst-ridden rumination above, I’ve decided to include a blog on my home page, after all. Whaaaaa? Why, you ask?
Because of you.
Because I’m a PBS-watching, speculative fiction-writing, Jesus-loving girl nerd without a community, and I’m know I’m not alone. Blogging for me has become a heart issue, not a business one. I want to get to know YOU—my future readers—not as prospective buyers of my books, but as fellow nerds and friends.
Accordingly, check my new blog twice a month or so, where I’ll write about all things nerdy: Star Trek, British comedy, classical music, museums, games and puzzles, speculative and middle-grade fiction, and the like, as well as the occasional social commentary on bullying, girl nerds, athletic nerds, and even nerds in the church. I look forward to engaging with you in the comments section, and feel free to send me a message on the contact page, as well. Know that all are welcome here in the Kingdom of Nerdonia, nerds or otherwise, as long as they comment with kindness.
Nevertheless, I plan to stay true to my decision to blog only when I truly want to. That is, whenever I have something to say that might touch the nerd heart, stimulate the nerd mind, or bring a dorky snort of laughter.
Because I’m a storyteller, not a blogger. And writing books always comes first.
Now I’d like to hear from YOU:
Have you experienced the above dichotomy? Do you have your own blog or website? How do you balance needing to blog versus needing to write your book? Have you given up blogging as a result? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.