Why I Blog

Sometimes I lose site of why I started blogging and a couple of recent posts from bloggers smarter and more prolific than myself have helped me put it in perspective. I started for a number fo reasons, mostly around bonding and learning in the mystery community, but more recently, a new reason has emerged and that’s regarding discipline. One of my favorite bloggers in John Scalzi and he started his blog, one of the first of it’s kind, when he was layed off from his job and wanted to keep his writing chops sharp. When I started this blog, I was also coming off of a failed newspaper career and saw the blog as a way to live my journalistic dream of being a columnist. But now I have a family and work and my own creative writing competing for my time and I don;t have the luxury of dallying here just to live out an old dream. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still several reasons to keep going here that can compliment the new developments in my life.

Below I’ll be detailing those reasons, but the biggest reason of all doesn’t much exposition: discipline. I have many weaknesses as a writer, notably my plot based difficiencies, but my greatest weakness as a writer is my lack of discipline.  I was able to briefly overcome this at the beginning of the year with a newfound appreciation of pulp style writing discipline and stuck to a strict schedule of 1000 words a day no excuses. I was able to keep this up for about a month and a half and saw great results and didn’t have to throw out as much as I thought I would. But then it came time to write the end of the novel and that requires more thinking and more mulling and brooding than the strict goal would allow for. I still try to write every day, but that’s not always possible and, so far at least, I think I’ve done what’s best for the book and I’m happy with how it’s developing. That leaves me needing an outlet to keep my writing muscles sharp to maintain my discipline. I’ve never had any shortage of things I want to write about here, but many times I’ll sit at the keyboard and just can’t bring myself to exert the minimal energy needed to get the post started. Over the years I’ve had this blog, I’ve seen a direct corrolation between my productivity here and my productivity in my novel work. When I’m writing on the blog regularly, I tend to get more novel work done and I think the increased discipline is the reason for that.

Hmmm, I guess that took more exposition than I thought. Anyway, here are several other reasons why I started blogging and why I continue to blog.

The first blog that inspired this post is from author Jim C Hines. Jim is a Michigan resident like me and wrote a great post for why authors should or shouldn’t blog. You should head over to his place and read the whole thing, but I’ve plunked a few of the salient chunks here:

Promotion: Discussions about blogging commonly open with things like:

  • “Your publisher expects you to promote yourself online!”
  • “Look at Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi!”
  • “You can’t expect any help from publishers, so you’ve got to do it all yourself, so get blogging!”

I will mention my work from time to time, and yes, sometimes it is blatantly promotional: “My book just came out. Yay!” I try not to do that very often. Other times I’m just talking about the process: “I just started draft four of Libriomancer, and I’m freaking out!” The latter isn’t intended as promotion, but it does result in readers knowing about my next project, which is nice.

But if the only reason you’re blogging is for marketing/self-promotion, then you’re basically writing an infomercial. And I don’t know many people who deliberately tune in to infomercials…

I’ve done a little bit of this, especially back when I had a run of productivity and good news with short stories. This is still ground zero for BQ news and when something big does eventually happen and links from Twitter or Facebook will send you to a longer post here.

Connecting with Writers: This is why I started blogging more than ten years ago. I wanted to connect with and learn from writers who knew what the heck they were doing. I found those people online. I read their journals, commented in their posts, and eventually got to know some of them. I joined a webring, for those of you who remember what a webring is. I participated in novel dares, trying to write an entire 80,000 word novel in a month, and joining my fellow participants in sharing progress and setbacks online.

This is the main reason I started blogging too. I knew a few authors from their own blogs and wanted a place as a base for my communication with them. The years 2004 – 2007 were something of an intense graduate-level instruction in the ways of crime fiction. Until then I’d written and read almost exclusively in the first person PI genre. Having the blog opened me up to short fiction at places like Plots With Guns and Thuglit and then other writers and readers in the burgeoning neo-pulp field that continues today. I was able to learn from these folks and experiment with my style under their critiques and I learned more about myself as a writer through this blog during those years than I had in the previous 25 or so I’d been around.

Entertainment: Sometimes I just want to make people smile and laugh, dammit!

This used to be my main reason for blogging. I was living my dream of being a columnist and wanted to entertain. I loved getting lots of hits and lots of comments, they fed my creativity. But after my extended hiatus after my creative meltdown in 2008 I never really regained the bulk of that audience interaction so now I have to focus on other reasons for keeping this thing going.

That brings us to another post that got me all worked up on this topic. It comes from Michael Hyatt who is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishing and one of the most astute chroniclers of the changing publishing landscape. He talks about things he’s learned over his more than 1,000 blog posts:

Blogging has helped clarify my own thinking.

This has been a biggy for me. A couple of people have described my style here as working through my shit and I think that’s a pretty acurate representation. This is especially true now that I’m mostly writing for myself and a few die hard readers. I always like to see how my favorite writers and such tacckle problems and maybe some of you like seeing the same from me.

Blogging has given me a way to build a platform.

Most people who know me in the crime fiction community know me from this blog. Back when I was more active on it and had more things to sell, I would get emails from agents and editors inquiring about the status of various projects I mentioned here. I expect this to be true as well once I finally have another book I feel worthy of trying to sell. For now it’s a nice place to remind people occassionally that I’m still here and I’m still working.

Blogging has led to new opportunities.

See above. Most of the good things that have happened in my career have come one way or another through this blog. So there you have it, the reasons I keep subjecting myself to the whims of the internet and my own creativity. Why do YOU blog? If you don’t, why not?