Can Blogging Help Your Writing Process?

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Welcome to More Cowbell! Today is Thoughty Thursday when we examine whatever topic is kicking around in my brain for the week.

Today I’m thinking about blogging. There are people who minimize the importance of what a blog can do for your writing.

Not just your writing career. Your WRITING.

One of my fellow scribes made a comment to me a few weeks back that surprised me. The conversation went something like this:

Her: “Well, since you’re not writing right now—”

Me: (She shocked me outta my socks and I completely interrupted her.) “Not writing?! Are you kidding me? I write more now than I ever have in my life!”

Her: “Oh, I know you blog. But I mean you’re not writing on your book.”

Me: “Yes. I am.”

Her: “Really? I thought with all that blogging, you wouldn’t have time.”

I’ll admit I was a bit irked by the conversation at the time, but she got me thinking. She wasn’t trying to be mean.

Her process is simply different than mine – she’d never get anything productive done on my mish-mashed schedule. She’s a linear writer. I’m an ADD bite-sized-pieces writer. We both deal with the challenges that come with our particular styles.

I took three observations away from the above conversation:

1. NEVER ASSUME. (I’m sure you know this one already!)

This gal assumed, because blogs take her a long time to write, that it was the same for me. She knows I spent about 3 hours a day on the computer and she figured it was all spent on social media. Um, no.

Yes, I write fast (especially now that I’m writing more) but it’s more than that. Blogging warms me up for the other things I write, so I tend to do it first. You get lots of posts from me but, as you might have noticed, most of them aren’t all that long.

Often, the comments take more time than the actual blog.

For example, yesterday’s Reblog of Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone – Vol. 1 took me exactly 15 minutes from start to finish. I don’t typically post on Wednesday so it seemed like a great time to try out the whole “Reblogging” thing and it was fun.

2. Writing books doesn’t HAVE to be your only writing goal.

There I said it. Everyone isn’t going to write a novel. Even if they do, they won’t do it in the same way as the writer sitting next to them.

To me, that’s the beauty of this writing thing: everybody is different. Different ROCKS. Different makes the world go round.

Some of us here will write poems.
Others will write short stories.
Still others will do freelance pieces.

Yes, you need to finish what you start, but saying you’re not a writer if you don’t write novels is like saying a romance writer is less than a thriller writer. Or that a mystery writer is less than a YA writer. It’s just silly.

This brings me to my last lesson:

3. The key to success is embracing your strengths and running with them.

Writers are seekers of whimsy. We like to play. All work and no play makes Joe or Jane Scribe an unhappy camper!

I read a great post by Kait Nolan yesterday called Nothing Is Set In Stone. She put her finger right on the insecure, beat-up heart of why so many writers get stalled. They think everything must be perfect the first time out, and that it’s written in stone. That’s no fun, man!!

Blogging has taught me that the writing process is fluid. You can try things and suck at them and it’s OK. Just hit your delete key to keep them from the light of day, or run the post and see what happens.

I’m a big fan of people focusing on the things they’re good at. I did a post at Gene Lempp’s place on this exact topic (called Playing To Your Strengths).

If you’re good at something, you’re more likely to enjoy it. You’ll want t0 spend time doing it!

Maybe, like me, you’re happiest when you write short things like blogs, essays or short stories. Writing short doesn’t make you less than the novelist sitting across the screen from you.

Have you read Chuck Wendig’s 250 Things You Should Know About Writing (it’s $0.99 right now…just sayin…) or his Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey? What about Kristen Lamb’s Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer? These books started out as BLOGS. Yes, they were reconditioned and massaged into wonderful books, but the first draft of each chapter was a blog.

Your time spent blogging is not a waste. It is a warm up. A moment of sharing something cool you learned. A way to connect with others or make them laugh.

In some wonderful scenarios, it is a first draft.

Are you struggling with any of these issues? Do you feel guilty if you’re not working on a certain project? Have “shoulds” taken over your writing time, turning it into all work and no play? Enquiring minds always  want to know here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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79 Responses to Can Blogging Help Your Writing Process?

  1. Aloha Jenny,

    I love me my blog. Seriously, it *has* impacted my WIP, but I am a better – and more confident writer because of my posts (and the comments.)

    WIP will get done, blogging is here to stay🙂

    Like

    • Mark! You know Jenny? Dude, you get around. I thought you were only my boyfriend and now I find you over here on Jenny’s site? Jealoussss.

      Okay, seriously if Jenny doesn’t mind me blogjacking her for a moment – it was great to see you last month. We totally should’ve hung out more. Next time, okay?😉

      Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Aloha, Mark! I’m delighted that you and your blog are soulmates. It really makes the process fly by, doesn’t it? And it makes the brain rest easier when you’ve got a place to put all those bits of creativity.

      Like

  2. Thank you for this post, Jenny. I am definitely a “short” writer, and I feel lesser at times.
    I miss blogging and want to get back to it as soon as my desk is put in my new study (yay!) on Tuesday. Oh, I guess I’ll unpack my kitchen, too!

    Like

  3. This is such an excellent post. I have blogged more in the last twelve months than I have in my life. I finished my NaNo project and am currently revamping one of my three blogs into a music/motorcycle blog.
    Blogging absolutely makes me a better writer. Reading helps, too… but I noticed when I am writing on my WIP that the flow just comes easier. I think I have blogging to thank for that.
    Rock on Jenny!😉

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  4. Great post Jenny, well said! My blog has actually helped me become more serious about writing and spurred me on to write novels and to consider myself a writer full stop!

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  5. AMEN to that!🙂
    Fantastic post Jenny and so well said! If I review my life over the last two years, I can whole heartedly say that blogging has been instrumental to my writing. It plays a huge inspirational role in my other writing endeavours and I am not sure I’d be even half as far as I am without it.
    Besides which, it’s FUN!!! And lord knows I love to have FUN! LOL!
    A happy blogger = happy writer!🙂

    Like

  6. K.B. Owen says:

    Jenny! Love this. You’re always inspiring me! With my blog, I like to do two things: make people laugh/feel good, and share something they may not have known about (usual history-oriented) that they find interesting. The feedback really keeps me going!

    Like

  7. “I’m an ADD bite-sized-pieces writer.” Thank you for describing me exactly! I’m working on so many different things right now, it’s insane! And I do believe blogging can help. Each blog post is practice. Each post is its own writing prompt. For me, at least. And yeah, I do feel guilty if I’m not writing or if I go a particularly long time without writing. Which makes me think I should get to writing and/or editing (which I do at the same time.)

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  8. Stacy Green says:

    No, I don’t feel guilty, but I do worry that I’m running around like a chicken with no head on the blogs and whether or not it’s really doing any good. So much social media, and figuring out where to focus can be as stressful as plotting the book.

    That said, I like blogging because as April said, it’s writing practice, and it’s given me a great support system:)

    Like

  9. David Jones says:

    Blogging could have taken over my life, and worked it’s way into my writing time. I refused to let that happen. Just like I refused to let Twitter and Face Book do the same. This is a good post.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, David! And it sounds like you have the right idea. I cut off half this post for a part 2 and i’ll be curious whether you do some of the same things I do to save time on the blogging front.

      Like

  10. yikici says:

    Jenny, I soooo needed to read this! Lately I’ve been in two minds about blogging & social media; I’m a tad too OCD when it comes to writing -especially blogging, I just want what goes out there to be perfect -this does eventually bleed into my writing time for my WIP(s) and other social media requirements. The ability to not be able to perfect the latter two gives me bouts of anxiety attacks and leads to my withdrawal and silence.

    However, you have just reminded me blogging is good practice for my writing (I keep forgetting that -note to self ‘appreciate every word that you write’). I hope to not get in a gloop next time my OCD gets the better of me.

    Thanks for a great post.🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You’re welcome, Oz. It’s always so funny to see how everyone’s perspective is so different. Blogging freed me BECAUSE you can always change it. If I put it up at 4 am and see the mistake at 6 am, no one after 6 am ever sees it. It’s freeing.🙂

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  11. Roni Loren says:

    I’m under a deadline. My book is due at the end of this month and I have 20-30k words left to write. I’m still blogging. Why? Because I’ve found that blogging acts at my “morning pages” (from Julia Cameron’s The Artists’ Way). I can’t just sit down and start writing on my WIP. I have to get my writing brain in gear and that’s what my blog does. I write something that has a whole lot less pressure hanging over it and prime the pump for the harder work I need to get to in the afternoon. I tried to take a break from blogging once to get more novel writing done and it totally backfired. I ended up wasting the hour I usually spent blogging staring at the computer or wasting time. So I think you have to go with whatever process works best for you.

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  12. Laura Drake says:

    I’m always guilty of thinking that because I do something a certain way, that everyone does. It’s not that I think I do it right (God knows,) it’s just that I don’t know any other way!

    The past 12 months have been a joy, watching you discover your process, and getting out of the self-flagelation mode . . .

    The next 12 months is going to be even better, to watch you SHINE!!!!

    Love you, Chickie.

    Like

  13. Amalia T. says:

    Blogging works for me — not as a warm up, but as a place to organize my thoughts and my research for future books. I use my blog to dump all the information I’m trying to synthesize and all the things that might be the start of a story one day, because it’s so fascinating and my brain is turning it over and turning it over, and now I can go back and see what I was thinking and the sparks can reignite, and I don’t have to abandon my current project for fear of losing the idea.

    Writing is how I synthesize, and it’s also how I commit research into memory — writing is the way I relate to what I’m studying, and how I learn, and when I’m writing historical fiction, or Norse-influenced fantasy, it’s nice to have what I’ve learned at my fingertips, all in one place on the blog.

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  14. Jen Kirchner says:

    Love the sentiment of this article and I couldn’t agree more! My blogging takes me forever to write, but I still keep at it! Blogging is a different kind of writing than a novel (it uses an entirely different part of my brain!) and stretches me in different ways. Like you said in your post, blogging gives the freedom to try things that work, as well as things that don’t. Roni Loren mentioned above that she treats blogs like morning pages, which is a terrific way to look at it.

    Anything we work hard at is work, not play! It’s too bad that not everyone sees our blogging in the same way. Well, hey — *I* appreciate the time and energy you put into this post. It’s valuable to me.🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      THANK YOU, Jen! You know I value your opinion.

      If it makes you feel any better, your blog looks effortless. I had no idea you had to struggle with it a bit. (Everybody go take a peek at Jen’s place and you’ll see what I mean – she’s got IT.)

      Like

  15. Julie Glover says:

    Great post, Jenny! Blogging has helped me establish writing discipline. Plus, I get to check in with my peeps! Like Roni said, it also gets all the wheels moving; it’s like priming the pump. I usually blog in the morning and write my novel in the afternoon.

    (The idea that someday I could turn all those words posts into a book! I never considered that. I’m drooling now. I have so much fun with them.)

    Like

  16. Hart says:

    I think my blog really helped me find my voice. I sort of have delusions about being dark and mysterious, but in actuality, I’m sort of a goof. It took blogging, which I wasn’t taking nearly so seriously, to teach me people loved what I wrote when i was zany–that books can include some of that–a lot of it even, depending on genre.

    I like your way as looking at it as warm up. I generally take 30-60 minutes on a post, which, if I can stay focused, is only a third to a fifth of my time writing. And when I am doing a WriMo, I intentionally write a little shorter blog.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That’s exactly how long I usually take! How funny is that? I set timers and such for all my writing – it’s made a big difference.

      p.s. I LOVE zany.🙂

      Like

  17. Emma says:

    I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few months blogging and become distracted from working on my short stories and novels. I need to make time for both, and stop being so lazy🙂

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  18. Never, never assume, people! That is Life 101.

    Blogging has taught me to think quicker, write faster, and get to the point within the first two sentences. I don’t have 300,000 words to explain my post, so it’s got to be fun, fun, fun right from the start and I love that challenge. Almost as much as I love you, sweet Jenny!!

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That’s a great way to put it, Tameri. It’s been so hugely helpful to me to know I MUST sit down at the page “X” number of days per week and that my must produce at least this much output for the week. I simply never did that when it was just me and my WIP.

      Like

  19. I struggle a lot with how much time I spend on social media, but I’m getting better. Triberr is helping. Thanks for introducing me to it, Jenny.

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  20. Christy Farmer says:

    It goes to show that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to writing ‘or’ blogging.😉 Wonderful post, Jenny! Keep up the great work!

    Like

  21. I love this. I too write quickly (especially blog posts), so many other bloggers can’t understand how I can contribute to other ones. Plus, most of my posts are 300 words. Vignettes. They were 700 when I first started. I’m also able to blog when I’m tired and distracted; the perception that I need a quiet space to produce something decent has been shattered by blogging.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL…you thought you needed quiet, huh? With twins?? LMAO!!

      No, seriously, I totally love your blog and I’m working on getting in and out more quickly the way you do. I’ve gotten down to an average of 600-700 but I think I can trim that a bit more too. *bowing to your 300 average*

      Like

  22. Sharla Rae says:

    Love this blog Jenny. I love all your blogs. They are whacky, timely, thought provoking and entertaining. When it comes down to it, that’s what writing is all about so novel or blog, you’re doing your job as a writer. Keep up the excellent work!

    Like

  23. tomwisk says:

    How do you do it? Blogging is a running start for writing. The only problem is while I’m plugging away that little voice in the back of my mind says “You should’ve talked about interspecies marriage”. The rational part tries to throttle it but it won’t shut up. I have to write the idea down on a convienient piece of paper. The little rat comes up with the ideas but won’t put one word in when it comes to blogging.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Tom, I’d TOTALLY dig a funny blog on interspecies marriage! I mean that’s basically what we’ve got anyway, right? LOL.

      Let your voice free, dude. Let it free.🙂

      Like

  24. I hadn’t written more than a recipe until I began blogging a year ago, and now I’ve written more than 170 full length posts and a few guest posts, too. It has also stimulated my creativity process. Blogging and writing go together like soap and water.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That’s fantastic, Amberr! I can tell you’re having a great time with your blog and your following is impressive. Especially after just a year. You go, girl.🙂

      Like

  25. Awesome post Jenny! I have fallin in love with blogging and think it’s one of the best ways to discipline a writer these days. Kristen and I were just talking about that today in fact😉

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I totally agree with you, and I’m madly in love too. I feel like blogging has helped show me where my calling lies as a writer and made everything run more smoothly. You tell Kristen, it’s nice to see that the Blonde Dropbox is in perfect working order.🙂

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  26. These are awesome comments Jenny! It always amazes me that you just throw these posts up and they are soo great! Me on the other hand frets every single time I post. It’s been four months and I still have a hard time. It takes me hours to write a post and then a couple of hours to set it up on my site. I do feel so much better only writing one post a week. i’m trying to get focused on writing my book again. I must not be ADD, although I was always accused of that when I was younger. Maybe it’s because I am older, that I don’t have the energy to be all over the place. I like to take my time and not rush. Enjoy the process. But then before I started blogging, I would write a 100,000 word ms in 3 months. And I liked being totally immersed into it without the distractions. I am an extrovert, I like being around people, but I’ve never felt it is important that people know who I am or what I have to say. So it’s easier for me to write about other people. That’s more my comfort zone. And that’s why my posts are not about me. But I’m trying to push myself out there. Baby steps!🙂

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I was just telling someone else how fascinating it is how different everyone is! I could write 300 short pieces a year and feel like my life was fantastic. Yet, even the IDEA of writing 100K straight through gives me the hives.

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re fretting about anything. Could it be that you think people wouldn’t WANT to hear about you? Because I think they would.🙂

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  27. Nicole Alexander says:

    I agree that blogging can help your writing. In my case, I blog about the research I’ve done for my historical fiction books (mainly because I don’t have an agent yet and can’t talk about the plot). But the act of writing to inform others helps me keep it all straight in my head, and sometimes forms connections to my plot I wouldn’t have otherwise made.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Hi Nicole! My Saturday posts have really helped me with my pregnancy memoir, I totally get it. I’m interested in what sort of research you do.

      Like

      • Nicole Alexander says:

        My current books are Arthurian legend, so I’ve done research on the legends, their origins and evolution, the possibility of a historical King Arthur, and the religion, politics and culture of late fifth century Britain. I know far more about the Celts, Picts and Druids than I ever thought I would! Most of my research is done through books, but I did get to go to England several years ago. I’d love to go back and focus on the areas my series takes place in. Maybe someday!

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  29. EllieAnn says:

    Hi Jenny! Great post, I loved every word.
    I think the biggest help for me in this blogging adventure has been voice and audience. It’s really helped me find my writer’s voice, and grow confident with it. It’s also helped me see my audience–who I want to write to. Those are lessons that have been invaluable to me.

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    • Jenny Hansen says:

      EllieAnn – what a FANTASTIC comment. And I do see this, for both you and me. I’ve watched your voice grow and it’s amazing. I love seeing what you’ve got going on at your place!

      Like

  30. The community is why I blog. I’ve got to know people who love what I love to do and that has been extraordinarily beneficial. I love reading blogs (just like this) for inspiration and tips, but I do enjoy blogging. It takes me away from writing on my WIP – yes – but I get back to it. I couldn’t loose all I’ve gained from blogging now – And finish my novel to the level I know it will be. I’ve learned so much and wouldn’t trade it for several finished novels – plus I do prefer the shorts too. Great post🙂 XX

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  31. This post made me feel better. I spent yesterday evening writing a blog post instead of working on my novel. BUT I plan on writing lots towards my novel in the coming days as I happen to have a bit more time freeing up. Yay for blogging, which is actually writing.🙂

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  32. Honestly I’m a bi-polar blogger. I either love it or hate it. My freelance head editor keeps asking me “what’s the point in this? where’s the expert? where’s the value for the reader?” so I kick around my blog and consider abandoning it. Then, my fiction head editor points to the intimacy of blogging and how it is exposing and testing my voice, style, confidence and comfort-level better and faster than any other writing exercise I’ve done.

    Has blogging helped my writing process? Yes. If for no other reason then it has annoyed the heck out of me and forced me to justify every blooming minute I spend on it.

    And, that’s a good thing. Except when it’s not.🙂

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  33. I stalled for a long time on a recent project because I was so obsessed with figuring out the grander story arc of the trilogy that I had no idea what to do next in book one. Exhausting! I don’t have any real solution, other than to know how book one is supposed to end and work backward from there. After the first draft is finished, see if there are any scenes that hint at what’s to come in the next book, and work on subtly weaving clues throughout.

    Sometimes I hit a wall when I’m revising and trying to make big changes. All that text seems so… permanent in the manuscript file. In situations like this, I tend to break out my trusty notebook, because it feels more like drafting.

    Blogging has, more than anything, I think, helped me to find my authorial voice, which is, imo, priceless!

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  35. Marcia says:

    After all these awesome comments, what’s left to say? I agree. Blogging is writing. It is beneficial to writing a book because it keeps the flow going. It creates a connection between you and the reader and hopefully some of those readers are not writers. We are all individuals and so we all have our own individual approach to writing books, blogs and social media. A cool quote I found on Pinterest: “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”

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  36. Louisa Bacio says:

    Shoot — I should be writing right NOW. But instead … I’m reading your blog on writing! It’s a warm-up!

    Like

  37. E.B. Black says:

    I agree that there are many different kinds of writers. Most people assume that one is not a writer until they are published. I write novels and work on them (and/or my blog) every single day, but I so far have no been published. I still consider myself a writer though because it’s what I occupy my time doing.

    Because I write novels, I get used to editting and editting in an almost endless cycle. Blogs have taught me the type of writing that consists of winging it a little more and not worrying about whether or not its perfect. If I edit my blogs too much, then I take too long to post them, so I just have to not worry too much about any mistakes or whatever and just get my words out there. It’s helped me write things better the first time as well.

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  38. yelenacasale says:

    I love the idea that blogging is a warmup to other writing. I often feel like that as well. And on the day that I’m extremely busy and can’t get much other writing done, doing a blog post makes me feel like I’ve accomplished at least something within my writing world.
    Plus I can try out different ideas on the blog and get people’s reactions. And while I blog heavily about writing, I also have other features, like the Friday History & Art Feature, which attracts a different audience. I love blogging.
    Good post!

    Like

  39. Right on, Jenny! Blogging and responding to blogs is an excellent way to broaden my ability to write about any subject and actually, possibly, with any luck, make it sound interesting to others. There are so many fabulous bloggers with such different writing styles we can’t help but learn! The comments are often just as helpful as the posts! Thanks so much for being a true leader in this regard and for being so generous in sharing your knowledge and experience. Loved the Triberr Webinar on Sunday – thanks for that too!

    Like

  40. cmcowenaz says:

    Great post. I’m new to this blog and, well, new to blogging in general. In fact I started my blog because I heard so many writers say that it helps improve the craft of writing. And I like that you emphasized that not everyone is a novelist. One genre or kind of writing is no better or worse than any other. Thanks for the great read!

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  43. Great post. I think blogging is helping me to think of myself as a writer and to take it more seriously than I have in the past. The requirement to write frequently in order to be read is definitely helping the discipline factor. I love reading all these comments – such a community of writers!

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