Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Blog It: Why Blogging About Writing Can Help Writers Improve

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

There’s been a lot of hubbub about writers blogging about writing lately (no worries, I’m not rehashing that), but it dawned on me after a recent comment that there’s another good reason for writers to blog about writing.

It can make us better writers.

A lot of writing is instinct. Things sound better, it feels like the right way, it just seems better and we don't always know why. I never really knew why I did certain things until I started this blog and began talking about writing and how to improve it. I kept my eyes open while I wrote to find tips and tricks and things to blog about. I paid more attention to why I did what I did. I constantly reminded myself what went into “good writing” and that kept me from slacking off.

Because of that, I’ve gained more control of my writing. I have a much better understanding of my own process and how to use the various writing techniques. When I want to tweak a scene, I know how and why. I’m not stumbling along blind hoping it’ll work better when I’m done.

If you’re a writer thinking about blogging about writing, I say go for it. Don’t do it to gain an audience or to sell books, do it because you enjoy it, and because it’s a great way to examine your own process and skills as a writer. Heck, blog about your writing journey and the things you’ve learned and struggled with. It’ll help you overcome those struggles.

Talking about writing forces you to examine your writing. It makes you think about POV, or structure, or goals or plots or any of the countless techniques that go into crafting a book. And just like asking why about a plot, asking why can help you get beyond the surface “that’s the way it’s done” to really understand why it’s done that way and how you can use that to achieve your writing goals.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked a question on this blog and while answering it, it made me realize something about my own work. Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking “do I do that?” and double checking. But it makes me look, it keeps me learning and growing.

Explaining something to others so they can understand it takes knowing how to do it. You may not know why you do something until you sit down to type out 600 words on how it’s done. But once you do, you get it in a way you didn’t before.

Writers need to write. But just writing isn’t going to help if you don’t do anything to try to improve that writing. Studying other writers is a great way to learn, but so is studying your own writing. It’ll also help you develop objectivity about your work. It’s easier to cut or edit something when you know why it’s not helping your story.

Blog about writing if you want to. Roll up your sleeves and get into the nitty gritty. Not only is it fun, you just might learn something in the process.

Do you blog about writing? Has it made you more aware of your process and writing in general?

More articles on studying your writing:


  1. I definitely think that blogging has drawn my attention to some aspects of writing I wouldn't have thought about otherwise, both from reading others blogs and from thinking about what to write about for my own. Excellent post, Janice!

  2. That's a great point. I've thought about blogging, but never seriously considered it. Your post has made me rethink it, though. I'm just worried about being consistent and posting on a regular basis. Like you updating your blog with equally informative posts every second day -- how do you /do/ that? xD

  3. I do blog about writing ( but, curiously, it hasn't helped me with my writing. Rather, trying to troubleshoot problems has helped me with my writing. That gets into the blog because some of the problems are more unusual, and I know what it's like to be struggling with a problem where you cannot find the solution. Every writer is telling you to do X and you already did and X didn't work, so you don't know what to do next.

    More recently, I've been trying to shift it toward the marketing side, though I'm still trying to figure out how to bring across what I think will be my brand.

  4. I think you say it best - blog because you love it, not for followers or to sell books.

    I love to blog. I started blogging the same time I started writing and it pushed me to become the writer I am today. It allowed me to meet those who were confident in their writing and pick up ideas and prompts from them. It also teaches me word count, shortening sentences, and keeping the reader entertained.

    All that's said is important in writing a book. I think all of us learn a little, even if we don't realize it at first.

  5. I couldn't agree more. Blogging is more than connecting--it's about learning more about ourselves as we go along.

    As for the 'writing blog or not?' debate--people should blog on whatever they are passionate about, period. When you have passion, you'll blog your chosen topic(s) well and find an audience.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  6. I so agree with you and the other comments. I've learned so much more about myself during the blogging process than I have at any other time. It's this incredible journey that not only strengthens your writing, but the way you look at writing, reading and the blogging community.

  7. You nailed the reasons why I blog about writing, plus I love reading posts about writing. Both help me grow as a writer. What more could I want?

    Blogging about writing hasn't hurt my following either. People seem to prefer it when I blog about writing. Yep, I've noticed the commenter trend.

  8. Great topic!

    I have a blog but I don't blog about writing too much.
    My writing has improved greatly for the last year, but I'm not sure I should be blogging about it. People might misunderstand me and interpret my musings, they may think I find myself an expert or something like that ... and that's very far from the truth.
    But I do read lots of blogs about writing and comment on them (like now for example).
    I guess that, when I have a few novels published and more confidence, I'll blog about writing and my writing.

  9. I started my writer's blog because I enjoy the craft so much that I'll never run out of things to talk about, and I also learn by teaching. It's win-win. :D

  10. Yup, it helps me a lot. Also, it's a great place to keep my own notes that I can go back to.

  11. I loved this post! I'm like one of the above posters, I started blogging when I started writing two years ago. In the beginning it was just a way to write short stories about my life and practice the craft. But now, I've begun blogging about my writing experiences, process and things that I've learned along the way. It's always great to know that you're not alone in learning new writing techniques. I can defiantly say that I've learned more about writing along the way, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with others who may not have the opportunities and support that I have. If we all share what we know, we will all have a chance to become better writers. My blog is

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  12. So true! As a dancer, my technique got so much better as I taught dance. It forced me to really break things down and examine strategies for improvement. I think with blogging, it's the same theory.

  13. My blog is a writing blog and although I'm fairly new with only a few short story credits, blogging about writing concepts has been hugely beneficial to my craft.

    I recommend blogging about writing despite the people who argue that it's not enough of a platform or that we're polluting the internet with our neophyte views. I'm seeing a benefit, and that's all that matters.

  14. My old blog was about writing. My new one is not predominantly about writing, though I certainly reserve the right to talk about craft when I feel like it.

    When it came to talking exclusively about writing, I felt that the only thing I could fairly focus on was my own learning process. Without ever having sold anything, I can't claim any sort of expertise on writing, so who am I to be telling people what's right and what isn't? The only thing I am an expert on when it comes to writing is my own journey and where I am on it, so that's how I approached it. From that angle, though, there really just wasn't enough content to keep going. I updated infrequently, with the full knowledge that I was speaking into a vacuum anyway. That was okay as long as I reminded myself that I was blogging for myself and not for anybody else, and if anybody else was interested, well good for them.

    My current blog is broader in scope and I think this is a good thing. I'm trying to let people know who I am and have some good conversations, so I'll talk about whatever interests me. It seems to be more interesting to other people too, as any given day on my current blog gets as many hits as any given month did on my old one.

  15. I've learned a lot about books and writing through blogs. While I don't have a blog myself, I love reading my friends' blogs and those of authors I admire (like you).

  16. That is exactly what has happened. As I really look at process or craft it makes me take a look at my own work. I find I've grown a lot as an author.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  17. I love how you said "do it because you enjoy it." I started blogging because I kept hearing you're supposed to...but I felt pretentious blogging about just writing (I'd think of this blog, and felt like the best thing I could do was tell everyone to come read here). I thought about it, tried a few different things, and eventually settled into something I do enjoy blogging about, mixed with a monthly post on writing (which I enjoy -- I just couldn't do it all the time).

    I think blogging is kind of like exercising. If you love what you're doing, it's something you look forward to...and if it's not, it's a chore. Find what you love, and it's easy to keep it up and post on time. I think blogs that are "just for marketing" show and, ironically, don't draw in readers.

  18. You know so much about all the writing topics you blog about that you must have had it figured out on some level before you started blogging.

    I think someone like you can do a blog on the craft of writing really well. For some of us, like maybe me, it may be better to use our blog for other topics. For me, I feel like my mission is to help promote other writers. Plus you say it all so well on the craft of writing that I wouldn't have much if anything to add.

    But I do agree that blogging does help make you a better writer.

  19. I think MKHutchins and said it well.

    I'm still in mega-learning phase right now so if I were to try and blog about writing, it would be to direct people to better blogs and books on the subject. I do, however, see the value in sharing what I learn as I go. I find other writers either learn from what I've shared or can offer me advice from their own experiences.

    In the meantime, I look at blogging as way to be a better writer, period. And part of that is just keeping a schedule and writing as often as I can, whether that be about writing, parenting, cooking, or something random (like vanity license plates).

  20. Blogging about writing keeps me in touch with myself and the aspects of writing I need to work on. It is also great self-discipline to write on a schedule (whatever you write about).

    Word Grrls

  21. I found I enjoy writing book reviews, and by summarizing books I've learned how to explain what makes a story good. I'd like to think it's helped me craft my own stories. We'll see!

    The blogging community for writers and book lovers so incredibly supportive, even if I never get published I will still enjoy reading about the process.

  22. Excellent points, Janice. Your site is one of favorites for the very reasons you listed. It instructs, it gets me thinking about the processes I use to write and how to make them more effective. You are doing an excellent job.
    Yes, I do blog about writing, but not exclusively. I find that blending my interests and skills works well, for me.
    Thanks much for sharing your experience and journey with us, Janice.

  23. Andrea: Thanks!

    Wendy: It takes work for sure. I'm lucky that my scheduled allows for it, but lately I have done things to ease some of that. The weekly guest posts help (and I arrange those a long time in advance), I'm now running an archived post on Thursdays, so all I need to do is write three new posts a week, plus the crit for Saturday's diagnostic. As long as I'm writing it's not too hard coming up with things, because I write about what I'm doing. But I still get stuck :) I do keep an idea file with a lot of topics. I also try to do my posts for the week at once so I'm not playing catch up. Doesn't always work though.

    Linda: The troubleshooting is along the same principle I think (studying your own stuff), and I'm glad to hear that's working for you :) I think blogs and marketing are affected by genre. Certain genres seem to do well online, and others not so much. Best of luck with yours!

    Jen: Great points about the word counts and keeping folks entertained. Even if they're not fiction, they're still valuable tools to develop.

    Angela: I agree. If you like blogging, blog, and it doesn't have to be something that relates to your book.

    CEP: It does. especially if you're blogging about more personal topics.

    Stina: That's awesome. I also love reading about writing. There are always things to learn :)

    Juliana: I can understand that.

    Lydia: That's how I feel.

    E. Arroyo: Oh I like that! I actually do go back and read posts of mine now that I think about it.

    MJKane: Thanks! I do like how many blogs are out there that show writers we are not alone in this. It feels so solitary, but pretty much everyone goes through the same journey. There's something comforting in that.

    Sarah: Very cool!

    Bluestocking: So true. Not everything we do has to be about marketing or promotion, though sometimes it does feel that way.

    Joe: Thar's great. I think it's easy for writers to blog about writing because that's what we know. But it's not for everyone, and what mattes most is fining that way to connect with readers -- whoever they are for whatever project. I guess blogging about writing helped you find a niche that worked better for you :)

    Lin: Thanks!

    Raquel: That's fantastic :)

    MK: I agree. I think all marketing has to be something we enjoy or we just won't do it. It's too much work otherwise, and you're right, that does show.

    Natalie: I did a lot of it on instinct, though I did have a solid grasp of things. I really started to understand more as I did more critiques, taught classes, then this blog. I think it's awesome that you promote writers (and I thank you!). It's wonderful that you found your niche.

    Erin: One thing I enjoy about hearing other writer's journeys and struggles (and successes) is to see different techniques and approaches. No matter what level you're at, you do have things to offer. You might have a technique that is just what someone else needs to make the light bulbs click on.

    Laura: The writing every day aspect has helped me for sure. I never really wrote every day (and I do get burnt out if I do to much in a row), but at first, the blog did get me writing daily. (I didn't know about scheduling post then). I still like breaks, but I can write more frequently now and that's a good thing.

    Stephsco: Oh, totally. Reviews are great ways to learn about writing and what makes a good story. I find critiques helpful for that same reason. It's a great community. I'm always inspired by how much we support each other.

    Gene: Thanks! I just love teaching writing. I never would have expected that, but I'm glad I lucked into it. I wouldn't have done the blog otherwise, and I do enjoy it.

  24. Blogging about my writing journey keeps me honest. I've never been a diary writer, but my blog can trace my learning steps in some sort of coherent time line. I try to be as brutally honest about the mistakes I make and the lessons learned from them. I use it as my "one-person cheerleading squad" - I don't expect people to read or care about it but I needed to document the mental struggle I had/have with writing too.

    I have swayed off track at times blogging about other things because I didn't feel my writing was a very interesting topic for a time (my writer posts seemed rather repetitive), but I have brought it back round and incorporated writing-based subjects that interest me.

  25. I think that's a fantastic reason to blog. It's yours, you own it, and it helps you with your writing (and others going through the sane things).

  26. I knew there was a reason I keep doing this blogging stuff...