12 Dec Why every writer needs a blog
I resisted for a long time. Over the years lots of people suggested that I start a blog. And when my now-husband and I decided to travel to Ethiopia for three months, the suggestions ramped up. “You can document your travels,” they said. “You already know how to write so it will be easy”. Well, easy it aint (but that’s another story).
Instead, we went old school and sent out a monthly, sometimes tongue-in-cheek email newsletter called Amazed to our friends and family.
It was Ethiopia-specific so we stopped it on our return. And even when people asked when the next issue was out, it still didn’t occur to me to have a personal blog.
For one, I have always been uncomfortable with writing about myself. Revealing and sharing in ways other than songs or poems felt alien. It has taken me a long time to get over this. I remember my voice teacher at drama school noticing this way back in 2002. “You have to find your own voice,” she cautioned. “Everything you do is about championing the voices of others.”
And it was true. I was, and am, a journalist. I love doing interviews and telling people’s stories. I love packaging advice in fun, fresh ways. I love digesting information and re-telling it.
Plus, writing for women’s magazines (my bread-and butter back then) meant taking my agenda off the table. During my early freelance years I successfully pitched lots of celebrity, health and travel features. But more personal or alternative health and personal development ideas were always turned down. They didn’t really fit the mould.
Besides, writing was not only my art it was how I made my living. I needed to write to order and I did. I happily worked in PR and did business writing for corporate clients. I also became a business writing trainer, which is something I still love doing.
It was in 2012 when my first book (Just Write It!) was in production that I finally started a blog. My editor at McGraw-Hill said that a blog was the best way to market my work and I knew she was right. Although, I must say that blogging for business, or to promote a book, is a different kettle of fish to the creative, personal blog I now recommend having.
But it got me started on my blogging journey and over the past four years I went from an ugly, ill-fitting site to what I have now. And what I have now is something I feel represents me and my writing. It is something that is constant amid the writing work I do for clients which is creative, but in a different way.
For me, a blog is a boat that a writer can rest in as they charter the choppy seas. Magazine pieces may be killed, or that amazing start-up you wrote for may suddenly go under, leaving your invoice unpaid. But you’ll always have your blog. And if you have a personal creative blog – essentially it’ll be for you. Sure, people will read it but it’s your agenda, free from editorial guidelines, style guidelines or publishers to please. You are the editor-in-chief, the publisher and content creator. And as a writer it’s liberating to have a vehicle that puts you in charge of your creative destiny.