Written by A Guest Author April 27th, 2023

7 Ways Blogging Helped My Writing

By Lory Widmer Hess

In my mid-thirties, shortly before my son was born, I sold two essays to national magazines and thought my writing career had finally been launched. Then, postpartum depression and relationship issues struck, and while wrestling with those challenges, I didn’t write creatively for years. In my jobs in nonprofit publicity and communications, I produced advertising copy and edited others’ work, but felt as though I’d lost my own writing impulse.

A move to rural New England and a new job as houseparent for developmentally disabled adults changed that. I loved the peace and beauty of my environment and my hands-on work with people, but I was itching for some intellectual and creative stimulation. On a whim, I decided to start a book blog.

Becoming part of the large, diverse, and talented book blogging community turned out to be one of the best moves I ever made. And unexpectedly, it helped my writing, too. I started to consider myself a writer again, and eventually to submit essays and poems to online and print publications. Last year, I completed a book that is currently in development with a small independent publisher. I’m certain that without my years of blogging, I would never have made it to this point.

Here are some of the ways that blogging helped me, and maybe can help you too.

  1. Establish a writing habit

If you tend to procrastinate and think you’ll get around to writing someday but never do, setting the intention to blog regularly can counteract that. The schedule is up to you, but if you establish one or more days per week when you usually post something, it becomes a habit that doesn’t take so much energy to continue, and ideas generate themselves in the in between times. It’s something I look forward to instead of being a chore.

  1. Generate content

Although some journals won’t consider material published on a personal blog, some still do. This year I looked back at my past posts and submitted one nearly unchanged to an online journal, which promptly accepted it and asked for more. You could also revise and rework a short post into a longer piece, or look back at your past posts as a kind of pre-writing step that you can mine for material.

  1. Practice your craft

I started out mainly writing book reviews, and although at first it was challenging for me to present a book effectively without resorting to plot summary, I enjoyed the challenge and got better at it. I’ve since published book reviews elsewhere using that experience. Repeated practice in any kind of form can be beneficial, in addition to practicing writing in general.

  1. Be your own publisher

A blog is essentially a form of self-publishing. It introduces you to the amazing freedom and autonomy that self-publishing brings, as well as the need to reach out and make your presence felt if you want anybody to read your stuff. There’s the opportunity to add useful tech knowledge to your toolkit, along with marketing skills.

  1. Connect with a community of writers

This brings me to the next benefit. When I started blogging, I thought I could press “Post” and be immediately inundated with adoring readers, but no. I had to go out and visit other blogs, comment and interact with them, and get people interested in me and what I had to say. Taking this not as a mere marketing ploy, but as an opportunity to sincerely appreciate and express interest in other writers, I ended up with a multitude of new creative friendships that are mutually rewarding.

  1. Get feedback and encouragement from readers

One of the best things about blogging, in my opinion, is the opportunity for immediate response. It’s heartening to engage with readers and know that your words are actually being received. Yes, trolling and spam are dangers, but my own experience with comments has been overwhelmingly positive. At a time when I was discouraged that my poetry submissions were all being rejected, I posted some of my poems on my blog and was encouraged by the heartwarming reaction. Some of those poems have since been published elsewhere.

  1. Establish a platform and an audience

Taking all of this together, with a blog you have an opportunity to create the all-important author platform and audience, considered necessary these days if you want to publish in a more conventional format. If you blog about something you are sincerely passionate about — books, for me, but for you it may be cooking, travel, sports, or anything else you love — that passion will both make the work a pleasure and attract readers who sense that energy.

If you simply love to write, blogging can be an excellent way to bring your writing to the world, and to enter into a world of new and fruitful connections. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Bio: Lory Widmer Hess has published writing in Parabola, Interweave Knits, the Ruminate blog, Amethyst Review, and elsewhere. Last November, during an Authors Publish course, she drafted a book now in development with a small independent publisher. She lives with her family in Switzerland and blogs at enterenchanted.com.


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