- Online story-telling is a good way to establish a writing discipline.
When I began my fiction blog Of Poets & Heartbreakers, most people I spoke to about it would ask me what I was trying to achieve. After thinking about my incentives, I realized that what I wanted was practice and feedback. I mean it exactly in the “basketball practice”, “volleyball practice” type of way.
When you write for yourself, you don’t get feedback and practice can lag. But, when you start writing for others, even if you’re looking to attract just a couple followers who enjoy and critique your work, you must let them know your publication schedule and stick to it. If you don’t stick to it, they will stop coming back to read your story (yes, I’ve learned this the hard way).
In that way, having a blog makes you sit down regularly to practice your craft. In doing so, you establish a writing discipline, which takes you out of the sporadic, and into the regular. Just like in any sport or craft, improvement in writing requires constant iteration.
2. Create a posting plan, but be flexible with it.
It didn’t take me long to realize that fiction blogging is more like a soap opera than a movie (or novel, for that matter). Having a tight plot line is less important than conveying emotions and character growth, because time and space constraints don’t exist in this format.
I know the general direction of my characters and the plot and every few months I create an estimate of how many posts it’ll take to cover these events. After a few iterations of the process, I realized that in order for the plot to sound organic, certain events take more time to complete than planned.
That might happen to you and I’m here to tell you that that’s ok. If you are used to writing outside the blogging world, this might seen strange. Forget about length constraints. Follow, instead, the rhythm of the plot, and don’t forget to focus on the quality of the work, which takes me too the next point.
3. Concentrate on creating art that you value, and don’t be ashamed of the content that you write about.
Everyone is self-conscious about their work. When I try to dissect the sources my own embarrassment regarding my writing, I notice two sources:
- Quality of the writing: This includes word choice, tone, syntax, character development, plot, and more.
- Content of the writing: For instance, my characters tend to get intimate once in a while. They just do, like we all do.
To add to the difficulty I had in writing intimate scenes, I once received harsh criticism in a public group for even including them. This made me doubt whether these scene should be part of the blog in the first place. However, I realized that taking them out would take away from the story, and that, far from superfluous, they were necessary to the overall message of the plot.
So, put on some of your favorite music, tune out the world and let it flow. Go back and edit. Allow yourself to be censored only when you believe you can improve the quality of the craft itself, and do not apologize for the rest.
4. Work with ample time to edit, ideally giving yourself one day to let the post rest.
You’ve heard it before from your English teacher, and I feel like it’s still important enough to say it here:
Edit! eDiT! Ediiiiit!
Yes, at least three times. If possible, print out your post and read it on a piece of paper in front of you. I never cease to be amazed at the difference between what I catch from editing on my screen as opposed to what I catch on a printed page.
And, in case you’re wondering, despite this not being a fiction post, I did print this out to edit, and every time I read it, I find things I want to change. While it should sound spontaneous and natural, all types of writing require preparation and review.
5. The hardest part is the getting started
It’s incredible to me how quickly I finish a 1400-word post – once I have written the first 600 words. Getting through the beginning is tough: you’ll have to set the scene, create the tension and push the characters in the direction you see for them. Once that is in motion however, the momentum of your creativity takes you farther than expected.
So, if you’re starting out, don’t worry about how difficult it might be for you to get those first 500-600 words on the page, keep pushing! It gets better! Even after some time of regular writing, it’s still tough on me- and I’m hoping it’ll improve. Until then, let’s fight on! You’ll see the rest is comparatively easier to write.
What do you think and what are your biggest lessons from writing for blogs?
Next post, Coming Nov 4!: Why I Write