Writer and teacher Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew started 2017 with her blog post Six Ways Blogging Helps You Be a Better Writer – And Person. She described precisely the unexpected benefits of blogging that I’ve found since I was convinced to blog nearly seven years ago.
Here’s Elizabeth’s top-six list, with my reflections on how it matches my own blogging experience.
- Blogs put a writer in conversation with real people. Not many readers comment on my posts, but it’s a medium that easily allows for an exchange between writer and audience.
- I have more patience for the slow work of writing. I agree with Elizabeth’s suggestion that, “This might seem like a paradox.” My three book-length projects required three to twenty years to complete, and I typically spend weeks to months crafting essays. Those are long stretches to remain in the “not-yet-finished” state; creating two or three posts monthly helps me persist with the longer works.
- Deadlines are great. My deadlines are soft; no one chastises me if I don’t meet my goal to post mid-month, end-of-the-month, and an Afterthought the last day of each month. But they’re strong enough to keep me thinking, reflecting, and writing, even when I resist.
- Regularity means major productivity! Nothing, not even my MFA program, has helped me generate as much new work in addition to my major writing projects.
- Frequency teaches us about listening. Again, Elizabeth speaks my mind. “The writing leads the way. Over the years I’ve come to have great faith in this process.”
- Blogs are a bellwether of what works. When readers convey in some way that my post has made them think, or that they agree—or disagree, that’s useful feedback about themes and topics I’m writing about.
Now, 257 posts later (258 counting this one), I can add three more ways that blogging has bettered me as a writer and a person.
7. My blog is a way to promote the work of other writers I admire. Re-blogs of others’ blog posts or links to authors’ writing (like Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew) can lead my readers to discovery of someone they might not have read before.
8. I can combine photos (such as this one of the wintry wind on the bay near my home) and other visuals with my writing.
9. Blogging allows me to experiment with different writing forms— interviews, book reviews, and poetry. I still struggle with the trial-and-error nature of any creative pursuit, including writing. But I know that risking “failure” helps me challenge the notion of perfection, strengthens me to rack up the hours of practice, and usually results in the thrill of “aha” moments.
That brings me to nine ways that blogging makes me, and my writing, better. Thanks, Elizabeth, for the boost to keep me at it throughout 2017.