Friday, April 29, 2011
Why You Should Blog
Ok, I know I’m not the most credible source when it comes to discussing social media. I’m not on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, MySpace … you get the point. I know these are extremely valuable tools for many people, and can be very helpful for writers.
But even more important than social media-ing yourself as a writer is, well, actually writing. And this is why I love blogs – they combine the necessary modern device of online connection with the essential lifeblood of writing … writing.
I claim ownership of 3 blogs, and each of them has served an essential purpose to the pursuit of writing:
1. Publishing your work
In September 2009 I started my blog sea salt (http://www.dcalareso.blogspot.com/). I was squeamish about making myself a public presence online, but knew that a blog would 1) keep me accountable to putting words on a page and 2) help me easily share writing with an online community. I had strict parameters, however:
• I would never write anything dull
• I would never write anything snarky (for examples of snark, read most blogs by people in their 20s)
• I would never write anything untrue
I have since created a volume of online work, thousands upon thousands of words that have kept me practicing, polishing and publishing my work. In fact, I submit many of these essays for publication, and several have been published (ironically, these published essays are then listed on the blog in my “credits” section).
2. Practicing other genres
In October 2010 I started a cooking blog, Mostly Local (http://www.mostlylocal.blogspot.com/). I started this one because I was lonely, working as a freelance writer in a new city, and because I discovered the Nashville Farmer’s Market. I hadn’t been writing, and my writing funk was starting to stink up my brain. So I challenged myself to cook from Farmer’s Market ingredients, and share my recipes with readers. This blog was fun, successful and useful (I use it to refer to recipes!).
This blog taught me important lessons about working as a writer:
• You should know how to write in at least more than 1 genre
• You should work on projects that energize and excite you
• You should never, never, never stop writing
In January I began a full-time job, and no longer had the time to visit the Farmer’s Market during the week. It saddened me that the blog seemed to be at its end, but I realized that it gave me a writing focus for over 3 months – during those months of figuring out who I’d be in this new place, I discovered I could write about food and cooking. And most importantly, the blog kept me constantly writing while the funk dissipated. I emerged from that time with a new love of cooking, and with the pride that I never allowed myself to stop writing.
3. Playing with words
In February 2011 I purchased a 1950s Smith-Corona typewriter from 8th Avenue Antiques. It cost $50 and I initially purchased it as inspiring decoration. But the typewriter worked! A dear friend (also a writer) has almost the same model, so we decided to start a blog about typing, Smith-Corona Sisters (http://www.smithcoronasisters.tumblr.com/). What we do sounds simple: we type. But since the typewriters are old and the medium is inherently more challenging than computers, we’ve made some discoveries:
• Typing keeps you honest, showing typos, missed letters, and misjudged space on the page
• Typing makes for an invigorating, tactile writing experience
• Typing can turn the written word into visual art
We type on different media – movie tickets, a Jiffy box, a tea bag, a hunting license – and each medium gives us a new typing experience. It’s playful. It’s fun. And sometimes, it’s really beautiful!
It’s great to be fully engaged with the online world, but it’s pretty useless unless you’re actually doing the work of writing (be it typing or otherwise!). So if you don’t already blog, give it a try. It will hold you accountable to write, click “publish” and show that you’re more than a profile on a site . . you’re a writer.
Dianna Calareso is a writer, editor, and teacher with WITS. Her work has been published online and in print; her most recent publications include Concisely magazine and the anthology Saying Goodbye. Her creative nonfiction essays can be found at http://www.dcalareso.blogspot.com/, and she can be contacted directly for editing and writing services. With WITS clients, Dianna specializes in developmental editing and proofreading at the final stage of the manuscript. She has a keen eye for small details that can overturn a manuscript, including shifts in POV and spelling/grammar inconsistencies; she also works to guide clients with questions about plot, characters, and tone. As a writer, she can empathize with whatever your struggle is; as an editor she is eager to help you make your writing better.