When my first book came out (I am working on the sequel) several experienced authors advised me to start a blog. Over and over I heard how it would help readers find my book and get to know my writing style, which would increase sales and establish myself as an author. Despite these truths I resisted, occasionally writing a guest blog but not starting one of my own. I found myself intimidated by the demands of a blog, the pressure to be witty, intelligent, entertaining, and informative on a scheduled and frequent basis.
Fortunately I found a blogging home with this group of talented writers who consistently impress and amaze me. I’ve been with Writing Wranglers and Warriors for about ten months and am enjoying this group and the blogging experience. The twice-a-month commitment is manageable and I find the shared responsibility for the content has allowed me greater freedom in my topic choices. I am not concerned about what I think I “should” write, instead blogging about interests me at any given deadline.
Another activity I have strenuously resisted is writing short stories. I rarely read them and have not been interested in working within this restrictive structure. No, short story writing is not for me.
Until this fall, when Mystery and Horror, LLC put out a call for short, traditional mystery stories set at Halloween. No, I said, I don’t write short stories. A week or so later, I thought, “I don’t write short stories but if I did I would set it…” Within the month I finished The Carver my first short story as a professional writer and was thrilled when it was accepted for the “All Hallows Evil” anthology. I have recently submitted a second short story to a different group for consideration for their anthology and am mulling over some new calls for submissions by Mystery and Horror, LLC.
Despite my reluctance to blog and write short stories, I now find I enjoy the brevity and resulting challenges of these formats. More important, they have had an unexpected consequence: I have become a better writer.
The requirement of writing within a word count range has forced me to examine my writing style and I learned that I have a habit of “chattiness” that can’t survive in a blog or short story environment. Each word must have value and meaning or it is deleted. Every sentence is tied to the plot or theme or it is unnecessary. Descriptions are tight and focused, helping the reader “see” the character or place with no frills or embellishments.
While this sparse writing technique is not appropriate for my writing style with my novels, I find myself choosing my words with more care, especially in tense or dramatic scenes. I now notice what I call “word clutter” and find my novel is better when I eliminate it. My writing was always good, at least I think it was, but now it is cleaner, stronger. Others may not notice but I do and see is as a mark of my growth as a writer.
The sense of “necessity” to blog started me down a path I continue to travel. It led me to the experiment of drafting short stories and the insights that allowed for improvement in all of my writing endeavors. I look forward to discovering where else it will take me.
Where has blogging taken you?
You can learn more about me at: