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How Blogging made me a Better Writer

Karen Andrews is an award winning short story writer coming up to the second year anniversary of her blog www.miscmum.com. Her first book, a children’s picture book called Surprise!, will be released in Australia in October. Further details can be found at www.miscpress.com.au

I recently spoke at a writers’ festival about the potential confluence of my blogging ‘world’ with my writing ‘world’ as the release of my book looms. There I posited the benefits this might entail; how one might help the other in terms of marketing and exposure.

As I thought about what I wanted to say that day, it occurred to me just what a difference blogging has made to my life. I don’t think I’m alone, either. Wherever I turn these days it seems like every blogger I read or admire is coming out with a book. I wondered, surely this is no coincidence? What is it that bloggers are doing to be so proactive and productive? What can we learn from their achievements?

For me, it boils down to one thing:

It’s about finding your voice…

I am what is often described as a ‘personal blogger’ (some might say ‘mommy blogger’). I suppose if I was to label myself, either term would be acceptable, but my point is no matter what field you specialise in, blogging is a fantastic medium for experimentation. Through words, video, and photographs one can truly find a means of expression that they’re comfortable with and communicate vividly through. I get so pleased for people who discover their voices; say what they’ve always wanted to say and mine their life’s experiences to tell wonderful, funny, poignant stories. For some, their voice becomes immediately recognisable. And famous. Perhaps profitable, if that’s important to you.

The truth is, once you’ve found your voice, a whole lot of the blogging questions which you inevitably face are easily answered. Clarity lets you say ‘no’ as much as ‘yes’, depending on the circumstances. It lets you focus on what’s most important and for me that’s the writing process itself.

…but finding your voice isn’t always easy

It is, however, a process.

You might write a blog which only grabs a handful of comments per post – if that. You might feel you’re languishing in undeserved anonymity. You might wonder why aren’t your words more powerful? More popular? Why don’t you have as many subscribers as this or that person?

I can’t solve any jealousy issues you might have (and I think we’ve all had them from time to time, if we’re honest) because that kind of external validation has nothing to do with the place where your passions and motivations are rooted inside. And if your validations and motivations are connected, then perhaps you’re a different kind of writer than I am. For example, I often write about my children. As I see writing about my children as a celebratory act of their lives, any response I get back from readers – good or bad – doesn’t shake the integrity I have each time I sit down and think of what I want to say.

Your voice doesn’t have to be likeable to everyone. It only matters that you’re happy with it.

It also doesn’t mean that everything automatically falls into place every time you sit down at your keyboard; that words will spill out effortlessly. Writing, as many people quickly discover, can be a hard slog. But it helps if the basics are there.

Cultivating your unique voice may take years, but eventually you will come to a point when you stand back from what you’ve achieved, from modest beginnings, be proud, and turn towards the future.

The rewards are worth it.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. SpaceAgeSage says:

    “… a fantastic medium for experimentation” — Yes! Blogging taps into creativeness, play, and the heart’s own song.

    I just wish “my voice” didn’t run to the long-winded sometimes! My goal is to stop falling into the teacher role and fully embrace the sage role. Some of the best wisdom comes with the fewest words, so I get to experiment with how to make that happen.

  2. Hey Darren

    Congrats again on the book, I have it with me at the coffee shop. Sounds like you had a wonderful opportunity. A unique voice, takes years, I don’t know if people like hearing that.

  3. I am finding ‘my voice’ as I am fairly new to blogging. I find it very easy to verbally relay an idea to someone but at times have trouble conveying that same idea in writing. Thanks for the post.

  4. Vered says:

    Nice to “meet” you, karen.

    “Your voice doesn’t have to be likeable to everyone. It only matters that you’re happy with it.” I love this advice. I write a personal blog too, and it took me a while to decide that I am just going to write from the heart instead of aiming to please an invisible audience. Once I started doing that, things fell into place.

    Now I am off to visit your blog. :)

  5. DOOOOM says:

    Blogging for two years now, I am still looking for a voice. My website businesses are very successful, but my blog “voice” changes every two months. Hope I will find it? But does it not depend on your mood , Darren????

  6. I have found finding my voice to be one of the most rewarding parts of running my blogs. It is a challenge but you can tell when you find it because the positive response to your posts increase and writing seems so much easier.

    Congratulations on the award Karen!

  7. I have to agree whole heartedly with what you say about blogging making you a better writer. Just the act of focusing regularly on trying to write better helps tremendously (if you don’t try to write better you probably won’t develop as much).

    Focusing on trying to write for the web has really helped me try to get my point across directly and clearly, fast!

    Finding your personal voice is so much fun.

  8. devjargon says:

    I’ve been writing for over a year now and I’m still trying to find “my voice”. I’m constantly trying different writing styles and seeing which ones works and which ones don’t. Sometimes you even need to tweak your own writing style based on which niche you’re writing for.

  9. JEANNE says:

    I completely agree. The best part of blogging is the regular, daily practice you get in honing your style. I haven’t been blogging that long, but already I can see a difference in my more current posts from the older ones.

  10. Really, i aggree your point. i am frank that my writing and vocabulary skill is improved only after i started blogging. Previously , i can’t able to make a complete sentence. But now i can able to do that with the little time.

  11. Ryan McLean says:

    I have found my voice and my love and desire for writing all through blogging. I love blogging on my blog because I love to write and I believe that shows in my content.
    I now want to go on and write books and e-books and training programs because I love it.

  12. Well said Karen and congratulations on the book!

  13. jhay says:

    Good work. Blogging allows me not only to find my voice but to try on new voices as I progress along.

  14. Jay says:

    True, it is a matter of turning mere thoughts into powerful words. And in the process, improve on the mastery of language and writing. Creativity get “motivated” as well.

  15. It would be a mistake of biblical proportions for most bloggers to think they have the skill or tenacity to write a book.

    Blogging is to authoring a book.
    Like
    Fixing your kids Tonka toy car is to assembling a formula one engine.

    I agree totally with your point about blogging allowing people to find their own voice.

    The Masked Millionaire

  16. Shanel Yang says:

    That’s really encouraging b/c one of the things I feared about blogging was that it might make me a worse writer in terms of fiction for that novel I still might complete someday. But, I suppose if 10 years of churning out dry legal briefs didn’t kill the creative writing bug in me, nothing will! ; )

  17. meghnak says:

    I agree with you fully. The main reason I started blogging was to improve upon my writing skill…and it has yielded fruitful results.

    You’re right in saying that you are not alone there. Blogging has changed the lives of all. In a positive way.

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts!

  18. Hello Darren. Inspiring post. I can tell this post came straight from the heart.

    I think our voices on our blogs change over time. You find it, then as you grow, it changes some. Ever look back at your archives and say, “No way. I did NOT write that!”

    Heck, I’m a relatively new blogger and I’ve already noticed how my voice on my blog has changed some.

    @ The Masked Millionaire – keep in mind that most writers, whether they are bloggers or world renowned authors, have editors who transform what the author has written into something readable in a book.

  19. SaiF says:

    Hey Darren!

    Thank you for putting this post up =)

    It’s true that writing a blog can be a hard slog especially after the thousands of posts you’ve written, Darren!

    I don’t know if you have any techniques you use to write not only faster and better, but here’s how I’ve done it.

    #1 : Create a picture of my ideal visitor in front of me and imagine that she’s right in front of me.

    #2 : Love her and be grateful to her for being a visitor!

    #3 : I then set an intention to write something that will help her grow in her pursuit of her ultimate personal development.

    #4 : I do something else and wait for inspiration

    #5 : Inspiration hits and I immediately start talking (literally) and just record it down =)

    I hope this might help some bloggers out there!

    To Constant & Never-Ending Improvement,

    SaiF

    The World’s First Teen
    Personal Development Video Blogger

    P.S. Darren you might want to give us some tips on how you write so efficiently and excellently during those batch processing days ;)

  20. Ria says:

    I decided to blog because it will hit many birds with one stone:

    - improve my writing and communication skills
    - allow me to impart and receive knowledge within a niche segment
    - drive targeted traffic to my site
    - best of all, it’s fun

    Thanks to Darren for this wonderful resource, because even if I’m not planning to become someone who makes a living from blogging, I regularly visit here to improve on my blogging skills.

  21. Jessica Bond says:

    Some days, it feels like you are writing for a black hole in the blogsphere. The tenacity and discipline in writing a blog does pay off in improving your writing skills and discovering your inner voice. Early on, I believe it evolves a great deal.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective,
    Jessica Bond
    Medical Careerist

  22. Jess says:

    hi there,

    On the topic of writing, I think good grammar is also just as important as acquiring a ‘voice’. I am a journalist student and here is a grammar emergency test that our teacher recommended:

    http://jcomm.uoregon.edu/~russial/grammar/grambo.html#q5

    I know it helped me..(and made me realise I’m not as clever as I thought I was)

    As for finding a ‘voice’ I think a big part of it has to be …to just be honest and talk about something you are passionate about. If you are going to stay committed to your blog…you have to just be yourself…and not try and be someone your not.
    Not that I know what I’m talking about cause I was only just a blog virgin two months ago. But anyway….I just wanted to try and say something profound for once.

    jess

    htp://www.vitrospective.com/blog

  23. To add to @John’s comment yes, that’s true editors are on hand to do exactly what you say.

    It’s also true that many publishing houses these days have lesser budgets for such ‘handler-style’ editors and many new authors are expected to have ‘finished’ their works as much as possible.

    Which kind of takes me back to my point that if you develop your voice, and writing skills, this can only be a good thing for bloggers – and any other kind of writer, I’d wager.

  24. Aditya says:

    Writing is like heardest thing to

    I find is really hard. Copy and paste doesnt work.

    I started my blog 3 days ago http://www.adtechz.com

  25. Ryan says:

    I have not been into blogging, but I think if someone regularly updates blog, it becomes habbit and improves his writing skills.

  26. Not just improve writing skills..
    ALso improve my English..

  27. Vanessa says:

    Interesting post Karen and congrats on the upcoming book…I hope to be following in your footsteps one day! – Have just published my own mini-novel ‘Dido’ on my website: http://www.morethanoxfordstreet.com

    Take the point about jealousy (c’mon you budding George Orwells – who hasn’t felt that over someone like, shall we say, JK Rowling?! And I mean her literary sucess, not necessarily her earnings). However, I just keep reminding myself that there’s enough room out there for a lot more successful writers. And that may not mean replicating the billionaire status of the Harry Potter author, but as long as I can make my own excellent living from writing, that’s OK. ‘Excellent living’ is, of course, my own personal definition of success…

  28. sami says:

    a really good article.but the problem is that sometimes i dont just get time to write for my blog…

  29. Jay Ramirez says:

    Thanks for the guest post Daren. Karen, I think your article hits were a lot of bloggers are struggling. I still consider blogs in an “early adapter” phase (or just exiting it), which means we’ll see a lot more blogs in the near future. A lot of new bloggers don’t need to learn anything, just encouragement that finding your voice takes time. Thanks for the motivation!

  30. I’ll echo what the article and every other commenter is saying. Blogging regularly, even though ours is only a few months old, has allowed me to see the difference in structure, fluidity and readability of my my writing.

    It also is a great learning experience. When you make a deal with yourself to write every day or two, you contemplate things you never would have given a second thought!

  31. @ Karen – my apologies. In my comment I thanked Darren for the post and forgot it was a guest post.

    So thank you for the post.

    Should I still thank Darren? I dunno. He sure doesn’t do much around here ;)

  32. Brad says:

    Blogging can most certainly make you a better writer, as can micro blogging on places like twitter. There are however some really important differences between writing between blogging and writing print fiction, even when writing those vaguely fictional blogs governments and politicians put out.

    The biggest difference is blogging’s tendency to shortening words when ever possible. I am not just talking about acronyms either though that is a big one. Most house styles for fiction have you write out full words like okay, where bloggers normally write ok. Punctuated words are another difference, which also stems from house styles. For example my agent had me change t-shirt to tee shirt for one publisher more than 400 times once for one editor and then back again for another. When you are blogging you will almost always choose the shortest word you can get by with. another big difference is punctuation. Bloggers love the semicolon even when most of them don’t use it correctly. Fiction editors hate the semicolon, even when it used correctly.

    I have to agree that blogging will help you find your writers voice, it did for me. It was a great help on my latest novel project. Blogging also helps me clear my head of extraneous issues and let me focus on the story when I sat down to write it. One of the biggest ways blogging has help me write is character development. When I am trying to focus on a character that I don’t know know a lot about I often times go comment on blogs as that character. A couple of characters actually keep blogs. If I can sell the novels I plan to take those blogs public as promotional items.

  33. Anne Glamore says:

    As another blogger who writes about adventures with 3 boys (the blood! the questions! the sex talk!) I think you’ve made great points.

    I started my blog as a way to force myself to write on a regular basis, and the friends I have made and writing opportunities that have resulted have been truly remarkable.

    Looking back over the 3+ years, I can see changes where I’ve experimented with voice, but I believe that knowing that someone out there is paying attention is a strong motivator for continuing what is otherwise a lonely job that requires plenty of self-discipline.

  34. Ben Moreno says:

    I was wondering if you might be able to check out some of my writing and give me your opinion.

    http://revenuereservoir.com

  35. Reginald says:

    What I found interesting in this article was the question posed by the author.

    She mentioned noting that most bloggers are writing books and wondered whether or not this was a coincidence.

    I too have wondered the same thing.

  36. Matthew says:

    Improving my writing was the main reason I decided to start blogging.

  37. When we look at our unique writing voice, we can see it from two different perspectives. One is the ‘onion’. That’s when we imagine peeling back layer after layer – until our true voice is uncovered. The other is the ‘apple’. That’s when we imagine a process of ripening that happens through practice and experience.

    I spent some years trying to peel the onion, but I’ve now realized that blogging is shaping my voice through regular practice and also through allowing more of my life and my passion to flow into my writing.

    ‘Voice’ can be elusive if we chase it, but arrives little by little if we surrender to the practice of writing.

  38. Wendy says:

    It’s nice to see someone say that it may take a long time to find your voice. I have thought about discontinuing my blog several times because I don’t have a focus, but another part of me thinks that will develop with time. Maybe a lot of time. And that’s OK.

  39. beechin says:

    Great post. It’s true that blogging helps writers to find and develop their inner voice. But I think the correlation between bloggers authoring books is quite simple. You already have the information written in your blog and now its a matter of organizing that information and making it book friendly. I’d imagine there are many “experts” out there that have the knowledge to write a book but won’t because they’re lazy or too intimidated by the amount of writing. The great thing about blogging? We write frequently and it quickly adds up!

  40. beechin says:

    Hello,
    Great post. It’s true that blogging helps writers to find and develop their inner voice. But I think the correlation between bloggers authoring books is quite simple. You already have the information written in your blog and now its a matter of organizing that information and making it book friendly. I’d imagine there are many “experts” out there that have the knowledge to write a book but won’t because they’re lazy or too intimidated by the amount of writing. The great thing about blogging? We write frequently and it quickly adds up!

  41. Reginald says:

    Beechin,

    You have a point. However, not everyone is a natural writer. You may find that as a writer you may have to work at it. However, what’s annoying is investing time to read something that is just plain old obvious.

    If you are going to be enlightening, be enlightening.