Author Mission Statements and Strategic Plans

Businesses have mission statements and strategic plans. As a writer, shouldn’t you have them also? After all, writing is your business. Let’s see if these tools are right for you.

First, what are they? A mission statement is different from a strategic plan. A mission statement is a written declaration of what your business is striving to be, a vision of its intended future. It embodies the goal and vision of what the business seeks to become. It is bold, imaginative, and inspiring.

author-mission-statementA strategic plan is a detailed blueprint of how to achieve that mission. It assigns intermediate actions to complete, and dates when each action is to be done. It is a logical progression of steps toward the goal. It is achievable and actionable.

Why are these things useful to businesses? Sometimes, in the rush of things, it’s possible for someone in a company to make a decision or take an action contrary to what the company is all about. A mission statement focuses everyone in the company on the single goal. In the moment of decision, a glance at the mission statement might keep an employee from taking the wrong path.

The strategic plan takes employees out of the lofty, pretty world of grand visions and gives them a practical, measurable way to work toward the goal. It breaks down the seemingly impossible vision into concrete tasks they can accomplish.

Fine so far. It’s easy to see why businesses find mission statements and strategic plans useful. For one thing, most businesses have more than one person in them, often hundreds or thousands, and sometimes millions of employees. A mission statement helps to keep all these people focused on a single goal, and the strategic plan helps them all achieve it.

Still, one person can have a mission statement. Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, advocated personal mission statements for individuals.

But, as a writer, do you need these tools? Authors such as Shannon from Duolit, Allen Watson, and Joanne Phillips cite good reasons why you do.

I don’t know.

If we were to ask the most successful authors today (use whatever definition of ‘successful’ you like), I bet few of them bother with mission statements or strategic plans. They might tell you their credo from memory or come up with one on the spot, but they haven’t written it down, let alone tacked it to the wall above their computer.

Still, just because they achieved success without these tools doesn’t mean you will. Perhaps you’d find them useful, even necessary.

Particularly if you’re the kind of writer who just wants to write, and detests the messy business side of it. Perhaps you don’t even like the word, ‘business.’ Sorry, but if you want to sell your work to readers, then your writing is a business.

Realizing that still doesn’t mean you like the idea, though. For you, a well-crafted mission statement could connect the fun writing side of it to the imagined best-seller/movie-deal/mansion-and-sports-car side of things, and remind you that dealing with the business part is your path to achieving that future.

For you, a strategic plan might be just the thing to break down all that intimidating business stuff into manageable chunks. Even though you have no staff, no other employees, a list of small tasks to accomplish can make those unpleasant business goals more achievable.

Depending on your attitude toward business, marketing, and sales, a mission statement and strategic plan could be beneficial to you. Just a couple more items in your writer toolbox, courtesy of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

September 18, 2016Permalink

Dimonstrazione

We’re continuing today with my series of blog posts discussing the principles of How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci, by Michael J. Gelb, and how they relate to writing fiction. Today’s principle is Dimonstrazione, a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

DimonstrazioneIt’s not enough just to be curious about people and the world, as the first principle of Curiosità advocated. You must add to your knowledge and seek truth by testing and experimentation.

In our current Age of Information, it’s so easy to accept the word of experts, to trust Wikipedia, etc. But Leonardo da Vinci didn’t put his faith in the word of others. He put things to the test. He experimented and tried things for himself.

How does this apply to your fiction writing efforts? The world, the web, and even my own website are all full of advice for beginning writers. But no one knows what novels will catch on next year. Your ideas about what might become a bestseller may conflict with every bit of common knowledge out there, but you might be right.

You have to be willing to try things, different things, bizarre things. If they work, ride that wave and keep doing them, even if the professionals advise against it. If they don’t work, stop doing them, even if it means disregarding every expert in the world.

Here are several ways you can employ Dimonstrazione in your writing life:

  • If you’re trying to find out writing habits that work the best for you, try writing at different hours of the day, in different locations, for different lengths of time, using different word processors (or even pen and paper), etc. Find what works best and stick with that.
  • Realizing that some people accept the principle of Dimonstrazione and others don’t, make that a contrasting trait between two characters in a story—one who won’t accept authority and puts established knowledge to the test, and the other who accepts the word of authority as fact.
  • To determine what your ‘voice’ is, try different voices. See which one your readers respond to best.
  • If money or fame are not important to you and you only write for enjoyment, find those genres, plot types, themes, settings, and character types that give you the greatest pleasure to write about.
  • If you’re trying to increase your readership, experiment with the various elements of fiction (plot, character, setting, theme, and style) and see which stories sell the most copies.
  • What are the best conferences for you to speak at? Try several, and see which one causes the biggest uptick in sales.
  • If you don’t know what type of free book giveaway will result in the largest e-mail list, try different types of giveaways—different rules, etc.
  • Study the market and see what’s working for other authors. Don’t copy everything they do, but consider changing your methods to get a little closer to their way of doing things.

The important thing about Dimonstrazione is its philosophy, its approach to understanding knowledge. When you read or hear the advice of an authority, be skeptical and apply some critical thinking. If you believe the truth is different than what the authority says, test it for yourself. If the experiment proves you wrong, admit your error and adjust your beliefs.

Through persistent application of Dimonstrazione, you’ll start to think more like Leonardo da Vinci, or at least more like—

Poseidon’s Scribe

September 6, 2015Permalink

Curiosità

Some time ago, I promised to write seven separate blog posts, one for each of the principles espoused in How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci, by Michael J. Gelb. I said I’d relate them to writing fiction. This is the first post in that series.

how-to-think-like-leonardo-da-vinci-160x197The first principle is Curiosità, which Gelb defines as “an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.” He discusses Leonardo’s curiosity and provides worthwhile exercises for developing your own inquisitiveness. (I encourage you to buy his book and to work through the exercises.)

Fiction writers must have boatloads of curiosity. They must ponder things like:

  • CuriositaWhat is the meaning of life?
  • Why do people behave as they do?
  • What do readers want from books?
  • What is the meaning and origin of this or that interesting word?
  • How do I improve my writing?
  • What would happen I twisted this real-world situation around differently?
  • What would that setting be like?
  • How would my protagonist act in this situation?
  • etc…

On and on forever. Moreover, each answer sparks five more questions.

Curiosity is something you once had, then lost, and now must strive to regain. When you were four or five years old, you were intensely, ravenously curious. You barely had the language skills to form questions, but you asked hundreds of them. We all did, at that age. We especially liked questions starting with “why.”

Then older people and life experiences supplied answers. Some adults told you religion had your answers; some said science did; some said both. They gave you books to read, hoping to satisfy you.

Some answers discouraged further inquiry. Few answers satisfied you at first, but later you came to accept, to believe. You learned societal taboos and sensitive areas. You tamped down your curiosity and asked fewer questions.

Lately, you’ve grown accustomed to the Internet and search engines. If you have a question about something, you type it in. Out pops (what you believe is) the correct answer, courtesy of your magical answer machine.

Things have changed since Leonardo’s time, you say. These days we have instant answers to every question; we don’t really need to be curious. There’s no point in it.

When I hear that, my curious mind can only ask: Really? Why? How do you know?

I advise you, as a writer, to reclaim some of your childhood curiosity, for two reasons.

First, we do not yet live in an age with all questions answered. Every day, someone uncovers facts that overturn a thing that “everybody knows.” Take any single thing you can name, anything, and decide to become an expert in it. Explore it, study it, read source material, visit the sites. You’ll soon explode a myth or two about your chosen subject; you’ll shift a paradigm; you’ll find out that what everybody knows just ain’t so. Despite what it says on the Internet.

Far from having all questions answered, we still live in humanity’s infancy. We are ignorant—monumentally, staggeringly ignorant. Worse, we don’t know how much we don’t know, and we truly know a lot less than we think we know.

The other reason I advise you to reinvigorate your curiosity is that it is precisely the questions that authors are really exploring in fiction—the deeper, thematic ones—for which the answers remain most elusive. How do I live a good and worthwhile life? Why am I here? What does it mean to be human? What is the nature of love?

If you aspire to write great fiction, think like Leonardo da Vinci. Embrace Curiosità. Ask questions. Many, many questions.

But there is no need to question the wisdom of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Caffeine, the Writer’s Fuel?

There’s something about caffeine and writing. In particular, coffee and writing. Here, I brewed some for you. I’ll write, you read, and we’ll figure this out together. Do you take yours black, or with cream and sugar?

I’ve blogged before about alcohol and illegal drugs, and whether they improve writing. Today we explore caffeine, whether ingested via coffee, tea, or soft drinks.

Coffee and writingCaffeine is a psychoactive drug that affects the mental state of most people, but it’s legal and unregulated almost everywhere. I was surprised to discover it doesn’t so much perk you up as mask your drowsiness. Everyone’s different, though, and it affects people in various ways.

There are some great blog posts about various writers’ experiences with caffeine, mainly coffee. Before doing any searching, I had an image of writers chugging down java late at night, trying to finish a story and submit it before the midnight deadline.

Instead, most of those who discussed the use of coffee wrote about having some in the morning, the early afternoon, or whenever they started getting tired. Even non-writers can relate to the use of coffee as a means of fighting fatigue.

More interesting to me were those who claimed an actual benefit in their writing. Shanan, who drank about six or seven cups a day, reported she felt more confident, more willing to take writing risks, better able to turn off her inner critic. She said coffee made her more prolific and less liable to get distracted while churning out a first draft.

Similarly, Ellis Shuman claimed coffee stimulated his creativity. Maybe his particular muse could be summoned by the smell of a cup of joe.

Author Sarah Potter gave up coffee and found these results: more drowsiness, but less jitters, no insomnia, less frequent trips to bathroom, less anger over trivial things.

As for me, I began drinking coffee while in the Navy many years ago. I recalled my dad saying how people drank it black during World War II because sugar was rationed, so I associated black coffee with patriotism, and drank it black.

When I left the Navy and got an office job, I drank between six and ten cups a day. By my mid-thirties, I sometimes got severe headaches, and I eventually figured out those were the days when I’d had a lot less coffee. I didn’t want to be so dependent, so I backed off to one or two cups of coffee in the morning, and a caffeinated soft drink with lunch.

Does coffee affect my writing? I don’t think so. During the week, I write while commuting and at night. On weekends I write in the early morning (as I am now) and throughout the day when I can spare time. Other than early morning on the weekends, I rarely have coffee or any drink (and never food) while writing. I haven’t seen a difference in quality or quantity of my prose from coffee.

Your experience might be different, though. Coffee just might be the additive you need, your equivalent of Popeye’s spinach, the liquid fuel that powers your rise to the top of the bestseller list.

Well, my cup’s empty. Can you use a refill? It’s fresh-brewed by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Writers

In 1989, author Stephen Covey came out with his best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  I’m a sucker for self-improvement books and found Covey’s book inspiring and practical. At the risk of insulting the late Stephen Covey, I’ll dare to suggest seven habits of highly effective fiction writers.

The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_PeopleCovey presented his seven habits in a logical order, with a nice, organic structure. His phrased his habits—aimed at helping people live better lives—as brief directives, but took about a chapter to explain each one. They included such things as “Be proactive,” “Begin with the end in mind,” and others.

In a similar manner, my suggested habits have a rough order to them, but are not as neatly structured as Covey’s. My habits do not parallel Covey’s, but they do consist of brief directive statements which require some explanation. Here they are:

  1. Listen to your inner storyteller. First and most important, you’re a writer because you have story to tell, because you can’t imagine not writing. Keep that inner spark always burning; it will sustain you through the difficult times.
  2. Form the discipline of writing. Sometimes your inner storyteller doesn’t yell loud enough, and the rest of life’s obligations close in. If you’re to be a writer, you still need to write, write, write. There is no substitute for time spent with butt in chair and fingers on keyboard.
  3. Get help with the craft. Seek all kinds of help. Study English again. Develop your vocabulary. Read about writing. Read the classics. Attend writing classes and conferences. Join a critique group.
  4. Follow your muse. As you write more, you’ll think of characters, plots, and settings during odd, idle moments when you’re not writing. That’s your unconscious, creative voice—your muse—talking. Pay attention. Though she may lead you to unimagined and uncomfortable places, she might help you develop your unique writing voice.
  5. Submit your best. Don’t rely on editors to see the genius of your story through all the spelling, grammatical, and plot errors. Do a thorough job of self-editing, thinking critically, viewing your manuscript as a reader and English teacher might. Submit only when you can honestly say it’s your best product and you’re proud of it.
  6. Be a professional. Present yourself to the world as if you’re already a successful author. Establish an author website. Don’t get so angry at editors, reviewers, blog commenters, or readers that you descend into flame wars, emotional outbursts, or other unprofessional conduct.
  7. Actively seek improvement. This may sound like number 3 above, but that earlier habit is about the initial learning of fiction writing; this one is about continual development, honing, and advancement of your craft. It means to cycle through all the habits as you go, improving known weak areas, always working to ensure your next story is better than all the previous ones.

Long-time followers of my blog will recall my post proposing 15 writing virtues. The seven habits I’m advocating today are another approach. It’s easier to remember 7 things than 15 anyway, right? There are many paths to self-improvement, and you’re free to find your own. For now, it’s back to growing and improving for—

Poseidon’s Scribe

September 7, 2014Permalink

10 Reasons You Really Are Good Enough to Write Fiction

Perhaps you have a story inside you, but you feel too scared or intimidated or inadequate to believe you could ever write fiction.  Here are some ways to banish those feelings.

First, there are at least three levels of fiction-writing.  (1) These days you can write and publish something yourself without an editor, at near zero cost.  (2) You can get your writing accepted by a publisher, but not make enough money to live on.  (3) You can write fiction as your sole means of support.  I’ll limit myself to discussing level (2) today.

Never be a writerTrue, some people aren’t cut out to be writers at all.  My purpose today is to keep you from cutting yourself out of the running at the start.  Let’s look at ways you might think you’re not fit to be a writer:

  1. I just know I could never be a writer.  Where is your resistance to writing coming from?  Do you immediately think “I could never do that” when presented with other opportunities in life?  Maybe this isn’t about writing at all, but your general negativity toward trying new activities.  How many amazing human initiatives haven’t happened because somebody said, “I could never do that,” hmm?
  2. I don’t know anything about writing.  Don’t let this stop you.  That’s the part you can get help with, through critique groups, writing courses, books about writing, writing conferences, etc.
  3. I’d never write as well as [insert your favorite famous author’s name here].  Stop comparing yourself to the great authors.  You can’t know today how you’ll stack up against them one day.  So what if you’re not quite as good?  You can still get published and win over some readers.
  4. I’m unknown, and people only read books by known authors.  Think about it; all published authors started off unknown.  What if your favorite author had talked herself or himself out of writing?
  5. No editor will read my stories because I’m unpublished.  Not true.  Consider that latching on to a new, undiscovered top talent is every publisher’s dream.  All they need is one (you?) to make their career.
  6. Novels seem so hard to write.  No need to begin with a novel.  Try a novella, a short story, flash fiction.  Do blog posts for a while.
  7. My teacher told me I’d never be a writer.  Is one long-ago English or Language Arts teacher still in your head criticizing you?  Keep that teacher in your mind, but dedicate yourself to showing how wrong he or she was; sweet revenge will be yours one day.
  8. My story idea seems trite, or already used, etc.  At this point your idea is just a story concept; it might match hundreds of already-published stories.  Once you flesh it out and write it down, it becomes uniquely yours, different from all others, and possibly publishable.
  9. It takes too long to write a story.  True, writing takes time.  But, of all the skills and abilities you’ve developed in life, how many did you master in a day?  Let the strength of your story idea sustain you.  If it’s truly grabbed you, you’ll persevere until you write it all down.
  10. I couldn’t stand being rejected or getting a bad review.  That does stink, no denying it.  Any creative endeavor requires a thick skin.  Look at editor’s rejections as permissions to send your story elsewhere.  As for bad reviews, remember it’s far easier to be the critic.  At the worst, the reviewer may actually have a valid point you can use to improve your writing for the next story.

See?  You are good enough to at least try being a writer.  Shake off those negative emotions.  Let your imagination soar.  Allow yourself to try it out.  Someday, when you’re a famous author, be sure and give partial credit to—

                                                Poseidon’s Scribe

November 17, 2013Permalink

Cure: Writer’s Block

Earlier I blogged about writer’s block, but focused on symptoms and causes.  Today, let’s talk about getting over it.

Writers blockAs before, I’ll limit the discussion to minor writer’s block (minWB), the short-term state of being stuck while in the middle of a writing project.  I’ll blog about Major Writer’s Block (MajWB) another time.

My many fans—both of them, actually, including my Dad—will recall that I stated there are several types of minWB, which I divided as follows:

  • Story-related problems
  • Writing-related problems, but not about the story
  • Personal, but non-writing, problems

I also stated that if you pinpoint which problem you have, that suggests a cure. For story-related problems such as plot, character, setting, or others, here are a few things you can try:  (1) set the story aside awhile and let your subconscious (your muse) work on the problem, (2) try sketching a mind-map of the problem and creatively come up with multiple solutions, then select the best, or (3) ask your critique group or beta reader for help.

The craft-related problems all boil down to matters of attitude leading to negative mental associations, leading to stress.  Since one type of craft-related problem is the pressure of the audience seeming too close, I have to point out what some might consider a contradiction in the advice I, Poseidon’s Scribe, have given out.  In this blog entry I suggested, if you’re feeling the ‘presence’ of the reader too intensely, just forget about that audience and write freely for yourself.

However, just two weeks ago I urged you to keep the reader in mind, always.

Which advice is right—ignore the reader or be ever mindful of the reader?

(Aside:  witness the clever way I get out of this paradox.)

I was right both times.  In general, it is always wise to acknowledge that you’re writing to be read by others.  Therefore, you should write with precision, avoiding ambiguity, so as to be understood.  But if the fear of being criticized or disliked is paralyzing you into inaction, if the anticipation of bad reviews leaves you trembling before your keyboard, then forget about those readers for a while.  Ignore them during your early drafts and focus on getting your story done.

Then in the later drafts, I suggest you visualize yourself as a sort of super-editor, far more critical of your own work than any reader could be, and yet able to fix every problem you find.  In this way, you minimize your fear of the reader and substitute confidence in yourself.

That ‘visualization’ method may work for many of the minWB craft-related problems, by imagining a near-future version of yourself having already overcome the problem and working steadily on the story.  Visualize yourself being in the flow, and once again gripped by the same enthusiasm you had when you first conceived the story idea.  In this way you can change the mental linkages you’ve developed and re-associate writing with fun, success, and confidence rather than stress, fatigue, and inadequacy.

As to the last category of minWB, that of personal problems such as illness, depression, relationship difficulties, or financial woes, you need to confront those problems head-on first.  Until you have a plan for solving them, and start to execute that plan, it will be tough to concentrate on writing.

Do these suggested cures work for you?  Do you know of others I should have recommended?  Unblock yourself and leave a comment for—

                                                       Poseidon’s Scribe

September 21, 2013Permalink

The Software Shakespeare Used

Wow!  There are a lot of writing software packages available!

By writing software, I’m not talking about word processors like Corel Write, Microsoft Word, TextMaker, WordPerfect, etc.  I mean software designed to help you write fiction stories, software packages like Liquid Story Binder, Marshall Plan for Novel Writing, Master Storyteller, MyNovel, Power Structure, Power Writer, Scrivener, StoryBlue, Storybook, StoryCraft, StoryWeaver, WriteItNow, Writer’s Café, Writer’s DreamKit, WriteMonkey, and yWriter5.  I’m sure I’ve left out some…sorry.

writing softwareWould you like a nice analytical comparison of all those writing software packages to help you choose the best one for you?  Again, sorry, wrong blog post.  I don’t have the money or time to buy, test, and rate software packages, (though that would be interesting).

When I thought of the idea for this blog post topic many months ago, I had intentions of test-driving at least two or three and giving you a comparison of those, at least.  Alas, that didn’t happen.

However, I did try out yWriter5, so I can comment on that one.  I also was given a disk with Writer’s DreamKit, but it reacted badly with my computer for some reason, and after restoring things I haven’t been brave enough to try it again.  I don’t blame the Writer’s DreamKit software; I was able to explore around in it and get a feel for it, but I had problems when I restarted my computer the next time.

yWriter5 is free!  It allows you to organize your novel by scenes, then chapters.  It keeps readily available all the information about your characters, scene locations, and significant ‘items’ (objects) in your story.   It has a storyboard feature; it includes a word usage feature to see if you’re over-using certain words; and it keeps track of your daily word count in a log.  There are many more features, too.

I used yWriter5 for one of my short stories.  For a short story, yWriter has far more features than I needed.  It was a good way to organize notes, characters, etc.  Since I do much of my writing while away from a computer using an ancient method involving a ‘pen’ and a ‘pad of paper,’ I was pleased with yWriter’s ability to print reports that could include my characters, scenes, items, and notes.  I think yWriter would be quite useful for a complex novel.

In my brief exposure to Writer’s DreamKit, I found that the software asks you an enormous number of questions before you can get going.  If you have good ideas for your story in your head and the patience to answer the questions, I’m sure the software would prove useful.

My overall point here is to set expectations.  Do not purchase or use writing software with the idea that it will make you a published author.  By itself, the software won’t improve your writing.  It won’t think for you; it won’t come up with engaging characters, clever plot twists, or vivid settings.  It will not write the story for you.  Those are the hardest parts of writing fiction, and no software will do those things…yet.

What these software packages will (or can) do is help organize thoughts, keep information readily available to minimize searching for it, measure your progress (word count), and do the sort of low level, background stuff that you wish some assistant would take care of.

No, Shakespeare didn’t use writing software, just the ‘wetware’ within his skull.  I’m not even sure he would have recommended any of the packages currently available if he’d had a chance to try them.  But neither you nor I are Shakespeare.  If you need help with organizing or desire an easy way to sort out scenes, characters, and chapters, then feel free to use software for that.  I’d love to read and respond to your comments about this post.  Now available in version 3.55, I’m—

                                                       Poseidon’s Scribe

Ordering a (Writer’s) Retreat

Planning a writer’s retreat, are you?  Already looking forward to that free weekend, or even a full week, away from the stress of work, away from the chores of home?  A few days away from everything, with time to devote purely to writing.

writing retreatSo much time!  Why, you’ll be able to finish up that novel.  You might even knock off a short story or three.  Do some new characters sketches for the novel’s sequel, and lay out the plot line.  Polish up some query letters.

By now you’ve spotted the signs of a ‘lower your expectations’ lecture.  But it’s easy, when you only have spare minutes or a rare uninterrupted hour during your normal life, to imagine how much more you could get done with a whole day or more at your disposal.

Did you ever stop and think that those odd spare minutes are the right amount of writing time for you?  Is it possible that more time would not result in more writing?  Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time allotted to it.”  One corollary of that law is, “The amount of time available to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.”  Or, as a coworker of mine phrases it, “If you put off a task until the last minute, it will only take a minute.”

In theory, it’s true that you should get more writing done if you have more time, such as during your upcoming retreat.  Understand, I’m not opposed to writer’s retreats, just unrealistic expectations for them.  Definitely go on the retreat.  Before you do, compile a list of things to get done, a long list.  Go ahead and make big plans, set stretch goals.  But don’t kick yourself too hard if you fall short.

After all, you’ve trained yourself (in effect) to write in short bursts, and you’ve acclimated to that mode now.  During your retreat, you may find yourself needing a break after just an hour of writing.  Your mind will wander.   You’ll find excuses to do other things.  That is the pattern you’ve set, the habit you’ve made.

I suggest you make use of that habit.  Here’s a way to use it to your advantage during your retreat.  Consider making a list of many different writing tasks you want to do.  The more different from each other, the better.  Then, while you’re at your retreat site, spend a half hour on the first task.  Bring a timer or alarm to inform you when the time’s up.  After that half hour, take a five minute break, during which you stand up, walk around, stretch, etc.  Then tackle the second task on your list for a half hour and so on.

Since you’ve accustomed yourself to working in short bursts, make the retreat a long, repeating series of short bursts.  You may find that method works for you.

One more thing about retreats.  In the weeks leading up to the planned date of the retreat, I urge you not to put off things.  Don’t say, “I’ll do that writing task during my retreat.”  If you find yourself doing that, you might follow it up by asking why you’re putting off the task.  Why not do it now?

In fact, what’s so special about a retreat anyway?  Why not consider every minute spent writing as a sort of mini-retreat right in your own home?

You might feel differently about writer’s retreats.  If so, please leave a comment and let me have it, metaphorically.  In the meantime, off to a mini-retreat in his own home goes—

                                                       Poseidon’s Scribe

Does Blogging Help Your Writing?

If you’re thinking of starting up a blog as a way to improve the quality of your fiction writing, I’m here to tell you—blogging will have just as much effect on your golf swing.

Hamlet blogMy answer is different if you write non-fiction.  Well-written blogs are like essays, with the same structure and purpose.  The skills needed are the same.

For fiction writers, there’s very little in common between your stories and your blog posts.  The talents you develop doing one won’t translate well to the other.

It’s even possible for blogging to worsen your fiction writing.  Certainly it’s cutting into your productivity, at least.  Each precious minute spent blogging is sixty seconds lost and unavailable for writing fiction.

Also, let’s say you become an expert in all the aspects of blogging, able to craft persuasive, short essays with well-researched facts, finely structured arguments, and logical conclusions.  It’s possible for that ‘lecturing voice’ to worm its way into your fiction, and you don’t want that.

Am I telling you, the beginning fiction writer, not to blog?  No, I’m just helping you set expectations; blogging won’t make your fiction better.  But there are several valid reasons for fiction authors to blog:

  • It helps enforce schedule discipline, and to associate deadlines with writing.  This is only true if you post to your blog on a regular basis.  Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, getting to ‘The End’ is important.
  • It’s a form of self-education.  When I come across an idea for a future blog entry, I add it to my list, (which is quite long now).  When I look to see what topic is scheduled for any particular week, I find it generally involves a bit of research.  So while blogging about the craft of writing, I’m coming across knowledge I can use.
  • The best reason for a fiction writer like you to blog, though, is to build your platform, increase your web presence, and connect with readers.

Blog if you want to, but don’t go into it thinking it’ll make your fiction better.  For those of you who disagree, that’s what the comment feature is for.  Please comment and let your views be known to the world and to—

                                                          Poseidon’s Scribe