Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest post: 8 Ways Blogging Has Improved My Life

Before we get to today's AWESOME guest post, I wanted to announce the winner for Linda Grimes' baby naming contest. The winner is NWFoodie, with her winning moniker of "Rainbow Puppy." Henceforth, my new whipsnap will be referred to as Rainbow Puppy. Please visit Linda's blog for the prizes!

Today I'm thrilled to welcome the hugely popular
merchant of wisdom Anne R. Allen. I adore Anne and can't wait to meet her someday. Anne's blog is very popular indeed and for some reason she thinks I helped not true! Anne is popular because she writes a great blog for writers, with consistently good content. If you haven't been reading her, you're missing out.

I'm honored and pleased to welcome her as a Maternity Leave Guest Blogger ( MLGB).

8 Ways Blogging Has Improved My Life

by Anne R. Allen

Sierra’s asked me to write a post about the power of the blog. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on my own blog about how blogging turned my career around after my book publisher went belly-up, my magazine/newspaper gigs evaporated, and I had to restart a writing career at square one.

But it’s not just my career that has benefited. Here are some ways blogging has improved my personal life.

1) I feel I’m making a difference. I think most writers write because we want to share something of value with the world. With my blog, I’m offering advice to help new writers avoid the clueless, time-wasting goofs I’ve made. If I can keep one newbie from getting scammed, help somebody rebound after a nasty critique, or relieve the growing pressure writers feel to squander too much time on social media, it’s all worthwhile. And who knows? Maybe I’m helping the next Kurt Vonnegut or Margaret Atwood on his/her road to literary greatness.

2) I get instant gratification. When you’re a novelist struggling toward publication—either as a beginner, or after your career has tanked a time or two—you can spend years alone in a room, read by no one. But with a blog, your words reach other humans instantly. You can be heard—satisfying one of the basic human needs.

3) It gives my life structure. I treat my blog like a newspaper column, with a set-in-stone deadline. I’m not getting paid now, but I figure it’s part of a career strategy that will pay off at some point, so I treat it like a paid job. The deadlines keep me disciplined and help me get the most out of my writing time.

4) I get emotional support. Like a lot of writers, I suffer from anxiety and depression. Not surprising in a business that consists of 99% rejection, year after year. But blogging writers provide mutual support and help each other through the bad patches. Not that bloggers are a bunch of whiners, but we give each other lots of attaboy/girl support and empathy. When the rejections roll in, I can go look at comments people have made on my better blogposts and realize I’m getting some acceptance, even if it isn’t from the New York publishing world.

I know there are some agents and their assistants who say that no writer should ever talk about the down times on a blog, but I disagree. As long as you keep comments general—without mentioning names or specific rejections—sharing the ups and downs keeps us from feeling so alone. And when we do have a success to announce, readers will care, and be more inclined to buy our books.

5) I’ve stopped dumbing myself down. I grew up in a rural area where nobody liked a smarty-pants, so I’ve spent a lifetime hiding my brains to avoid confrontations. But here in the blogosphere, smart is good. This has drifted into real life, and I find I’m censoring myself a lot less. Offended by a large vocabulary? Go defenestrate yourself!

6) I’m reading more genre fiction. I meet people online and want to read their stuff. It doesn’t feel like simple guilty-pleasure reading because I’m supporting friends.

7) I’ve stopped frittering time on mind-numbing TV. I still have my Netflix—I adore BBC things with costumes—but otherwise, I’d rather surf blogs or read. This has not only helped me get back in touch with my own smarts, but it’s weeded out some of my less than beneficial friendships. People who only want to rehash TV shows and gossip about celebrities have drifted away. Amazing how I don’t miss them.

8) I’m connecting to my tribe. Every day I can talk to hundreds of people who are mentally alive and intellectually hungry. Writers are shy people. It’s hard to meet each other except at expensive writing conferences. Here in the blogosphere, it’s easy and free!

What about you, fellow scriveners? Do you blog? Has it made a difference in your world?

Thanks again Anne for a fabulous post. I couldn't agree more with your points. Blogging for me has been one of the most wonderful parts of my writing efforts, and put me in touch with you and all my other fabulous guest bloggers, which I am so grateful for. - Sierra

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