Blogging: how it helps the aspiring writer

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Guest author: Sherri MatthewsWhen I started my blog one year ago I had no idea that it would become such a force in my life.

I had dabbled in writing on and off for most of my life but it took a series of adverse events in 2011 (funny how that happens) that set me on the path of at long-last pursuing my writing career, late-bloomer though I am!

Once I set my mind to it I had the very pleasant result of having my first short story and two full–length articles published in two national magazines in the UK.  On the heels of this, I thought it might be a good idea to start a blog as a way to document my writing journey.

What I very quickly discovered were the wonderfully surprising ways that blogging helped/helps me as an aspiring writer and although I am far from a blogging expert, with one year’s worth of blogging behind me I can look back and see just how far I have come in my writing journey.

Here are some of my unexpected discoveries:

1. Blogging has increased my confidence with writing.

The very first time I hit the ‘publish’ button for my first post almost one year to the day, I could not quite believe that I was posting something that I had written on the internet for all to see.  My first post may have been a very innocuous one about my lovely garden robin but still, it was my original writing and I had no idea what kind of a response I would receive from the great blogosphere!

As expected, the initial response came from lovely family and friends who have supported me in my new venture from day one but as time went on and I got into my blogging stride, very gradually other bloggers started to find my blog and  leave encouraging comments here and there.   In this way, my readership slowly grew over the following weeks and months, as did my confidence in my writing.

The old adage that the more you write the better you will become (as with most things!) is so true.  Having the discipline of having to ensure that I post on my blog regularly (I try to post at least two or three times a week) not only keeps those creative juices flowing but as with anything done regularly, it is a great way to hone your craft.

2. Blogging creates community.

One of the most delightfully and unexpected aspects of blogging has been the incredible community of ‘followers’ (I prefer to call them readers and now friends) that I have found.   Writing full time from home, as I do, can be quite isolating and finding the balance between writing and family life isn’t always easy, not to mention keeping a social life going as well.

As I try to explain to some of my working (as in outside the home) friends, I don’t get to huddle around the water cooler at work and talk about a favourite TV programme that we watched the previous evening or what we got up to at the weekend.

My blogging community is my place to meet around that cyber ‘water cooler’ and the best part is that I can drop by for a ‘chat’ any time I want to with my blogging friends with the added bonus of not having to worry about the boss catching me out!

As I learnt to link to other blogs my community grew even more. Writing and hosting guest blogs, taking part in writing challenges and competitions on other blogs, encouraging others through ‘shout-outs’ and nominations for blog awards; through these avenues I have met the most wonderful people and made genuine, true friends, something I never expected would happen through blogging.

3. Blogging can lead to other writing opportunities.

I look upon my blog as my ‘calling card’.  It is my mark in the writing world so that if others should be interested in taking a look at the kind of things I write about or about the way in which I write, they can easily take a wonder through my blog and see for themselves.

It is a nice feeling to know that now that I have a year’s worth of content on my blog I can lead people there with a great deal more confidence than I had even just a few, short months ago.

This leads me to number 4:

4. Blogging is an excellent way to link up with other social media platforms.

As somebody who is far from technically savvy, I have had to learn an awful lot about the world of social media.  This has not always sat easily with me.  For instance, I didn’t sign up to Facebook until fairly recently and this only because I became convinced that it was a good way to keep in touch with a few close friends and family.

However, I have come to see the huge value of utilising social media as a means to getting my writing ‘out there’. My blogging platform is WordPress, although I registered my blog to my own domain a few months ago.  WordPress makes it easy to publicise and link my posts through a variety of social media platforms.

I do this using Facebook (my personal account) and LinkedIn. In this way, others have been led to my blog outside the walls of the WordPress community and for a freelance writer this is essential in finding new contacts for potential writing opportunities.

I have noticed that many authors have both Twitter accounts and author Facebook pages (and Google Plus in some cases), the first two of which I hope to set up in the near future now that I have a little more blogging experience behind me and am beginning to feel a little more comfortable with this heretofore unknown giant known as ‘social media’!

In summation and as a final thought, as a living and breathing thing, my blog moves and grows with the ebb and flow of my writing journey. Through writing on my blog I have found my writer’s ‘voice’, my creativity has been fanned into flames and through the encouragement of others who regularly read my blog, I have started the book that I have wanted to write for over 30 years!

To say that blogging has irrevocably changed my life, and for the better, would be an understatement.  In my mind, blogging is a vital ‘must’ for any aspiring writer.

© Sherri Matthews 2014

My blog:  www.sherrimatthewsblog.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/aviewfrommysummerhouse

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sherri-matthews/60/798/aa3

 

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