Dear WordCount: I write fiction. I’m toying with the idea of starting a blog and am wondering, can blogging help me write fiction? — Anonymous Author
The short answer to your question is yes, blogging can help you write fiction, or at least help promote the fiction you write. The bigger question is how you want to use a blog to accomplish that goal.
Over the years that I’ve run the WordCount Blogathon, I’ve met dozens of authors who use blogging to support their fiction writing in various ways. Here are some:
1. To get the creative juices flowing. Some authors blog as a writing prompt, to get their writing minds limbered up and flexible for more serious writing work. It’s like the scales that piano students play at the beginning of practice to warm up for the harder pieces that they’re learning. Some of these authors blog about things that are related to books they’re working on, others blog about themselves or totally unrelated subjects.
2. To work out a character. During the 2011 blogathon, a writer friend used the challenge’s daily posts to work on the main character of the novel she was writing. She wrote the posts in first person, as if her character was the one writing them, in order to get a better handle on the character’s back story, voice, language and personality.
3. To build a platform for a book. This is one of the more common ways authors use a blog, to build a community of readers so when they send a book proposal to an agent or publisher they can say, “My name is Joe Jones, I have an idea for a book about zombie vampires, and you should consider publishing me because I have 250,000 blog subscribers who devour my every word.”
4. To promote a book. Once Joe Jones gets a publisher for his zombie vampire novel, he can use his blog to let those faithful blog subscribers know when they can pre-order it on Amazon, see him during his book tour, and hear him chatting about it with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air.”
5. To sell books. Many authors who self publish sell their books from their blogs. Fellow Portland writer Jennifer Willis sells copies of her YA urban fantasy Valhalla on her website: here’s what her Books by Jennifer Willis page looks like.
6. To create a product or service based on their or other authors’ fictional characters. A long-time blogathon alum, Jay Hammond, blogs under the pen name Mena Grazie. In 2010, she created The Preternatural Post, a real news outlet writing real stories about fictional characters and legendary creatures. Or as Hammond puts it, the Post “covers film, literature, gaming, history, technology, travel and science about the paranormal and supernatural, from vampires and shape shifters to wizards and fairies to ghosts to monsters and everything in between.” Check out the site right now and you’ll see stories about Halloween poetry, role-playing blogs, haunted houses and lots and lots of stories about “True Blood. ”
7. To share what they’ve learned about the creative process with other writers. Another popular author blog genre. Here’s a list of 10 top creative writing blogs, chosen by Write to Done.
Here are a couple more posts on fiction writing and blogging I’ve found around the interwebs:
- Is blogging important for novelists considering self publishing? (Jody Hedlund, Author & Speaker)
- Should all authors blog? (Rachelle Gardner)
- Should authors blog or not? (Publetariat: People Who Publish)
- So seriously, should writers blog? (Jordan McCollum)
- How to blog for authors and writers (The Creative Penn)
If you write fiction and have a blog, how does one support the other (and vice versa)?
Dear WordCount is a weekly advice column answering your questions about writing, blogging and running a freelance business. Send questions to email@example.com.