Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Work of a Writer

Before you read this post, please stop by Helen Ginger today. I've written about finding the "golden thread" in memoir writing.

Blogging is work. Make no mistake about it. If you are a writer and you are serious about marketing your work, blogging is a big part of a successful strategy.

I didn't realize this when I first began blogging; I just listened to the PR person I'd hired through the publisher to set one up. I'd always written in a journal, so I thought, this should be easy. But I soon realized that journaling is not blogging is not articles is not essays. They are all different animals and need different care and feeding.

Personal journals are great for keeping track of your thoughts and feelings, recording events, even jotting down ideas, although I found my ideas can get lost in my journal. I need to keep a separate to-do list for the ideas. Then I need to separate my to-do list into personal list versus business list. But I divurge...

Blogging, in my humble opinion, is not the same as journaling in one key way. In a journal, I could write "I hate so and so and wish she would.." and no one would see it, so it wouldn't matter. I can work out my feelings in my journal. The blog, however, is not for working out feelings. It is for sharing information, insights, thought processes with a resolution, and so on.

In the beginning, I didn't have a clue what to blog about. Then it hit me. If I'm trying to build a readership base of people who might be interested in my book and any insights or wisdom I might have gained over the years, then my topics need to focus on those kinds of things.

Articles, on the other hand, are targeted pieces about one particular subject, such as those you read in newspapers and magazines. They usually have quotes from people you've interviewed and include facts and figures to back up your statements. Your personal opinions would not be appropriate.

Personal essays are where you can bring everything into one piece. You may include a bit of journal-style writing in an essay as a way to introduce a topic you are struggling with, because a personal essay is an exploration of something. It needs to come to a conclusion, but not necessarily a resolution to the conflict.

I have learned so much from blogging and from reading the blogs of others. In the beginning, I resented the time I was spending, but now I relish it. It is the work of a writer in this technological day and age, in addition to works in progress (commonly referred to as wips). Unfortunately, I spend so much time blogging and reading blogs, my wips are not even blips on radar yet.

Till tomorrow,


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great point here, Karen. I think blogging is a totally different type of discipline. I'm really enjoying it, although at first I shared your opinion of it and wasn't sure what direction I wanted to take.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

On point, here Karen. Blogging content rules, that’s for sure. It’s what keeps readers coming back. So, finding the content sweet spot is the magic. I like how you’ve winnowed the list of your possible content to the thing you believe works.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Linda said...

Great post, Karen. I agree that blogging is a discipline. Sometimes it's a challenge to come up with fresh material but we muddle through doing the best we can. It can hone our writing skills in a way that journalling can't. In my case when I journal I am just trying to "get it out". With blogging I am concered not only with content, but with form. Good thoughts - and Happy Thursday!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i'm with you...blogging ain't journaling. :) mainly b/c you're always trying to be positive about people/books/whatever. i did a post on white lies a while back b/c this was a concern for me...but in this business, i don't suppose there's any other thing for it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There's definitely a learning curve! Just need to focus on one's talents & passions and find a groove.

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I enjoyed both this post and the one at Helen's blog. I went through the same thing - resenting the time I spent writing and reading blogs, but now I look forward to visiting my favorites, including yours.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Like you, blogging was a bit intimidating at the beginning. Now, I believe it's helping improve my writing, and I value the path it provides to new friends. I love the people I'm meeting.

Helen Ginger said...

Great points, Karen. It is so easy to get caught up in blogging and visiting other blogs. But the pay-off in new friends is worth it, I believe.

Thanks for visiting Straight From Hel today!

Straight From Hel

The Old Silly said...

"If I'm trying to build a readership base of people who might be interested in my book and any insights or wisdom I might have gained over the years, then my topics need to focus on those kinds of things."

Now you're catching on! (wink)

Marvin D Wilson

Jody Hedlund said...

It is really hard to find that balance between our WIPS and blogging. But you're right, for every writer who's growing serious about publication, blogging is the new social marketing media!

Stephanie Faris said...

I love writing but there's nothing like writing something here and having the interaction from those reading it. Novel-writing doesn't have that instant feedback, which sucks! But novel-writing is a different kind of gift.

Beth said...

Hi Karen,

Thank you so much for your comment on my blog! I just adore Deb, and I look forward to reading more of your writing, too.

I've been blogging for almost three years now, and I find that it definitely improves your writing! I look back at things from when I first started, and I feel that I've really gotten better at putting things together. I enjoyed your take on the distinction between journaling, articles, and personal essays. I suppose I generally go the personal essay route, but occasionally do more of an article, usually on music or infectious disease (I used to work as a microbiologist), and those definitely take more work, research, and time.

I look forward to reading more!

All my best,

Martha Nichols said...

Yes, I'm with you that blogging is now part of our work as writers, and that it's a legit medium for working out ideas and opinions (rather than feelings). One of the things that interests me so much about it is how the medium has evolved. Journalism is evolving, too, and I believe that "first-person journalism" is on the rise. That could mean everything from a personal essay to a personally driven feature article.

I'm not sure there's such a distinction between articles and personal essays these days. The old practices of verifying evidence, attributing claims, and checking sources are still estential to feature writing—I have to say this as a journalism instructor, but I believe it, too—yet there are more hybrid magazine forms regarding a writer's voice and POV.

For more musings on these topics, check out Talking Writing (http://talkingwriting.blogspot.com), which I and several contributors run, and my own blog (http://marthanicholsonline.blogspot.com).