As the Blog Goes, So Goes the Book

Writers blog and boggers write and it is often hard to tell which came first. I suspect that for anyone over the age of thirty, and certainly over forty, writing probably came first. Forty years ago when I started writing (yes, as a child, no, I didn’t serve in Viet Nam) home computers were the stuff of sci-fi books and the Internet was unheard of.

Today, almost everyone who writes has a blog of some sort. It is a necessary part of our marketing mix. It keeps us writing about something, anything, when our muse takes a powder and leaves us with writer’s block (I tend to have the opposite problem, my muse drinks too much coffee). It’s a quick and easy way to introduce ourselves to potential readers. Which brings me to my point (in less than 200 words and 2 paragraphs, this is a personal best for me).

Most books go through some type of editing process. Critique groups, beta readers and paid editors help writers polish their craft. This allows us to be creative and worry about t crossing and i dotting later. Hopefully our finished books are free from typos, grammatical errors and plot snafus. Not a perfect process, to be sure, but every editing step helps. Blogs are generally not subject to these steps. I can tell.

If your goal is to be recognized as a writer, to sell the things you write and even (yes, we all have dreams) EARN A LIVING as a writer, remember that everything you put out to the public is a reflection of your talent. Sentences like: “There mom is not sure if their home or at school. They’re father did not no too.” will derail your career before it even starts. Before you compose that scathing email about my being critical of others, I made that sentence up. I did not copy it from anyone’s blog, book or other work. Relax, I’m making a point here.

I read a great many blogs, and I have learned some very useful skills in the process. I have to include “How Not to Write a Blog” on that list. I’m the first to admit that my writing is not perfect. I don’t even have an editor (yet) for my books. They like to be paid and my family likes to eat. Those two facts are currently mutually exclusive. I am prone to using commas where there should be semicolons. I know this because MS Word is kind enough to point it out. I have to spell some words out loud or I will screw them up…’necessary’ and ‘sentence’ come readily to mind. I can be overly descriptive, use the passive voice and when I’m cranking out words on, I often use ‘there’ in place of ‘their’. But, really? A blog is a few hundred words (several hundred in my case). If you can’t get that right, how on Earth can you hope to complete a collection of short stories or worse yet, a novel? Who is going to buy your books if your blog is full of typos and grammatical errors? If spelling and grammar are a challenge, there are many books and websites that can help. If you are going to write, you have to read. I’m lucky, I was encouraged to read as a kid (we didn’t have video games or a computer) and I have thousands of pages stored away in my mind that help me put words together.

I know it sounds like I’m being mean and overly critical, but if this bothers me, it’s going to bother your readers, at least some of them. Read your blog out loud before you post it. I do this with ALL my writing, and it’s amazing how many times things just don’t sound right or I find errors in grammar or even spelling. That’s because reading out loud forces you to slow down as you vocalize the words. It also let’s you hear the rhythm and flow of your writing. Look, if I mess something up, I want someone to tell me. Bad reviews will improve your writing far more than good ones. Problem is, no one really reviews blog posts. They make comments, but it is usually related to the content, not the writing style. It’s hard to tell someone their writing is not good, even if they are a stranger. Unfortunately, we are often reading posts written by friends (even if they are just cyber friends) and that makes such critiques twice as difficult.

Pay attention to your blog posts. Run them by someone whose writing skills you respect. Read books on grammar and spelling, read anything as long as you read. Indie authors get a bad rap for publishing shoddy work, and some of it is well deserved. Don’t let something as simple as a blog post add fuel to the fire. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Now get writing, your muse is giving me dirty looks.

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