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December 9, 2010

Can Blogging Train Your Muse?

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Should authors blog?  We’ve all seen this question in some form or another.  Some wonder if agents expect it.  (Not yet but close.) Others want to know if it will help build that elusive platform.  (It can.) But I propose another reason to blog: training your muse.

My regular readers are well aware that I talk about my muse like he’s a person.  What might not be obvious—as I often comment on my insanity as well—is that I know my muse is just a function of my brain.  So I also know “writer’s block” has nothing to do with anything other than my own mind.

About a month ago, Chuck Wendig had a fabulous (although NSFW) post about the fallacy of writer’s block.  In essence, he reminded us that we do not work for our muse.  I agreed so much that I commented:

It’s the other way around. And if he doesn’t show up to work some days, I just start rearranging things in “his” story (i.e. write anyway) until he starts freaking out about how I’m messing up everything and he tells me how things should be.  Heh.  Sucker.  He falls for that trick every time.  Writer’s block be damned.

I was reminded of this recently when my friend, Elisa Jeglin, posted a great analysis of the different reactions writers have to writer’s block.  She identified the Denier, the Freak Outer, the Determined-er, and the Cheater.  As my comment above shows, I’m a cross between a Denier and a Determined-er.

But it’s so so easy to be a Cheater, to wait for the muse to return.  So how do you prevent that?

Write a Professional Blog

Adding to the loads of great information on her site, yesterday Kristen Lamb posted the top reasons an author should blog.  Guess what her number one reason was?

Blogging helps you develop skills necessary to be successful in our writing career. … If we [blog] the way we should, we must post regularly. … If we only blog … when we feel inspired, our blog is worthless for our career. When we are held accountable for posting blogs regularly, we begin to work those self-discipline muscles that are so critical to a successful career. Blogging strengthens your skills as a writer and gets you into great habits.

And that’s completely true.  Anyone remember my post about when it’s okay to fake it?  Over half the time, I don’t have a clue about a topic for my Tuesday/Thursday blog schedule until around 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.  (And here you thought I had a plan…  *pshaw*  I just blew that perception out of the water, didn’t I?)

If I was going to take the easy way out, I’d skip blogging.  I’d rationalize and say that my readership isn’t big enough for anyone to notice if I skipped a day.

But I don’t.

Because Kristen is right.  Blogging on a schedule teaches you about deadlines.  So I make myself do it, even when my brain feels completely empty of ideas.  Writer’s block?  It doesn’t exist—can’t exist—in the life of a professional author.

Does your muse work for you or is it the other way around?  How do you get your muse to show up for work?  If you blog, do you post regularly?

Quick reminder: If you haven’t completed the polls on my previous post, please check those out after leaving your comment.  I’ll have the results, showing how people use blogs, for next week’s Tuesday post.  (Oh look!  A plan.  Shiny.)

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Leona

LOL that’s funny. Mainly because one of my nano warm ups was the blog. I admit I didn’t post as many this year as last (only 18 for the month). However, part of that was due to not wanting to waste the little writing time I had on some days. What I found was this. I do better when I can go through my email, twitter hello, check the DMs and @’s (it’s kind of like answering email to me) and then post a blog, or edit story. I have not really tried to post significant days, like say, every Thursday. I was trying for once a week without a day and found that was very bad. I’m writing my blog to tell the journey of being a mom while trying to start a writing career, as well as the writing career, and the steps I’m going through. Sometimes, being a mom means I don’t get what I want. I have to choose between blogging and writing on my MS. I usually, usually choose my MS unless it has been more than a week since I blogged. For me, the reasoning is if I don’t finish writing/editing my story, then there will be no next step! But, most days, I do better if I blog. Even if it is for a minute with a short hello/good bye 😀 Stretches the muscles, tells my brain, okay it is time. PS of course, my internet connection is so bad, that I have…  — Read More »

Kristen Lamb

Amen! The great thing about posting three times a week is that if I am really in a pinch I can repost something from a few months ago, LOL. But, I try not to make a habit out of that. You are dead-correct. There is no room for writer’s block in the world of the professional author.

My attitude is that if you are having a block on your novel, then go write a crap-load of blogs and load them in the queue. You are still doing SOMETHING for your writing career.

When you don’t post regularly it makes it tough for people to follow you and to recommend you. Part of the reason I regularly reference and link to your blog is I know I can count on two things. 1) Great content. 2) You will have fresh posts. I have a very large following (I think I do at least) and I love helping out newer bloggers. But i will only recommend the professional blogs. It would really leave me with egg on my face if I recommended you and you only blogged when you were in the mood!

Blogging regularly helps your peers feel good about promoting you.

Thanks for another excellent blog. Will tweet it when I finally make it into my office, LOL. Having coffee now and yes I have computers all over my house :D.

Joanna St. James

I am a M-F blogger without fail unless the few times I bailed for a spontaneous trip.
I tell myself am an undisciplined writer, but truth be told i am a disciplined blogger. My muse on the other hand hates technology so I am not sure blogging trains her- we’ll see tho’ lets give her time.

Leona

LOL did that sound guilty? More regretful. I am trying to catch up on technology. I did do one that I posted ahead of time and was set out to roll and it worked. 😀 I haven’t thought about utilizing it for a regularly scheduled blog time. Food for thought. If I can remember how!! I like your blog as it is strictly writing related. I have a few I follow for this reason. Other’s I follow for support in this thing called motherhood that wants to suck up all my writing time by making me feel guilty for not doing A or B because I am writing. My blog is for those types of people. That being said, maybe I will do a couple up a head of time each week, then I can do extra if I have time. As my writing gets closer and closer to becoming more than a dream I’m pursuing, I have been trying harder to have more blogs each week and more about writing on it. And yes, I loved Nano for the daily support and for helping me focus on writing. Ponders for a moment looking at two comments. Maybe for my next blog, I will simply link back to here. Wait, I don’t know haow to do that. Shrugs. Something else to learn… Sigh, and there is my BIGGEST problem with blogging. I can write about writing. About being a mom. About what to do to help, like I did when…  — Read More »

Elisa

Thanks for the mention ;p And great post. Blogging definitely helps get me into a writing routine, and even if I don’t work on my main WIP, I’ll at least write a short story that I can submit to help build my “platform.”

Suzanne Johnson

Interesting topic! I think regular blogging–whether it’s once a week or more–is important in order to build readership. I’ve been really focusing on my blog the last couple of months, and post six days a week (I take Saturday off). I do try to write blogs ahead of time, especially if my day job is really busy, so all I have to do in the morning is go live.

Tahlia Newland

Blogging regularly ( I do 2 posts a week) has been very good for me, even though it takes time away from my novel writing. Apart from practice in communicating succinctly, it’s helping me become aware of what my voice really is.

Let’s face it there’s masses of authors blogging, so why would people want to read mine – the answer is in finding what my angle is on things and learning to be confident in sharing that. This translate into my novels as a greater willingness to take risks and go deeper. So the spin off for me is greater than just the practice.

We also have to consider what makes a post interesting and engaging for readers and that’s an excellent training too.

My stats are good for the time I’ve been going, so I must be writing something worth reading.

Murphy

Hi Jami!

All good points. During my recent hiatus – I worked out some scheduling details for my blog too. I KNOW! I almost didn’t believe it myself. Me scheduling? Planning? *insert biting nails here* Well, I’m going to try…

M. 😀

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[…] why I treat my subconscious like an entity, talking about my muse visiting me in the shower or me dragging him out of bed to get to work, because I-me is my conscious thoughts and my muse is an entirely different voice, a not-me.  This […]

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[…] side benefit of blogging is learning to wake up our muse on a regular schedule and how to stick to deadlines. But if our goals don’t require us to have a blog, we […]

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