This past weekend, I passed five years of blogging. That’s about four years more than I ever thought possible way back when. *smile*
People tend to like nice round numbers like 5s and 10s, so reaching this five-year point feels like a major milestone. As I’m still deep into vacation and sickness-brain, I figured now might be a good time to look back at what I’ve learned over those five years, and share what those lessons might tell us about the rest of our writing career…
How Our Careers Grow
- Everyone Starts as a Newbie
My blog didn’t start off with a million hits or a thousand-plus visitors a day. I started off at ground zero, just like anyone else.
For the first couple of months, I was lucky to get views in the double digits each day. If you’ve blogged and celebrated over getting one comment? Yeah, been there, got the T-shirt.
- Slow and Steady Growth Adds Up
It took about 3 1/2 years to reach the point where my readership growth started accelerating, and I can’t point to a single factor that created the change. There wasn’t one post that went more viral than others. My worksheets had existed for over a year by that point. I wasn’t suddenly being recommended by a big name in the industry. Etc.
I think my blog just finally reached a tipping point. The more people know we exist, the more others will hear about us too.
- Patience & Consistency Work
However, I doubt that tipping point would have occurred at all if I hadn’t been consistently writing posts that whole time. About two-thirds of my daily traffic comes from search engines.
In other words, much of my traffic comes here because I have content people want. It takes time—and obviously writing that content—to reach that point.
I have 525 published posts here. That’s 525 chances for someone to stumble over my blog via a search or social media share.
How Our Fiction-Writing Careers Grow
Obviously, those same lessons can apply to our fiction writing as well. We all start with zero knowledge, zero platform or community, and zero readers.
Yes, we might get a big splash with a release push from a publisher, a well-known reviewer, or a write-up in a Best Of list. But we might not.
Even if we don’t have that viral or buzz-worthy push, our career isn’t doomed. Slow and steady growth works for fiction writing too.
We need to create content, and that takes time. But each book we release is another chance that readers will stumble over our work. And when they discover us, they might read our other work or tell their friends, and that adds up to success.
How We Find Ourselves and Our Passion
- It Takes Time to Discover Ourselves
One reason I couldn’t conceive of myself still blogging five years down the road back when I first started is because I hadn’t discovered how much I loved it yet. I didn’t go into blogging knowing that I’d love sharing knowledge or tips.
I started just because it seemed the thing to do. And I certainly didn’t think I had over 500 ideas for posts.
Even if someone had put a gun to my head at the beginning, I’d have had a hard time coming up with more than 20 ideas. Most weeks, I still have no ideas. *smile*
- It Helps to Be Passionate about What We Do
It’s only been very gradually that I realized how much I love blogging for all of you. At first, I loved it for the ability to relate to other writers and form a community, but that’s grown into a passion for helping other writers reach their potential.
Sometimes that means I share my knowledge, and sometimes that means I share my struggles. Either way, we know we’re not alone, and that’s the feeling that drives me to write a post when I’m not in the mood.
- Writing Consistently Is Hard
Even so, it would have been much easier to not write a blog post all those times. As I said, at least half the time, I have no ideas for a post when I force myself to sit down and write.
If I waited for inspiration to hit, I’d have about a quarter of that number of posts. Just because we love what we’re doing doesn’t mean it’s easy.
- Practice Makes Better
The usual phrase, of course, is “practice makes perfect,” but this perfectionist knows all too well that perfect doesn’t exist. Instead, practice leads to improvement. (Hat tip to a toddler speak-o I once heard for the more accurate phrase in the heading.)
Have you ever heard the claim that it takes a million words before we’re good at writing? (That goes along with the idea that it takes so many hours to be skilled at something.) Blogging helps those words add up quickly. *smile*
How We Find Our Fiction-Writing Passion
Just as I didn’t know how much I would love blogging until I tried it (for a long while), we might not know the right fiction-writing fit for us until we experiment. We might struggle to find the right fit for our genre, point-of-view, themes, or voice.
Yet with enough experimenting, we’ll eventually find a style that we’re passionate about. Or maybe we’ll know the right approach because it feels comfortable. Or we’ll discover our voice as we learn more about ourselves.
The point is that it often takes time. And while we’re on that journey of discovery, we might not get a sense of when we’re close. It might only be after we’ve been doing something for a while that we even realize how well it’s been working for us.
Even so, writing will still be hard. There will still be days when nothing feels right or comfortable. The words will feel like they belong to a foreign language, or the story will feel forced, or our characters won’t talk to us.
We all know. We’ve all been there. We’re not alone.
But if we keep at it, if we push to learn more about ourselves and what does or doesn’t work for us or fit right, we’ll improve. We’ll always need editing. We’ll always struggle with some aspect of our work. But we will get better. *smile*
Do you blog? If so, what aspects do you struggle with? What lessons have you learned from blogging? Have you learned about yourself by writing? Do you have lessons or insights to share?Pin It