Thursday, August 20, 2015

26 Reasons a Writer Should Blog - Part 5



How is your blog coming along? Are you finding this series helpful? While I don't expect you to put all the suggestions into practice, but I hope some of them are switching on those little light bulbs we often see over people's heads (in pictures anyway). 

On the 20th of each month, we look at four letters of the alphabet. I choose one word per letter which shows how we as writers will benefit if we publish a blog. 

Today we're looking at the letters P to S. As usual, we will choose one word beginning with each letter.

So here we go:

16.  P is for Purpose.
  •  As writers, we all seem to experience desert times, times when we look at the computer screen with a sense of dread wondering what to write. Maybe you're currently busy with a book, but you've hit a road block. See if you can write a post about the problem. If you've hit a snag with one of your characters, how about doing an interview of her on your blog? Ask her about her situation. This might solve your problem, and it will also draw your readers' attention to the novel in progress. 
  • Maybe you're looking for a new project. You could blog a series of suggested topics and ask for input from your readers. Or you could come up with a few possible themes to explore. What would they enjoy learning more about? Following a theme is a great remedy to getting stuck. Like today: I knew I had to come up with reasons for writers to blog, beginning with P, Q, R and S. Somehow, that made it easier to come up with a goal for this session of writing.
  • Another excellent reason for blogging is to research a book project. For example, at the moment I am busy writing a book based on lesser-known women in the Bible. Recently it occurred to me this would be a great series to run on my website. I could just give a sketch of some of the women, and that would promote the book in the process.
  • One other purpose would be to get readers involved choosing names (for the book or for a character). You could continue on your Facebook author page. All of these steps make people aware of the book you're writing. And that can only be a good thing.

17.  Q is for Questions.
  • As a writer, do you often wonder what to write? Use your blog to spark ideas. Ask questions. End each blog post with a question to get your reader thinking about the material you have covered. Can they add to the points you have made? Do they agree with your viewpoint? Encourage them to become interactive with your post, and they will remember you as a writer.
  • Write a post which questions some major decision made by a person in leadership. What do your readers think? Would they go along with the suggestions? Would they choose another approach altogether? Encourage them to ask questions to get your other readers thinking. I have read blogs where a post has become an entertaining and sometimes educational conversation between a group of people. Your goal here is to get readers to interact with each other and with the post. When they hear of the topic in the future they will think of you.
  • Ask your readers to contribute to your blog. Some years ago, I wrote a series of articles on International English on my blog. I gave a number of examples where a certain word in the UK means something entirely different in the USA. I shared anecdotes of times I had said something with my South African English that people in other countries didn't understand. I then asked if anyone had examples they could share of times when International English caused them embarrassment or laughter. I got so much feedback, I wrote two other articles.
  • You can also ask your readers for ideas. Discuss with them your next work-in-progress. Get them involved, and guess what? When the book comes out they will be eager to see how you resolved the issues they had discussed with you. 
18.  R is for Research.
  • How grateful I am for the Internet.. I think back to the years in high school and college and the amount of time I spent visiting the library scouring through thick books for information. Yet today, Google has made it all much easier. We tended to write about topics we knew about, but now we can step right out of our comfort zone and tackle any subject that intrigues us. Because I heard my brother and sister-in-law were going to the Serengeti, and because I knew nothing about this distant part of my continent, I turned to Google. 
  • Of course, there are two dangers to beware of. 
    • The material on Google is often not written by experts, and it may be wrong.  You need to check references or be careful how you word your writing. 
    • Be careful of plagiarism. Google is a great source of information, but you need to write it in your own words or give credit where due. 
  • A blog is an ideal place to share your research, and ask others for further information. Are you writing a historical novel? You can share information you learn that may or may not end up in your story. Ask them for further input. Intrigue your readers so they will want to learn more about you topic and be eager to read your book.
  • Use your blog to get personal reactions to situations or locations. e.g. If you want your hero to come across a woman who survived the Rwanda genocide in 2014, this is not an easy scene for you to imagine. Why not write a blog post? Give some background to what you want to know, and ask if anyone experienced this. You may only get one or two responses to a question like this, but you can then arrange to make contact with them to get first-hand information. This will be way more fascinating than something your imagination, no matter how creative, could dream up.
19.  S is for Scheduling.
  • If you plan to write regularly, you need to advertise what you're writing. I plan ahead what I'm going to write. This is excellent training for writers. Think ahead. Plan ahead. Write ahead. Then, as soon as you've finished the article schedule it to publish the day it's due to go live. You can write an entire series over a few days and schedule each "chapter" to go public once a week for several months. 
  • One of the huge highs and lows of today’s writing world is surely social media! Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn . . . need I go on? All wonderful opportunities to get the word out and to make cyber relationships. They are also incredible time-suckers when it comes to procrastination. How easily we can become overwhelmed. Yet if we are going to write, we need to let our readers know where and when they can read our material.
  • Along came Hootsuite or other such software. Schedule promotions for your blog posts to appear on Twitter. In order to cover all the major time-zones, I suggest you plan on 8-hourly intervals, which means three posts, and then one random at a peak time, according to your time zone, about 24 hours later. You can also schedule the posts to appear on Facebook, but personally I prefer to have the direct interaction with my followers on Facebook. I could never keep up with all my posts if I didn’t schedule them to publish days or even weeks in advance. 
  • Scheduling also helps us plan our time and what we are going to write when. Spread your posts at regular intervals, and as soon as they're written, write the promotions for social media, and then . . . did I mention this? Schedule them.  
 Which of these will you try out during the next month? Leave a note in a comment below and report back how it goes.


MORE ON THIS TOPIC: 

26 Reasons to blog - part 1: A - C
26 Reasons to blog - part 2: D - G
26 Reasons to blog - part 3: H - K
26 Reasons to blog - part 4: L - O
Write More Often - Blog Faster

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer, has brought encouragement and inspiration to a multitude of friends and contacts across the world.

Visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com where she encourages writers, or at RiseAndSoar.com where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.


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10 comments:

  1. Hi, Shirley,

    Great tips. I think planning is key. When I know what I want to blog about, it's much easier to get a post written. Your suggestions here could help any blogger create an editorial calendar for their blog. Thanks so much

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    1. Editorial calendar? What an excellent suggestion. Thanks Suzanne!

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  2. One of my favorite reasons for blogging is that you can help other writers by using their articles, interviewing them, etc and that helps keep you in touch with them, too.

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  3. Shirl, promoting your post is a must. If you don't, your post isn't pulling its weight. And, you're so right, you need to use automated tools to help ease the time element involved in social media marketing. Great tips!

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    1. Thanks Karen. If it wasn't for being able to schedule promotion I would never remember to tell anyone!

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  4. Shirl, Thanks for the suggestion of automated software to help with promotion. It's not something I've considered.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Mary Jo. See my comment to Karen. I have such a lousy memory I'd never tell anyone anything!

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  5. Thanks Shirl! Very helpful! I will have to learn how to interact with my readers more. Thank you for some great pointers!

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Sue. We need to look at this whole topic on CWOSA sometime!

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