Showing posts with label Shirley Corder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shirley Corder. Show all posts

Running Out of Steam

Have you ever felt as if you were running out of steam on a writing project?

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a writing friend. It went something like this, 

"A while ago I started this blog post series because I really thought it was a great idea. I had much to say and and it seemed easy enough to say it. But now that I've completed a good number of posts, I seem to be running out of steam. I still believe in the idea, but I have lost my sense of excitement. I wonder if I should bring it to a halt or how I should handle this problem." 
She went on to ask, 

"1. Have you ever started a series of posts and then lost the "flavor of it"...?
2. What did you do? Did you abandon them, cut them short or did you persevere for the sake of practice and experience?"

I had a good chuckle. At that point I was busy with a series on my own blog that had grown stale (for me), and I was having to work to regain my enthusiasm! The interesting thing was, when I pushed myself to WRITE, and get the words down, what came out was okay. I'd read it again the next day and realize although I knew I'd battled, my readers wouldn't. 

Those who have done NaNoWriMo will recognize what I'm saying. The first week is exciting, your story flows, and your characters come alive. The second week is a bit tougher. But then comes the dreaded third week where you wonder what on earth possessed you to get involved in such a project. The leaders start saying, 'Don't give up! You can do this." We are urged to keep our eyes on the finishing line and keep writing.

So what's the answer?

Here is part of my reply to my friend. Think of it this way. If you were working in an office, would you stop work when you lost interest in your task? If your boss gave you a letter to type and you didn't feel in the mood, would you say, "Nah. Maybe tomorrow!" or would you plonk yourself down in your seat and type, whether you felt like it or not? 

If you were a nurse, would you ignore the patients you didn't feel like working with? If you were a teacher, would you look at your room full of ADD kids and decide to take the day off and maybe come back tomorrow? You may feel that way. But would you?

Writing is work - and we write because we are writers, not because we always feel like it. I think this is probably when you grow the most as a writerwhen you have to discipline yourself to write even when you don't feel like it. 

Right now I have a deadline looming, two books to review, two blog posts due in the next few days, and a book I'm busy writingand guess what? None of them appeal to me. I'd like to curl up on my bed with a good book (that I don't need to review.) But I'm a writer, and writers write. 

Can you imagine the frustration of reading a book, and then half way through the story peters out? Instead you read a note from the author: "I got fed up with this story so I've decided to write something else." If you're writing a series, that's what you're threatening to do to your readers. My guess is they'll never follow another series you write if you do that. So go sit down, take a deep breath, and write!

Having said all that, we're not meant to torture ourselves (or our readers) with badly written prose. So here are some techniques that can help.

1. Have more than one project on the go so that if you really dry up on one topic, you can skip it for the day, and work on another one.

2. Work in advance. Don't aim to meet your deadline. Beat your deadline. The deadline I mentioned to my friend is actually the end of January, but my own goal is to submit it before Christmas so I can relax and wait for the edits in the new year.

3. Take a day off writing and catch up on marketing or on promotional work. Take a look at your website. If it's anything like mine, there is always work to be done there. Then make sure you get back to the problem work the next day.

4. Take a look at 420 There is a paid version, but I've found the free one works just fine for me. You set yourself a time limit, although I've found the default time works well. I think of my topic, possibly the one that I'm battling with, and hit start. For 4 minutes and 20 seconds I type. I try not to stop and think. I don't check spelling or research facts. I just type. I have been amazed at some of the "fables" I've come up with. It helps to clear the cobwebs and gets me writing without listening to my internal editor. 

5. If all else fails, go and buy an ice-cream and walk along the beach. Get away from your computer for an hour or two, and when you come back discipline yourself to tackle your problem child and you may be surprised the new thoughts that come into your fresh brain. Okay, that's something the nurse, secretary and teacher can't do. But hey! That's one of the perks of being a writer. 

6.  If you find you are becoming truly overwhelmed with all your projects, maybe the time has come to "step away from the task" and see if there's something that needs to go. And no, I definitely don't mean stop half way through a series, or drop a contract, or fail to submit an assignment. But sometimes we need to look at our priorities. Are we trying to do too much?

I have been feeling that way myself for quite a while, and so I've come to a couple of decisions. I'm juggling too many balls in the air, and as is always the case, something begins to suffer. In my case, it's my writing. I've got so many projects going, I don't have time to write . . . actually write. I feel as if I'm running out of steam. 

I do blog posts, marketing, social media, emails, etc . . . I work for hours every day, but I have a book in progress that I don't get to. Of course this hasn't been helped by a year spiced with knee surgery, two websites being hacked and having to be rebuilt from scratch, my husband's broken shoulder and me scalding both hands. (See selfie I put up on Facebook at the time) . . . I could go on.

However, for the past few months I've been looking for ways to wind down, and unfortunately this blog is going to be one thing that needs to go. 

I've completed the series on blogging which we've been doing for some months, and this is my last post for the year. So this seems like the right time to step back. I've been writing for Writers on the Move for four years, and it's been fun. I've learned a lot and enjoyed being a part of this talented group of authors. But time has come for me to step down and hopefully give my space up to another writer.

I will definitely visit from time to time and try to keep up with the posts. Keep up the good work girls! I'll miss you. 

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 where she encourages writers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

26 Reasons a Writer Should Blog - Part 7 Final

So we've done it! We're at the end of the alphabet. Typically, the last three points are the most difficult to come up with.

Since April, we've worked through the letters of the alphabet, each month choosing one significant word from the next two or three letters in the alphabet that clarify reasons why a writer should blog.
Now to come up with reasons beginning with X, Y and Z

24. X is for the X-Factor of Writing

During my first lesson in Algebra at school, I learned a crucial fact, that "X" is an unknown quantity. People often talk about the X-factor of various topics, in other words an unknown factor that influences the outcome. A dictionary definition of the term describes the X-Factor as “a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome”. 

The variable is therefore something which can influence the situation. What does this have to do with writing, or blogging in particular? 

I have been writing for publication for about fifteen years. That is my situation. During that time I have learned there are things I do well, and there are areas where I suck. Blogging has the potential to act as my variable. It has brought about some key changes in my writing.

I have seen a significant impact on my writing output. I have two websites, each of which has its own blog. In Write to Inspire, my posts are geared to inspire and encourage writers and readers, and in Rise and Soar, my goal is to inspire and encourage those doing battle with cancer. I aim at producing at least one post a week on each of these.

I also contribute monthly to this blog, Writers on the Move, and once or twice a month to International Christian Fellowship of Writers. That's not counting my many writing commitments. So I have to keep writing. As a result, I'm also writing faster. My ability to do research has grown wings, and my creativity is expanding. 

So for me, it's not a question of finding the X-factor in blogging. Blogging is the X-factor in my writing life. How about you?

25. Y is for YouTube. I had only used a YouTube video clip once on my blog before I tackled the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April. However, when I wrote on N is for N’kosi Sekelel e’Africa, a post about the magnificent South African national anthem, it wasn’t enough to tell my readers the history. Nor was it enough to copy out the words for them. They needed to hear it for themselves!

I searched YouTube and found a stirring rendering of the anthem, complete with the words superimposed on a background of our flag. It was so easy to post this into my blog. 

Don’t know how? 

On YouTube, find the clip you want to use, then click on share. Choose the option, Embed. This will give you a line of code. Copy that to your clipboard. 

Now open your blog. Go to ‘source’ or ‘html’ to find the code for your post. Paste the video clip’s code into the correct spot. It’s as easy as that.

(If you’re new to html code, try pasting it right at the end of the post. Then come out of the code and drag the video image to where you want it.

26.  Z is for Zest. The dictionary describes zest as “Vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment”. If you are a writer, you cannot only write when you’re in the mood. 

No business man would only go to the office when he felt like it. No nurse can only care for the sick when she feels dedicated. If you’re serious about writing, you need to write when it’s time to write. Not just when you’re gripped by the Scribe Bug.

However with blogging it is good to strike while the iron is hot, to use a cliché. When you’re in the mood, or in the zone as the youngsters would say, sit down and blog. For example, I outlined the majority of the 26 posts for this series with great zest in a few hours one morning. I skipped over any letters that didn’t immediately grab me and came back to them some days later. 

As long as you have something scheduled to go live on your blog on the day you plan, you don’t have to write them literally on the day. (See S is for Scheduling.)

 I hope you have found this series of 26 Reasons Why a Writer Should Blog helpful and informative. It has also included many tips on how to make blogging easier and more effective for you. Please leave a note to indicate what you have found helpful, and don't forget to leave a link to your own blog so we can pay you a visit!

Until next month . . . 


26 Reasons for a Writer to Blog - Part I: A - C
26 Reasons for a Writer to Blog - Part II: D-G
26 Reasons for a Writer to Blog - Part III: H-K
26 Reasons for a Writer to Blog - Part IV: L-O
26 Reasons for a Writer to Blog - Part V: P-S
26 Reasons for a Writer to Blog - Part VI:T-W
26 Reasons for a Writer to Blog - Part VII: X-Z

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 where she encourages writers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

26 Reasons a Writer Should Blog - Part 6

Have you ever noticed how some of the most difficult letters to write about come near the end of the alphabet? Well, perhaps apart from Q that is!

Each month we've taken the next few consecutive letters of the alphabet and selected one word representing each letter. We're now getting to some tough choices. What will the next four be? T, U, V and W.

If you've been with me since the beginning of this series, by now your writers' blog should be looking good. So as we approach the final seven letters, let's dig deep. The points from this post and next month's can put the final touch to your really great blogs.

 So here we go!

20. T is for Title. Brian Clark of Copy Blogger gives these startling statistics: 

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. See what that looks like >>>

He adds, "Without a headline or post title that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist."

Wow! We need to come up with some innovative titles. I have a confession. I have only recently realized how important blog titles are. I know how important titles are to my books or articles, but somehow I missed the point when it came to my blog titles. So we have thrilling titles like "26 Reasons a Writer Should Blog - Part 6!"

It's too late to change the titles for this series, but I'm going to put a lot of thought into future posts I promise you!

So how do you choose a good title? Here are two sites where you will get some brilliant ideas.

21. U is for Undivided Attention.
  • We often hear how important it is to separate our writer from our editor. We should allow our internal writer to get down on "paper" a.k.a. screen, what she wants to say. Only then should we allow our internal editor to come along with her red pen and make corrections.

    I don’t find that easy, do you? When I sit to write, my own personal editor perches on my shoulder and points out all the things I need to correct. I battle to concentrate on a first draft without doing repeated alterations along the way.
  • By blogging to a theme, I know where I want to go. Once I sit to write, it is much easier to concentrate and go flat out. Try this yourself. You can give your post your undivided attention. I know it will only take about half-an-hour max if I don’t allow myself to get distracted.

    Images can come later. Anecdotes can be added. I sometimes type in capitals ANECDOTE and keep going. Don't stop to look for the write illustration. You'll get distracted. Just write! Focus! Get down the main points. This is all good training for your longer pieces of writing. Once you've drafted the article, go through again and look for suitable images, anecdotes, or even links to other posts.

22. V is for Value.

If your reader doesn't get value out of your post, and by that I mean every post, she will not come back. Bottom line: every post must contain value. So how do you do that?
  • Picture your readers before you start. Have them in your mind, and write your post TO them. Think of the problems they may have with what you have to say and address those problems. Make your post applicable to every one of them. 
  • Write about issues of interest to you. Share your passion with your reader. Get excited. Let them see why. As you bubble over on the page, they will get caught up in your enthusiasm, and want to read on.
  • Be a perfectionist. Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Don't do that! Have a plan and stick to it. To give you another quote, Norman Vincent Peele said, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

    So aim at 100% perfection every post, and you should turn out high quality posts that will keep your readers coming back for more. 

23 W is for Word Count 
A common myth is that the ideal length of a post should be 500-600 words, or it should all fit within a screen so the reader doesn't need to scroll. That no longer makes sense as many people read on tablets or smartphones. Take a look at some of the most popular blogs, like Copyblogger or Huffington Post, and you will see far longer posts. 

     Here are a few points to consider:
  • Readers have short attention spans and are short on time. So if your blog is longer, it must also be scannable. Plenty of headers, different colored fonts and images will help them leap through the article searching for the one treasure they want to stop and unpack.
  • Keep to short posts if you are posting daily. You're not likely to be able to keep up with longer posts on a daily basis, nor will your readers. 
  • Longer posts are better for SEO and Google prefers them.
  • Posts that are longer also increase your likelihood of valuable backlinks.
  • The longer posts are most likely to be shared. According to Forbes: "It has been found that posts which contain more than 1,500 words gained 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes. In other words, the longer the post, the more it will get shared."
  • Bottom line? There is no right or wrong answer. Go with what works for you. Some posts may be longer than others. It's up to you. The important factor is the readability of your blog. Can you hold your readers' interest for the duration? Or is your longer post easy to zip through looking for the meatier bits?

Which point in this blog helps you the most? Share it in a comment below. 


26 Reason for a Writer to Blog - Part I: A - C
26 Reason for a Writer to Blog - Part II: D-G
26 Reason for a Writer to Blog - Part III: H-K
26 Reason for a Writer to Blog - Part IV: L-O
26 Reason for a Writer to Blog - Part V: P-S

SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast of South Africa with her husband and a lively Jack Russell. 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 at where she encourages writers and readers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

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.


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 where she encourages writers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

26 Reasons a Writer Should Blog - Part 4

We often here people speak of a "learning curve". 

By that we usually mean we take on a challenge which teaches us new things. 

So do writers learn anything from blogging? Once again, the answer is


Today we're going to take a look at some of the things we can learn when we blog and how they benefit us in other ways.

12.    L is for Learning.
  • You learn about your topic. During the month of April, I wrote almost every day on the topic of Africa. I have lived on this continent since the age of four, and yet I learned so much about the countries of Africa, their cultures, flora and fauna. I compiled a “Blogging Bucket List” of places I want to visit, or revisit, over the next year or two. Many people who read my blog during the April, mentioned how much they too learned about this amazing land.
  • You learn by doing research. I had to do quite a bit of research into Africa. For example, my brother and sister-in-law are currently on an epic overland adventure from Johannesburg in South Africa, up to the magical Serengeti Plains in distant Tanzania. I realized I knew nothing about Serengeti, so guess what? S is for Serengeti! And I now just wish I could have tagged along with them. 
  • You learn from what you don't know. I am currently doing this series of why writers should blog. I can think of reasons why I blog, but why do other writers blog? As I ask the question and read other writers' blogs, I learn more about the technique of blogging. 
  • You learn from other writers and make cyber friends. As you write about subjects that intrigue them, so they start visiting your blog, and if they leave comments this encourages you to pay them a return visit. In the process I learn about their passions, their home-towns, their hobbies, and many other fascinating information.

13.     M is for Multitasking. 
  • Most blog posts lend themselves to multitasking. I make a point of thinking through any post or series of posts I want to write. Does it have any purpose apart from filling a space for the day? I've already discussed how often my blog posts end up as devotional articles either on another site, or in my weekly devotional messages, Closer Walk. (Sign up via the link at the bottom of the page if you are interested.) 
  • You can share your experiences in a series format, then use it on another blog with modifications, or use them to form the skeleton of an e-book in the future. 
  • Blog posts can form a good basis for teaching topics. I intend to teach my online group for South African Christian Writers about blogging. We work on a Topic of the Week, and what more relevant than to tackle blogging for writers over a period of weeks?

14.    N is for Newsletters. 
  • Blogging opens an opportunity to start a newsletter. I had been blogging intermittently for years before I signed up for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Within the first few days, I realized I needed a way for people to sign up to follow my blog. Oh, they could follow my website through RSS, and a few did. They could sign up for my Closer Walk weekly devotions, and some did. But to actually follow my blog every time I posted? 
    • I started a simple newsletter geared only to update readers who want to know when I update the blog, and I created a sign-up form. The list started with just three names; me and two writing friends who were also doing the challenge, but it’s slowly growing. This means I have more contacts with whom to share my news in the future.
  • Newsletters are fun to produce, but they can become cumbersome and difficult to keep up with. If you are simply doing one to notify your readers of a new post, it doesn't need to be long, in fact you must honour your commitment to let them know about the latest post, and not write a full-on newsletter. You soon learn the technique of producing an attractive but simple newsletter that relates to your readers.

15.   O is for Opportunity.

  • Blogging gives you the opportunity to find out how much material you have on a topic. Periodically, I have an Ah-Hah! moment. “I could write a book about that!” But could I? Blogging gives me the opportunity to find out. How much do I actually know about the topic? How much information is available on Google or in books that I own? Will I need personal illustrations and anecdotes? Do I have enough?
  • Blogging offers the opportunity to gather information for a forthcoming project. By asking questions of my readers, I can gain further insight into the subject. So a good way to end a blog post is to ask a question. See if you can encourage interaction. I once wrote a series of articles on International English. In my final post, I asked my readers if any of them had funny stories to share. The result was another post.
  • Blogging can attract attention to your work. I have heard of writers gaining the attention of an agent or a publisher who has read their blog material and offered them the opportunity to write it up as a book or as an article.

 Do you have a topic you feel would make a book? Is there a way you could explore it through some blog articles? Does the idea excite you? Or does it make you nervous? Why? Share with us in a comment below.  


26 Reasons to blog - part 1: A - C
26 Reasons to blog - part 2: D - G
26 Reasons to blog - part 3: H - K

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 at her writing home, where she encourages writers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Sign up to receive a short devotional message (bottom right) from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

26 Reasons a Writer Should Blog - Part 3

Is it possible that writing a blog can improve your health?

By the time you have read all 26 reasons why writers need to blog, you will know the answer to this question is another


According to the experts, blogging can help you 

  • emotionally, 
  • mentally, and 
  • physically.

Let's take a closer look at that statement as we move on to our next four letters in the series.

8.       H is for Healthy Habits

  • Regular journaling is good for your health. Many psychologists and other health professionals tell how journaling helps you process traumatic and stressful events. It is a means of dealing with emotions and thoughts without having to work through another person.
  • Blogging works the same way. After all, that’s what blogging is—a Web log. It requires a commitment of time, devotion, and discipline, all healthy habits to develop in this crazy lifestyle many of us seem to follow today. 
  • Blogging keep your mind working, and many believe when we write about emotional topics, it increases the effectiveness of our immune systems*. A well-working immune system will keep you physically healthier.
  • We can also write about health topics. These would make an excellent theme for a month of posts. Following a month’s dieting habits might encourage us to be more disciplined ourselves as well as encourage others to follow our examples.
* Pennebaker, J.W. (1997). Writing about emotional experiences as a therapeutic process.
 [Electronic version]. Psychological Science, 8 (3), pp. 162-166.

9.       I is for Inspiration
  • We need to be inspired so we can create a post that will benefit others. As we write, we need to give thought to those who will read our words. Will this encourage them? Will they be inspired to read more on the topic? Will what we write improve their day? 
  • There are many ways to find inspiration for your next blog post or series, however, one that really makes sense is to look at your blog comments. Remember to ask relevant questions at the end of each post and then see what your readers come up with. If you don’t get enough helpful comments, try going to another blog that is following a similar theme. Read their questions, and then use them as a kicking-off point for your next blog or series. (Don’t copy their answers though!) 
  • A blog post should not attempt to cover a subject. After all, how could I possibly have told everything there is to know about the Serengeti National Park in one post? People have written books on that topic alone. All I wanted to achieve for that post is an article to titillate the senses of my readers. Maybe they will want to read more. Maybe they’ll get a book out of the library or spend their morning on Google. Or maybe one person somewhere in the world will be inspired to add the Serengeti to their bucket list! If you want to cover a topic, then you definitely need to turn it into a series of posts.

10.     J is for Journal

  • Your blog could become a personal journal. Until recently, I thought this was the most common purpose for a blog. But doing the A-Z challenge I became impressed with the creativity people show in choosing themes they can follow for a month, one alphabet letter at a time. 
  • A Travelblog can cover a journey. One writer was traveling across the States with her husband. She wrote a daily blog on a new place she’d seen, following the letters of the alphabet. What if there wasn’t a suitable town for that letter? She would come up with a creative title. e.g. H is for Horse Statue in City Centre. (My own suggestion as we have one in Port Elizabeth where I live.) Even as I write this, my brother and sister-in-law are preparing for an overland trip to East Africa which will take them four months. They have built a blog for the family and their friends to follow their adventures.
  • Blog a life’s journal. This could be public, or you may choose to make it a Family and Friends Only blog, where people join by invitation only. This could be done chronologically, but if you’re anywhere near my age that could take an awfully long time to write! If I were to do this, I would probably go for an A to Z theme, and choose places or events or people to write about for each letter. 
    • Imagine the surprise I had one day when I learned my 30-year-old son believed he was born in the city where his brother had been born. He had gone through his life believing that was his birthplace. His true place of birth only came out by accident! 
    • Ask yourself, how much do your children know about your life? Do they know your place of birth? Were there unusual circumstances to your birth? In today’s global society more than ever before, families are fragmented, and a Life’s Blog could be a great way to bridge the gap between the generations. 

11.     K is for Kindle or other e-books

  • Blog a Book: Nina Amir has written a book and has a website devoted to this topic. Once a year during November, at the same time as NaNoWriMo, she encourages other writers to join her in a commitment to write a complete book on their blog. I did this one year, but I didn’t prepare adequately in advance. I plan to do this again, but next time I will spend some time before kick-off choosing 26 (perhaps) chapter headings on the proposed theme. 
    • Each day I will write one chapter of the book and post it on my blog. At the end of the month, provided I have kept to schedule, I will have the draft copy of an e-book
    • The technique to convert the writing into an e-book, or even a pdf book, is straightforward. Numerous books are available to help. Just Google the topic. I did a course with Val Waldeck a couple of years ago, and I felt a real sense of achievement when the book opened beautifully on my Kindle. 
    • I have considered turning Out of Africa into an e-book, but I will have to do it in pdf format as I have used many pictures in this theme. Something to consider for future ideas. 
  • Collect books and information on blogging. Go to Amazon and you will be amazed at the e-Books available on the topic. There is just no reason for us to remain in the cyber-darkness, wishing we could build a blog.
  • Get yourself a Kindle today! If you don't have a Kindle or other e-reader, go to Amazon and download a Kindle app for free. There is one available for your PC, your laptop, most smart-phones and your tablet. 
    • Early in the days of Kindle a friend suggested to me that, although neither of us could afford to buy Kindles especially as we both live in South Africa, we should nevertheless download the app to our computers and start to collect books that came up on special or even free. I followed her advice, and when I eventually received and registered my Kindle, it immediately had all the books I had collected during the preceding year.  

Have you learned anything new today? Or is there something you would like me to cover in this series? Can you think of ways you can use your blog material in other ways? Share your ideas in a comment below. 


26 Reasons to blog - part 1: A - C
26 Reasons to blog - part 2: D - G

    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 where she encourages writers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

    Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

    26 Reasons a Writer Should Blog - Part 2

    Do you really need to blog?

    We're looking at 26 reasons why the answer to that question is a resounding


    There's nothing worse than facing a blank screen with a deadline. 

    "The post is due up in one hour's time and I have no idea what to write about!" 

    Ever been there? I have. Often. 

    Hopefully, never again. I've learned to plan in advance. Let's move on to our next four reasons for writers to blog so you can learn this too. 

    4.      D is for Decision

    • Decide on a theme for a series of blog posts. Decide how often you will post. This allows you to plan ahead. This also teaches you to look forward to what comes next in your writing journey. 
    • Decide on ways to make your posts multitaskUse your posts in other ways. For example, are you a devotional writer? I am responsible for the Friday Devotional slot on the International Christian Fiction Writers (ICFW). I also send out a devotional email, Closer Walk with God, to all who sign up for a weekly message of encouragement. After writing the series of 26 posts for the Out of Africa Blogging Challenge, I was able to produce 20 devotional messages from the contents of the blog posts in record time. These are already scheduled for both the above markets. Are you writing a novel? Decide how you can make your blog "work for you" as you explore your locations* or get to know your characters. 
    • Decide on whether you can first explore a topic via a blog. Perhaps you want to write a book or an article on the topic. By first writing a series of blog posts, you will see how much material you have, how well your ideas work out, and what potential the material has for further use.   

    5.      E is for Enthusiasm

    • Remember when writing was fun? It can be fun again. I’ll be honest, my blog have been sorely neglected. There is always something more urgent demanding my attention. Do I hear an Amen? Once you have a clear goal in mind and you've decided what you're going to write about, you will find yourself growing in enthusiasm.
    • Let your mind play with ideas. While working on the A to Z theme for of Out of Africa, I found myself constantly thinking over what I could say for the different letters. Should O be about the Ostrich or the Okavango? (Ostrich won!) P? Should that be Penguin or Port Elizabeth? (Port Elizabeth it was.) When you allow your mind to play, your regular posting will rekindle your enthusiasm for writing for the sheer joy of being able to express yourself in words.
    • Let your fingers do the talking! Forget about editing. Ignore grammar rules. Don't worry about spelling. Just get those words down. Be enthusiastic about what you want to say. After you've finished, time to call in the grammar police and the rest of the gang. Edit your work and make it fit for human consumption. 

    6.     F is for Free

    • It costs you nothing to blog apart from your time. Various sites offer you free blogging facilities. Writers on the Move is hosted on which is totally free and offers bloggers a wide variety of resources. Not only is blogging free for the writer, it is also free for the reader. 
    • You are free to choose your topic. Thinking of writing a book? Try it out by drafting some chapter summaries, one per post. How about adding some personal anecdotes? Are you planning to start a new novel? How about blogging about your characters? for example, Marion Ueckermann's character, Adam Carter from Helsinki Sunrise, is interviewed by another author, Heidi McCahan on her blog. This offered free promotion to the book to Heidi McCahan's readers*, as well as a link to Marion's own blog. 
    • Readers are free to share their thoughts. End each post with a question that encourages them to respond to what you have written. If you're planning on using the material in some other way, their input may prove invaluable. This also helps them to identify with your material.

    7.     G is for Google 

    • Google search engines start to find you when you blog regularly. They will share your material with the world. Your ranking will go up and more people will come and visit. As a writer, your name will become better known, as will your books.
    • Visitors will be drawn into other topics on your blog or website. My blog is built in such a way that every post I publish is also filed under whichever categories I want it to appear. Where blog posts tend to disappear into the archives, mine are always available to readers who look under the relevant topic. If you don't have this facility, you can add links down the side of your blog (see this site as an example).   
    • It’s easy to attract visitors to other articles on your blog through linking to articles in your archives. Use sub-headers and optimization to attract Google. (More on these topics later.) The more readers come across your name, the more interested they will become in you and your work. 

    Can you think of ways you can use your blog material in other ways? Share them in a comment below. 


    26 Reasons to blog - part 1: A - C
    * Read the interview of Adam Carter, hero of Marion Ueckermann's Helsinki Sunrise
    * Explore Finland, location of Marion Ueckermann's Helsinki Sunrise, in this blog post written for a blogging challenge.
    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 where she encourages writers, or at where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or Facebook.

    Sign up to receive a short devotional message from Shirley in your inbox once a week. 

    Authors Need to be Realistic

    By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Over the years, I’ve met many passionate writers. One brand new writer told me, “My book is going to be a best...