Karen Andrews is an award winning short story writer coming up to the second year anniversary of her blog www.miscmum.com. Her first book, a children’s picture book called Surprise!, will be released in Australia in October. Further details can be found at www.miscpress.com.au
I recently spoke at a writers’ festival about the potential confluence of my blogging ‘world’ with my writing ‘world’ as the release of my book looms. There I posited the benefits this might entail; how one might help the other in terms of marketing and exposure.
As I thought about what I wanted to say that day, it occurred to me just what a difference blogging has made to my life. I don’t think I’m alone, either. Wherever I turn these days it seems like every blogger I read or admire is coming out with a book. I wondered, surely this is no coincidence? What is it that bloggers are doing to be so proactive and productive? What can we learn from their achievements?
For me, it boils down to one thing:
It’s about finding your voice…
I am what is often described as a ‘personal blogger’ (some might say ‘mommy blogger’). I suppose if I was to label myself, either term would be acceptable, but my point is no matter what field you specialise in, blogging is a fantastic medium for experimentation. Through words, video, and photographs one can truly find a means of expression that they’re comfortable with and communicate vividly through. I get so pleased for people who discover their voices; say what they’ve always wanted to say and mine their life’s experiences to tell wonderful, funny, poignant stories. For some, their voice becomes immediately recognisable. And famous. Perhaps profitable, if that’s important to you.
The truth is, once you’ve found your voice, a whole lot of the blogging questions which you inevitably face are easily answered. Clarity lets you say ‘no’ as much as ‘yes’, depending on the circumstances. It lets you focus on what’s most important and for me that’s the writing process itself.
…but finding your voice isn’t always easy
It is, however, a process.
You might write a blog which only grabs a handful of comments per post – if that. You might feel you’re languishing in undeserved anonymity. You might wonder why aren’t your words more powerful? More popular? Why don’t you have as many subscribers as this or that person?
I can’t solve any jealousy issues you might have (and I think we’ve all had them from time to time, if we’re honest) because that kind of external validation has nothing to do with the place where your passions and motivations are rooted inside. And if your validations and motivations are connected, then perhaps you’re a different kind of writer than I am. For example, I often write about my children. As I see writing about my children as a celebratory act of their lives, any response I get back from readers – good or bad – doesn’t shake the integrity I have each time I sit down and think of what I want to say.
Your voice doesn’t have to be likeable to everyone. It only matters that you’re happy with it.
It also doesn’t mean that everything automatically falls into place every time you sit down at your keyboard; that words will spill out effortlessly. Writing, as many people quickly discover, can be a hard slog. But it helps if the basics are there.
Cultivating your unique voice may take years, but eventually you will come to a point when you stand back from what you’ve achieved, from modest beginnings, be proud, and turn towards the future.
The rewards are worth it.