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Should aspiring writers blog?

I keep running across blog posts here and there that say aspiring writers shouldn’t blog. Hmm.

I didn’t start blogging so I could feel like a real author. 

It wasn’t a decision I made on a whim. I thought about it and made sure it was something I’d be committed to. And that I wanted to do.

Some say it’s a waste of time. I should be focused on writing. Well, I am focused on writing and the need to keep growing as a writer. Blogging never comes before my writing.

I blog for several reasons:

  1. To have a web presence.
  2. To support authors and help promote friends who are published.
  3. To have this part figured out before I am published.
  4. To find a community.

And out of all the reasons I started blogging, one reason has become my biggest defense.

Community.

It’s the rare author whose blog puts them on the best seller list. It is the writing/story that sells books.

So blog because you want to. And for the right reasons (not because you think it will get you published.) And never let social media take up more of your time than it should.

And don’t feel like you have to blog if you don’t want to. It’s a personal decision.

Why do you blog? And what have you gotten out of it? Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t be?

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#imaDUFF, blogging, and honesty

#imaDUFF

Kody Keplinger’s THE DUFF was released. And to help promote it both Kody and her agent J. Volpe were encouraging people on Twitter to share their DUFF stories. A time when you felt excluded. I shared about a time when I wore what I considered awesome sneakers to school in 7th grade. I caught a couple girls whispering and laughing (and I could just tell they were at my sneakers) and I never wore the sneakers again. Clearly, I was not the fashionista of the family.

Blogging

Also the blogging trifecta of Elana, Jen, and Alex have been blogging about blogging all week. As in how to grow your followers – what to blog about, commenting, and following. The whole shebang.

On the topic of followers, there are so many blog contests going on that I’ve become numb to them. Ever since BEA there have been so many arc giveaways I can’t count them. And now it’s critiques. And gift cards. I’m not complaining. I’ve won several books – in fact I won an arc of THE DUFF and read it over the summer. (A great read!)Contests are great, they are a way of paying it forward and giving back.

Sometimes though, I feel like contests are a manipulation to get more followers. I’ll click away if I’m asked to do like ten million things. I’ll follow, I’ll comment, and I’ll tweet. Once in a while I’ll blog about a contest. That’s my limit. Because beyond that – contests can take up a lot of time. Time I don’t have.

Honesty

Sometimes I feel like a DUFF in the writing world. Whether it’s blogging or twitter. I have a feeling even agented and published writers feel that way because there is always the next hump to get over. The next circle of bloggers or writers to get chummy with.

But then I remind myself that the writing world is not middle school. (Thank God!) And bloggers, industry professionals, and writers are some of the most kindest, giving, encouraging people I know.

And then I remind myself that the single most important thing in getting an agent, selling a book, and having a writing career is about the writing.  And writing a compelling story!  

So my advice? Figure out the core emotional truths about yourself and inject that kind of honesty into your writing. (I’ll probably need a therapist.)

Do you ever feel like a duff in the blogging/writing/twitter world? Don’t worry about it – get back to your writing!

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Writeoncon! Rockon! (A thanks and my personal highlights)

Humongous thanks and a big basketful of confetti and a time slot on the Morning Show and a life time supply of chocolate for the founders of WriteonCon! Jamie Harrington, Elana Johnson, Casey McCormick, Shannon Messenger, Lisa and Laura Roecker, and Jennifer Stayrook. Find out more about them here. Seriously, this website will become the new go-to for writers. Thank you for all your hard work behind the scenes.

Also, a huge thanks to all the editors and agents who volunteered their time to present! Find out more about them here. And thank you to the authors/writers who presented!

Phew! I had to get that off my chest.

Reasons I loved WriteonCon:

  • I could “attend” all the workshops and didn’t have to choose!
  • I wore my jammies and didn’t have to put on any make up.
  • Hopefully, the material will be online forever, instead of just on some handouts or scribbled notes.
  • The organizers did a super job making sure there was something for everyone! And I loved that.
  • Um, I didn’t have to pay? Yeah, that’s a good one.

A few of my personal favorite moments and take aways: (this is according to what I write and what I’m interested in – all the presentations were awesome. But I just don’t write picture books (Not yet) or illustrate (Never).

  • The vlog of Myths and Misconceptions by Holly Root, Molly O’Neil, and Marth Mihalick. Must see.
  • The live chat with Suzie Townsend.
  • Writing a query letter with Jodi Meadows.
  • Query crits with Joanna Volpe.
  • Plot and pacing with Weronika Janczuk (I was in plotting heaven!) (And yes, I had to check about four times to make sure I spelled her name right.)
  • Vlog by Lindsey Leavitt. (Hilarious!)
  • Writing dialogue with Tom Leveen.
  • An Editor’s process of choosing with Martha Mihalick.
  • Vlog with Mary Kole on Avoiding Stereotypical Characters.
  • Author branding with Shelli Johannes Wells
  • First Five Pages with Kathleen Ortiz (lots to be learned).
  • Live workshop with Regina Brooks.
  • Any of the live chats or panels with agents and editors. Especially if you are researching agents to query.

As you can tell and see through twitter and blogs, Writeoncon totally rocked the blogosphere.

Which workshop or presentation did you enjoy? What stayed with you? (Some comments and topics stayed with me but that’s for another time.)

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To twitter or not to twitter?

Tough question.

It’s almost like asking someone if they like chocolate cake. Some people love it. Some people don’t. And some just say, “Eh.”

Reasons I joined Twitter:

  • Curiosity – (I had to see what all the fuss was about.)
  • I’d rather learn it and develop followers as an unpublished writer.
  • Follow agents and get a feel for their personality. (Research baby.)
  • Connect with other writers.
  • To tweet about contest and get more points.

I went into it the same way I did blogging. I had good reasons.

Why I’m glad I joined Twitter:

  • It’s been so cool to connect with blogging friends. Blogging is like waving from across a crowded room. Twitter is like having coffee by the pool early in the morning.
  • It’s been great to encourage other writers and promote other writers.
  • It’s been fun experimenting with voice and humor.
  • It hasn’t been a time suck. I check in. Read. Post. And leave.
  • I’ve run across great retweeted blog posts.

Do I understand everything about Twitter?  Heck no. I finally understand hashtags. I know how to block spammers. Baby steps.

My biggest frustration: For the life of me, I can’t figure out how to get a twitter button to show up on my sidebar. (But that dips into my blog deficiencies and this is about Twitter.)

Final words:  Social media comes second. Writing a fantastic book comes first!

What are your hesitations or frustrations about Twitter?

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Navigating social media – the right way!

The first time I went to the NESCBWI conference I felt like a total dork.

I hadn’t started blogging, so I didn’t have any blogging friends to meet. My current critique groups hadn’t formed, so I didn’t have them to meet, even though they were there. I knew one person somewhat well and was just thankful she let me sit with her at lunch. But I survived.

And this year it was so much better. I knew people. And I got to know even more. I’ve never felt so connected with other writers and it truly makes me appreciate all of them. Writers truly are a group of very giving people.

So many conference goers have blogged about the NESCBWI conference. They’ve included quotes and some sage advice. I have to be honest. There were too many good quotes for me to quote. This would be a 5,000 word post. Or longer!

Today, I want to focus on one workshop. It was all about social media tips and techniques for using Twitter, Facebook, blogs…etc.

Mitali Perkins and Deborah Sloan co-taught the workshop. They knew what they were talking about. So if you’re confused about Twitter or not sure how to use it, or if you’ve crossed Facebook off your list – think again!

Here is the link to Mitali’s blog where she has made accessible the hand outs from the workshop. And she’s included a bunch of other helpful links. Check it out.

Thanks Mitalie and Deborah for sharing your wisdom!

To my readers, how do you feel about Twitter? Facebook? What are your questions about social media? (not that I can answer them)

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