Blogging is a valuable platform for obvious reasons. For writers it provides a place to have their work read and critiqued. It’s a way to get your thoughts into the public eye, it’s good writing practice, it’s a publishing house-free way to share ideas and information instantaneously. And on top of all of that the blogging community is the best group of people in the world. Bloggers support each other in a way that no other online community does. New bloggers are welcomed, their links are shared and helpful support is always provided to those who ask for it and quite often to those who don’t. As a new blogger, I could not be more appreciative.
But it’s not all there is.
The most valuable piece of advice that I’ve gotten as a writer is also the most simple. In order to be a good writer, in order to improve and grow and eventually be good enough to be published, you have to write. It’s too simple, really. When you tell someone looking for writing advice to write every day they tend to say,
“Well obviously, yes. What else?”
But who among us actually write every day? If you do, good for you. I’m impressed. But too often, ‘thinking about writing’ takes the place of actually writing. I find myself thinking about writing all the time. If thinking about how good of a writer I’m going to be someday made people good writers, I’d be busting out Hemingway-esque short stories left and right.
But I am most definitely not. It’s an ongoing process.
In that sense, blogging is great, right? When people are watching we write more often, giving us practice and feedback.
But instead of this practice lighting a fire under my fiction fingers, it tends to take the place of any fiction writing that I might have done. I’ve started spending time that I would spend working on a short story instead writing a post for this site.
And that’s great! I love the connections that I have found on here and writing blog posts is a whole new kind of writing; it challenges me every day. But it is not fiction.
A fiction writer must remember that blog posts or opinion articles or online content writing are not the end game for us. Although internet writing is accessible and instantly rewarding; for fiction writers it is not why we are here.
A fiction writer is someone who is called to be an inventor. Someone who thrives on the creation of worlds and the crafting of characters. Someone for whom the “real world” will never quite cut it.
So why do we try and squeeze ourselves into shoes made for journalists? Or nonfiction writers? We do it because it’s there. Because writing online gives us practice, a chance at a readership and a warm fuzzy feeling.
But it doesn’t make us fiction writers. The absolute, set in stone, only way to become a successful writer of fictions is to write fiction. Every day. Blogging and nonfiction writing are amazing and have their place but they are not training for the writing of fiction.
As fiction writers or as writers of any kind we should challenge ourselves to write within our genres a few times per week. By all means, keep writing other things too, keep challenging yourself, but don’t forget what you’re working toward. If you want to be an ice skater you’ve got to eventually strap on skates and step onto the ice. If you want to be a fiction writer, you’ve got to start making stuff up.