Sunday, 29 July 2018

Debbie Young Puts the Log Back into Blogging

If you want to get ahead, get a hat - I mean, a blog

We're all so used to reading and writing blogs now that it's easy to forget that they are a relatively recent phenomenon. 

Jane Perrone, writing on The Guardian's blog just 14 years ago, felt the need to explain what they were for the sake of the uninitiated:
A weblog is, literally, a "log" of the web - a diary-style site, in which the author (a "blogger") links to other web pages he or she finds interesting using entries posted in reverse chronological order.


We Sing, We Dance, We Blog...


I'd almost forgotten that blogs used to be called weblogs. When I see that word now, my instinct is to read it as "we blog" rather than "web log", as if it's part of the declension of the verb "to blog". (Iblog, youblog, heblogs, weblog ...)

Interesting, too, that Perrone defines the main purpose of a weblog as being to link to other web pages rather than to post original content, which I've always perceived as the bigger priority.

Back to the Bloginning (groan)


Stumbling across Perrone's definition set me thinking about how my own blog came into being, eight years ago. I started it at a critical time in my life: I had just handed in  my notice for my last full-time day job in order to focus on building an author career.

The purpose of my blog was then three-fold:

  • to declare my intent to be an author, on the basis that publicly committing yourself to something makes it more likely to happen
  • to make myself write something new on a regular basis
  • to start building an audience for my books when I got round to writing them
Having fun with M C Beaton
Eight years and over 500 published posts later, I've revamped the look and the layout of my blog countless times. Many a time I've counselled those new to blogging that a writer's blog is never done. No matter how much work I do on my blog, the day will never come when I can tick it off my to-do list as a fait accompli.

Whereas my blog started out as the front page and focal point of my website, it's now a subset of my now substantial author website, which has separate pages on each of my books, news about my events, reviews, videos, podcasts and other jollities. 

Reasons to be Posting


I've also changed what I post about

At the outset, it was anything and everything - I'd pick a fun idea and treat it as a writing prompt, whether or not it had anything to do with my writing career. This list demonstrates the crazy diversity of my early posts:


More recently with most of my writing energies being directed into my growing series of novels (the fifth is due at my editor's tomorrow), I've mostly kept my blog topped up by repurposing other content, such as the monthly columns I write for two local magazines, or guest posts published elsewhere. And before you ask, yes, I repost my Authors Electric posts there too.

Four novels and counting... the fifth Sophie Sayers Village Mystery will be out in September

I've been trying to keep the plate spinning and keep my blog fresh by posting weekly, ideally on a Wednesday. I chose that day for no other reason than the existence of a #writerswednesday or #ww hashtag on Twitter that made it easy to remember when to post. For the same reason, I try to make any appointments I have at 11am, so that I don't forget when they are!

Elevenses - such a great time of day!
(With Oakwood Lit Fest director Dawn Brookes)
(Photo: Angela Fitch)

The Ever-Changing Blogosphere


While my blog was evolving, the blogosphere also changed. In short, it's become saturated. Every man and his dog has a blog.(Quite a few cats have their own blogs too.. 
So many blogs to read, so little time to read them - which means it's harder to get people to read yours, no matter how good your posts, how winning your images, and how optimised your SEO.

Going Full Circle


Eight years since that first post, my declaration of intent has been fulfilled
I'm now an established author with a growing back-catalogue of novels and other books, and a busy diary of writing-related engagements. 
Opening Oakwood Lit Fest (Photo: Angela Fitch)
So I'm about to redefine my blog's purpose yet again. I'm going to take it back to basics and make it more of a writer's journal, with short posts about the various events in my writing life - talks, festivals, outings that inspire me, as well as announcements about my books and as a record of pieces I publish elsewhere. 

Although I'm just winding down to taking some time off during the school summer holidays, my diary is usually madly busy. If I write about every writing-related event in my life, I'll be posting far more often than weekly. 

Which I'm trying to view as a benefit: if I find I can't keep up with recording what I've been doing, then I'm trying to do too much (a constant weakness of mine) - and I'll take that as a sign that I should ease up for the sake of my sanity.

So in summary, my new-look blog will actually be an old-fashioned writer's diary, only in digital form - a log of my writing life.

My new objectives for my Writing Life blog will be: 
  • to provide those who enjoy reading my books with interesting insights and fun facts about the person who wrote them 
  • to help other writers achieve their own career goals by sharing what I learn along the way
  • to keep a record of events and developments in my writing life for my own interest
After all, if I don't find my blog interesting, why should anyone else? As Oscar Wilde would say, one always needs something sensational to read on the train...

To sample my author blog at first hand, visit my author website: www.authordebbieyoung.com
And please always feel free to join the conversation via the comments box!

Taking a bow at Hawkesbury Upton Lit Fest




2 comments:

Chris Longmuir said...

That's a really good idea, Debbie. I must admit my blog is lacking in attention I've neglected it dreadfully and there is always the problem of what do I write next. But keeping a diary blog is a fascinating idea.

Bill Kirton said...

Very interesting, and thought(not to mention guilt)-provoking. Debbie. Like Chris, I've added no posts to mine for ages. When I started my first one - many years ago - I was prolific, I had plenty of followers and commenters, and I presume it had a positive effect on sales (although I've never achieved the tax exile status that my wife had anticipated, or even a level much above penury), but the feeling was always that I was writing into a void, so nowadays, I just piggy-back on the pre-eminence of my fellow authors electric to get the exposure we all crave.