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Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

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Aside from procrastination and time management, one of the most common topics of conversation between me and my life coach has been blogging.

Yes, blogging. How could something this simple be the source of so much angst?

And yet it is. Most people who create blogs and update them regularly will agree on one thing–they’re an awful lot of work.

Take this blog, for instance. Most of my posts are between 500 and 800 words long, and I’ve written nearly 500 of them. If we go for a conservative average and say I post 600 words each time, that’s 300,000 words–enough for three really long novels!

And that’s not even counting the comments on other blogs, promotion, and comment replies. Oy vey! It’s enough to make one’s head spin.

Especially if you’re a writer. When your dream is to write fiction, chances are you have more ideas than time. You sacrifice many things to get those books written and (hopefully) into the public eye. If you’re going to give up three novels worth of time, creativity, and sweat for blogging, there’d better be a pay off.

So what is the pay off?

I decided at the inception of this blog not to monetize it. I wanted it to be one of the only places on the Net where people would not get hit in the face by advertising. Perhaps that was a stupid decision, but so far I have no desire to change it.

During one of my last calls with her, my life coach asked a question that made everything click into place.

“What exactly is the purpose of your blog?”

Good question. I told her that my blog is a journey. It started to be about fighting in the ring and getting published, but now that I’ve accomplished the first goal, the journey has changed. Now it’s about moving to an island paradise in 2016 and getting published. (Getting published seems to provide the consistency here.)

“I would never have known that from reading your posts,” she said.

Ouch. But I realized she was right. Ever since I fought back in November 2011 (Gleep! Where does the time go?) my blog has lost its focus. It’s become a hodgepodge of personal observations, life events, Q & As, inspiring interviews, and blog challenges. In short, it’s a bit of a mess.

Not everyone wants to be a published author. (Thank God! There’s enough competition already.) And not everyone wants to move to a tropical island in the middle of nowhere. But I honestly believe that there is something of merit in these personal journeys for almost anyone, no matter their goals or aspirations.

Starting next week, I’ll be taking you on these journeys with me. On Mondays, I’ll share how making a BIG move–literally, figuratively, and metaphorically–really is possible, one step at a time. And on Wednesdays, we’ll explore the challenges and triumphs of someone who is desperately trying to follow her calling.

Fridays will continue to be reserved for fiction until all of Lost has been posted. If there’s a huge milestone reached or other exciting personal news not directly related to my journeys, I may share them in an extra post.

I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me. One thing I can promise you–it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Do you write a blog? If so, what’s your reason for it? Have you ever become disillusioned? What kept you going?

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

26 Comments

  1. Frank Powers

    I keep finding myself reading your posts and wanting to discuss them with you.

    I’ve been blogging for 8 years, my post count is nearing 800 and that’s with me taking 2 year long breaks from it. As I’ve been exploring writing more seriously, I’ve begun to think a lot about my blog and what I want it to be.

    It started as a way to entertain friends. It quickly changed into my personal place to rant about anything and everything. No topic was off limits and I have wrote with profane pleasure about topics far and wide.

    Lately, it’s been a bit more organized as I’ve published more fictional pieces and played with writing styles.

    I’ve realized that through all the phases my blog has taken, the one constant has been that it’s a place I use to get over my own fears of sharing my thoughts publicly. And I like that but I’m at a place where I really do want to make a serious attempt at getting published. At this point, my blog is more of a hindrance than a help.

    I’m not quitting but I am going to be taking a different approach, which I was going to blog about before I read this. Now that I’ve written a book in your comments, I’m off to read a but more and then write that post.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for your comment, Frank. 800 posts–wow! That’s a lot of writing. It takes a lot of dedication to keep a blog going for eight years, even with breaks.

      I’ve certainly met some amazing, interesting people through blogging, and you are one of them. I’m excited to see where your journey takes you, and how it evolves as you work more seriously toward getting published.

      Reply
  2. Margaret Ullrich

    Thank you for the wake up call, Holli.

    You’re right – blogging does take time and I don’t want to think about the novel I might have written in the blogs’ place.

    I’ve been blogging since 2009. My first blog ‘Winnipeg is Better Than Chocolate’ is a continuation of my CKUW morning radio show ‘Better Than Chocolate’ (voted People’s Choice for Favourite Spoken Word Show in 2008). After the show ended I kept receiving news about Winnipeg events and used the blog to share them. I’ve done 2,382 posts and have had about 186,000 visitors.

    A few months ago I decided to cut back on the Winnipeg blog and may phase it out completely.

    My second blog ‘I’m Turning 60…’ has 747 posts and has had about 176,000 visitors. It is a more personal blog, as explained in this post

    http://imturning60help.blogspot.ca/2013/01/obama-death-ma-and-emeril-lagasse-by.html

    I’m still getting personal satisfaction from doing this blog. Through it I’ve met other women of a certain age. Maybe it’s a way of getting through this phase of life.

    All the best with your journeys, Holli and Frank.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Wow, Margaret…those are some pretty impressive numbers! I’d be really happy with them. Obviously both of your blogs are striking a chord with people, and that would be enough to keep me going.

      It seems they serve a personal need for you too, and that’s wonderful. I thank you for visiting this blog and being a champion of it. Whenever I think of giving up, it’s people like you who keep me going.

      Better than Chocolate–what’s not to love about that title? πŸ™‚

      Reply
    • Margaret Ullrich

      Your blog is very interesting, Holli, and I and many others enjoy reading it. So, yes, please keep it going if it fits your schedule.

      Food blogging is a fun way to connect. A friend in New Zealand has a recipe sharing page each Friday. The topic this week is Decadent Delights.

      It amazes me when I think of a Maltese recipe I had shared on the New Zealand site being seen by a woman in South Carolina, who then tried it and commented a thank you on the post. What a world we live in now!!

      The title BTC was picked by the station manager. My co-host (who is 18 years older than I am) and I didn’t have a clue about the movie with the same name. It was a little unnerving when a youngster clued us in πŸ™‚

      Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks Margaret. I really appreciate the kind words.

      I love cooking and food blogs, but I wasn’t sure I had anything new to offer in that department. There are so many great food bloggers out there!

      As for the title–whoops! Guess great minds think alike?

      Reply
  3. Tui Snider

    My blog has gone through several incarnations. In 2007, it snagged me my first steady paid writing gig, so I am forever grateful for that!

    My blog has also helped me find a few friends, creative types like me. People like you! Yay! I have not found it easy to find creative peeps offline, so I am very grateful for this, too.

    Lately, I feel the need to re-vamp my blog again. Not a huge overhaul, I just want to clarify the topics. Make it more focused. Get clear about my goals.

    On the blogging downside, long posts take time to craft. And visiting other bloggers to leave comments takes time, too.

    It’s a lot to juggle! I have to be careful or I totally lose balance.

    Except for #MondayBlogs & a few other exceptions, I generally don’t pop onto social media until after my daily writing goals are met.

    I’m beginning to think of long term blogging as more of a marathon than a sprint, y’know? This year’s A to Z challenge made me realize that shorter, scannable posts are the way to go – for me, at least. And they seem to get more comments.

    I like your idea of having a theme for each of your M-W-F posts. I dunno if blogspot has this feature, but I find that the WordPress editorial calendar plug-in is really helpful for pre-planning posts! (Although with my recent tech debacle this week – I’m beginning to suspect a voodoo curse!)

    Well, there you go – your blog tends to bring out my inner rambler!

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks, Tui. I personally adore your blog, as you know, and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s the first blog I’ve ever seen that’s dedicated to weird or offbeat travel, and it was a light in the darkness during the A to Z Challenge.

      The short posts were a relief, too, as there were so many to read and comment on at once during that Challenge. I always had the time to read yours, but I also actually WANTED to. There are a lot of blogs out there, but the interesting, well-written ones still stand out.

      As much as I try to keep my posts short, they always end up being longer than I hoped. And the Blogger format, with its extremely narrow columns, makes them look even longer. Thankfully, this doesn’t scare everyone off!

      Thanks for commenting. And boo to the voodoo curse!

      Reply
  4. Rhonda Parrish

    I have issues with my blog too, but I am very much looking forward to following you through this shift in focus on yours. Living vicariously through you seems to be my thing right now πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      That’s awesome, Rhonda! I was just thinking that I hadn’t seen you for a while–I’m glad I haven’t lost you. I really need to add your blog to my feedly account so I won’t miss your updates.

      Thanks for commenting! I’ll try to keep it interesting, especially if you’re going to live vicariously through me. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  5. Javier

    I have no blog. But I love reading yours. Looking forward to Monday!

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks, Javier! I’m so very happy that you do. At least there’s less risk of offending people if I stick to writing about my journey. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. Cat

    I started my blog as just a sort of journal for myself… I started reading other peoples blogs, and have enjoyed that, too. I guess I just use it as much to record what I am doing of a season, and to show off my animals, and garden. I need to get writing again, I have put it off soooo long. Maybe telling folks about my writing again will encourage me to do something. Maybe. πŸ™‚

    Cat

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      It worked for me, Cat. I started this blog to hold me accountable while I went after some pretty big goals. Of course there’s been setbacks along the way, but once I said publicly that I was going to start training to fight and get back to writing again, I did.

      As long as you enjoy blogging, I’d say it’s working for you. Thanks for visiting mine!

      Reply
  7. Stephanie Faris

    I’m not going to say I’m an expert, but my day job is writing blogs for marketing firms and, for the most part, 300-500 words is a better word range. Even shorter isn’t bad… Think of all the blogs you read. Do you want to read 800 words? I skim when they’re that long. Of course, if you enjoy writing long blogs, you can, but we all have pretty short attention spans these days…

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      I never mean for my blog posts to be a certain amount of words. I just write until I’m done. Hopefully when I’m sticking to the same topics all the time, I’ll have less to say!

      As for what I like reading, I don’t mind longer posts if they’re interesting and well-written. There were a few I discovered through the A to Z Challenge that I wished were longer! When I first started blogging my book, people gave me holy hell for posting short chapters. They were ready to kill me!

      Thanks for the advice and support. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. Toby Neal

    I did the A to Z one year and barely survived… That was the year I decided I’d blog once a week, rain or shine, but anything more wasn’t in line with my goals…i.e. to write lots of books.
    I discovered essay writing through blogging.I discovered I can write humor. I drew people to my writing through entertaining posts…But mostly, a blog is a social media hub. A landing spot. Where an interested agent/editor/book purchaser can go, see a bit about you, decide if you’re his or her cup o’tea.
    I recently paid big (you don’t want to know how big) bux to do a full website overhaul to match my new “image” as a successful indie author. Good luck! It went live two days before I met my awesome agent, whose first move, literally standing wtih me holding a phone, was to go to the site, surf around, and read a couple posts. All of a sudden I really knew why I’d spent so much time, money and love making my blog beautiful, exclusive in features, and re-doing all my tons of categories (everything from chicken raising to a month long travel blog) into two categories: LIFE and On Writing. Becuase really, a website and blog for a writer are about building your author platform, and anyone visiting should be clear what you are about as a person and writer.
    That said, I think your quality is evident in everything you do here and that outght to say what it needs to to the people it needs to. (BTW, I asked my agent to check you out, and if she wanted to see your query. Will let you know.)
    Well said, as always, and I look forward to your new focus.
    Toby Neal

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for commenting, Toby! I felt the same way about the A to Z, but it has completely altered my blog traffic for the better and introduced me to so many great people. I don’t think I can justify NOT doing it again!

      I’m planning to launch a new website and get this blog off Blogger this year as well. It is an extremely expensive and time-consuming project, but your experience gives me hope that it’s worth it. I did pay to have this blog professionally designed, but the designers had to work within the Blogger templates, which are limiting to say the least.

      Thanks for the kind words and the referral! I just hope she doesn’t think that Lost is the novel I’d be pitching. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  9. M Pax

    I’ve reinvented my blog several times. It seems like it periodically becomes something I don’t intend, then I must reclaim it and figure out what to do with it. So this seems very normal to me. The biggest benefit to blogging, so I’ve found, is the network you build. When you get to publishing, that network becomes very valuable.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Welcome to my blog, M Pax! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

      I’d love to know more about how your blogging network helped with your publishing journey. I’ve always been interested in that, but as most of my readers are writers, I’m not sure how that would work for me.

      Reply
  10. Steven

    Yeah, when I’m really squeezed for time blogging can seem like a real chore. I do a lot of paranormal posts because those are actually fun to write, and they give me some great ideas for future books.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      And I’m so glad you do! I love your paranormal posts. They’re great fun to read.

      Reply
  11. Michelle D. Argyle

    Great post. πŸ™‚ I look forward to your new journey here! And yes, I have a blog, as you know. It serves the purpose of a place where I can track my progress. It’s a journal, in a way, and since I have a horrible memory, it’s often very nice to go back and read posts and relive what I was going through at that time. I don’t blog to get comments or to get views or any of that. I blog because it’s an emotional fulfillment for me, giving me a place to share when I need to share outside of fiction — in a place that those things will stay and not be buried by five billion social media posts.

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for commenting, Michelle. That’s a good use for a blog. I use mine for that too in some cases. I love looking back and seeing what point I was at in my life. I’m really glad I’m blogged throughout the writer’s retreat in the Catskills and during fight camp. Good memories to have. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  12. Donelle Lacy

    It’s a great testimony to your blogging skills when google fills in the rest of the address when I start typing it. So, thanks for that. ^_^

    Can I just ride around on your shoulder and absorb all the good advice you and your life coach have been spilling lately? Yes, I’ve been disillusioned with my blog. I am right now. I’ve felt it was all over the place for a long time. It’s become a dumping ground for anything that pops into my head that I want to share. This includes video game stories/analogies, illustrator struggles, writer advice and/or encouragement, flash fiction, and a few slice-of-life experiences and news. The only thing I haven’t included is stories from my library job. (I guess, ‘what happens at the library stays at the library?’)

    How do you decide what you want in your blog? I’d like my blog to be somewhere future readers go to learn about me, things I like, views on life, experiences, and to see sketches and little extras they can’t find anywhere else. Writing advice or tips feel like an obligation, but I’m not interested in them. How does a person learn what kinds of things readers want to read on their blog?

    Reply
    • Holli Moncrieff

      Those are some tough questions, Donelle, and I’m certainly not an expert by any means. I may try my new direction for a while, get frustrated by a lack of response, and switch it up again.

      I think the only true answer is you have to write what you feel most passionate about, in a way that others can get some benefit. Otherwise, why would they keep reading it?

      I started my blog to hold myself accountable to two goals. Then, gradually, I saw its potential to be a platform for my writing once it is published. And finally, I decided I wanted to let my readers in on the journey of trying to realize one’s dreams, and all the frustrations and challenges along the way.

      Will the same people who are interested in my struggle to move to paradise and become a published writer want to read my psychological suspense and horror novels? Maybe not. But as long as I’m putting out good quality content into the world that has something to offer, I can feel good about it. I can’t really control the rest.

      I don’t think you can worry about what your readers want–it’ll drive you mad. You have to decide what you most want to talk about, and then go find your people, which takes time and effort.

      And you’re under no obligation to write about writing. There are a million writer’s blogs already. What’s unique about your personal experience? What can you add to the conversation?

      Hope this helps!

      Reply

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