Posted in Writing

Putting the Log Back into Blogging

This post was originally written for the Authors Electric collective blog in July.

photo of Debbie in hat on bookstall
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…

Please always feel free to join the conversation via the comments box!

Taking a bow at Hawkesbury Upton Lit Fest


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

4 thoughts on “Putting the Log Back into Blogging

  1. Good for thought here – though I am not established or known or giving talks and interviews, a stronger link to ‘my books’ might be a good move. I wonder if my book reviews should also integrate into the blog? Waiting for the revised website to decide.

    1. I think that’s a good idea, Clare. Your book reviews are always perceptive and thoughtful, and your readings of other writers subtly demonstrates the sensitivity and intellect of your own writing. Plus it’s a lot easier to manage if you have everything all in one place! Looking forward to seeing your new revised website.

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