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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Writing Life: Why Reading Other Writers’ Blogs is Important


There are many things I do as an independent writer and publisher that might not, on face value, appear to be important. Reading the blogs of other writers is probably one of them, and yet, it is important. Most of you know that writing is an isolated activity. For me, it’s because I work better in a relatively uninterrupted environment—and I say relatively, because I like to work out near the kitchen where I can see through to the lounge room, and keep tabs on my kids, and on what’s going on in the house. I also write facing a sliding door, which gives me a great view of the walking path and open parkland outside, as well as letting me shift focal lengths by looking up and out the window.
Both these things help me feel less isolated, less cut off from the rest of the world, and I find that important. However, just because I don’t feel isolated doesn’t mean I’m not. I’ve taken to turning off social media when I work, as well as the television, and I prefer the phone to stay quiet, too. I also don’t seek out human company, because I’m so busy focussing on getting this crazy business off the ground.
All this means that, for me, writing, is an isolated activity—which brings me back to why reading the blogs of other writers is important, and particularly the blogs of writers who are independently publishing, who have been in the business longer, and who are successful.
Every writer’s path is different, and every writer needs to find their own way. We might do this alone, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it blind. Learning from the experiences shared by others is important. Well, you might say, if it’s so important, why don’t I do this in person?
There are a number of reasons for that, but the main one is this: When I started this process, I was one of the few writers turning away from the traditional path in Australia, and certainly the only one I knew of in my area. Going to a major convention showed me that most other writers did not find what I was doing acceptable, and I did not really feel welcome as a result. While that was some years ago, now, that feeling of not being welcome, or acceptable, has remained.
This is despite the fact that the landscape of Australian publishing is changing. Looking around me, now, I can see quite a few other Australian writers taking this path, and some of them keep me good company on social media, but I am not social, and that early experience coupled with the fact I’m still building my career and am not making a liveable wage just yet, has made me wary of any closer contact.
This self-imposed distance makes following the blogs of more experienced and successful writers important. It also gives me a quiet space in which to assess what I’ve read, and decide if it’s something I should be trying for my own work. Too many times, we think we need to run something past another writer or family member, for approval, when in reality we are the only ones who can make the decision, and certainly the only ones who will have to bear the consequences of carrying that decision through.
Finally, I should add that most of the writers whose blogs I follow, and certainly all the ones operating at the level of success I’m working towards, are overseas. I don’t know of any in Australia who are making their way solely by their independently published work. Further, all the platforms that make earning a living from my writing possible are also overseas, meaning that listening to writers familiar with the way publishing operates in those areas is vital.
This business is a learning curve. The minute you think there’s nothing new you should know about, or that something doesn’t apply to you because of where you are or the genre you write, that’s the minute you miss something that could make the difference between success and failure. Like any other craftsman, you are responsible for your own success, and, like any other craftsman, you are not alone. You, too, can learn from the masters in your craft, no matter where they are, especially if they are on line and sharing what they’ve learnt.
Writing might be a solitary activity, but there are degrees of isolation, and you don’t need to be cut off from the others in your field. Even if you can’t travel, or are uncomfortable with people, there are ways of learning to improve your craft, and to discover the changes that affect the marketplace in which you work. More importantly, by reading about the experiences of other writers, and the challenges they face, you learn of potential pitfalls and ways to deal with them. Most importantly, you learn that, while you might be isolated, you are not alone.

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