If you follow my Twitter feed (it’s just over there, to the right), you might have noticed that I have another blog, YoungMarriedMom. I’ve been blogging there for almost three years, and while it has almost nothing to do with what I write in my fiction, it has been crucial in getting me to progress as a writer.
I have read my share of writing advice from big, famous writers, and have struggled to connect with a good deal of it. One line that I’ve heard over and over again is that one should write just for the sake of writing. I’ve tried this. I’ve tried to make schedules, set aside time, create prompts for myself, and so on, but none of it sticks. I can’t get myself to write for the sake of writing. I need something to write about, something to make sense of, something for my art—my craft—to bring to a higher level.
Like a lot of writers, I have ideas for characters, plot lines, structures often enough. I have notes here and there and everywhere, but for the longest time I couldn’t find the discipline to make something of them.
It wasn’t until my husband and I were expecting our first child that I finally found the oomph to get myself moving. It seemed crazy at the time. I was a few short months away from birthing and caring for a new person, and now was the time I thought I could make my dreams come true?
Parenthood does funny things to people: it makes us want to be better versions of ourselves. When you are responsible not only to yourself, but you will also be the primary example of success, happiness, health, and so on for a child, priorities can get all kinds of readjusted.
A few months into my pregnancy, I started writing a blog. A friend came up with the name (I’m no good at titles) and I called dibbs on the URL right away. I wrote a couple of posts offline to be sure I had enough fodder. I set myself a goal for how many times a week I’d post and how many words each entry would be. Then, slowly, I started posting. A few weeks in, once I found my rhythm and discovered that I could, in fact, write on a regular basis, I started sharing the site with friends and family. The site isn’t some super popular mommy blog, which is fine. It remains something in which I am only really responsible to myself.
For three years, it has been a source of personal accountability—and a major reason why I was able to finish writing a novel, edit it for almost as long as it took to write it, and begin writing another novel.
Blogging is a means of cross-training for the other areas of my professional life: writing fiction and editing. Though now some posts are mainly photos for family members who live far away from us, for the most part, I am thoughtful about my blogging. I don’t write just to get something down. I write and then go back and edit. I consider how to make a little anecdote something special, elevate a moment of an otherwise ordinary life to mean something a little more. I challenge myself every time I sit down to post, and don’t let myself hit “publish” until it’s something I’m proud of. Plus, I’ve made some new friends and gotten some encouragement on my writing along the way.
Some readers have suggested that I turn my blog into a book. Maybe that will happen someday, in a modified form. But for now, blogging is a primary mode of exercise to keep me editorially and creatively fit.