Ali-swinging-from-bars(Photo  of me is thanks to my fantastic father-in-law!)

For a couple of years now, I’ve been caught between two different worlds.

There’s the blogging world. Your world. The world where I write these posts, and read other people’s work, and make a living.

Then there’s the writing world. The world of my MA and my workshop group. The world of fiction, of a story that I’ve worked on for two years.

At times, I’ve wondered who I really am.

I’ve looked at other bloggers and I’ve felt like a failure – for not posting more, for not focusing solidly on my business, for spending a substantial chunk of time writing fiction which, so far, less than a dozen people have ever read.

I’ve looked at other writers and I’ve felt like a failure – for spending so much time writing content that doesn’t challenge me much, for writing for money, not for posterity. For all the times when I haven’t written from the heart.

Yet a few of the people I know straddle two worlds with me – Lorna, Pam, Leanne and Nick amongst them.

And even though it’s been tough at times, even though I seriously considered not starting Aliventures until I’d finished my novel, I’m now glad to be a hybrid child of two worlds.

Here’s why.

Writers Should Blog

In December 1998, I turned fourteen.

Back then, I dreamt of one day being a “writer” and having a book published. Of course there were opportunities to write online (two years later, I started playing an online text game; four years later, I started my first blog) but “writer” still meant novels or non-fiction books which were on the shelves in real physical stores.

It would be another three years before I bought my first books from Amazon. “Research” meant going to libraries. Google didn’t yet exist.

But the world was already changing, irreversibly. I was reading fan fiction and taking part in chat rooms. I was soon to get my first email address.

Today, the world is very different. Today’s fourteen-year-olds have grown up with the internet – with broadband and email and Facebook.

Tomorrow’s readers are in this online world. And the authors who’re blogging – the ones with thousands of fans and followers – are the ones who’ll do well.

A blog gives you a platform. It gives you instant access to readers, without having to get an agent, a publisher, a book deal, a great spot in Borders or Waterstones.

There are a host of other advantages too, which I’ll be writing about in other posts – like getting comfortable with marketing yourself, and getting into a regular writing practice. For me, though, the most crucial thing is building an audience and reaching your readers directly. No barriers, no intermediaries.

Except …

Some bloggers take that as an excuse to just fling their words at the screen, press publish, and move on. Which isn’t good for them or for their readers. Because…

Bloggers Should Write

Some bloggers don’t really write. They just type.

I’m sure there’s been times when I’ve been guilty of the latter. It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing posts as “content” – something to tap out fast in order to increase a bunch of statistics. More page hits. More comments. More readers.

But you know that bloggers who carry on like that won’t succeed. The blogs that you love aren’t the ones which churn out half-arsed content – they’re the ones where the words grab you and don’t let you go.

On Wednesday, I was listening to some of the awesome back catalogue of interviews on BlogCastFM, and J.D. Roth made the point that, actually, good writing matters. You’ll get and keep readers through the strength of your writing.

I think this is something which doesn’t always get sufficient attention in the blogosphere. When I wrote The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing, I aimed to plug a gap in blogging advice: there’s lots of great tips about strategy and technicalities, but not much on how to structure, draft, edit and hone a great blog post.

If you’re a blogger, you are a writer. Your words are being read by dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of people. Remember that – and respect it.

Upcoming Birthday Sale – ooh!

Newsletter readers already know about this (you’re not on my newsletter list? Sign up in the sidebar – the big grey box).

It’s my birthday on 12th December! Yay! In celebration, from 6th – 11th December, you can get any (or indeed, all) of my three products at half price:

  • The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing (an ebook aimed at bloggers who want to write more easily and powerfully) – usually $29, will be $14.50
  • The Staff Blogging Course (a self-study course aimed at writers who want to make money from freelance blogging) – usually $19, will be $9.50
  • Regain Your Balance (not just for writers – an ebook on getting your balance back when life’s knocked you off-course) – usually $19, will be $9.50

All the money that I make during the sale will go to Divya Shanthi, a small charity in India which my family and my church support.

I’ll be posting all the details on Monday 6th, so stay tuned… (you might want to get on my newsletter list so I can send you an email to let you know when it’s live).