Amy Birchall / Reblog

Want to be a better writer? Be a better blogger.

Amy Birchall recently gave a talk about blogging as part of our National Youth Week forum. But her message is pertinent to all of our readers and members. She’s presenting a series about blogging for writers on her own blog, which can be found here — it’s a fantastic read. She’s allowed us to glean her first post in the series: on getting your writing career started.

For the three of you who didn’t hear the news (I was so excited that I told most people who would listen), last week I presented a class on blogging and how it can make you a better writer.

I made a fancy Prezi, people turned up, and the feedback was positive. Success! I’ve turned what I spoke about into a series of blog posts, which I’ll be posting over the next few weeks.

First up, why blogging is important and how it can get your writing career started. 

I started blogging when I was at uni because I wanted an edge over the three million other journalism graduates who would be applying for the same jobs I wanted. Blogging was easier than catching the bus to Sydney twice a week to intern at the publications I really wanted to write for.

I also wanted to hone my writing skills and show other people (editors) what I was capable of doing. It worked. I landed my first writing job partly because of putting my work online, which I’ve written about before.

But why should you blog? I think this quote from Australian blogger and former Cosmo editor Sarah Wilson sums it up well:

“Hustle for gigs, but make sure you have a portfolio of writing to show once you get an interview. Or a blog. A blog is mandatory, really. If I was starting out now I’d be blogging myself crazy. It’s good writing practice. But it’s a forum for garnering a following. A following has leverage.”

If you want to write for magazines, remember that editors read student blogs when looking for new writers.

If you want a book deal, know that publishers often expect you to have a large online audience (it’s lower risk).

If you want to crowd fund a writing project, you’ll need a few online supporters who trust you and are willing to part with their cash in exchange for stuff you make.

One person who has used blogging to help launch his writing career is this guy, Austin Kleon. He’s an artist and writer who creates newspaper blackout poems (clever poems created by blacking out words in newspaper articles).

A few years ago, he started posting these online, developed a large following and was then offered a book deal. He’s now published two books, continues to blog and has a lot to say about creativity and art.

We’ll look at Austin a few times in this series, but he’s relevant today because of this quote:

“I’ve never had a writing or a poem in a lit journal, and I’ve never had a gallery show. Nothing good that’s come from my career has come from anywhere other than my website.

Blog to become a better writer, show people what you can do and to share your work with as many people as possible. If you’re good (and consistent!), you never know what opportunities will come your way. Just ask Austin.

Recommended reading:

So, you’d like to be a better writer, yeah? Sarah Wilson

Posts on blogging, Austin Kleon

{Writer Interview} Rachel Hills: Writer, Speaker, Blogger, Chasing Aphrodite

(Featured image: Austin Kleon’s advice for writers.)

One thought on “Want to be a better writer? Be a better blogger.

  1. While being a journalist is definitely not on my list of ‘to dos’, and my poetry journey (yuck!) has followed a more traditional route than that of Austin, it was through seeking out blogs that publish interesting poetry and commenting on them that I ‘met’ the person with whom I am now editing a book. We have never met in person, although I will be doing that later this year.

    There is also the simple joy of posting what I feel like, and taking over the means of production, distribution and exchange.

    Thanks for this Amy.

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