How Blogs Can Help New Writers


A couple weeks ago I wrote about Jennifer Weiner’s blog. Today I want to go in a totally different direction and talk about a blog called “Anything for Material: This Writer’s Life” by Julie Ackerman, who is currently writing her first novel. She hasn’t been blogging for all that long–just since February of this year–but reading her blog has been fascinating for me as a writer. Especially as a writer who is intimidated by the novel form.

Julie left a high paying job as an attorney to stay home and write a novel. This fact completely blows me away, even though a year ago I quit a great job to stay home and be a freelance writer myself. I write articles and get paid for it. She’s writing a NOVEL and is willing to put herself out there and get it published. I realize that hundreds of writers do the same thing every day, but that doesn’t–for me–discount her bravery and courage in any way.

Julie uses her blog, it seems to me, almost as support for herself as a writer. She addresses the challenges she faces in writing her novel on her blog, and you can actually watch her work through a hurdle as she blogs. Julie writes a great deal about her process. She was inspired by Julie Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way,” and often utilizes some spiritual tools to help discipline herself. She speaks frequently of her “internal editor” and how hard she has to work to ignore that voice and plunge forward anyway. One of my favorite posts of hers is titled, “Creator Vs. Editor: The Smackdown” and she starts it like this:

Today my novelist friend said writing a book was like raising a child, because just when you learn how to handle a 10 month old, you have to learn how to handle an 11 month old, and just when you figure out one aspect of novel writing, a new challenge appears.

This has certainly been true for me. In writing my first draft, I edited what I had written the day before, then wrote at least 1,000 new words. But since finishing the draft, I’ve struggled to create reasonable daily goals for editing, and without them find it hard to feel satisfied, know when to quit for the day or to measure my progress. Also vexing is learning how to both create new work and edit existing work, tasks that use different parts of your brain and require different kinds of focus and energy.

The post goes on to talk about the different time of day her creator prefers, and how much she hates and resists the editing process. As all writers know, the editing can be the most critical step (my husband used to say to new writers when they read at the open readings we hosted, “Tell me about you editing process.” To which they universally replied, “Editing process?”). Watching Julie learn to trust herself as both a writer and an editor is the key strength of her blog.

I often say to my writing friends that you are shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t blog. For me, blogging has not only been a rewarding way to learn about myself and my writing, but it’s actually the place I found my voice. And it sure doesn’t hurt that more people read my blog in an hour now than read my entire collection of published poems–ever.

Julie’s blog is the perfect case in point of how writers can use blogs to improve their writing, and support themselves through the process. I find her blog deeply inspiring as I just now begin to contemplate putting together my own book. If you check it out, I’m sure you’ll be inspired too!

7 thoughts on “How Blogs Can Help New Writers

  1. As Julie’s mom, I appreciate your point of view. Julie puts her whole self into what interests her. I enjoy reading her blog and especially liked her poem about her husband and her. I love to read and keep a dream journal which energizes me. Looking forward to reading more of your work!

  2. Julie is a woman of great courage and compassion. She is willing to allow others to get to know her. It is a joy to see her grow and mature as a writer and a young woman.

  3. What I admire about her most is her fearlessness about life. I think it takes great courage to make such drastic changes in your life. Only a highly unusual person does this. So I know she’ll publish her novel and I can’t wait to read it!

  4. I look forward to reading Julie’s posts to learn about her super progress on the novel and of course to follow what is going on in my friend’s life! Her insights always make me smile and sometimes even chuckle! Julie is an inspiration to me and I have sent her posts on to others for inspiration, as well!

  5. It’s great to hear my friend and fellow novelist get some attention for her blog. I am also writing a novel, and whenever I feel like throwing in the towel, I got to Julie’s blog. (I’ve got it on my bookmarks bar at the top of my screen). We are part of a group that works with the Artist’s Way. This book talks all about synchronicities — seeming coincidences where it seems like the universe is pointing right at you. Meeting Julie has been one great constellation of synchronicities for me. The brightest one is that she is doing just what I’m doing, but is further down a similar path, and always seems to point to what’s coming next. Thanks Julie, for showing up for yourself, and for us all.

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