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Writing takes self-discipline

“Do you realise how much time you spend on the Internet?” I drew my head into my shoulders and closed down the screen. 

My husband was right. When I added it up, I must have spent several hours fiddling around with my blog (mostly looking at the visitor stats and willing them to increase), dropping in and out of Writers Abroad, looking at other writing sites and generally not achieving very much. 

I was even Googling myself to see how many mentions I got (Lorraine Mace does it too, so I’m in good company – see July’s Writing Magazine). That day was by no means exceptional. 

I have tried justifying it to myself by saying that I am doing essential research. After all, writing follows the 80/20 rule just like any other occupation: 80% of it is research and preparation and 20% is writing.  

If I am brutally honest, though, I can’t pretend that most of what I do on the Internet is research. I’m just putting off actually doing any proper work. It’s not so much writer’s block as sheer idleness. 

Does any of this sound familiar? 

The point about all this is that writing doesn’t just happen by itself. Mostly it is hard graft, often when you least feel like it. Samuel Johnson said, “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” Knowing that makes it even harder sometimes to get down to it. 

Here is my self-administered prescription, starting this very week: 

  • No more than half an hour every day on my blog
  • Ditto on Writers Abroad – try to use the time to make useful interventions
  • Spend the morning analysing magazines, speaking to editors, writing pitches and (on the odd occasion I do get a commission) writing articles 
  • Spend the afternoon on fiction. Choose a few competitions from those listed on WA, research carefully what’s required and then focus on crafting good entries
  • Use the Internet in support of the above activities and not as an activity in its own right
  • When it doesn’t flow or I’m tempted to backslide, do a writing exercise (the WA site is a good place to start for prompts)

If I stick to this medicine, I will allow myself the odd self-Google as a treat.


How To Write a Good Blog


Having ventured into the world of blogging with a certain amount of trepidation, it has become, it seems, a necessary part of a writer’s life. Here at Writers Abroad we have decided that submitting a regular blog is important - both for us as individual writers and for the site. Therefore, I thought I’d try and summarise the current thinking about the best way to write a blog. You will not be surprised to discover that like many things in the writers’ life, there is never a ‘right’ way, but here are a few tips.

Tip No 1 – Showcase

Keep in mind that your blog entry just might be read by an editor or agent who may just be tempted to take you on. A blog entry should be treated as any other published writing exercise and attention paid to detail.
However, it can be more conversational in tone than lots of other writing. Make it fun but do the usual checks and balances.

Tip No 2 – A Problem Shared

Following on from the first tip, writing a blog can help with issues surrounding your current writing projects. This makes it both relevant and can help move your writing on when things get stuck. Sometimes just writing about them sorts them out.

Tip No 3 – A Writers Friend

Don’t be afraid to write about other blogs, websites or writers that have inspired you. If they were interesting enough to attract your attention, then they will attract your readers. Make sure you link back to the original and that you leave a comment for the writer and the favour may well be returned. A couple of blogs I favour for a number of reasons are Womag Writer (a great place to find out about current markets) and Writing Forward (a place with lots of information for all kind of writing). Not forgetting those blogs created by our members - check out their pages.

Technical and Style Tips

  • Titles – should be clear and concise
  • Lists – are good and can be scanned easily by the reader
  • Links – can help but don’t overdo it
  • Images – are a good way to break up the text but keep them relevant
  • Writing– short, sharp paragraphs, with plenty of white space
  • Length – the advice is no less than 250 words and no more than 1000 (this blog is around 400 words)


When you think that the average visitor to a blog or website is estimated at 96 seconds, it’s not long to get yourself noticed. But blogging is a good exercise and if done on a regular basis will provide a solid platform for marketing your work.

So Blog On!


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