Why the Blog?
I’ll be honest with y’all, it is 4 in the morning on Friday as I’m working on this. I didn’t forget about the blog or anything, just been working overtime to get prepped for the Siege Tactics launch as well as moving my Mystery Project to the next phase. Don’t worry, I didn’t get up for this, I’ve apparently just inherited a Hayes family curse that makes me wake-up earlier and earlier every year. Always thought Dad woke up at this time for work, turns out it’s some sort of Teen Wolf-style thing that kicks in when we hit our 30s. None of that is especially relevant to the blog today, but we’re keeping this one loose.
Blogs themselves are an interesting artifact. They were once a place to tell people our thoughts, experiences, impressions of new art; basically, all the shit everyone now does on social media. And with the rise of social media, the blog has languished. Ones that were huge and famous have petered out or transitioned to other media, such as Jenny Lawson’s amazing foray into non-fiction. Fewer and fewer new internet content creators even bother to start them, most opting for newer tools like streaming when they want to speak directly to their audience.
Yet, in spite of all that, I’ve kept mine alive. More than that, I’ve kept up the weekly output for it, years of constant content with only a sprinkling of guest posts. With every passing year, I see a question popping up from other authors with growing frequency: Why the blog? Does it bring in more views? Does it help with launches somehow? There’s a tendency to assume that if a person who is seeing success in their field does something, that must be a smart thing to do, so let me go ahead and take a moment to cut away that notion.
If you’re following me to learn about being an author, then you should probably know that, as of this writing, blogs are a poor use of your time. You’re better off putting that energy into stories or books. Even when I was running a serial, the blog was the least clicked section of the site, and now that the serial has ended those numbers are a fraction of where they were. Stories will get you far more eyes on your content. Blogs aren’t something I do because they help my career in any meaningful way.
The truth is, I’ve asked myself the same question once or twice, why the blog? I’ve seen so many fall away, or slow their output, yet never have I seriously considered taking mine back a few steps. Not because it gets me views or bumps sales or anything like that.
Why the blog? Because this is the only time I get to really talk to you all in my own voice. Characters, and I cannot say this loudly enough, characters in a book do not represent the thoughts and feelings of the person writing them. Those are unique and specific to the character in question, one person would never be varied enough to encompass all those different outlooks.
But here? Here, it’s just me. Except when it’s the Thunder Pear Publishing offices, or some snippets of a lost TV special, and even then that’s still pretty clearly me. That might not seem like much, compared to weaving big tales of tremendous stakes and earth-shaking battles, yet over the years I’ve found it pretty grounding. Amidst working on those gigantic scenes, it’s been nice to come back and talk about shows I like or pass along some of the many lessons I’ve learned through failures.
For those of you who want to be writers and are successful, you need to be ready for changing stakes. In your early career, there are essentially no expectations. No one has an impression of you formed, so they’ll read your work completely fresh. As books pile up, however, more and more people will be following the releases. The more you succeed, the greater the pressure becomes to deliver again, and again. I’ve already talked about how lucky I was that my second book flopped financially, getting me okay with failure, and I can still feel that pressure with every project.
That’s not a bad thing, mind you. Your readers holding your work in high esteem, expecting you to write well because you’ve been writing well, is absolutely something you should shoot for. However, as that pressure mounts, I’d also counsel you to keep some outlets that are just for you. Maybe you can write dirty limericks on napkins, or short stories in a whole other genre under a pseudonym. A place where the stakes will always be low, and you can create something without the pressure of expectations. As for me, I write advice and comedy blogs.
Next year, I’m going to be releasing a collection of some of these blogs in book form, most predominantly the book-advice ones. Now I realize that normally precipitates an author either transitioning that aspect of their business purely to ebook or ending it entirely, so I wanted to assure you all that won’t be happening. I’ve just written a lot about the business of publishing and being an author over the years, so like SP before, I thought an ebook version would be easier for folks.
Rest assured though, even once that’s out, the ridiculous, hopefully helpful, and downright bizarre section that is the Drew Hayes Blog will continue going strong. I’ve even got some ideas for new features once we get into 2019. Some will be fun, some will be weird, and some might even be the seeds of brand-new projects. Which is exactly as it should be, by my estimations.
Why the blog? Because as much as I love writing my stories, I’m not ready to give up my direct line of communication with readers, and don’t imagine I will be for years to come.