How the Internet Changed My Writing

Presumably, if you're reading this, you're a writer who uses the Internet. Writing about the net on my blog might be a bit meta, and a bit dumb, but it's something that's been on my mind a lot recently.

So, here's a blog post (the first in a while - I know) about how the Internet changed my writing.

This Blog

I started this site for a couple of reasons: firstly, to have somewhere to call 'home' online, to shout out to the world and to store my own thoughts. I dabbled with LiveJournal in uni and had a different (now defunct) Blogspot site about books while I was in Japan, but this site - this one - was always different. This represented my Serious Writing and my forays into being a Serious Author. It started, as I've pointed out before, with a post all about how terrifying it was so tell people you're a writer (The Shame of Writing?) That post was put up in March 2012 (bloody hell, has it been that long?) In a satisfyingly prophetic way, it included the line:

This blog is going to follow me, I hope, and chart the journey from being shy and a little embarrassed about my book to getting it out and published.
Well, it's done that, and then some. Oh, it's been redesigned, and it's gone weeks between posts, but it's grown into something I really care about and am proud of. It has my stories on it, and it has had other people's stories on it (a huge privilege). It has interviews with other writers and links to people and projects I care about. I think the real joy has been seeing how flexible this space can be. I write about writing, and about books, and I run competitions, and I just let it be - a space that's mine that represents a small part of who I am.

This blog been hugely instrumental in bringing Eren to life. I started blogging so agents and editors would be able to find me - so that if my name came up, and they wanted to know more, it would be my decision what they found. From there, my writing life has expanded. Knowing other writers - like those in We Are One Four, the Fearless Fifteeners, or just stand alone friendships - has changed my universe, helping me learn, helping me improve, and connecting me with some of the most creative and dedicated people I know.

If you don't blog, I would really encourage you to try it out. Get involved with other writers' blogs - comment, share their posts, think about what they say. Probably because we all love to procrastinate so much, the online writer community seems endless and eternal and entirely mad.

Twitter et al

Social media. It's a bit of a headache and a bit of fun, all rolled up into something far more confusing. I have Facebook, and a (much neglected) Tumblr, and even a (deservedly neglected) G+, but Twitter has easily surpassed everything else in terms of usefulness, enjoyment, and sheer 'gosh this is good'-ness. At first glance it can seem baffling and chaotic, but the mass of advice, hints, news, gossip, inspiration and jokes from established authors, newbies, agents, editors, and everyone else has been invaluable. If you want to keep your finger on the pulse of books, look at Twitter. Here, again, I've "met" people - other debut writers - who have changed me, providing support, encouragement, and plenty of celebration as we've all taken steps toward publication. The fact is, this is the world we live in. To share news, I go on Twitter. To solve a problem, I go on Twitter. It's a huge part of my life.

Publishing Short Stories

I have a few stories on this site, sure, but they're only the beginning of my creative world. From the pieces I have in anthologies (published by companies I found online, who took online submissions) to the Eren Tales project I'm currently overseeing with a friend, the web's been instrumental in getting my art out there in the world. Stone Crowns Magazine, for example, published my story Billy McGuire's Faerie in their free-to-download magazine. That gave me access to an entirely new audience - and some great contacts at a company dedicated to telling stories. The Internet has made storytelling more open source than ever before, but with audiences getting increasingly hard to reach, online magazines offer a clear, targeted channel to readers.

As I said above, I've also hosted story competitions here on the blog, inviting others to share their tales and stick to a theme. It was fantastic to read the results and see what creative collaboration could do.

The M Word

Yes, marketing. You can't avoid it. I need Eren to sell so I can make money, so all the folk who worked on Eren can make money, and so I can tell more stories. How do you get people to buy your book instead of some other book? You pique their interest, make sure they know your name, get them familiar with the story. How do you do that?

No idea.

What I do know, though, is that online giveaways - like the one I'm doing right now, yes - have reached far more people than I ever could by myself. Whether it's sharing the Eren Tales as they come out, offering up advance copies of the book, or taking part in query competitions for writers hoping to land an agent, my Internet life has shown me that if you're genuine, and you believe in your book, talking about it - and being willing to stop talking about it when you're helping other people - will have a good effect. The key is to know when to stop - to recognise when 'sharing' is becoming 'promoting'.

And Now...

I know there's more to come. I still write guests posts for Writers & Artists, and as Eren gets nearer (two months, guys. Two months) I hope to have some fun, creative things to share. Hopefully - touch wood - this blog will stay, even if it changes and adapts. It's nice having a home and an outlet, and it's nice seeing that things work if you give them time and let yourself listen, as well as talk.

Maybe I'll do another 'State of the Blog' post in two years' time. What'll the world look like then? I can't wait to find out.


  1. It's been emotional ;) I think you're a great example of how a writer should use the internet - mostly perhaps because you don't just use it, but actually seem to enjoy it and come across as a real person online. You're friendly but never unprofessional and you often make me smile. I hope the internet does as much good to you as you do to it.

    1. Heh, thanks - very kind of you to say so! Yeah, I think using - i.e. mostly just shouting about promo or linking to places to buy a book - does far more harm than good.