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The Writing House: A Reflection on Blogs, Readers, and Connections

The Story of the Writing House

Imagine you own a beautiful house. You’ve built this house from scratch, designed it with the intention to be welcoming. Every week, you add something new to your house: something inspiring, entertaining, or useful. You invite people to visit your house. You hope that they’ll return, week after week, to see the new things you’ve added. You begin to form friendships. You’re thrilled at the number of people who walk through your door.

After awhile, you notice that you haven’t welcomed anyone new in awhile. Most of your guests are returning week after week, and you’re so grateful to them for coming. But you’d like to see some new faces. You try issuing more invitations, but it’s hard for people to get to know you unless they follow you back to your house. Gradually, it dawns on you that you’ll need to make a change if you want to meet new people and welcome them to your beautiful house.

That house is my writing house, and that story is my experience as a blogger.

Today is my 6-year blogging anniversary.

Other than the occasional break of a few months or so, I’ve been posting steadily since 2011. The blog– the online “house” for my writing– has moved to a new address and been given several re-designs. But essentially, it has remained the place where I welcome readers to share in my inner world. I’ve loved creating this space and adding new content every week, and I’m so grateful to all of you for being my guests.

If this is starting to sound like a farewell post– well, it’s not, and it is.

It’s time for me to change strategies. The number of readers coming to this site hasn’t changed much over the last year. When I promote my posts on social media, I often feel like I’m shouting into the wind. My content is a tiny droplet in an ocean of great content.

Which is to say: while I love my writing house, I’ve realized that I need to venture outside it more often if I want to find new people. Once I’ve made those connections, I can invite them back here. But I can’t expect them to come by simply adding more content and trusting to the SEO gods to help people follow the breadcrumbs. I need to find new places to connect, by writing guest posts and magazine articles, essays for literary journals and my DIY MFA column. I need to expand my world through different forms of writing and new places to query.

There are other circumstances, too. For one, I’m about to return to my full-time teaching job. I’ll be a working mother of two young children who’ll be lucky to squeeze in an hour of writing time a day, which forces me to really, really prioritize my writing work. For another, I’ve written over 500 blog posts, and it feels like a form of mastery. It feels like I can move on.

What happens next…

My plan is to post here once a month, which feels like an eternity between posts. And maybe, if I feel inspired, I’ll add more. But here’s where I’ll be putting my energy:

  • Editing The Loss of Our Mothers, my book that takes place during the Blizzard of 1888; when that’s done, working on my third novel, a generational saga that I’m so very excited about (I’ll share more soon);
  • Writing personal essays, a form that I’ve come to love, and submitting them for publication;
  • My column at DIY MFA, which publishes every 5-6 weeks;
  • My monthly newsletter, The Perspective Post.

You may wonder why I’m diminishing my role on the blog after six years while prioritizing a newsletter I’ve only been publishing for a few months. Partly, that’s about finding a new way to connect with readers. But I also love the format of my newsletters. I feel like I’m doing my best work when I write them each month.

So I’m going to end this post by asking a favor. Sign up for The Perspective Post, if you haven’t already done so. Because, simply: I want to keep writing for you, and that’s where I’m doing it best. 

You can sign up here, and receive a download of my first-ever published short story, Amish Girl. In the first newsletter, there’s also a special offer that I think you’ll enjoy.

I hope to see you in your inbox, or here on the blog next month, or on social media, or out in the wide world. I pray that my writing can continue to serve your life in some small way. The writing house will expand, and make more room for its members.

Dear reader, I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for these past six years, and for supporting me as I grow.

 

6 Responses to “The Writing House: A Reflection on Blogs, Readers, and Connections”

  1. Dear Leanne, your words struck a chord with me. Your experience blogging has been almost identical with mine (I’ve been blogging since the end of 2009). The recent redesign of Catching Happiness is part of my last (I think) attempt to bring more guests to my writing house. (I just started a newsletter, too.) I love blogging, but it’s not paying any bills, and I’m needing to spend more time marketing and writing for pay.

    I wish you the best of luck in your change of focus, and in your transition to working mom of two small children, and I’ll wait eagerly for your once-a-month post and newsletter. I haven’t visited DIY MFA that often, but I should add that to my feed reader. And, of course, I expect to see more announcements of published work on Facebook. (Kinda sounds like I’m stalking you, but really, I’m not! I just feel like we have a writerly connection.)

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Kathy, I’m so glad these thoughts are resonating with you. While it’s important to have an online presence, I’ve realized that I can’t be everywhere at once, so I need to focus on the things that help me grow in the writing community.

      I’m glad we’ll continue to connect on the blog, Facebook and newsletter. I don’t comment as often as I should, but I love your blog as well. It’s on my feed reader and I open it every time you post. Your writing has a beautiful life perspective.

  2. I think I already said this in our PM exchange on Facebook, but I completely understand why you feel the need to make a change, especially with you returning to work. But I’ll certainly come back whenever you post something here, and when your posts appear on DIY MFA.

    I know I shouldn’t play favorites, but your column is my favorite there. They’re always so inspiring, and a much-needed reminder that it’s important for writers need to take care of themselves and be purposeful with their craft. So thank you for writing on those topics, and thank you for being such a wonderful writing friend. 🙂

  3. Leanne Sowul says:

    Sara, thank you so much for saying that! Your columns always inspire me as well- you put so much into them, your dedication shines through the words. Becoming your writing friend has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve received from DIY MFA.

  4. Melody A. says:

    Love your writing! I am one of the new readers of your blog in the past few months. So Thank You for all your beautiful words and dedication to it and your other written formats. I wish you well in returning to your former endeavor!! we need wonderful teachers and it is a labor of Love on so many fronts. take care, enjoy your children and husband ! from Iowa

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