The truth is that sometimes I use blogging as a means to another end: writing my own fiction or nonfiction. Blogging is my practice, my warmup to everything that comes after.
I value my personal work, and I hoard, reread, revise and edit it before ever sharing it with others.
Because here's another truth: it's important to have work that's personal. It might be journaling, writing in a diary, your "novel on the side." Maybe it's some comic strip you've been nursing along for five years.
What's more, I think that our personal work is often our best work. It has to be--because no one else is telling us to do it. We have to choose to create something on our own. Personal work bears our hand, our thought, our inspiration. Oftentimes even, the personal work is exactly what develops into the professional.
Take this, for example: sometimes I'll read nonfiction accounts, or memoirs or short stories or even novels, and they just feel lackluster. I'll ask myself, why should I read this? Why should I care?
Because it feels the author has forgotten that he or she is the one creating the work. Maybe it's just me, but when I read a book or even just an article, I have to know why the author wrote it. I want to know about the "artist." (Maybe this is a reflection of my personal faith--I need to know why I'm here, why I'm alive, the purpose for being on this earth. Usually, the answer is to love others, to love God, to understand love more and more. And that means connecting with people. And authors--yes, you're catching on now--are people). I'm always looking for a connection to the work, to the author, to the story.
How can you ensure that you put yourself at the center of your work? That it's honest, reflective of your experience, your way of seeing the world? For starters, consider carving out a chunk of time every day--20 minutes, starting off--to write something of your own, draw or craft or create something that's only up to you. It's personal, something no one else is telling you to do or that you feel obliged to do. Over time, you'll gradually understand how you tick. How you think, how you feel, how you move through the world and what makes you thrive. What inspires you. And, over time, creating will be a habit, a joy, something you can't do without. Your written stories--if that's what you're hoping to move toward--will, no doubt, beautifully and honestly reflect you.
And I think that's good. Even essential.