Don't look at me that way. I get it. Really, I do. Yes, it's an enormous time-suck. Yes, you're giving away for free what you're trying to make a living at. Yes, it's not worth doing unless you're going to do it right — and yes, doing it right is hard work. I felt exactly the same way, and made all the same arguments, when Susie first tried to convince me to blog. And I'm not going to lie to you. All of that is true.
Blogging does something else, too, something very important. Blogging gets you writing. You know how the single most important thing you can do to improve your writing is to just write, a lot? Blogging gets you writing. Every day, every week, three times a week, however often you do it: if you keep to any sort of semi-regular blogging schedule, you'll be writing regularly. And you'll be writing better.
It's a nice non- high- pressure format, too, one in which a certain degree of casualness, lack of perfect polish, and thinking out loud is expected and accepted. You don't need to limit your publishing to the works of genius you've spent months rewriting to a perfect gleam. A few hundred words on whatever you're thinking about that day is just ducky. It's like a journal, but with an audience. For someone like me, who's never seen the point of keeping a journal (what's the point of writing if nobody's going to read it?), blogging is a perfect balance between an exquisitely wrought essay or story, and a scratched- in- a- noteboook- to- keep- your- hand- in journal entry.
And it can, in fact, lead to actual paying work. Example: I'm currently getting paid to write for the Blowfish Blog — a gig I probably never would have gotten if I hadn't been blogging on my own. Blogging gets your name and your work recognized in circles that they wouldn't have otherwise. If your blog gets enough traffic, you can even start to take ads if you like, and that brings in a little money. If you have books, you can advertise them on your blog, and hopefully you'll sell some. And, of course, bloggers sometimes get book deals. If you blog with that sole intention, you'll probably be disappointed, but it does happen.