Estimated read time: 4 minutes
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Lyz Lenz is an Eastern-Iowa based writer who often writes about parenting with a humorous twist for several sites, including her own. She’s also spoken to civic clubs and media companies about online strategies.
Question: How did you know you wanted to be a blogger?
Lyz: I don’t think people want to be bloggers when they grow up. It just kind of happens. I was obsessed with websites as a teen. I even had my own Geocities site that played music and had inspirational quotes from great works of literature. So, when Blogger came around, I was on it. I just blogged book reviews and complained about politics. I started getting a following and I actually shut down the blog when I was 20, because I was getting creepy email. But, I started blogging again because, as a writer, there are so few places where you can say exactly what you want to say, how you want to say it, without being edited. I think that’s why I love my blog so much. I’m just lucky people read it.
Question: Who all do you blog for?
Lyz: I’ve blogged for YourTango.com, NewParent.com, Mom.me, Mommyish and The Real Moms of Eastern Iowa. I currently blog for Disney’s Baby Zone blog, the Huffington Post and my own site.
Question: How did you get connected?
Lyz: I applied. I begged. I sent pitch emails. I whined. I stalked the editors on social media and then flattered them. I’m like the homeless man outside the restaurant begging. Sometimes people give me food. Sometimes they just walk by.
Question: How do you know what’s worth writing about?
Lyz: I don’t. They aren’t all gems. Some suck. It’s okay. I like to use my site as a place to have fun and experiment. I used to work as an editor for a website and I’ve done some social media consulting, so I do have that experience with me and it does help guide my ideas. For the blogs that I write for, I have editors who give good feedback. I do a lot of reading too, so I try to stay current and relevant. But in the end, some writing resonates, some doesn’t.
Question: Your voice is a lot of fun. Is it real? How did you come up with it?
Lyz:: When I first started writing professionally, I would struggle with my pitch email. I wanted it to sound professional, but I always felt stilted by this formal language. I started working as an editor for a love and sex site and I found that the pieces that did best on our site had character and voice. So, I started letting down my guard and letting more personality come through and that’s when I started getting some acceptances.
I read a lot of writers who have a great “voice”–David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, David Rakoff, Brian Bouldrey. I’m drawn to writers who draw you in with a laugh and then break your heart. I even love fiction authors who do that, like Faukner, Gogol and Chris Adrian. I think writing is at its best when it has both laughter and tears. Shadows and light. It’s what I aim for anyway. I fall terribly short. But I like reading good writing, so it helps.
Question: Any tips for people thinking about starting to blog?
Lyz: I’d want to ask why? What’s your goal? Attention? Appreciation? I think blogs have become these overwhelming things that people believe they need to have if they want to accomplish anything. But to sustain a blog you have to be willing to write something interesting at least 2-3 times a week and it can’t be, “This food was good. My kid is the best.” If you want an audience you have to be able to step outside your snowglobe. You have to share and be honest and be a good writer. If you think commas are for suckers, then don’t bother. I know so many people who get mad when their blog doesn’t get them fame or fortune. The myth is you can just go viral overnight and your life will be amazing. It’s a lie. I’ve gone viral and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t show up at my doorstep with a top hat and a monocle. I still have to clean poop out of my kid’s underwear. What I’m saying is there are no shortcuts. If you do it. Commit to it. Work hard at it.
But I’m kind of bothered by your phrasing. “Thinking about starting…” If you want a blog just blog. It’s so easy. It’s sticking to it that’s the hard part.
Question: Anything else?
Lyz: Don’t tell anyone that I filled this out stone-cold sober on a Friday night.