Writing is often a solitary hobby. Many of us have a habit of curling up by ourselves with our notebooks or computers, our hot drink of choice, and maybe some music turned on if we feel so inclined. No matter your particular habits or setup, it's often just you and your characters.
Along the way, we'll join forces with others such as critique partners and beta readers, and eventually an agent and publication team if that's where your path takes you. But for the most part, it's a solo venture.
Going it alone isn't new to me as a writer. When I first started out, I was in high school and had no writing friends. In college, though I did have a small group of writer friends, group fiction projects were seldom assigned. Working as a copy editor on the student newspaper occasionally had me sitting down with the staff writers, but most of my contributions occurred behind the scenes. Even now, I still struggle with putting myself out there despite the vastness of social media and the innumerable writers populating Twitter and other platforms.
So when I entered the world of blogging, flying solo made sense.
However, writing blog posts and designing a website are two completely different skill sets.
Back in the blog's early days, I used WordPress. This was for a couple of reasons. First was familiarity, in that WordPress was what we used for the student newspaper. Secondly, was the templates.
WordPress, at least in my experience and with what was available with my membership plan, was fairly rigid in its templates. You were able to choose fonts and colors and such but, unless you wanted to dive into coding and plug-ins, but it was often that things on the page were set where they were.
When I shifted to Wix after a few years, the ease of customization was exciting—if not a little overwhelming.
Wix uses a drag-and-drop feature I still love to this day. There are plenty of features you can add and place wherever you want. However, while there were templates available to get you started, I didn't really see a way to start over with a new template later on if you wanted to make significant layout changes.
I liked the initial look of the blog at first, but I eventually wanted to make some changes.
That's where I started to get intimidated. Writing blog posts and designing a blog are two different skill sets, and I really only have one.
Because I couldn't just click a few buttons and switch to a different template, rearranging my website was going to require a lot of work. I put it off for a good while, waiting until I could sit down and spend the proper time with it.
And that's the point I realized I needed to enlist outside help.
Wix makes it easier to design your website with its drag-and-drop features, but when you don' know how you want things to be arranged or what would make sense, it doesn't take long to leave you feeling lost in its limitlessness.
In the end, I jumped online to explore my options, eventually settling on the idea to purchase a template.
The template I purchased was from SunnyWillowDesign on Etsy who, I should mention, was great about communication and does a great job in their design. Once I accepted the website transfer, all I needed to do was modify a few details and I was set to launch.
If you're creating a brand-new website or just want to refresh an existing one, you don't necessarily need to hire a designer or purchase a template. There is a lot that can be done on your own. However, it's important to recognize where you cannot DIY.
A common recommendation is that—unless you are a graphic designer by trade with the needed know-how—an author should not design their own book covers and instead entrust that to a cover artist. The reasoning for this is simply a matter of skill sets. While you might have a concept for your cover in mind, the imagining and the execution of it are two different worlds.
And there may also be things you didn't even think of that the designer might come up with.
The template I used for my blog was predominately pink. One of the first things I did was change the overall background to the leaf motif you're seeing now. The colors I had in mind for the refresh were green, ivory, and possibly brown. When I saw the peach colors against the green, I loved how they stood out—not to mention pink is often a color associated with the romance genre!
Or as my mother called it, the "always fashionable Lilly Pulitzer pallet."
Green and pink was not the plan, but it worked out surprisingly well, and I would never have considered it without the template.
All in all, I'm extremely pleased with the new look of the blog. There are a couple of things I might tinker with in next few days, but it is very much improved.
My biggest takeaway is the reminder that there are going to be times you can't fix everything by yourself. Many creators are prone to burying themselves in their work until it's perfect. The thing is, that's not always feasible. Be it time, knowledge, and life itself that gets in the way, sometimes you need to reach out and ask for help with your projects.
Understanding that you cannot do absolutely everything by yourself can be tough, but it's also one of the best things you can do for your writing.
Writers do a lot of their work alone, tucked away in some corner with their characters and lost in a world of their own creation. But along the way, they'll turn to beta readers, editors, agents, and so many others for another set of eyes and a helping hand.
Teamwork is the magic that makes a story sparkle.