Expat Sat: The Blogging Rut (& How to Get Out of It)

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writing. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing and publishing to expat writers around the globe.

5 Truths About Expats & Expat Writers

  1. Expats are not the same as travelers. Because expats hunker down and live in a country (as opposed to vacationing for a week or two), they have vastly different experiences than travelers and therefore very different perspectives. It’s much like the difference between marriage and popping in for a quickie; when you’re married, you know as much about the hairy wart on the left buttock as you do the sexy eyes that attracted you in the first place.

  3. Expats are bursting with stories…literally bursting. Sit down for a drink with an expat and you will get your ear bent a thousand different ways. In fact, a common comment (complaint?) about many expats is that most of their sentences begin: “In _______ [ fill in name of host city/country], ….” (It’s hard to stop us once you get us going…)

  5. Many expats become expat writers after moving to their host countries. In some cases, they’d always wanted to write, but hadn’t had the time or head space to do so. In other cases, there is just so damn much to tell that writing it down feels like the most natural step.

  7. Expats write kick-ass blogs. They write funny blogs, informative and educational blogs, raw and revealing blogs, thoughtful blogs. (If you need proof, read Expat Harem or Mrs. Madison’s Dubai or From My Tingzijian.)

  9. Expats write too many blog entries and not enough publishable essays, articles, etc. (Ouch! I know, I know…this one stings. But it’s true. Blogging is terrific—I’ve been a blogger for years—but it can become a rut.)


Before we go on, I’m going to repeat #5 a little more loudly (raises bullhorn):



Now there are many solid, understandable reasons expat writers do this. For example:

  • They are new to writing and don’t know how to get started. A blog entry can take any shape, voice, tone, length, etc. It doesn’t come with lengthy, hard-to-navigate writers’ guidelines. That feels comfy and safe.
  • They don’t know how to finish and polish a piece to publishable quality.
  • They don’t know how to find markets (magazines, online pubs, lit mags, agents, etc).
  • They don’t know how to submit their work.
  • They don’t have a support group. (Being an expat is often a rather transient existence. Folks come and go every couple of years. It’s hard to establish a support group or class with all that coming and going. But having a support group is a vital part of being a writer. Yes, writing is done in solitude, but all writing is polished and improved upon with the help of others—peers, teachers, editors, and agents.)

The thing is, all of these challenges are a natural part of the expat writer’s journey. So what’s to be done? How do you move to a new level with your writing? How do you find a support group? How do you learn the ins-and-outs of publishing your work? How do you get out of the blogging rut?

Answer: Take my online writing workshop for expats. (No, this is not the only answer, but in my mind, it’s one of the best. )

So, if you are an expat/repat who is:

  • a beginning or seasoned writer
  • bursting with stories
  • looking to write short, publishable essays
  • interested in moving your writing to the next level
  • interested in learning how and where to sell your writing
  • longing for a supportive writing group

…sign up here. It starts on May 1.

Let’s go!


Q4U: Where do you fall in the spectrum? Beginning writer? Seasoned writer? Blogger? Published author? What are your goals as a writer?


Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


7 Responses to Expat Sat: The Blogging Rut (& How to Get Out of It)

  1. Hi Kristin,

    This one definitely hit close to home. Luckily I know that I’ve been doing #5. I just have to figure out how to get myself out of it.

    I have loved blogging about Paris and at first it felt complementary to my other writing. Right now, however, I feel like I’m actually blogging partly as an avoidance tactic on finishing my novel! The blogging is just so fun. And the novel is just…so hard.

    Thanks for calling it like it is. I do have a short story coming out in an anthology next month and I hope seeing my fiction in an actual book is going to motivate me again to finish my own!

    Bon weekend!

    • Hi Sion…I hear you. Blogging is such a positive thing…until it pulls us away from the really important work. But as you clearly are aware, realizing that we’re using it as a distraction is half the gig. (Of course, the harder half is to stop using it as a distraction and refocus on the writing-writing. Good luck.)

      Congrats on the short story. Send a link to the publication once it’s out. I’d love to get it and read it.

  2. I still do that “In Vietnam,…” and sometimes I throw in a little China or Thailand just to keep people on their toes.

    And you are so right about the difference between visiting and living someplace. Even for our short-term living (seven, then three months) it was a vastly different experience from friends I know who’ve visited. My favorite aspect though is getting to know the locals even if it’s just with a friendly wave and never a word passes between us.

    I need to go back.

  3. Hey Teresa…I’m right there with you. “In China,” I say I don’t know how many times a day. Or “In Vietnam….” Or “In Borneo….”

    And on it goes (at least until someone rolls their eyes & says “Enough!”

    You’re spot on about how special it is to get to know the locals. I so miss the Chicken Man in Shanghai and the old lady in our lane who is a great knitter.

    Thanks for stopping by to share.

  4. Kristin

    Yup, this is me. I’m particularly stopped by not knowing how to revise and polish my pieces. It even stops me from writing in the first place. because I know that whatever I write will never measure up to the singing prose it wants to be, if only my skills were greater.

    Which is why I’m really looking forward to your course, and encouraging others in the Shanghai writer’s group to join as well.

  5. Barbara…you’re on a great path to growing the skills you want. You’ve got so many amazing stories, a compelling voice, and the drive. We’re going to get so much done in this class. Whoo-ha! Looking forward!