For years, I dreamed of creating a blog focused on books and writing. It was one of those dreams that sat at the back of my mind never acted upon. Fear of failure prevented me from taking the steps necessary to turn this dream into a reality.

Until one day I went ahead and started. I signed up for Wordpress, purchased my own domain and dove in headfirst.

It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

It's been eight months since I took that leap, and a lot has changed. Blogging has helped me grow in many ways, both professionally and personally. Below are just a few of the effects becoming a blogger has had on my life.

1. I learned to stick to self-appointed deadlines.

I used to be one of those people that was great at adhering to others' deadlines but awful at respecting my own. I guess that reveals something about whose opinions I once valued most. Whenever I'd set a goal for myself, I would make it the lowest priority. Everything else came first.

But blogging requires more dedication and determination than that. It forces me to set weekly posting schedules for myself and actually adhere to them. After all, that's the only way to boost traffic.

Not only has this newfound ability to prioritize my own deadlines improved my writing career, but it has also spilled over into my personal life. Now when I need to get something done by a certain date, I make sure it happens.

2. I became comfortable making my writing public.

I once curled up in the fetal position at the thought of sharing my writing with other human beings. What if they hate it? What if it's the worst thing they've ever read? Those were just some of the thoughts spiraling inside my mind.

Since beginning my blog, I've become much more lax about sharing my work. This expressive outlet has allowed me to improve as a writer while receiving positive feedback and constructive criticism.

And even if people don't love what I write, blogging has also proven something else to me: I don't write for other people. I write for me.

3. It empowered me to start referring to myself as a writer.

The phrase "aspiring writer" is one of the most overused and nonsensical ones out there. And I was guilty of using it. Often.

Impostor syndrome is common among artists and writers, and the feeling of being a fraud is a difficult one to shake. We're conditioned to believe certain levels of success or experience are necessary to "be a writer."

My blogging journey made me realize that the only requirement to being a writer is writing, just as the only thing that makes you a blogger is blogging. Needless to say, I ditched the "aspiring" while writing my next bio.

4. It introduced me to one of the most supportive communities out there

There's this misconception that the blogging community is too competitive, leaving little room for newcomers to join in. This couldn't be further from the truth.

I'm consistently amazed at how supportive bloggers are towards one another, regardless of their status. Even bloggers with thousands of followers still take the time to boost amateurs, and I think that's wonderful.

Joining this community proved to me that there is room for everyone in the world of content creation. As long as you have a voice and remain committed, you can succeed. It's not a competition. It's a community.

5. I became acquainted with people with similar interests to mine.

As a reader, I don't come across many book-obsessed people in my everyday life. Sure, someone will chat about a book with me here and there. But no one is immersed in the bookish culture like the online reading community.

Writing about my favorite stories and fandoms has granted me the opportunity to discuss them with so many people I'd never know otherwise. It's nice closing a novel and knowing you're just a keyboard away from someone else eager to gush about it with you.

6. I grew my social media and marketing skills.

I've never been incredibly consistent with posting to social media, especially when it comes to my personal life. But if you actually want to reach your audience as a blogger, you need to master the use of your social media platforms.

Eight months in, I'm still in the learning stages of using Twitter, Instagram and other sites for marketing purposes. I've come a long way in regards to my social media strategy, but I've come to realize there's always more to learn.

The internet is always evolving, and blogging is pushing me to keep up with it.

7. I fostered my passion for photography.

I'll never be a professional photographer complete with expensive camera and fabulous photo editing skills. Even still, I've always enjoyed photographing things - whether it be a particularly delicious looking meal or the view from a mountaintop.

Trying to create original images for my blog posts and Instagram account allows me to explore my love of photography, even if it's only through my blurry iPhone camera. Experimenting with props and background setups provides a creative outlet I wasn't fully aware of wanting.

It's always nice to discover passions within your passions.

8. It has generally made me more productive.

It has been a long time since I came home from work and vegetated on the couch. Since starting my blog, I find that there's always something to do. Whether it's writing posts, editing them or reading the books I want to write about, I'm always busy.

Once upon a time, I might have put these tasks off or done them less frequently. Knowing that I have a commitment to running my site motivates me to get things done, even on the days I don't feel like it.

And the more accustomed I get to being productive, the more I'm able to get done on the daily.

9. It demonstrated the importance of keeping a planner.

There's a lot to remember when it comes to blogging from actually publishing your posts to sharing to every social media outlet possible. As my brain forgets everything, my old habit of jotting down to do lists on post-it pads no longer cuts it.

Blogging has forced me to become an organized human being, and it has even convinced me to use a planner on a daily basis. Having daily checklists helps immensely when it comes to keeping up with my website.

And again, the organization extends into my personal life. My planner holds just about everything these days.

10. I found the courage to expand the platforms I share my writing on.

A few months into blogging, I figured I would try applying to digital media sites. I'd always wanted to write for various publications, but it was difficult to convince them I was capable of creating quality content. This had a lot to do with my lack of a portfolio.

Blogging gave me the writing samples I needed to complete these applications with confidence. Once I started attaching my posts to writer applications, I actually began hearing back from the websites I wished to write for.

Among these were Odyssey and FanSided, both of which have given me a whole world of journalism experience. If I'm grateful to my blog for anything, it's that.

11. It confirmed the career path I want to pursue and kept me focused on it.

Though I wanted to work in a creative field post-graduation, this isn't what wound up happening. I fell into various administrative gigs, jumping from field to field. And with each jump, I considered whether I should try my hand at something else.

Once I started writing regularly again, I realized that these other career paths weren't actually the ones I wanted. They might be easier to pursue, but they didn't bring me joy or passion.

Blogging has helped me rediscover what I want to do with my life, and it has given me the skill set to pursue that. I'd almost lost my focus, but my blog brought it back to me.

12. I realized it really is always better to start now.

This point sounds like a Hallmark card, but it's also undeniably true. I waited so long to begin blogging, and I always wonder how far along I'd be if I'd just started earlier. For all I know, I could have monetized or partnered with brands already.

Of course, it does me no good to dwell on what ifs like these. But I do try to remember these thoughts and feelings when they appear. Doing so will prevent me from procrastinating other bucket list goals in the future.

Starting sooner is always better.