“But my way of writing is rather to think aloud, and follow my own humours, than much to consider who is listening to me; and, if I stop to consider what is proper to be said to this or that person, I shall soon come to doubt whether any part at all is proper.”
― Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater
A Journey of Ups and Downs
I wanted to write this post today since it’s been about 6 months of taking my blogging journey semi-seriously. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I’ve grown/learned a lot in that time. I would say that my blog never really began to be of a quality that I’ve been proud of until the beginning of June or so. If I had to re-read some of my original posts or re-visit some of my oldest interactions with other bloggers, I would probably cringe. In fact, I’m so OCD about my content that I’ve almost updated every post that I’ve written, otherwise I’ve deleted it.
So, today felt like a good day to re-visit all of the lessons which I’ve had to learn for myself the hard way, through both my ups and downs. As one typically does! Enjoy.
Lesson 1 – Allow Your Blog to Evolve With You
When I first began, I hardly knew what being a blogger was all about.
“Write about yourself and your interests? Sounds easy enough.”
I had never even followed a blog before I had created one. I’d only known, vaguely, the topics that I wanted to write about and those topics were many and varied.
In fact, in the beginning I wasn’t even thinking about blogging as a way to really interact with others, for the first few months at least. I would write my posts, I would share them on Facebook and I did it all to express myself and grow as a writer. It was sort of my journal on the internet, with occasional messages for others. I was sort of uploading my identity in written form for the first time in my life, outside of a journal, for others to see.
Blogging was my therapy.
In ways, I don’t regret having wasted a few months like this, because it helped me to discover my writing style, my passions in writing and what worked/what didn’t work for me, but it wasn’t bringing me a following at all and that was disappointing. We all want our work to be read, do we not?
Originally, I was blogging about everything from health and fitness tips to food recipes, book reviews, poems, stories and rants about my own life. Eventually, as I discovered my strengths and weaknesses, I chopped out those bits and pieces that brought me no pleasure, or which, I felt, were not up to my own high standards.
Lesson 2: It’s About Interaction!
Now, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but for the first 2 or 3 months of my blogging life I was hardly interacting with other bloggers except to say “Good work!” or something like that. I’m kind of a shy person in real life when it comes to people that I don’t know, and I was taking a similar approach to meeting others on WordPress.
I figured most people probably don’t care what I have to say anyways or want to read my work or speak with me, so why bother? I’ve been in a negative/cynical funk for a few years and I’m just starting to break free from this cycle, I think.
I was wrong anyways, there’s an amazing community of people here, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting others whom have more in common with me than most of the people I’ve ever bumped in to in the real world. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Think about it, we’re all here for the same reason, because we have a passion for writing and a passion for teaching and learning. We all automatically have that in common and a lot of us are wounded. A lot of us have past demons that we are trying to overcome and blogging helps to soothe our wounds by channeling all of that energy through our writing. So don’t be afraid of your fellow bloggers. Take a chance on them! Every person has something of value to share with the world.
Lesson 3: Your Writing Needs To Be Easily Digestible
When I first began blogging, I wrote numerous blog posts that were massive heaps of text without pictures, headlines, italics, etc. I was happy with the writing, but they weren’t grabbing people’s attention. Looking back on it now, I wouldn’t have even been entirely happy with the writing either. Although, the biggest flaw was the lack of aesthetics.
I was in an unhappy place in my life when I first started this blog and those feelings dripped through my words and into my posts. My feelings of hopelessness and futility transferred through to my readers and it made my words less appealing. There were moments when I wrote motivational posts for myself basically, but in a way that I was also writing them for everyone else out there, in similar situations, and these posts did well at least.
The lesson here is; your attitudes and feelings are going to bleed in to your work. If you are going to write about things that bother you and upset you, that’s fine and you should, but do your best to balance these posts out with works that provide hope and other uplifting messages. Even if you write these messages for yourself in a sort of round-about way. That is – if an audience is important to you at all.
Also, break your big blocks of text down in to smaller, easily digestible paragraphs and make it look pretty. Use bold and italic fonts from time to time, and add pictures to break up the writing. The ugly truth is, most people are going to scan your content rather than taking it all in entirely. Smaller chunks help make it easier to scan and keep a person’s attention longer. Especially for reader’s with an undiagnosed attention disorder like myself. 😀
Lesson 4: Authenticity is Everything
This can either come easily to you, or not so easily. Some bloggers are completely authentic straight out of the gate and their blogs explode from the beginning. Others, need to develop a proper confidence in themselves to be free enough to be that genuine. I was in the second category.
When I started my blog, I wasn’t feeling very confident in myself. I wasn’t very happy with where my life was at the time, and personally, I just didn’t feel like I had much to offer. So, I was afraid to be vulnerable to the world through my blog. In some ways, I tried to be vulnerable but was almost too much so. I’d vomit all of my depressed thinking onto a page and post it every once and a while, then shortly after, feel ashamed about having it there, then delete it.
It took me months until I finally realized that my voice was valuable to my blog and that being personable in my posts meant more than just divulging all of my deepest and darkest secrets. It meant having an opinion. It meant sharing my viewpoint. It meant being strong enough to be myself, without trying to first predict the reactions of others.
That doesn’t mean that others opinions aren’t important, but it’s your blog, and you need to be you. You can’t write for everyone else as a generic, inoffensive, little bit of everything type of person, who doesn’t step on any toes because there are already so many other bloggers out there like that and you’ll just wind up blending in.
Just be you, authentically you, whatever that is and if you can be respectful while doing that, then there should never be an issue. Anyone else who doesn’t like that should mind their own business.
Lesson 5: Everyone Loves A Mystery
In the beginning, I over-exposed myself to the blogging world. I wrote maybe a bit too literally. I had no pen name (I still don’t). I explained my life in way too much detail on my about me page. I over-exposed my secrets, relationships and dark past. I talked about myself incessantly. It’s boring to be honest.
After a while, I began re-editing and deleting old posts. I toned down how much I reveal about myself to a degree and I alluded more to my life rather than speaking literally about my issues/past/aspirations. I want my readers to both know me and not know me entirely. I want to be a metaphor for who I really am. My blog is my safe place to be me, perhaps even the me, that is more me, than in reality. Without the past to haunt me, without anxieties and insecurities to weigh me down, or perhaps it’s just my idealized version of myself. I’m not sure, I guess.
My poetry’s provide revelations of myself, yet at the same time it’s mostly in metaphors and can’t be taken literally. I am both revealed and concealed, and I like it this way. It feels safer. It feels comfortable. It’s where I like to be.
Be yourself. Be authentic. Even if you shroud who you are in bits and pieces. You don’t need to be entirely exposed to be genuine. Take care of other bloggers and give heartfelt feedback. Make friends. Write for yourself, but be sure that some of what you write is also useful to others. That gives them a reason to keep coming back for more, and don’t worry so much about how quickly you evolve, just be sure to allow yourself the freedom to do so.
If there’s something you don’t like about your blog, change it. If you have old posts that you don’t like, delete them or alter them and make way to pave a new path to follow. Love yourself, your work and be your own biggest support, but also be a support for others. When we care for others, we oft receive the same care back tenfold. Enjoy the journey and don’t worry about the numbers. It’s all a learning experience. Take it one day at a time.
Thoughts? Comments? Leave them down below!