Blogging reflections

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A year ago today, I finally found the courage to press the button and publish my first blog post.  When I talked about courage, in that first post, I meant the courage to proclaim myself as a writer and expose my writing to the world.  Back then, I knew almost nothing about blogging.  I knew that it was something writers were encouraged to do, but very little more than that.  I also had those worries that any writer has: do I have anything to say, will anyone be interested, will I be laughed at, criticised or simply ignored?   Who did I think I was, sending my writing out into the world assuming my words were worth reading?  I’ll always be grateful to those first few bloggers who ‘liked’ and commented on that post and therefore gave me a little impetus to continue.

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A year on, I’ve published 44 posts and out of all the creative decisions I’ve made in my life, blogging has been one of the best.  Since I began, my creativity has flourished.  I’ve never had more ideas than I’ve had in this past year.  Although I’ve been writing since I was a child, I’ve never produced the same volume of new writing as I’ve done since I became a blogger.  I’ve never been more disciplined in my creativity – knowing that I have to post every week and meeting those deadlines.  In that first post, I said I was finally confident enough to call myself a writer.  But blogging makes me feel like a writer, because now I do write, all the time, and I share what I write with others.

When I began blogging, I was just beginning to write again, after a difficult period in my life.  Blogging helped me to enjoy writing again.  It helped me to fulfil that compulsion to write that had been lying dormant.  When I began blogging, I was also just beginning to really live again.  And strangely, since I’ve begun to write about the world and the simple pleasures within it, blogging has made me appreciate them more.  I can’t claim that blogging changed my life, but it certainly enhanced it.

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I know a little more about blogging now than when I began, though I’m by no means an expert.  If you’re thinking about starting a blog – do it!  Have the courage to press that button.  And perhaps these lessons I’ve learned in my first year as a blogger will help you.

Know your purpose – I began with the premise that my blog would be about creativity. I didn’t want to write a ‘how to’ blog, or a blow by blow account of my writing.  I wanted to explore themes of creativity to help me on my creative journey.  I also knew that I wanted to write about some of the things that inspire me, like nature and magic.  Knowing my purpose from the start has helped me to develop ideas for posts.   It helped me to focus and grow more confident, so that I now feel more certain of my identity as a blogger.

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Allow yourself to evolve – Although the core purpose of my blog has remained the same throughout the year, how I approach it has evolved.  I didn’t realise that I would enjoy writing about the seasons and the natural world so much – or, given that I live in an urban environment, that I would find so much to say about it.  I’m sometimes tempted to write about current affairs, or random events, but so far, I’ve always resisted.  To me, that wouldn’t be evolution, it would be a move away from what my purpose is.  I’ve dabbled in other subjects – my dog, camping, family history – but in most cases, I’ve found a link to inspiration, to creativity….because that’s my core purpose.  I feel that I’ve found a place now, where the natural world and natural cycles inform what I write about.  This evolution happened without me noticing it at first and I have sometimes wondered if I focus on it too much, but it feels right so I’ll continue for as long as that’s true.

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Consider how you want to present yourself to the world – For me, blogging is presenting myself to the world as a writer.  It’s the only online platform I use to display my writing, so my aim is for it to be a quality experience.  I approach each post as I would any piece of writing.  I draft it, edit it, polish it, illustrate it, just as if it were a story I was planning to submit.  I’ll always be more satisfied with some posts than others, but I know that every post I’ve published has had thought and effort invested in it.  And so, now that I’ve reached my first milestone, I have no regrets about the writing I’ve produced.

Have a realistic timetable – When I began blogging, I thought weekly posts seemed achievable.  I had no scientific reason for this or experience to draw on.  And though I have achieved it, almost without fail, what I didn’t know then, was that blogging is about connecting with people.  I thought I would write a post and hopefully, magically, someone would find it and read it (I was very unclear about how this would happen or how I would know).  I didn’t understand that the feedback was personal, that I’d be able to really interact with other people all around the world.  So, I didn’t know that I’d be spending time reading and replying to comments, reading so many other blogs and commenting on those, so that weekly timetable isn’t quite as realistic as it first appeared.  But –

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Blogging can be addictive. – I completely understand why some bloggers post once a day or even more.  I love writing and I find that producing a blog post is easier than working on my novel or writing a new story.  I’m in control of my work: I can work on something until I’m happy with it, press a button and it’s published.  I don’t have to wait for approval or a response.  And then there is the instant gratification factor – that immediate feedback and connection with readers.  But in practice, this has meant that I’ve neglected my other writing more than I should.  So, I’ve made the decision to reduce my posting frequency to once a fortnight.  I’m already finding it difficult – the two weeks since my last post have felt strangely barren.

Blogging stimulates creativity – Blogging is a great writing exercise.  I’ve tried morning pages and writing prompts, but they’ve never given me the same stimulation as blogging.  I’ve never had so many ideas or been so creative as I’ve been since I began to blog.  Ideas are all around me – they always have been, but because I’m in that actively receptive state, I seem to find them more easily.  One idea leads to another, and on and on.  I think it helps that what I write about in my blog is different to what I write outside of it, but because my blog is about creativity, it helps to stimulate ideas for fiction and paintings.  It helps me to pay more attention to the world, so I see ideas where I wouldn’t notice them before.

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Blogging needs focus – I knew that I couldn’t jump into blogging without a safety net.  I didn’t want to publish a post or two and then dry up.  So, before I began, I listed subjects weeks ahead in case I ran out of ideas.  I use a calendar to plan potential posts, sometimes linking in to specific dates, and then filling in the gaps.  Never has my writers notebook been more useful – to record ideas and begin blog posts.  I also take my camera with me more than I ever would before, to record suitable images that might come in handy for blog posts.

But blogging also needs flexibility – I’ve quite often planned a post for a specific time but found another idea that fits the moment.  Sometimes an idea takes over and wants to be written about now.  So, I follow the muse and bump that week’s original idea to a future date.  But it’s the focus that gives me the flexibility.  I know I won’t forget any of my ideas.

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Connect – Blogging tips that I’ve read advise you to connect with others to increase your readership.  What I don’t think they say, is to connect just for the sake of connecting.  Yes, I’d love to think that one day thousands of people will read every post I write, but if that were to happen, what I’d lose would be the time to make closer connections to the people who read my blog.  I’d lose that feeling of support and exchange and warmth that I get now from the corner of the blogosphere that I hang out in.  This is the aspect of blogging that I didn’t know about when I began, but it’s one of the most rewarding.

Keep going – As creative people, I think we often have crises in confidence.  Sometimes, with blogging, as with my other creative projects, I have moments when I wonder what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and if there’s really any point.  But then I’ll remember how much I enjoy writing each post, how much pleasure I get from incubating and developing new ideas, the connections I’ve made and supportive comments I’ve had.  Ultimately, if I stopped blogging tomorrow, it would have been worth it, for all the benefits it’s brought me.  My first year as a blogger will always be the year I came of age as a writer.  So thank you to everyone who has read my posts and taken the time to comment on them, because you’ve helped me on that journey.

54 thoughts on “Blogging reflections

  1. Awesome post, Andrea! All really sound and heartfelt tips for new (and old) bloggers to check out.

    I agreed with everything you said up there. Blogging has really surprised me. It has shaped me into a better writer and the community has been extremely important for me, to keep me going and inspired.

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  2. Yeah, you know what. It’s all about that famous first step. Once we do it the path will just unfold and we simply have to stay on this path. Your post reminded me how I found my energy and fun by starting to create digital landscapes for a new comic. Every single day I enjoy doing it. That’s almost like heaven … 🙂

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  3. I agree that blogging is a great way to focus one’s creativity in whatever form that takes. I too have been blogging for just over a year now and have learned as I’ve gone on. I wasn’t sure to begin with which way I would go with it – originally I put a few of my stories and poems on my blog until I realised that by doing this, it would prevent me from submitting them anywhere else. So I started writing about anything that was in my head… and the blog has evolved into a mish mash of thoughts, travel writing, book and theatre reviews and the occasional rant. I think I’m a frustrated columnist! The absolute best thing about blogging however has been the linking up with similar souls – the common thread being that we all love to write and because of that, we understand each other and can provide support and encouragement where perhaps those who are our nearest and dearest don’t because they don’t understand what drives us all to write in the first place.
    I so enjoy reading your wonderful writing Andrea – long may your blog continue. Happy first anniversary! 🙂

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    • Thank you Jenny. It is something like writing a column, but being able to follow your own editorial guidelines. You’d certainly spark a discussion with your rants Jenny! But then you also have that gentler style that evokes places and images so well.

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  4. These really are great tips. I never thought about scheduling posts…. I just kind of write when I feel I have something to share. I do generally feel more consciously connected to my creativity when I blog, so maybe I will make a commitment to write something, once a week.

    At any rate, I applaud your commitment to writing and blogging.
    Happy blog anniversary.
    Lindsey

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    • Thanks Lindsey – whatever works for you – I do tend to plan a lot, so scheduling things in advance helps (though sometimes I plan at the expense of doing!) I’ve definitely noticed a little bit of a drop in my ideas since I decided to go fortnightly, hoping I’ll get in the way of it, otherwise I’ll be going back to weekly again!

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  5. Ha Andrea, I didn’t know you also started about a year ago, but then again you already were a hardcore writer, something I just began to discover in myself. Thanks for the tips. I’m catching up on other bloggers as well. Soon my own ‘birthday’ is coming up..and yes planning to do something different 😉
    Happy Blog Birthday Andrea and to many more creative writing!

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  6. You are a beautiful writer and I always look forward to reading your posts. I found your tips re: photographing images for inspiration, interesting. There is so much beauty and magic in this world! To capture it through images and/or words is a gift, given.

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    • Thank you for that Grace! I used to take a lot of photos, nothing special, just nice snapshots, but then I realised that when I went somewhere, I was sometimes too focussed on getting an image, rather than experiencing the view / event, so I stopped for a while. Now I have a balance – I pay close attention to things and sometimes I’ll take a photo of it, sometimes not, but I’m happy that I’ve been able to capture some of the images I have in the past year.

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  7. You’ve described my blogging experiences and feelings perfectly, Andrea. Like you, I started blogging because “that’s what writers are supposed to do.” I never dreamed, though, how many wonderful connections I would make with fellow writers (and non-writers) in the process. Some realizations have been painful—such as my WIPs not being as far along as I thought they were. But the entire experience has been one I enjoy greatly. Sometimes too much, as I read other blogs instead of writing. And I need to be better about scheduling fewer days for those visits so I can finish the manuscripts that were the reason I began blogging in the first place.

    Congratulations on your first year, and I’m looking forward to your next year of posts.

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    • Thanks JM – yes, it’s amazing how much wonderful writing is out there – both the blogs and the books I’ve discovered by fellow bloggers that I would never have known about if I hadn’t started blogging. And yes, it’s too easy to let the other writing slip – balance, as always, but I wouldn’t change my blogging journey so far!

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  8. Many congratulations Andrea on your one year of blogging, I have been anticipating your post and I was not disappointed, nor did I expect to be! I am so glad that we met here in the blogosphere, I find your writing so thought-provoking, evocative, beautifully descriptive and it captures me from start to finish every time. I relate to everything you share here and in every way. You have more discipline than me I think because I have yet to see if I can keep up with the challenges I’ve set myself but I admire you greatly for the goals you have set for yourself and are sticking to so that you can concentrate on your other writing.
    I will definitely be looking forward to your blog posts no matter the gap in between. I love your photographs as well as your writing and I want to thank you too for all your encouragement of my writing and my blog. I wish you every success with all your writing, I admire you greatly – Sherri

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  9. I have all of those thoughts too! Especially stopping to wonder every once in a while what I’m doing. 🙂 It’s still hard to press that publish button even after two years. Sometimes I’d rather just travel around and comment but even that helps because there’s always something to inspire. Like you said, another happy surprise was stopping to photograph different outdoor scenes and noticing things like that more because of it. I never thought I’d get to know so many people from all over the world and that’s been a wonderful surprise too.

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    • I suppose most of us have those thoughts now and again, but the good thing is that we obviously don’t listen too hard! There are still some posts where I worry about hitting the button, but I love the writing so much that voice tends to get drowned out.

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  10. One of my facebook friends saw a link to your blog from mine in the “Blog of the year post”, and particularly commented on how much they liked your blog.
    Personally, I think your posts are most thought provoking and I love your style and voice.
    Had you thought about writing a shorter post once a week, rather than a longer one once a fortnight? I’m not that good at writing long posts and find it much easier to write a novel! That’s why I mostly post haiku and photographs, two or three times a week.

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    • Thank you for those comments Sarah, that’s great to know. I hadn’t thought about writing shorter posts – I’m not very good at being brief – I always admire people who can write flash fiction, or indeed how you manage to convey so much in a haiku! I have noticed that word counts for short stories seem to be getting shorter, so it’s something I maybe need to practice 🙂

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  11. Yes, I wasn’t aware when I started that blogging is really about the conversations between bloggers — that is, if I’m writing with the goal of bringing about the most possible engagement between me and readers. Ideally it’s a conversation that I enjoy, and it’s not one I engage in for the sake of being seen, and I think I’ve largely achieved that goal with the blogs I now read and respond to.

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  12. Congrats on the one-year anniversary! Also, you have some wonderful ideas here that I’d soon follow myself! The thing about blogging is that it’s what you make of it. Some post every day, some every so often. There is no right way and your post makes it clear! Good job!

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  13. First let me say, congratulations on your first year. That is a milestone. I agreed with everything you said. I especially related to the surprise in how many wonderful people (across the world) I didn’t expect to connect to when I began. I got addicted to it and neglected my other writing as well. I was told to blog to get a readership as an author. I didn’t want to create a blog with the only topic being about writing. I wanted it to be what I like to write about, be it in my memoirs and nonfiction, most of which has to do with the human spirit. Just recently I had a well-accomplished author friend of mine tell me I needed to stop blogging about life and start blogging about my writing to promote myself. It perturbed me. I’m not going to write something that I don’t enjoy writing. Sorry this got so long. Thank you for sharing your tips.

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    • Thanks Lori, it looks as though we’ve shared a lot of experiences on the blogging journey. I agree you shouldn’t just write about your writing only to promote yourself – you’ll only enjoy it and continue if you’re writing things you enjoy. I think I’d get bored fairly quickly only talking about my writing!

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  14. Such a great post! Your best as far as I am concerned. So much said and with such vigor and power.
    My blogging life started 4 years ago (according to WP); however, the first year was very spotty and I really delved into if fully in mid-Feb of 2011, almost a year after my stroke.
    You are right; I, too, would love thousands of people to view my posts each day, but, as you said, then I would lose touch. I have about 230 followers now and with those I can’t read all 230 all the time. It is just too much. I understand now that you read what and who you want and enjoy it. I love commenting but can’t always.
    Yes, I have neglected my writing for my posts, but my overall writing has really increased and I had never published before beginning my blog.
    It is all so wonderful!
    Thanks,
    Scott

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  15. Happy Blog Birthday, Andrea!
    This is a helpful, specific and encouraging list. My favorite is the “allowing yourself to evolve” advice, which is true in both life in general and blogs specifically. You have an excellent combination of writing, living, sharing and thinking in your posts!

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  16. Congratulations, Andrea, on your year of blogging. I can identify with almost everything you talked about on why you enjoy it.

    Unlike you, I didn’t write when I was young or even had an inclination to write until 2007. It was the farthest thing from my mind but I’m glad I discovered it. A whole new world has opened up to me with a connection of writers around the world.

    I’m happy to join your readers and follow along on your adventures.

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  17. Thanks for the great tips! I’ve been blogging for the past five months and right now the number of posts are 111. If you see them, they are in different genres. It seems like I’m doing something wrong as good writers are very cautious. while I’m too impulsive. I write and write with closed eyes or else the ideas will slip out of my mind. Seems like I need to stop blogging!

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    • Thank you Alka – that’s a lot of blogging in five months! I don’t think there’s any right or wrong – those are the things that work for me, but as long as you’re true to what you want to get from blogging it will work for you too 🙂

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