Lessons from one year of blogging

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A year ago I decided to take a (mostly blind, directionless) leap into the world of spilling one’s thoughts into the internet, a.k.a. “I made a blog.”  I had been pondering starting a blog for a few months prior to that point, but I always pushed it off for various reasons, ranging from “I’m too tech-challenged to run a blog” to “I won’t have anything interesting to write about.”

But on April 17, 2012, I decided to ignore those reasons and I set up an account on Google Blogger, and I posted my first entry.  I had no clear goals or aspirations for my blog, and I didn’t have a posting schedule.  I just wanted a place to record the thoughts that I was comfortable sharing with other people.  And so far, the blogging world has been pretty good to me.  Blogging has helped me to experiment with other writing voices and it’s helped me distill and become conscious of my values.  And other people have been quite receptive of my posts, which is always good.

To mark my one-year bloggiversary (or however you spell it…), I thought I’d make a list of some of the things I’ve learned from being a blogger.  This is by no means a complete list; these points are just the lessons that I thought were most worth sharing.  And they’re not in any particular order.

Heeere we go!

1. Only writing when inspiration strikes is bad practice.  Really.   I used to be this type of writer, believing that creativity was a passive process involving waiting for the Muse to tap me the shoulder and whisper ideas into my ear.  But I’m finding that’s not a good idea, because it’s a good way to ensure that I never grow as a creative person.  Sometimes I have to go out and find the Muse myself, not wait for her/him/it to come to me.  I have to go out and see and do new things if I ever hope to grow as a writer and to have a constant supply of fodder to choose from.  I’m finding that creativity comes from without as well as within.  It’s an active process, not passive.  Similarly…

2. Writing takes discipline.  If you want to be a good writer, not only do you have to go out and look for inspiration–you have to make writing a consistent practice.  This is a lesson I’m still learning, mostly because my senior year of college is making it difficult for me to make this blog a priority.  But I think having a posting schedule is important because it ensures that I’m always thinking about things to write about.  And I think having a posting schedule has been good for my blog traffic; since developing one, I’ve noticed that, while I’m not getting visitors at all hours of the day, my blog does seem to be getting a regular stream of clicks, even between posts.  That’s always encouraging.

3. It’s okay not to have a niche.  When I first got into blogging, all the tips I read for first-time bloggers included an item that said something like “write what you’re passionate about.”  That was a bit discouraging at first because I didn’t think I was passionate enough about anything to make a blog about it.  But it turns out that there are a ton of people out there who, like me, don’t feel compelled to blog about cooking, arts and crafts, God, motorcycles, traveling, or the like.  We just want to be able to write about what it’s like to inhabit our skin and to think our thoughts.  Maybe being niche-less is its own niche.  I like it.  There’s lots of wiggle room for potential post topics while still not turning my blog into a dump for the random thoughts of Erin Daly like my old blog was.

4. Your story matters.  I read something at the beginning of my essay writing class this semester that said that beginning writers often have one of two mindsets that prevent them from writing:  they think they’re too mysterious and weird for anybody to understand what they write, or they think they’re not interesting enough and therefore have nothing worthwhile to write about.  I tend to fall into the second category.  I don’t think I’m a very interesting person, and I don’t know if I’m saying that out of modesty or because I really, really don’t believe I’m that interesting.  But people seem to be responding well to my blog posts, which tells me that readers beg to differ.  I firmly believe that we all have stories that are worth sharing, even though I sometimes have difficulty believing that about my own life.  Blogging is my way of helping myself believe it.

Here’s to another year of blogging and maybe more after that!

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