The follow is a list of my blogging imperatives, including verbose explanations, derived from my experiences in my first year of blogging. Since I first wrote it, six months ago, it has proven tremendously helpful in keeping me focused while I find my place in the writing world. I highly recommend writing something like this for yourself.
1. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND MAKE MINDFUL CHOICES
There are five hundred forty-seven different reasons why people blog. I have determined my goals, and I actively try not forget them. I consider myself a writer, rather than a blogger. The website I created was intended to establish my online presence. The essays, lists and tutorials I post on my blogs are like my resume. I cannot deny the thrill I get when I get an email from a company asking me to review a product or attend the press party for the new Target opening downtown. I do a little, ‘Yippee! People are finding me here!’ dance. After that, I remember I don’t want to review products and I’m not interested in selling ad space on my site. I want to sell my words. I’m interested in having a newspaper column. I covet the space on the backside of the last page in magazines. I will write a book or twelve. I want to read my essays on stage and help sponsor good causes. (Watch out LTYM, I’ve got my eye on you.) Whoops, I just wrote myself a mission statement.
I am easily distracted from my intentions when I see what other writers/bloggers are doing, so making an effort to keep on track with goals is crucial to my progress.
Getting side-tracked on social media sites is another potential way to thwart achievement.
It is, no doubt, essential to spend significant time utilizing social media. We learn, engage, and promote ourselves there. But Twitter and Facebook are like parties that are always in full swing and we can stop in anytime we want. There is a never-ending stream of novelty and entertainment. The line is fine between beneficial and detrimental use of time with social media. I have to set limits and remember my number one priority is to create promotion-worthy content.
2. PARTICIPATE IN MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT
I would be nowhere without other writers/bloggers who do similar work. We learn from and support each other. The relationships I have formed this last year developed over my natural interest in their work and through my desire to do what they do. When I began blogging, I knew of no other bloggers. I began by scouring the Internet, a maniac with a cramped clicker finger.
Image: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr
The word ‘tribe’ gets use a lot in the blogging world. The idea is that everyone should have one. I have made meaningful connections with incredible people who are talented writers, and I consider my tribe. I put emphasis on ‘my’ because I feel each tribe is specific per person. I don’t expect to hit it off with everyone in a given group. I am gathering my people and understand that others have their own people. I try not to give into pressure to follow a crowd. Keeping company with those I feel most at ease with ensures a trueness of course. My writer relationships not only create opportunities, they lend more meaning to my work and bring more joy to my life.
If I’m not touched by an essay, blog post, or joke online, I don’t share it. If I am not enhanced by what someone has to say, I don’t click ‘follow’ or ‘like’. Perhaps this makes my own ‘follows’ and ‘likes’ grow more slowly, but this kind of organic growth feels authentic and gives me the warm fuzzies.
3. LET YOUR WORDS (AND NEGATIVE OPINIONS OF THEM) GO.
At first, putting my words out in the world made me feel like I was stripped naked and duct taped to a flag pole. It was exhilarating, exposing new parts of myself to the fresh air and sunshine, and nerve wracking as I was left unable to protect my tender bits from anything harmful that might be hurled my way. The longer I remain strapped the pole, the thicker my skin becomes. I am in control of what hurts me. An unfavorable response to what I write, whether in the form of negativity or the sound of crickets chirping is not the final judgement of my work.
Blogging gives further proof that no one can control how they are perceived.
There will always be at least one person who feels as you do, one who feels the opposite and another who completely misconstrues your meaning, flies off the handle and lashes out at you over the Internet. (I’m having t-shirts made.) I don’t mess with the last person, I can’t fix their problems and it isn’t my job. I have seen readers get up-in-arms over the most benign essays. Even with properly executed punctuation and intonation, interpretation varies by individual.
I write humor disguised as seriousness and seriousness disguised as humor, I can’t let people know when I am kidding, or bending my true feelings for humorous effect. Sometimes I need to write something that sounds funnier than I, or it, might actually be. Any reader who accuses me of being serious when I’m not trying to be or bashes my opinion, when I’m not specifically sharing it, is missing my point. If I were trying to please everyone, I would edit endlessly and never finish writing anything. Because it is impossible to please everyone. The reason has something to do with the cycles of the moon, differing political affiliations, and varying diets.
4. KEEP UP WITH YOURSELF
Each writer/blogger has a different life off-screen. I have to keep this in mind when I get discouraged noticing how frequently other writers get posts out. I have two small children I stay home with all day. Some of my writer friends work part-time at other jobs, some have school-age children, some of them devote full-time hours to writing, and some of them are away at clown college.
At this time, I cannot produce written content more than once a week without sacrificing my family and my well-being. So I don’t. Even with that schedule, not all of my posts can be word heavy. (Enter quick lists, tutorials and the occasional photo slideshow.) I need time to work on the big pieces behind the scenes. I need time to submit pieces elsewhere for publication. I need time to sleep!
I would bet my whole bottle cap collection that time is something every writer/blogger desperately wishes they had more of. Three times more than my current allotment would be awesome.
I don’t let comparing myself to other writers accomplishments make me feel bad. Say a friend gets an essay published somewhere I am hankering to be. I do my best to let the feeling that I’m missing out, come in and pass away quickly. The thought I want to have and hold onto is, “That will be me soon.” This is my key to motivation.
And if that doesn’t move me, I try this super sappy mantra: I have the power to make my writing everything I want it to be.
---This post was first published by the fabulous Julie Deneen of Fabulous Blogging.
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