Monday 8 April 2019

Blogging: Why Do It?

I got into the A-Z Blogging Challenge because of inspiration by Keith Davies, an internet contact of many years acquaintance (back to the heyday of USENET), who has been involved since 2013. That was my first and only attempt until this year; I got as far as the letter E. I accidentally got the letter A in 2018, and so far this year I’ve reached April 8 and only just started the letter B. At the expected one post a day, I can’t make it all the way to Z, and at my current rate of 1/week, will be lucky to get to E. So why bother? I spent a bit of time today exploring my feelings and working up a rationale (or rationalization; you decide!)

When I started this blog in 2011 I was off work with major refractory chronic depression and looking for a way to exercise my brain, hoping that would help me improve to the point where I could go back to work (which I did, in 2014, much to many people’s surprise). I had started writing fiction in 2006 for National Novel-Writing Month, for the same purpose, and had found it difficult but rewarding. The same turned out to be true for blogging, but on a much smaller scale. I’ve counted 74 posts in 8 years, about 9 per year – not even once per month. So clearly blogging hasn’t been as much a part of my mental furniture as fiction.

I never expected much of an audience. Blogspot doesn’t seem to keep track of page views, so there’s no good way to find out. There are a few people who tell me they have been reading my blog, but it’s never had wide readership and I don’t expect it to expand much more.

So why do it at all?

Since I started writing fiction, I’ve been taking lessons online, and via the Writing Excuses podcast, and on the Writing Excuses Retreat (in 2015 and 2017). A recurring piece of advice is: write about what you care about; write for yourself first. An audience of one is all you need; anything else is a bonus. And so, a few times per year, something comes up where I want to get my thoughts in order, or express something about how I see the world, and I write a blog post.

Why not just keep a private diary?

Well, there are those few people who read the blog and get enough out of it so they come back for more. And every so often I write something that I post to social media when I think a wider audience might be interested; there are sometimes a few “likes” suggesting other people may have read it, and even a comment or two once in a while. So there is a somewhat wider audience that just me.

Why go for 26 posts?

This one stumped me at first. I made my “A” post after seeing Keith’s this year, without having applied much conscious thought. Reflection suggests it’s because I actually wanted a challenge this year, to increase the amount of writing I do, to stretch my brain and my skills even further. As time has gone on and I’ve got closer to retirement, I’ve more and more seen writing as a thing I like to do, that could serve as a long-term activity I can keep at even as life begins to slow down.

Will I get all the way to 26?

I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. I’m more susceptible than most to all-or-nothing thinking: why start something if you can’t get it exactly right? Because getting something partly done is better than nothing at all, and I expect the journey is going to be rewarding enough to try.

Maybe you should too!

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