The power of blogging
A while ago, Cynthia of Musings of an Aspie wrote a great post about writing that got me thinking. She explained why she needs to write in order to shape her thoughts and communicate with others and herself, and she talks about how starting to write her blog has empowered her in her life and improved her relationships with her family and herself.
I’ve been thinking about the fact that I need to write too for the very same reasons Cynthia describes. I can also see that writing this blog is very important to me, and I’m disappointed that I’m not keeping it up like the great bloggers whose posts I enjoy reading.
In Blogging and Vulnerability, Andraya writes about the positive impact blogging has on her life, and reflects about what it takes to write a great blog*. She reasons that the best blog authors dare to ‘put themselves out there’ and be vulnerable; and that it makes their readers able to connect with them and trust them.
The power of virtual socialising
My pen name increasingly seems like ‘the realest** me’. My virtual life helps me to grow in all aspects of my life. The Internet is where I can express complex thoughts and feelings because I can do it the way that suits me best – in writing. On the Internet, solitude and social life aren’t enemies. And it gives me opportunity to connect with an audience*** that makes sense to me.
However, I find it difficult to complete & publish what I write. My backlog of drafts keep growing and growing, while the blog remains quiet on the surface. I enjoy the writing process in any case, but what ignite communication and social development is to put the thoughts out there for others to see; or for others to judge if that’s what they are going to do.
Here are the factors that I think prevent many posts from happening:
1. Trouble prioritising, reducing and ordering the content
The ideal for blog posts is relatively short, concise reflections around a clear point that loops nicely back to the title.
I’m overflowing with ideas and don’t know how to detangle topics from each other and write about just one sharp, concise point; when all I think about is so obviously all intertwined underneath the surface through a million associative paths … This is how I don’t get around to complete any post!
This post, for example, has already diverted into 5-6 drafts of tangentially related topics because it keeps getting too long. It has changed name at least 8 times as I branched sections off and saved them as new drafts on separate topics.
I don’t claim to have ever written anything that’s perfect, but some of it is quite good. It is very important to me to write high quality content. Here is a post about what I mean by quality writing.
A dash of perfectionism is good, but too much perfectionism makes slow (and blind!****). It takes a lot longer to edit a post sixteen times than two, particularly when each revision leads to major changes, and overall the writing loses its momentum.
Not being a native writer of English adds extra insecurity. Maybe my words and metaphors don’t always mean what I think they do?
Where perfectionism gets really toxic is if one starts to compare one’s own writing with others’. Feeling that I don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute, or worse: ‘I NEVER want to write like …’ [insert disliked blog genre/writing style here] creates negative ‘templates’ that block the free flow of ideas by guarding too hard against [insert negative template here]-ish writing.
3. Fear of vulnerability
Worries about privacy – the emotional and social vulnerability of myself and people I care about – create many blocks and often stops the magical little click on the blue ‘Publish’ button that make things happen. Or if I do click, wakes me up in the middle of the night because I feel naked on the Internet.
I write anonymously, so people who deliberately Google search on my real name to find something dubious (potential employers may do that), won’t find anything sensitive. That makes it easier to write. Still, though:
Writing a personal blog is vulnerable, that’s just the nature of it – Trial and error. The vulnerability is an integral aspect of its power to create personal growth and online relationships; but also a threat.
What matters is how it feels in the hours and days(+) after clicking ‘Publish’, and it is always hard to tell in advance. Sometimes it is hard to tell for a long time.
I have noticed that responses (comments, likes, spin-off posts) softens the sense of vulnerability. It makes it more like a conversation with friends, and less like a shout in a big dark space surrounded by a totally unknown and variable number of invisible strangers.
4. Bad conscience
Blogging, as a stereotype, has an aura of self-absorption and superficiality to it. It also tends to absorb a lot of time that could have been spent on people (as they would like) and duties.
My husband sees my hours spent in the blogosphere as a complete waste of time. The logic goes like this: when I write my blog it means that I have too much time and energy on my hands, and therefore should do more to find more work. Whether the job/freelance work search leads to any result is besides the point – it is the attitude that matters.
That goes for any major chunks of solo play/creative/research/communication time I spend on my computer. My husband thinks that I have an Internet Addiction (and he’s probably not totally wrong). ‘Come to bed now!’. ‘You have a problem!’ ‘You said 10 more minutes 40 minutes ago!’ ‘ You look like a Zombie… You went to bed WAAAY to late… again!’
I prefer to write in the quiet of the night because I hate interruptions. Nights are quiet sanctuaries. However, living a nocturnal life style means to be out of sync with the rest of the world, so that is not an officially sustainable practice.
I remember I used to be critical of my husband’s fondness of playing video games. He used to leave this world from time to time to disappear into in his war strategy game for hours, days and nights. I called it ‘video game addiction’ and a total waste of time. He used to defend himself and explain that it helped him to relax and wasn’t a waste of time; he said he learned many real life skills from playing the game.
Then I realised that he needs his video game world the same way I need to disappear into my own time. In fact I’m grateful for his playing time now, because it means I’m free to do what I want to do in the meanwhile. However, he doesn’t play much anymore… in a twist of irony, he has overcome his ‘video game addiction’ and now targets my ‘Internet addiction’.
Interruptions are demands for attention that tear into one’s work processes at all sorts of inconvenient times and break the work flows. For some people, like myself, being interrupted in a complex task means that it is difficult to pick up again where it was left off.
My wordpress dashboard’s ‘drafts’ section is a cemetery of dying posts that were closed down around midnight under pressure and never completed (I’m not directly complaining; I know my time consumption gets out of control when I’m hooked into a project, and that it isn’t OK to go to bed at 4 am in the morning. But frustrating it is.).
Objectively, I’ve have plenty of time at my free disposal compared to many others but subjectively, I feel like I am being interrupted all the time. When I am not being interrupted, then I expect to be interrupted any time, which is nearly as bad. The possibility alone switches on my defensive mode, where any social request seems like an enemy to keep off my territory.
I am now again the only human being in this house while my husband travels overseas, and hopefully I’ll be able to complete and publish a handful of posts in the next few weeks while I also try to find more work.
Thanks for reading – The next post will be about ideas for how to keep up more lively blogging habits.
* She already writes a great blog – read it here!
** I know it isn’t a real word. That English isn’t my native language doesn’t mean that I can’t reinvent it.
*** Audience here means blog writers as well as readers – most are both.
**** Added after I found several typos when I read the post on my tablet the next day!
The illustrations in this post are derived from the Morguefile Archives (mainly).