I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a few months now and I’m just starting to think about why I really do it. What am I trying to accomplish?
For the most part I started because that’s what all the experts said a writer is supposed to do, work social media every way you can to build a following and a brand. I never liked that approach much. It seemed crass and self-serving. I also never wanted to do the self-promotion thing and had no idea what to blog about anyway. I’ve always been more drawn to the notion of the recluse writer, the artist that lets his work speak for itself. That’s who I wanted to be. As with much of the advice I’ve followed since I started writing, I started blogging in spite of my reservations. Obviously, the people who advised doing so had infinitely more experience and knowledge about being a successful writer than me.
None of that mattered much since I’m pretty sure that no one is reading this anyway, since I haven’t publicized it in any way. Like I said, I’m not into the self-promotion thing. That might sound counterproductive, but it hasn’t turned out that way. It all depends on why you blog. I’m not blogging about the state of society, there are enough blowhards out there doing that already. If I were to keep a diary it sure wouldn’t be online and I don’t think my brand is strong enough yet to be actively promoted. For me, blogging is a combination of practice and discipline.
I’ve participated in a number of writing workshops over the years and most of the people I’ve met there tell me that they do it because they need the incentive. Essentially, they pay good money to be given a deadline and be forced to write. I’ll just skip over the question of if you have to be forced to do it, then do you really want to write? However, I do understand the reluctance to sit down at the keyboard. It usually takes the better part of an hour to talk myself into it and I get how having a deadline might help. For all of my former fellow workshoppers I suggest blogging, even if, and maybe especially, if nobody reads it. Create your own incentive, set your own deadline.
Do it on a schedule. Do it for the practice. Do it as if someone will read it, after all, someone might. That’s part of the reason I believe that writing a blog that almost no one reads is great practice. It’s the best of both worlds. You can write freely because you’re pretty sure you won’t be humiliated when the world reads the crap you spew forth, or at the very least the humiliation will be limited by the size of the audience. On the other hand, you’re not free to write total drivel because there might actually be someone out there reading it. I’ve found my blog to be an odd combination of freedom and accountability; freedom to write anything I want any way I want, but with the accountability of a schedule and a hypothetical audience.
I’m also in the middle of a larger project right now and the blog gives me a chance to break the monotony and obsession that comes with a seemingly never-ending task. I find it liberating to write something completely different once a week. In addition to useful practice, I find that it clears my head and gives me a chance to see my larger project from a different perspective when I resume work.
To sum up, I guess I’m a convert and proponent of blogging, just not for any of the reasons that were originally suggested to me. That pretty much sums up my experience in pursuit of writing. The path I choose rarely ends up at the destination I expected, though I’m usually pleasantly surprised when I finally arrive.