Don’t tell anyone, but this is actually the fifth or sixth time I have started a blog. My first attempt was in 2003 (prior to the blog explosion). I can remember writing my insights on the Iowa Caucus buildup that happens every presidential cycle.
Here it is 2008. Instead of hundreds of insightful entries there are three. What happened?
A couple of things. First, I really don’t struggle with writing. I write everyday. Blogging, however, is different. You have to find your voice. It’s a combination of a journal (which is too private) and an e-mail message, which can be too informal. After all, a blog will represent you to the world, and the last thing you want is a blog filled ideas and thoughts you will one day regret having published or with bad writing. Finding my blogging voice has been difficult.
Solution: Just write. I’m going to let my blogging voice emerge. The only way I know how to do this is to just write. There are time when I face a blank screen and I need to write something for a project. To get past the blank screen I usually just start writing. One technique I learned from Henriette Anne Klauser in her book, Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, Breakthrough Techniques for People Who Write, is to turn off my monitor and start righting. Too often there is a critical voice inside my head that’s correcting me as I go, and it becomes a distraction to the point that it keeps me from writing. Using the technique recommended by Klauser, I turn off my monitor and start writing. With zero feedback to judge my writing on, the critical voice has little, if any, input. It works.
Second, I have trouble focusing on one topic. Read your “how to blog” blogs, and they will advise you to find a niche topic and stick with it. Unfortunately, I have a lot of topics that interest me. Writing about one single topic is tough. In my world, many topics are interconnected. I understand the value of a niche blog if your interest is to make money or gain a faithful readership, but at the same time, I find the necessity of sticking to one topic too restricting.
Solution: To thine own self be true. Just as I must write to allow my blogging voice to emerge, I feel I must allow my blog to take shape and become what it becomes. Ultimately, if it is a reflection of me and of my interest, that is not bad. After all, I am most interested in writing about topics that truly interest me. In time, I may see a theme or niche begin to emerge, and if it interest me, I’ll follow that theme to see where it leads. Until then, I’m not going to restrict myself until I discover the ultimate niche.
Third, as a regular reader of blogs, I have observed a cycle: new blogs start and begin with a bang. Soon, the author is writing daily, sometimes many times a day, entries. Then the ads appear. Readership is up and so are the hopes that this will turn into something financially big. In time, however, the blog fails to meet the financial expectations of the blogger, and interest begins to diminish. The final stage is a dead blog. Though it used to be one of your favorite reading posts on the web, it hasn’t been updated for months. The truth is, for most of us, a blog is an individual effort that falls on top of many other responsibilities. There may come a time when all good things come to an end.
Solution: Understand and Practice the Law of Endurance. It is better to add a little bit to a blog a little at a time, and continue doing so for a very long time, than to attack it with a manic pace only to grow weary and give up. As a farmer, my Grandpa once observed that young in life he determined to add a little bit to his operation every year. During the depression it might have been as little as one more hog or another row of corn. Over time, however, (he lived to be 98 years old), his “add a little every year” practice showed huge dividends. We live in a day when everything has to be accomplished now. Whether it is farming or blogging (or any other area of life), the key is to keep at it. Add a little every year and never give up.
- Henriette Anne Klauser (web site)
- Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, Breakthrough Techniques for People Who Write. This is a wonderful little book that will help any writer learn to work with the way we are hardwired and the way we are taught at a young age to practice self-criticism when it comes to our writing. This book can help you transition from being a person who “dreams of being a writer” to someone who is a writer.