When I began blogging in October of 2015, I never imagined what it might become, or how it might change the immediate landscape of this writing journey I’m on. In the nearly 6 months since I’ve started blogging, I’ve made 58 posts, have had 256 visitors with 592 views, 134 comments, 149 likes, and have garnered 33 followers. I have no idea if these numbers are fantastic or dismal, but I’ve learned not to worry too much about the stats. Though stats can be useful (and a little ego boost every time someone likes, comments, or follows), they can easily turn into a an obsession, distracting from the real purpose here: writing.
So what have I achieved from blogging since I began? My very first blog post listed my reasons and goals for starting a blog. They were:
- Establish an online platform.
- Connect with other readers and writers.
- Talk about what I love (books and writing) in a hopefully thoughtful manner.
- Improve my writing.
I remember thinking, “I’ll give it a year and see what happens.” Halfway through my trial period I find I can comment on this question already.
As far as an online presence, obviously a blog is a consistent one if done regularly. I don’t blog everyday, but I’ve managed two to four posts a week, every week, since October. In that time, I’ve connected with some great people, writing or otherwise, especially my faithful blogging friend Jenna Brownson. I’ve talked a lot about books, writing, movies, television, or anything else that has tickled my fancy. And in establishing a regular writing routine, I do believe my writing has improved.
However, I’m writing less fiction these days. At first, I was worried. I thought maybe the blog was taking up too much time and distracting me from my “real” writing. But I look at it differently now. I discovered that I loved blogging, and that fiction wasn’t the only avenue I could take for writing. I thought I was “blocked” in writing fiction; I think what was really happening was that I wanted to go in a different direction, at least for awhile.
I have one published personal essay under my belt, but thought at the time it might be a one-time occurrence. Now I feel that the personal essay, and any kind of creative non-fiction, is something I want to explore further. I recently started the blog Beautiful Detour, about my daughter Lilly, who has spina bifida. I wanted it to be more than a site announcing “Look at my beautiful disabled daughter!” I want to write about the hard stuff, the painful stuff, the confusing stuff, as well as the beautiful moments of our lives.
I also spent years and years writing in countless journals about my memories and personal experiences. Now, I’m not the most fascinating or brilliant or exciting person in the world. But I think every brain is worth picking, including mine. Maybe I’ll mine a nugget or two that’s worth illuminating.
The key to personal essays, however, is to take the personal and transform it into the universal.
To help me with that, I’m reading “Crafting the Personal Essay,” by Dinty W. Moore. I’m taking my time working through it and doing the writing exercises it offers. It’s bringing up a lot of interesting things that I’m excited to explore further. And as long as I’m still excited about writing, I must be on the right track.
Some writers wonder if blogging is worth the time and effort. And I suppose the answer is: it depends. It depends on your goals and reasons for doing it in the first place. For me, I’m achieving my basic goals and having fun doing it. For me, the answer is: absolutely.