The beginning of a new year is a good time to think about our blogging goals. Here are five thoughts on how you can become a better blogger in 2014!
1. Remember Who You Are
Sometimes we get wrapped up in expectations, in blogging strategies or in what all the other people are doing! But, the only way you will be a happy blogger is if you’re able to be yourself and share your true thoughts and ideas with others. As I’ve mentioned before, way back when I first started blogging, I thought that every successful mommy blogger had to blog about cute crafts and witty moments with their children. While I HAVE on occasion pulled out a cute craft or two, and my children are very witty at times, when I would sit down to write, I felt like I was pulling teeth just to get anything half way decent on the screen. No wonder my blogging would wax and wane and I would disappear from my blog for months at a time! It wasn’t my true self, talking about those things, so it was too hard to maintain. Once I found a few topics that were my PASSION, then it was much easier to find things to write about, and to find my own voice in those conversations.
So, think of 5 things that you LOVE – could be anything from gardening, knitting, road trips, reading, drawing, cooking for friends, date nights, photography or even, yes, crafts. Brainstorm it out and come up with a nice little list. Don’t think about topics or posts or keywords yet. Don’t think about ‘trending topics of 2014′ or what the top mommy bloggers are covering this week. You may even need to stop reading other blogs for a few weeks (gasp!!) in order to focus. You just want to come up with a good list of things you love! That is where you start. Then, under each main topic, come up with a list of loves, of memories, experiences, tips or even struggles associated with each. Now you have a list of topics to write about! Take one at a time and start mulling them over with words. This is YOU. This is what you want to share with your readers. Don’t be afraid! Get started!
2. Don’t Forget to Write for Writing’s Sake
I think many bloggers were once child diarists. Maybe we read Anne Frank and decided that keeping a diary was the most noble thing in the world! We wrote out our thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears. Not to anyone in particular, not looking for a reaction or feedback, but just to express ourselves and understand ourselves better. We fell in love with writing! But then… we grew up. We started writing papers for school. Speeches. Creating presentations. And then, finally, we found our calling to BLOG! Awesome!
But, one thing I’ve noticed about myself might be true for you, too. Once I started blogging, my personal journaling declined. I poured all my ‘writing energy’ into blogging and I forgot to just write for writing’s sake. For the first time, everything I wrote had an audience, and it definitely affected the way I wrote and what I wrote about. So, I suggest that even if you spend a lot of time each week writing blog posts, don’t forget just to write for yourself. Jot down your thoughts and musings in a private space, where you know you will never have an audience. You might be surprised at what you get! I think that constantly writing for an audience changes the way we we write, even subconsciously. We want to be liked, we want to sound smart, witty or unique. But there is a freedom, and maybe a hidden source of creativity, when we write where no one is reading. You may be inspired to share on a new topic, find your true ‘voice’, or hear God talking to you more clearly than you had before. Whether or not you ever share your private musings with the world, you will only be a better blogger when you continue to take time to write for yourself alone.
3. Bury Your Acorns
When the harvest is abundant, little woodland creatures stock up for the winter. They gather up their necessities and save them for the time when things are scarce. We, as bloggers, can learn a lot from these fuzzy little guys. We all have times in our lives when we are more prolific than others. It might be a vacation, a retreat, ‘that better time of the month’ for us women, or after reading an inspiring book. Whatever it may be, use this time to your advantage! Stock up on topic ideas. Keep a running list in your journal, on your computer or iPhone. Bookmark interesting articles to come back to. Or even jot down a few extra posts to save for a rainy day. When your mind is buzzing with ideas, try to capture them. Because no matter how certain you are that you will remember that awesome topic, you will most likely forget it in a few days. And, I find that knowing I have a few posts saved up helps relieve stress when I have a deadline coming up. Just knowing that they are there if I need them frees me up, and I end up writing better stuff in the end!
4. Make Blogging Worth It – Generate Meaningful Relationships
This blogging world can be a bit surreal sometimes. We spend all this time sharing our thoughts and feelings with the world, but often to people we do not even know, and may never know. Now, we can’t personally get to know every one of our readers, but I think any good endeavor in life should have the formation of meaningful relationships as one of its goals. This can happen in blogging, too! If a reader leaves a touching comment on your blog, don’t just reply back in the combox, but send them a personal email. If someone is having a hard time, send them an email or FB message telling them you are praying for them. If you come across a blog that you really love, send the blogger a message, telling them what you appreciate about their writing and how you relate to them. I remember coming across a blogger who was a: homeschooling, WordPress designing, book loving, Catholic Texan!! I just about jumped out of my skin with excitement. I shot off a hyped-up email, full of enthusiasm at finding someone “just like me”! I think I even told her she was my long-lost sister! (akward!) Turns out, she lives only a few hours away, and we’ve had several opportunities to hang out together in person, even attend a conference together, not to mention the gazillion emails and chat messages! Bottom line, don’t be afraid to be a PERSON while you are a blogger! (I think we forget that some times!) Share in each others joys and sorrows and I think you’ll find blogging to be much more rewarding!
5. Be Willing to Walk Away
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to hear the great Elizabeth Scalia talk at a Catholic Media Conference. Her presentation was FULL of amazing wisdom and insight, but there was one things that stood out. She said, “be willing to walk away from blogging at any moment” – that is the only way that we know that we have the correct perspective in blogging.
We need to recognized that we, as individuals, are so much more than our blog. Our souls, those of our family and friends, are infinitely more valuable than any blog post, stat chart or blogging award. We cannot allow our noble mission of writing to become our ‘god’. Because if we do, then the other things in our life will fall to it. And nothing good can come of that. So, we have to develop detachment from this thing we love so much – we have to be willing to pray, to offer up our writing to God, and to be willing to walk away if that is where He calls us.
The funny thing about holy detachment is this – when we place anything in its proper place in relation to God, blogging included – we allow His blessings to reach it more fully. So you may find that, as your detachment increases, so does the quality of your writing. The less ‘wrapped up’ you become in your blogging, the more honest, truthful and humble your writing will become. And that is the kind of writing that moves hearts.
God bless you!