Maintaining a Blogging Presence, Catalysts, and Inspiration

As much as I love being online, blogging, Tweeting, and the like, I don’t like how demanding it feels sometimes.  How, if I don’t write a captivating post or send out X number of Tweets, then I’m somehow falling behind.  How, if I don’t read and respond to some loyal Stew’ reader’s posts, then I’m giving them the short end of the stick.  How you might feel like you’re missing something if you’re not checking your Twitter feed.  Sometimes, I’m excited to publish a post–I just know it will resonate with readers–and then there is marginal response.

Blessed to have the opportunity to study in Europe this summer, I had plenty of time to observe, reflect, and gather "sparks" for new writing.

Blessed to have the opportunity to study in Europe this summer, I had plenty of time to observe, reflect, and gather “sparks” for new writing.

Maintaining a blog is a challenging endeavor, and I don’t recommend it if you’re not passionate about the writing process and discovery of new ideas.  The process of finding, refining, and revising my place in the real and digital world is what keeps me blogging.  If readers comment, great.  If readers don’t comment but I’ve enjoyed the process of composing a post, I’m cool with that.

For new bloggers out there, take heed: Melissa over at Freeing Imperfections blog has some solid realizations for new bloggers.  Here’s what she wishes she’d known when she began blogging.  Highlights include:

1. Blogging is not easy and it’s incredibly time-consuming - at first.

10. Not everyone will care that you have a blog. But if you care, the people who want to read your blog will follow.

14. Social media is good for blog growth. Before I started my blog, I thought being on it more would be a bad thing. Without social media, my blog would still be in the dark with no readers, reaching no one.

I’m conflicted, at times, over how much time I spend in front of a screen; this concern has appeared here and here and here in Mindful Stew.  Regarding Melissa’s point about social media, I don’t like to feel obligated to promote blog posts on Twitter or Facebook, but I do enjoy ensuing dialogue when folks leave comments.  It’s exciting to know that something you put out there strikes a chord with readers.  And now that I’ve dropped my number of posts to three or four a month, I try to be deliberate about publishing.

I want to write about what matters to me with a connection to more universal ideas and experience.  I want to write on Saturday mornings over several cups of coffee, and I want to write after experiencing an idea itch when I witness something out there in the world or online, whether it be a quote, a visit to the Farmer’s Market, or a news blurb.   I’m always fascinated by what great bloggers and writers out there like Caitlin KellyAnnie Murphy Paul, and Terry Heick encounter as catalysts for their own posts.

Soon, the school year will begin and I’ll have a deluge of new experiences and faces to provide sparks for reflection and analysis, and my own desire to balance digital and “analog” life will be put to the test.

I know I’ll have students who are constantly connected–many seemingly addicted–with their iPhones and Androids.  Part of me wants to tell them to disconnect, to observe the world around them and slow down their thinking, without mediating life through a screen. Another part of me knows it’s my job to help students navigate and use the digital world more productively.  

Although it’s not a new calendar year, the start of the school year marks a major shift for writing/blogging educators out there–we might have a ton to say, but finding time is tricky.  I look forward to continuing blogging on the ‘Stew, in addition to a blogging gig over at the Center for Teaching Quality.   Happy blogging, everyone.

What shifts have you experienced in maintaining your digital presence?  What tips would you give to beginning bloggers?  What are your “go-to” sites, experiences, or observations that often spark your own blog posts?

17 thoughts on “Maintaining a Blogging Presence, Catalysts, and Inspiration

  1. I felt the same way about the pressures of blogging. But, in the end, I truly do enjoy the process of writing. It’s my most authentic means of expressing myself and it’s the writing process itself that has helped me recognize this serendipitous finding.

    I find it’s a catch-22. I want to be writing every day, But, there is nothing to write about unless you are out living your life and taking part in experiences that move you to write.

    In the end, I do my best to open up the channel to my true self and experience life. I instinctively feel when there is that something that needs to be expressed, and that is when I write. It can’t be forced, it must flow effortlessly. That is when the deep connections shine through.

    Although I would be lying if I said I didn’t thoroughly enjoy readers, followers, and comments, in the end I write for myself as a means of self-expression with the hope of helping others do the same.

    Great insights … thanks for the awesome post!

    • Dave, thanks for the comment!
      What you say about the instinctive feel resonates strongly with me. Sometimes, during the course of a day, I’ll notice or think of something and type a note on my phone, eager to begin a draft at some time in the near future. Glad you seem to have found blogging as such a productive mode of self-expression, look forward to checking out your blog.

  2. This is a great post. I struggle w/this too. I’m only able to put out maybe 2 posts a month and I keep hearing, you need more, more, more! But it has to be a worthwhile read, so it’s tough to produce that all the time. I think we need to remember what made us sign up for a blog in the first place, what are the goals. Make sure it works for us and try not to get swept away with what the experts think. If we need to make a living out of it someday, maybe we need to listen then, but right now, lots of experiments are needed to see what works for us. Thanks for all the links and ideas too…

    • Robin,
      Thanks for stopping by. Do you feel internal pressure to create more posts, or is this pressure coming from an outside source?
      Why do I blog? and What are my goals? are great reminders for everyone.

  3. Hi, thanks for this, I enjoy reading your blog. I’m not on Twitter for the precise reason that I don’t want to feel guilty for not being on it 24/7. I don’t want to feel that I’m expected to be on the computer more than I want to be. I know this sporadic connectivity means that I don’t write on my blog as often as I could / ‘should’, but it seems to suit me best. When I’m inspired, I generally do write – and when I’m inspired to do other stuff, I do that.

    Regarding social media, I took a decision not to publicise on facebook etc as I wanted my blog to remain anonymous. This frees me up to say what I want to say without worrying about what people I know may think (I write about a lot of personal stuff). I’m sure it’s meant that I have fewer followers than I could do otherwise, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how many I have, considering I don’t publicise it at all and only very few friends know about it.

    Keep going – but don’t feel chained to the internet!

  4. Timely post for me, I’m going to share your insights with a blogging group that I lead. It took me over 5 years to decide to blog, but once I jumped in, I have found it quite stimulating and now want to share it with others.

  5. Thanks for the compliment! So sweet of you.

    I am very fortunate in that I work alone at home, with no kids or pets whose needs take precedence, so whenever I have an idea for a blog, I’ll bang it out, even a few grafs before I lose the idea.

    Yesterday’s inspiration, of all things, was a dragonfly trapped in my dining room and a REALLY bad day that left me in tears — a very rare reaction. But often something out there becomes a metaphor or (as one reader said) a parable. That one did.

    I think beginners set a bar both too high and too low. They wait for their posts to be “perfect” (no such thing exists) and get paralyzed by perfectionism, or they never blog at all and wonder why they have no audience. An audience, de facto, wants to hear something! So once you start, esp. if you gather followers and comments, why stop or slow down?

    The world is filled with interesting moments. You have to (as you note in your next post) be present enough to pay attention to them…then see what’s in them that you can riff off of and share.

  6. Dear Mindful Stew,
    Why do you enjoy blogging? Do you find solace in blogging? How does blogging make your life better? Why did you start?

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