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.
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 Kelly, Annie 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?