I’m not fishing for compliments here. I’m simply echoing the advice that every single young writer of my generation has received: “Get a blog.”
It makes sense to an adult mind; a kid who wants to write should do everything in their power to get better. Blogging forces someone to write coherently and often. It makes the writing widely available to critics and consumers alike. The blogger has to develop a brand or theme to pique public interest. All good stuff.
Other to-dos come before blogging: writing a lot, reading a lot, getting a degree, sending work to publications and websites and basically anyone who will read it. But blogging is by far more immediate and pressing of a task than any of the others. You can blog at literally any time (read: if you’re not blogging now, you could be missing something! There is never enough public opinion, the internet screams!). You can blog about literally anything you want. The longer you work on it, the bigger/better/more famous you get (or so you hope).
I have felt for a long, long time like a bad writer simply because I wasn’t a blogger. I mean, I had this website/WordPress “thingy” that I used to catalogue my work, but I didn’t keep a real blog. It was a website masquerading as a blog. With everyone in my life telling me to blog, I decided recently that it was time to start. One problem: I had (and still have) no idea what to write about.
I went to friends who had blogs–not lifestyle blogs or nail art blogs, but catalogues of their existence. Something more my style, less gimmicky. I asked them, “Why do you blog?” The responses were surprising:
“I did it mostly for the attention.”
“I don’t know.”
“No one’s really supposed to see it.”
No one said, “To improve my writing,” or “As an artistic project.” I had secretly held the belief that blogs were self-indulgent, dishonest vessels for writing that the author wouldn’t bother to publish elsewhere, but expected friends and families to read. Blogs were for quickly telling Aunt June about a summer in Paris/India/Timbuktu. Blogs made it easier for the silent Facebook stalkers from high school to gage your emotional health. Blogs, it seemed, weren’t being written for the reasons that everyone was telling me to get one.
My fear is that any blog I write wouldn’t be worth reading without the “hook” I can’t seem to come up with. So what is a young writer to do? Hold out on the trend and hope that an employer doesn’t ask to see “Your Blog” in an interview? Give in and find a schtick–inventing palindromes as metaphors for life, chronicling interviews with sad-looking recycling bins in NYC?
Neither. I’m going to just keep writing about travel (puns like “Phun in Philly” might crop up) and my writing philosophy. But for now, I think I need to just begin. Find my passion and write. Discover threads in my writing that lead to themes, maybe even longer pieces. Encourage myself to send things to publications along the way. Shamelessly call myself a blogger.
Or perhaps the shame will still be there. It’s not easy to be shame-less, but it is easy to act through the shame. This is my experiment in writing, my writing project, my attempt at stylistic improvement. I know why I’m doing it, and that’s all that I can ask to guide me.
Some great links about blogging:
- “How to Blog,” Advice from Arianna Huffington and more
- “The Benefits of Blogging,” by Corey Eridon
- “15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog,” the Minimalists