Thursday, 16 April 2015

How to Blog

     Just lately, I keep seeing blogposts about ‘how to blog’, or how to increase your blogging reach’, or ‘how to make your blog more successful’. And they irritate the shit out of me. Seriously. I really don’t like them. I’m sure they have the best of intentions, but frankly, it comes across as patronising, for one thing. But the main thing that annoys me about them is the assumption that people blog purely to get attention, or to reach a wide audience. Do they bollocks.  I can’t offer any blogging advice. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s not. My own blogging process is chaotic, contradictory, and frankly, all over the bloody place. Sometimes I write at home. More often, I have to get out of the house and force myself into a situation where I have no choice but to write.

     Sometimes I type straightaway, my fingers fused to the keyboard, hammering out thoughts I didn’t know I had until the emerged somehow, skipping the process of being articulated, considered and hovered over. More often, I write by hand, in one of the far too many notebooks I keep running, meaning that there are a ridiculous amount of blogposts I’ve scribbled down, then lost my nerve over, so they linger in the ether of half writing. Written, but not delivered. Written, but forever unread. Consigned to the recycling bin of an unopened page.

     Then there’s the ‘Ooh. Fuck. YES!’ notebook. Small enough to fit in the pocket of my bag, not suited to writing at length, it’s where I frantically scrawl the realisation of an idea a fleeting thought that occurs as I’m doing the school run, the hook of a post. Observations, moments, solutions. The small notebook is their net. I scribble six or seven words in there, to record that precious second when something suddenly makes sense. I say to myself I do it so that I won’t forget  what’s just occurred to me, but that’s bollocks. I don’t forget those moments. But when I get to the point of actually constructing something from that thought, then it’s a good place to revisit, to capture the idea I had. By recording it, I make it solid, tangible.

     God, this sounds so wankily pretentious. I’m not, honest. I’m the woman whose first real blogpost was about shagging Ed Balls. But… look. Your blog is your blog. It’s your own little corner of a room. Actually, scratch that. It is a room of one’s own. Your room. No one else is going to be responsible for it. You decorate it how you like. Stick in whatever is important to you. Some things, loads of people will like. Some things only a few people will. There will be things in there that mean nothing to anyone else but you. And that’s fine. Because although this is a room that’s open to the public, it’s also your place, your space, your refuge. You’re not doing it with anyone else in mind. So if there’s ugly stuff in there, so what?

     I’ve blogged before about what writing is for me. It’s a release. I do it because I have to, because writing it down helps me make sense of the world. I blog when the words force themselves out. I’ve blogged a few times when I’ve forced it. And it shows. Not only are they bad posts, about bugger all, but the words are wrong and it doesn’t work. But that’s me.

     I suppose what I’m leading up to is that you can’t be taught to blog. You’re not a ventriloquist. You have a voice, maybe similar to mine, maybe completely different. Your views and mine may be diametrically opposed. You may be more comfortable sticking to facts and photos, whereas I’m lazy, half-arsed, and emotionally incontinent. Doesn’t matter. If you want to blog, then, FFS, BLOG. If you want to blog, and the words aren’t there, leave it. I go through weeks where I don’t feel I can even write my own name with any confidence. I gave up on writing fiction a few months ago. It’s gone. Not just metaphorically. I threw out the notebooks, deleted the files, pretended I didn’t feel crushed by the events that made me take that decision. But the truth is, I’m not a writer, I’m a twatty blogger. And to be honest, blogging is too personal for my advice, or theirs, or any so called ‘blogging expert’ to mean anything to anyone other than our own selves.

     So blog. Blog about what matters to you, what’s important in your life, blog about your passions. But don’t blog to be read, don’t blog to grow your audience, don’t blog because you feel you ought to. You have a voice. You have a room. You have a blog.


Steph said...

I love this Lucy! I am with you on why I write - it helps me process stuff and is a bit like therapy on some subjects. Every now and then I think about stats, and then I realise it looks like a lot of hard work and would take all of the joy out of writing for me.

Marina Sofia said...

Hear, hear! You are so right! To hell with rules and regulations and success and platform building. If people had all the answers, then everyone would be successful. Blogging is my way of holding myself accountable for writing something (even if it's not my novel) and for having fun and interacting with others. I'd rather meet a few good people than have a billion followers hanging on my every carefully chiselled word any day!
I like your style. I like your insouciance. We need more people like that.

Lucy Benedict said...

Thank you both! :-) I think what ends up happening for some bloggers is that they get so worried about chasing readers and looking over their stats that they start self-censoring, and, not wanting to ruffle any feathers, they become very bland. Which will, ironically, make people less likely to read...

It shouldn't be about impressing people, or being a big blogger. it should be about the experience of blogging, and the benefits of it.