Five lessons from a year of blogging
I have now been writing decent length articles on this site for about a year. I have learned a lot in this time, mostly about writing but also how to express your feelings and how to marshal your ideas and passions into action. For this month’s “five on the fifth”, I would like to share with you some of the things I have learned.
- Writing posts consistently is hard… There are a lot of things that get in the way of regular posting. Sometimes it is ambition undermines me, I have ideas for posts that are easy to think up that turn out to be much harder to actually write. Other times life does just get in the way, it is a time-consuming activity to write five hundred or more words every day. I like to write posts out longhand before typing them up. I often find mistakes or horrible phrasing when I do this and often what seemed like a simple matter of typing something up becomes a bit of a mission. Of course, there are times when I am just lazy or uninspired.
- …except when it is easy. I discovered early on that having a few arcs through the posts was a good idea as it makes you think a few in advance about what to do next. I prefer to be a generalist but it is nice to have the movie reviews, the understated classics and the JG Ballard novels to fall back on. Truth be told I am a little bored of Ballard now but even if I retire that particular strand of posts (Spoiler: Don’t worry, High-Rise is on the way soon) I can always resume it later. Meanwhile, I can pad out the off days with some quotes or some photos.
- Easier to read is easier to write. I hope that the blog is easier to read now than when I started. I still find myself producing the odd clunky phrase now and then but the number of passive sentences is decreasing. The unexpected benefit of this has been that I find it easier to check earlier posts in search for inspiration about what to write next. Early on, I would often end up editing old posts into something more comprehensible instead of writing new material. The “After the Deadline” feature of Jetpack for WordPress has been very helpful in training me to write better.
- WordPress is a lot of fun. The statistic is that WordPress now powers about 500 million websites. It is not hard to see why, it is easy to install, easy to customise to suit to your tastes and most of all, it rewards you for continuing to produce content. I have installed all sorts of plug-ins, including a word count plug-in that tells me that I have (up to this post) written a total of 89,032 published words. If Wikipedia is to be believed, that is about the length of a pretty long novel. At least now I know I could write a novel in a year even if it was a rather surreal one featuring a 10K run, spiders and an Apatosaurus.
- I still have a lot more to do, a lot more to learn.
Adding to this footnote some years later (2017) I realise that not all blog posts are permanent. Sometimes you write what you need to at the time and then take it down later. We don’t have to be permanently changed by what we once wrote on a Wednesday afternoon.