Who do you think you are?

descartes_blogger

Why blog? Why not keep a journal instead: a private escape for one’s thoughts, a keeper of secrets, a chalice to hold one’s innermost fears and desires. A journal will not be subjected to the scrutiny of anonymous readers. It will not open itself to judgement and criticism. Unless… it is discovered.

Like journal-writing, blogging is in many respects a private affair. We pour shards of our existence onto the page. Our words reveal as much as they conceal. A narrative develops over time and new truths are weaved into the old, at times displacing them. As for the elephant in the room? Ah yes. That small issue of it being public.

I was a child tiptoeing into adulthood when I started my first journal. Two weeks or so into the attempt I gave it up as a bad job. “Life is dull” was my swift conclusion. Or at least, this I thought of my life as it squiggled in ink on the page, and there was little fun to be had in chronicling pedestrian trials and tribulations. The following day I invented a story instead. My fictional alter-ego surpassed all expectations. There were adventures to be had, mysteries to be uncovered and unknowables to be explored. And, there was something else that appealed about this alternative: I could take others along on the journey by sharing my stories.

And this is the advantage any blog will always have over a journal: it is created to be shared, an endeavour that connects us with others and in doing so, it enriches our experience of story-telling, be that in the guise of writers, photographers, or artists.

There is a degree of danger associated with blogging: we can never be certain of our audience’s reaction. As a writer I am all too familiar with those negative voices in one’s head, the ones that whisper from the empty page, challenging: “Who do you think you are? What makes you think that you have something to say worthy of being read?” These demons do not discriminate. They haunt the greats and beginners alike.

Defining what constitutes good content will always be an exercise in subjectivity. Each blogger and reader are likely to have their own view of what is “good”. My first steps into the blogosphere were digital footprints of former experiences and creative passions. In time I learnt that good writing is never self-indulgent and always aims to serve the reader rather than yours truly (the writer).

There is one stumbling block that I ought to acknowledge before I say my goodbyes. Of late my blogging and writing commitments have been vying for mastery over the most precious of all resources: Time. There is a catch to being a writer: you have to write. The same goes for blogging. I am searching for a formula that will accommodate both without damaging the quality of either. When I discover it, I will be sure to let you know. Then again, you may be “in the know” already. If so… Care to share?

 

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43 thoughts on “Who do you think you are?

  1. Me, I use bog reading as relax time. It is a way to shift my mind away from work to something else. I limit my posting to when I am struck and _have_ something to say… same with comments. I do this in small doses. The English say that a change is as good as a rest, and I use this approach where the blog time is the change when my mind is too wound up and needs a rest 😉

    • The “small doses” approach may be exactly what I am searching for… It will necessitate some major adjustments on my side and a good dose of soul-searching. Thank you for sharing. Food for thought.

  2. Yeah, that voice is always there.

    I understand the time problem – I made a choice to put the blogging first for a year and see what I could accomplish with the help of friends. Come November, I’ll be reevaluating. I have projects on hold. I think a big social media network centered on a blog is worth the gamble of a year, but those projects can’t sit and collect dust much longer than that.

    I have no solution to the time problem, except maybe think about blogging once a week, or even twice a month. People who really like your posts will follow by email if you give them the option so they’ll know when you post. I follow three or four bloggers that way, because they don’t post often and they are always good.

    I’ll miss your posts, but I do understand. Writers have to put the writing first. I wish you all the best.

    • When it comes to that voice I find that the best way to counter it is by not giving into the fear it engenders. Best to silence it before it drowns out all else.
      Regarding prioritising, your advice is very helpful, Gene’O, especially now that I get a better sense of how you have approached the issue. Thank you.
      When I first set claim to the label of “writer” a fellow journeyman told me that there are two key question to answer first: Why do you want to write? and What are you prepared to sacrifice?
      The first question was certainly much easier to answer (for me at least) than the second. I have postponed my reply, but now I have finally reached a point where I can no longer ignore it. I can’t write unless I have several consecutive hours undisturbed by anything else. It takes at least a half hour to get warmed up into the process and then it is another three or four before I am ready to take a break. Since I have a daily target I work towards there is little time left for a blogpost at the end of it. Hence my dilemma.
      I need to find a better time-management model perhaps, but so far it’s been rather tough.

      • Yes. These issues are all looming on the horizon for me. I’ve only been comfortable identifying myself openly as a writer for a couple of years, but I think your fellow journeyman gave you some good advice.

        My thought on blogging is – it should be fun first, and if you’re trying to be a writer, it shouldn’t be the only writing you’re doing, unless you’re satisfied being a writer of blog posts. If it’s not fun, takes away from other goals, or keeps you from drafting a piece of writing for a publisher, definitely time to scale back.

        But you can always put together a post on an odd day when you’ve finished a chapter or whatever and just need to zone on the internet and recharge a little. That’s about all the advice I feel qualified to give.

      • All very good advice, Gene’O and I will certainly scale back. Just have to get into a rhythm with writing and see how much time I have to spare every day/week. It may be a case of scheduling several posts for the week, but doing so only once a week so that it doesn’t interfere with my work. I will miss the daily engagement, certainly, but unfortunately something has to give.

      • Half of the posts, or more, are scheduled. I’m actually unable to sign in to wordpress for most of the day. I have days where I spend 2-4 hours writing/editing and then schedule three or 4 days’ worth of posts. No way I could manage the volume of content I could manage if I had to manually publish everything.

      • The more I read through the advice on offer in this thread, the more I am persuaded that committing one day a week to scheduling a few days’ worth of posts may be my best option. Perhaps I could do this over the weekend: spend a few hours on a Saturday and Sunday planning out future posts and catching up with what I’ve missed during the week. If I treat writing as a job, then taking weekends off would not feel like a sacrifice, but rather like a much deserved break.
        Thank you so much for all your help, Gene’O. Talking through the options with you has certainly helped crystallise in my mind what I want to do and what are the best ways to go about it. I really appreciate the helping hand.

  3. Wow – it’s like you read my mind about the time management aspect of blogging! I found that I was pushing off blogging day after day. Going to try setting aside 15 minutes breaks mid-morning and mid-afternoon twice a week to get a weekly post done.

    The bonus is that I really need to take those breaks to give me a rest from benchwork.

    I’ll be interested in finding out how you solve the matter.

    • Will let you know how I resolve it once I’ve tried a few things. Time management… Ah yes. Working during breaks to plan future posts does sound like a good idea in your case. I’m afraid it wouldn’t work for me as the process would make me loose focus. I’ve learnt it the hard way.

  4. Hi Vic,
    This is the most interesting post I’ve read on why we blog and the difficulties in balancing time, blogging and other writing. I wouldn’t dream of giving advice Vic, as I haven’t got the hang of it myself, but perhaps writing a little blog every few weeks to keep those of us who’ve grown attached to your blog (and you!) happy is a possibility…?

    Of course, everyone understands that writing your novel is paramount and takes priority. And those consecutive hours – as you say – are necessary for concentration and quality writing. Blogging is very distracting as well as time-consuming and there’s a point at which it becomes a pressure, as well as a pleasure.

    But to avoid the withdrawal symptoms from your followers, maybe a ‘touch-down’ blog, now and the 🙂

    All the very best with your novel, Vic, I look forward to reading it! Lee-Anne xx

    • Hi Lee-Anne,
      I agree regarding the pressure/pleasure aspect of blogging. I’ve found the sharing and engagement aspects of blogging to be both enjoyable and helpful in many respects. However, it would be insincere of me to deny that at times it is also a great distraction and while I would love to be able to continue blogging on a daily basis, I had to accept that it is not feasible. At least not if I am ever to finish revising my book or write anything else of substance. Hence my dilemma.
      Thank you for your support. I do believe that a weekly post may be a good temporary solution until I find a better one. It may be possible (on days when I am particularly productive) to sneak in additional work for the blog… Will see.
      Warm regards,
      Vic

  5. Yes, time management is an issue for me as well. At present I am spending too much time on social media. I am also looking at which aspects of writing I should prioritise. I hope you’ll check in to the blogosphere from time to time. Sue

    • Thank you, Sue. Will do my best. Social media can be so addictive. I’ve already cut down on most of it. Good fun it may be, but unfortunately it does take up a lot of time. Although blogging does share certain aspects with other types of social media, as a creative outlet I find that it is far more rewarding. Still, as you mentioned, it is important to prioritise when in comes to writing. Best of luck and I hope that you succeed in coming up with a formula that works for you too. Will share mine as soon as I’ve figured it out.

  6. You have flagged up so much that is true and wise in this, Vic. I, too, am going to need to withdraw – at least for a while – because of the time aspect of it all. I feel sad that you are going, though I totally understand why. xxx

    • Oh thank you, Ali. I do hope to be able to post still, even if not on as regular a basis as I have done in the past. It is not an easy decision to make, and I will be sorry to have to relinquish the daily delights that blogging has to offer. Will certainly miss reading my favourite blogger’s posts too. Nonetheless, I will need to take some time off to finish the work I have started. And however much I tried to persuade myself that I can do both… I’m sure you understand, especially when it comes to the writing/blogging balance. Hope your project goes well.
      x V

  7. Vic, I hope you will consider blogging periodically. I had to switch from daily to weekly, due to time constraints. I want to continue to read what you have to say, so I am hoping you will find a way to continue sharing your thoughts. I see blogging as a natural outgrowth of testing one’s ideas with a familiar audience. In that sense, please don’t leave us altogether and thank you for your ideas and comments to date.

    • “I see blogging as a natural outgrowth of testing one’s ideas with a familiar audience.” – beautifully put, Beth. And thank you for your warmth and kind words.
      I love the sense of community on WordPress and the mutual support between bloggers from all walks of life is inspiring. If I could continue at the same pace, i certainly would. Unfortunately, as you said, there are time constraints and I can no longer afford to ignore them. Scaling back to a weekly or bi-monthly post may be the best option at present. Will let you know once I’ve decided how to best manage it. And once again, thank you.

  8. You wrote about blogging: “it is created to be shared.” I’m doing that challenge to a better blog thing that wordpress does, the 201 version, and was just thinking about the point of my blog, or what I want it to do/be. I think I need to focus on my reader (in order to get more readers!), and this is a helpful way to think about it: Am I writing/posting something that can be shared with others? Thank you for another well written post. 🙂

    • I am glad you found it useful, Seraphina. That question always lurks in the peripheries whenever I write a post. I had a look at the 201 version as well. there is some sound advice on offer there too, especially when it comes to setting goals. Best of luck with the challenge and thank you for your comment.

    • Thank you, Arran. I appreciate it. It may take a while for me to get around to writing up the post for the award, as I am a little short on time at present. Meanwhile, many congratulations to you for your Liebster Award. Hope you’ve enjoyed discovering new blogs in turn. Always rewarding.

  9. Vic, I blog regularly once a week and sometimes in between. The catch is keeping up with comments on the blogs I follow, and frankly, it’s become a nightmare. I tend to write for 3-5 hours in the morning now before I ever even open my email; otherwise, I’d be down a rabbit hole for hours. I’m brain dead after a good 4-5 hours of writing, and that’s when I begin to check out other blogs, because I can’t write my name, much less a blog or project anymore.

    I do find that anyone who posts a blog more than weekly I tend to delete. I just can’t keep up. I’ll peruse the titles and read the one I find to be most interesting, but I’d never have time for my own writing otherwise.

    Don’t go away altogether – I know I’d miss you!

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Susan. It is very helpful and it certainly reflects the difficulties I have encountered of late. As well as posting on a regular basis, I’ve always done my best to read the bloggers I follow and contribute as many comments as time will allow. You are quite right however, it is important to know exactly when to do this, so that it would not interfere with writing. Of late, it certainly seemed to take over in a way that has ultimately proved counter-productive.
      I may focus my creative endeavours on poetry for the blog. I find that it helps me develop a better ear for sound and the cumulative effect of time spent polishing up every line has a positive impact on my prose as well.
      Another aspect of blogging that I may be able to continue developing while writing is the “Writing Tips” category. It is always helpful to revisit the nuts and bolts of the craft, and I often find that trying to explain certain aspects of the craft to others helps me get a better grasp of it as well.
      I will miss the more eclectic aspects of blogging, but perhaps a more focused approach will allow me to carve out more time for my work.
      I would miss you all too much if I had to go away altogether, so I am doing my best to find a way to stay.

      • I’d love the Tips blog. I’ve just begun writing poetry again – something I used to love to do. (I also taught it when I taught elementary school – made it a a regular part of the language writing curriculum.) I like what you said about spending time polishing each line and the impact it has on your prose.

        One of these days I may be brave enough to post some of my poetry on my blog. Maybe after some of your tips? 🙂

      • I hope you do publish it, Susan. Feedback from readers may help as well and you will gain confidence the more poetry you write.
        My writing tips are usually about creative writing, rather than poetry. The most advice I can dare give to aspiring poets is to read poetry on a regular basis. It can’t fail to inspire. 🙂

  10. Why worry about what someone thinks as long as you cause them to critically think?

    If they are unable to articulate a reasonable argument they are definitely not worth worrying about.

    If they have a reasonable argument they may cause yourself to critically think and change your opinion.

    And if they are entirely hostile you can count on me to help you if desired.

    See? write what you wish!

    Self identify as you wish!

    Vic is a writer! I shall go Kavalkade some music now!

    • I wrote this post in part to reply to a writing challenge. One of the questions the Daily Post suggested was exactly this: Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal? So I used this as the springboard for a reflection on blogging in view of the difficulties I have encountered of late, as well as some of the problems that other bloggers have shared.
      Thank you for the music, Kavalkade and if you haven’t read it already, there is an answer awaiting you on your reply post. 🙂

  11. Pingback: Top 10 Songs That I Think Vic Briggs Will Like | Andy Kaufman's Kavalkade Krew Featuring The Wandering Poet

  12. Yes, that fear, the ever present self doubt and the ‘am I good enough’ voice. it has quenched many a dream from being birthed. the fear of not meeting expectations, of doing it wrong…of failing. it is one step at a time…write even if you think it is not good enough, share even if you are afraid of negative reactions…it is always better than doing nothing

  13. Stunningly penned Vic…and straight on cue and on target for me right now…
    If you dunno to blog – then you dunno that conundrum hey 😉
    Also: do you think we could just clone ourselves dear? it sure would solve the time situation.
    Writing a novel for example takes shitloads of time even if you do not blog- splitting ourselves to be the writer; publisher; marketeer; sharer; human being; AND still have a normal life in reality is underestimated by a lot of people I think…yep –
    Where are you off to with the ‘before I say my goodbyes’??? (I may just be confused as is a regular occurrence as we know 😉 )

    • Thank you, Belinda and yes, I believe that every blogger will at some point or another reach this cross-roads. There are only that many hours in a day and until we find a way to clone ourselves (great suggestion by the way and will have to look into the means asap 😉 ) we have to find a way to prioritise. As to that normal life… it’s such a distant memory for me, I’m struggling to remember what it feels like. Oh, and sorry for the confusion: off to finish my novel I suppose. 🙂

      • ‘Tis a sad reality hey.
        I wonder though: DO writers/artist – name your creative genre (but writing more so I am sure) EVER lead NORMAL lives?
        I probably knew about the novel but because I forgot – THAT is exciting information and -YES – GO WRITE novel. My thinking is – we have tested the waters – so to speak…can always return and pick up? I mean YOU know the drill right? 😉 AND sometimes – absence makes the heart grow fonder 😀
        But eiey — That ability to write and post and receive…there IS something in that that keeps us returning I think…
        Some days I think: Do You KNOW how much you could have written on the book Belinda!! O_o At the rate I go – it is not going to happen EVER 😉
        Cheers Vic

      • You are right, Belinda, and it would be difficult to define too what is supposed to be normal for a writer or an artist. I suppose “normal” is whatever works. Most writers have to have a job that pays the bills these days, so I suppose that is more “normal” than the exceptions to the rule: the lucky few who are able to earn a living out of their writing alone.
        Off writing (after a little break to send the holiday weekend with family). Will try to keep trickling in a post every now and then, although I think there will be no chance of 3-a-day for a while now.
        Have a great week! 🙂

      • Oh – yeah normal is fairly relative hey…but I think you know what I mean 😉 I mean come on, most folk do not prefer to sit in on weekends and write – rather than go to the pub? Or do they? I would not know actually – I have not been out there for a really long time- lol!

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