What can you learn about writing (and about yourself) after four years of blogging?
Today, June 8th, 2017, is an important day for me. Four years ago today I started this blog, Fiction All Day, with a lame an irreverently titled post: Introductions Suck… The very next day, I followed that pilot post with with another, this one about Writers and Astronauts. Three days later I followed up yet again with Writing is Scary… (and apparently I thought ellipses in post titles were really cool).
That was how it started, and since then I’ve been blogging pretty regularly for 4 years. I’ve had dry spells and periods of intense focus, times when I was obsessed with blogging and times when I completely forgot about it for months at a time, but through thick and thin it has always been there for me, sleeping lazily in the back of my head like a particularly fat cat, or pacing back and forth in front of me like a roaring lion, demanding that I post every day even when I’m tired and out of things to say.
Over the course of those four years I’ve accumulated 3,417 followers, who I appreciate every time they take a moment to read something I’ve written, garnered just short of 27,000 page views, and published 97 posts (some funny, some thoughtful, and some terrible). I’ve had dozens of incredible people comment on my posts, and quite a few people reach out directly and start up a conversation. It’s been a wild ride, and one that I expect to get even wilder and more fun moving forward.
Over the course of four years, blogging has taught me some incredible lessons and given me an irreplaceable amount of support and motivation to write.
I’ve learned that you can’t just throw posts out into the void and expect to transform yourself into that popular kid from high school. It’s not about that. It’s about connecting with people, forming a community, sharing information and experiences back and forth, and trying to help one another.
I’ve learned that you can’t prattle on about silly (read: uninteresting or unimportant) things and expect people to pay attention to your preaching. What are you trying to say? Who are you trying to say it to? Why will they care? How are you helping them (whether it’s motivation, education, or just making a connection)? If you’re going to take another person’s time as they read your words, what will your words give back to them in turn?
And on a more personal level, I’ve learned that I’m in this thing for real. Four years of blogging is no joke – if I could take away one thing from this experience it’s that I love doing this, and I’m going to keep doing it, and there are at least a handful of awesome people out there who care about what I have to say and what I’m doing with my life (aka hopefully publishing my first novel within the next year!).
It’s been incredibly fun to spend today going over old posts and seeing how they’ve changed. I’ve broken open some of my old writing, too – short stories, essays, manuscripts – and seeing how I’ve changed and improved is really uplifting. I’ve posted this video by Ira Glass before, but it’s worth watching again.
I would encourage all of you who have been doing this for some time to look back at where you started and see what you’ve learned, how you’ve changed. It can teach you a few really interesting things, and it might also be the motivation or inspiration you need today.
These four years have been a blast… (ellipses are back, y’all)
And there’s more to come…