I’ve been posting on and off on this blog since 2014. It’s time to take a hard look at what my blog is and how to get it closer to what I want it to be. I’ve been avoiding this since I started it because I was in college. I didn’t have enough time to focus on it the way I felt like I needed to. A blogger has a lot of cool things, like making my own work schedule, working from home, writing every day, and building a community. I wanted and expected at least some of those things, but I didn’t do any work to get them. As a result, my blog has just sort of existed for three years. Now that I’ve graduated college and have more time to devote to blogging, there’s no excuse.
I avoided committing to a certain consistency in my blogging.
Committing to a certain number of blog posts every week is hard. What happens if I don’t actually get the blog posts done? People will yell at me and my blog will die. Well, that’s what I thought. Sure, people might yell at me, but I’ve since realized that what I envisioned happening to my blog if I didn’t get all my posts up that week–a Satan-like being spawning up out of the internet and burning my blog down and dragging my lying, uncommitted ass to a hell-like place with him on the way back–was a bit irrational. I also realize now that setting a goal is supposed to help, not hurt. Also, I can set a goal and not tell anyone. If I do fail to meet my goal, you’ll never know if I don’t want you to.
I definitely overthought this whole consistency thing. There’s no reason why I can’t have a weekly post goal.
I was afraid to think about the focus of my blog or the direction I was blogging in.
I’ve always struggled with what niche my blog falls into. As a creative writer, deciding what to focus on in my blog about was always really hard for me. Sometimes I like to write about my day-to-day life. Other times I like to write fiction. Other times I like to write about books, or lgbt issues, or movies, or creative writing. I overlooked the obvious. I’m a writer. My blog is about my writing. All of it. Duh.
I was just so afraid that if I picked say, creative writing or lgbt blogger as the focus of this blog, it would limit what I could write about. And it would. But, I spent so long worried about what to not label my blog as that it pretty much did the same thing; I didn’t blog consistently about anything, let alone more than one of those things.
I was also afraid that picking creative writing as my blog’s focus would say something about the quality of my writing that I didn’t feel comfortable saying. I’m not Joyce Carol Oates or T.C. Boyle. I didn’t have a backlog of published stories and novels to put in my About section like other author-bloggers I know and read do. But, there are lots of writers who aren’t Joyce Carol Oates or T.C Boyle, including many of the blogs I do like to read. (I’m also pretty sure Joyce Carol Oates and T.C. Boyle don’t blog, which makes comparing the content on my blog to them useless. I just really like the work of Joyce Carol Oates and T.C. Boyle.)
“How-to write” blogs aren’t exactly my style.
I didn’t want to give off the illusion that I was qualified to teach creative writing. I also just don’t like writing about how to write. I’m bad a workshopping short stories, mostly for social reasons. If this turns into a “how to write” blog, or a “creative-writing-blogging” blog, I’ll lose interest in it super quickly. However, I am a firm believer in looking at models and being self-motivated to learn how to write better.
I realize now that the better way to show people how to be a creative writer through blogging is to actually post things that I write on my blog. That doesn’t mean I’ll post all my fiction or even all of my essays. In fact, I still probably won’t post much of my fiction. I’d rather the majority of my fiction get peer-reviewed properly and published only if it gets past an editor’s desk. My non-fiction, personal essay, and memoir writing (AKA, my blog posts) are a different story. I missed that opportunity because I lacked the confidence to write consistently. Leading by example it’s now my main reason for committing to blogging more consistently on a weekly basis. I want my blog to serve as an example for other writers who are thinking about starting a blog for their creative writing. Case-in-point: I need more content.
I had too many categories, and the categories I did have didn’t matter.
To be honest, my categories don’t really matter because my current layout doesn’t make the category of a post the priority. I had a general category, an essay category, fiction and poetry categories, review categories, spring, summer, fall categories, and even a category called The Norton Book. That’s too many categories for this blog. I don’t even use some of them anymore. Some of them are redundant, like general AND essays.
I either write non-fiction or I write fiction. Sometimes poetry. I don’t like how non-fiction looks, so I’ll just call that category essays. So, I do essays, fiction (sometimes) and poetry (rarely). Those are my three categories.
It still doesn’t really matter, because I like that my minimalist theme doesn’t make categories a big deal. Unless you’re looking for the category while you’re reading a blog post, you won’t even really know exactly what category something’s in. However, I think the categories help me more than they help you. They help me stay focused and organized over the long-term. Keeping to these three specific categories, there’s a better change my blog will have the content I want it to have. And in a year or so, new readers will be able to tell what I write based on what kind of content my blog has. Sure, it sounds simple when I say it like that.
My blog should serve as an example for how to use a blog to be a creative writer.
And that’s what the focus of my blog is. I’m not doing it through how-to posts or info-graphics. I do it through example. My promise, or mission-statement, is that by writing what interests me as a writer over time, whether that be fiction, personal essays on lgbt issues, rants about work, book reviews, or film reviews, it’ll serve as a model for self-motivated individuals who want to use a blog for their creative writing.
It’s going to take a lot of work to get there. But at least now I have a direction to go in. First, consistency. I have to write. I have the time now. If I get on here next week and say I don’t have time, I’m lying, because I do. (Unless I really don’t.) Either way, the possibility that my readers may yell at me if I don’t have something to post next week isn’t a flaw to blogs; it’s one of blogging’s advantages.
By organizing and focusing on what my blog is, I can set more realistic weekly goals and track my progress toward achieving those goals. I can also actually learn more about blogging with a professional and business mindset. That’s right; I’m putting together an actual editorial plan now. It’s going to be great. I mean, you know, I guess. If I don’t post next week, or any week, you’re free to yell at me. It would probably help, to be honest.
You can yell at me in a comment, below.
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Also, if you have a blog, I’d very much to like check it out because I’m super curious.