I have been at this gig now well into my third year and I need to pause and take stock of what I have learned from blogging. There are a lot of pros to this endeavour, I have discovered, as much as there are pitfalls. Here is a list of both for those of you out there considering taking this leap, or for those veterans of the blog post who will either agree or disagree with me:
1) There is no publishing hierarchy to navigate. You simply think, write, then you publish, and the world reads you (or not)
2) This is an outlet to communicate the authentic YOU, warts and all. I have had the opportunity to not only communicate my observations on life, but also my political, religious and social views from time to time. And I have taken the liberty to reflect upon my pet world through my blog– the world of the writer – again, with warts and all
3) It is a way to gather a following (and to lose one, if the message is unpalatable) of readers around issues that are important to you, to elicit feedback, and to learn from them
4) It conditions you to synthesize your ideas into a few lines (I try to stick to no more than a page per post) and yet follow the arc of a story, with opening and closing punch lines
5) It forces you to think. A blog needs content, intelligent content, not always popular, but always thought provoking
a) The recommendation to constantly refresh content –post at least once a week – can lead to occasional crap filtering in
b) Your content defines you, and is your voice – guard it. Do not compromise quality for quantity. There are days when I think of posting a “Gone Fishing” notice on my blog and taking time off to reflect on the next level of content, however long that may take
c) Not everything is publishable. There are a lot of blogs I have written and later shelved because they don’t make the world a better place but only portray my neuroses. Why add to the insanity out in the world already?
d) You will lose fans occasionally when you write about the issues closest to you, which others may not share in. You may even make enemies
e) You will never be paid money for this endeavour, unless you open up to advertizing. And then you have to figure out if you want your site to be controlled by third parties or by yourself.
These have been my experiences to date. Will I continue to blog? Yes. Will it be as frenetic as before, with artificial deadlines of one post per week? That will depend on my muse; if she takes a vacation, my blog will take a vacation too. Will my blogging be on deeper issues that might even make me unpopular? Yes, there is only so much chatter and saccharine•coating one can engage in, and a writer’s obligation is to tackle the tough issues, for isn’t the pen (or now, the keyboard) mightier than the sword?
For those considering this endeavour, I hope you find these points useful. For the blog veterans, I look forward to your views and counterviews, for isn’t this what blogging is all about – a community of minds agreeing to disagree while respectfully sharing our thoughts?