What I’ve learned from writing 799 blog posts

So this is my 800th blog post. (No, I don’t keep track of these things; WordPress does).   My thoughts on this milestone range from Holy cow, that’s a lot of writing  to I never thought I’d last this long to Let’s go get some cannoli to celebrate!  (see Blog Post #792).

I also  thought, I guess I’ve learned a thing or two about blogging over the last five years, haven’t I?  And since many of my readers are bloggers too, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned just in case it proves helpful to others.  (It’s certainly  less messy than trying to share a celebratory cannoli, though I do believe life is exponentially better when it includes Italian desserts.)  So here it is: What I’ve Learned From Writing 799 Blog Posts.

1.  What you write about may change over time.  When I started in 2008, I’d just published a book about Mary, and my blog was very focused on Mary and how she can relate to modern women.  But as time passed and my second child began to exit the baby stage, my focus became less about one particular mother and more about motherhood in general.   That change happened organically; I just went with it.

2. If your blog focus changes, the name might need to change.  The Blog Formerly Known as Mary and Me became Random Acts of Momness in early July of 2011.  I owe the name entirely to Scott, who turned to me suddenly in the middle of watching a Fourth of July parade and said ,”I have the perfect new name for your blog.”  (See why I love him?).

3.  Blogs can be the catalyst for getting to know some pretty fantastic people.  In some cases, you actually get to meet them in the flesh (hi, Chris!); in most cases, my blog-buddies are people I have never seen face-to-face, people whose voices I could never identify.   But their comments led to actual email conversations, and now I count many of them as true friends.   I had no idea that would happen when I started blogging.  It’s been a beautiful surprise.

4.  Blogging energy,  like anything, ebbs and flows.  There are days where I’m so into this whole thing that I could post something every day, and then there are other times where I feel like the blogging well has run so dry that if you were to drop a bucket into it, the ensuing clank would echo until Kingdom Come.  Sometimes, you need to take a little  hiatus and let the rainwater fill you up again.  I’ve found that it always does.

That said, I do have the mental escape hatch that if this ever stops being fun for a long period of time, I can give it up. After all, no one is making me do this but me.  (But if I stopped blogging, would I miss it?  Yes, I probably would.)

5.  You have to figure out what you’re comfortable sharing, and not.  I made the call early on not to post pictures of my kids on the blog, for their privacy’s sake.  (God knows I share enough embarrassing stories about them as it is.)   Your line may be different, and that’s great — you just need to decide where it is.

6.  When it comes to developing your craft as a writer, blogging is both good and bad.  On the plus side, blogging can let you develop a totally authentic voice.  If you aren’t trying to match the style of a certain publication or editorial vision, you are free to let yourself go and write however the heck you want to write.  Blogging has helped me solidify my own personal voice, and that’s nice.

That said, there is a reason why most published material goes through an editorial process: we aren’t always able to see what works and what doesn’t in our own writing.  If you don’t have someone else giving you feedback, it can be hard to grow as a writer.  Anytime someone else edits my work, I learn … a lot.  When  you are publishing your own stuff, it can be hard to get that feedback unless you actively solicit it from others.

7.  Go with your enthusiasm.  My blog is about  motherhood and spirituality, but not every post fits under that umbrella.  Sometimes, I am so into something that I just have to share it.   (And I’ve never had a reader ask, “Why the heck are you writing about Jane Austen when you are supposed to be a blog about motherhood?”)

8.  A blog is a zillion times more interesting with readers’ comments  … so what would you add to this list?  If you are a blogger too, whether you’ve written one post or one thousand, what have you learned from blogging?  I’d love to  have you share your wisdom in the comments field below.  (And  please stick around for the next 800 posts!).

3 responses to “What I’ve learned from writing 799 blog posts

  1. What a milestone! Isn’t it funny when you look up and it says “___ post!” It is a time to take stock.

    What have I learned? Gosh, that might be a book length answer! Your final point is one that is well made, the comments make all the difference. I have come to know and appreciate that many people who read are simply not commenters, and that’s OK, but I do love reading the comments of my blog, of all blogs.

    Blogging is different from ordinary writing for that reason, because it is meant to have a different kind of immediacy, and I have spent some time considering the two things. Blogging is a great way to quickly offer up a thought, or to reflect on something that has just happened. I totally agree with you about developing one’s voice through blogging.

    Ultimately for me, blogging and community matter. That is one reason the comments mean so much to me. Getting to know people through blogging, as I have come to know you, for example, is a gift. I don’t always get to meet other bloggers face to face, but I have met so many that it borders on the ridiculous, and in the very best sort of way!

    I love so many blogs, but I can only read a few with total regularity. Your blog often sets me on my way, as I read you very regularly, and in the morning. Thanks for always being such a fruitful and inspiring way to begin my day!

  2. Love this. And congratulations on a milestone! I’m glad you blog because I never would have enjoyed the gift of your writing without it!
    I want to return to each of these on your list and sit with them awhile…for me, blogging is exercise in the best sense of the word. It’s best when I do it regularly. It stretches me and changes me (if I stick with it). It helps me figure out what I’m good at and what I need to work on. It helps me sort through what I’m passionate about and what isn’t for me. And when I really push myself, it’s an exercise in courage. That’s where it meets the spiritual practice of simply journaling for myself alone. When the audience is out there, it changes things because blogging can let me speak truth, for myself and maybe sometimes for others, if I can muster up that courage.

  3. Fran, you and I *will* meet in person one of these days — I feel it in my bones! And thank you for being such a fabulous commenter!

    Laura, great point about journaling vs. blogging. I journal so much less now that I have this blog — it’s as if the journaling has gone public, sort of. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad? Maybe neither; it is what it is. But I am so glad my blog brought you and your writing into my life!