One of the great things about having a blog for over seven years now is that I have watched as people in my close circle and around the world have tried and failed at blogging. People tell me all the time, “I started a blog”, to which I reply “great.” Then I proceed to get the address to their blog and read their very enthusiastic “first post” which usually consists of “I know, I’m behind the times, but here’s my new blog!” They even have the perfect template for their blog that fits their personality just right, and normally I’ll find a detailed “About Me” section in the side bar. But days, weeks, and months go by and I return to their blog to the same excited first post, but nothing else. All the writing they planned on doing hasn’t made it to keyboard, and if cobwebs could come in digital form their blog would be covered in them. And it’s with that in mind that I don’t think you should start a blog–I don’t think you’re ready for it.
Blogging (or writing) takes both commitment and thought–both of which many people struggle with, myself included. Sure, not everything I write on my blog is up for a Pulitzer, but I constantly feel that I need to push myself in my writing for the sake of those who might take the time to read it. For me, blogging is another way for me to communicate ideas, flesh out thoughts, further my opinion, and even just a way for me to relax. But why should I expect someone to spend ten minutes or more listening to me ramble on about whatever and not put any thought in it. I think people have this skewed view that just because they started a blog that everyone should read it. More and more I hear “… oh, I’m gonna blog about it.” Well, OK great. But if you think I should spend my time reading about your experience or your opinion, then you better make it worth my time. Don’t waste my time (and your own) by thinking that something magical happens when you put your thoughts on screen. Unless you take the time to develop your thoughts, think clearly, and write in a way that helps me understand, your blog (or any writing) won’t be read by anyone. Furthermore, you should probably just tell me about your thoughts and opinions in person–it’ll probably be more exciting. But can I add one more thought? Be committed to your writing.
One of the great failures of anyone that wants to blog is that they just aren’t consistent. The common excuses are: “I have nothing to write about”, “I don’t have time”, “I’m just not that creative”, etc., but all of these are just that: excuses. Writing is a discipline in and of itself that takes time to understand and get into the habit of. If you have to, start a journal first. Don’t share it with the world just yet, but try to write consistently for a period of time. Be that every day (which is hard), once a week, a few times a month, whatever you want. You might start by writing about things you love and then move on to others. Write about your days, but expound on things you find your mind going back to–there’s probably something there that wants to come out. I trust that as you do you will have more content than you can shake a stick at, and then you’ll find yourself writing more frequently. You don’t have to be a NY Times journalist to write frequently, but you do have to work at it and a big part of that is being committed to it. So if you’re contemplating starting your own blog or just feeling the peer pressure, I think these things will help you. Writing is still an art and therefore some rules just don’t apply, but with any art there are rules that should be followed in order to create something of significance.
If I could suggest one major resource to you it would be the book On Writing Well. The title makes it sound like a text book, but it’s far from it. It’s an enjoyable book to read and I know that it will get your mind thinking on just what writing is and how much better you could be doing it.