Whether you follow my blog (hi!) or just check in from time to time (hi!) you will notice that I’m not exactly prolific when it comes to publishing posts. In fact, the last post was in May 2014!
It’s not for lack of inclination or inspiration. It’s more that those things strike at awkward moments. Half way home on the bus, for instance, or as I’m dropping off to sleep. Self-motivation has never been my strong point and this being a personal rather than business/commercial blog there is never any pushing and shoving from an outside force either. So it doesn’t happen.
Be that as it may, here I am.
Recently, I’ve been trying to think about an interesting subject to write about and, predictably, failing to come up with anything. Then I had a lightbulb moment – why not blog about that? A blog post about a blog post? Brilliant! (Can I get away with calling it blogception, do you think, or is that taking it too far?)
There are a whole host of reasons – excuses? – for why I don’t post very often. The term “blogger’s block” covers one aspect, and although many people have done so before me – no doubt more eloquently – I thought I’d have a go at relating some of my own “barriers to blogging” (anyone else think that sounds like a training course?), and perhaps even come up with an idea or two about how to overcome them.
One of the main issues with blogging is needing something to blog about. For those who blog in a professional capacity this isn’t an issue. They have their subject matter sorted, be it knitting, building kit cars, or good old-fashioned naked hula-hooping. But for those of us with personal blogs the likelihood is that we are just rambling on about whatever strikes us as worth blogging about, like how men on the bus always take up a seat and a half due to leg spread, or the trials and tribulations of being a short person in a tall person world. I have to admit that I’m more likely to blog a rant than something celebratory, so there’s an area to work on before we’ve even got going. But I have human nature against me there – we all love to complain, don’t we?
So let’s pretend there’s something to blog about… What next? I’m almost guaranteed to have a flash of inspiration at a time when I can’t act on it, so how do I capture the blog post, which is writing itself in my brain without much effort on my part, so that I can reproduce it later? A notebook is the obvious choice, I suppose, but I don’t think my manager would be overly impressed if I was to whip out a notebook mid-meeting and ask her to take over the minutes while I jot down a blog post idea. A Dictaphone, maybe. Or an app on my phone. Let’s get with the times, shall we? But I don’t fancy muttering away into a gadget while getting funny looks from my fellow bus passengers. See? It’s tricky. My method up to now (and it’s obviously a bad one) is to hope I remember it by the time I get back to my computer, but of course I never do and the intervening time is generally enough to put me off the idea anyway.
And let’s not underplay the element of distraction. Once I do get on the computer I develop a kind of internet Attention Deficit Disorder. Ooh look, Facebook! And what’s this article? Oh and it has a link to more info… Oh I’m on Pinterest. NETFLIX!
You get the idea…
For once I’ve managed to score a blogging hat-trick. I’ve got my idea, I’m actually at my computer and I want to write the post. Who am I blogging for/to? Myself, mainly. I enjoy the act of forming the sentences and using my language skills, such as they are, to express my thoughts. It’s not something I get to do very often, or not in any expansive way, so it’s nice to do that from time to time. I also enjoy typing, so it’s one of those “marriage made in Heaven” situations from that point of view.
When I first started this blogging malarkey, I told myself that I’d approach it with a “dance like no-one’s watching” philosophy. I would write what I wanted to write regardless of who might read it. But that just didn’t work out. Given that the only place I share my posts, if I share them at all, is on Facebook (ooh, look, a picture of a cute cat…), and given that I have friends and family on there who may well click through to read said post, I find I censor what I write so as to avoid causing offence. This is particularly tricky if the post has been prompted, as is often the case, by something someone has said or done. And even though I would always anonymise it and try and make it subtle, that person will always recognise themselves and, perhaps, be offended. This also goes back to my earlier point about usually posting about annoyances rather than the positives in life. No-one’s likely to get offended if I say something positive about them! For instance, if someone shares an annoying status on Facebook (I’ll just play one of my games for a bit while I’m here…) then I share a blog post about the same thing the next day, they’re going to know it’s about them. This is definitely a “barrier to blogging” but I’m aware it’s coming from me and that it’s up to me to work out how to move past it. Someone recently suggested that a gender switch might help to throw them off the scent, which is definitely worth a try!
Then again, does anyone click through when I share a post? My viewing figures imply that they do, although it could just be a barrage of bots. Mind you, I do occasionally get a comment or two from actual human beings (hi!) which is nice. If I knew for certain I had a keen audience, of whatever size, it might spur me on to post more. As it is it rather feels like letting a hand-reared butterfly out of an open window – it just flutters off in to the ether and people either see it or they don’t.
The other big issue is that of time. In the last year or so I have gone from working two and a half days a week to working five days. Feeling inclined to set aside time to sit and type posts is rare… I’m only out one evening a week, but when I’m here I’m contending with the internet ADD I mentioned earlier, and frankly once I’m in from work I just want to veg out.
So what’s the way around all this? Self-motivation, I suppose, although as I said that’s never been my strong point. Maybe the notebook/app thing would work, and I’d just have to write things down at the earliest opportunity, hoping in the meantime that I managed to retain the idea/phrasing sufficiently to jot down prompts for later.
Oh, I forgot to mention another barrier. I don’t live alone so before I sit down in front of a blank “new post” page I have to be reasonably sure I won’t be interrupted. Then of course there are the noises off. The murmur of the TV downstairs, the bing of someone getting an email. I have an app on my phone called White Noise (others are available!). I use it sometimes when I can’t sleep. There are a lot of noises to choose from such as rain, crowd murmur, city traffic, etc. and I’ve tried using it while reading but it didn’t feel right somehow. But it might work well as a noise reduction strategy if there were a lot of background noise. I’ll have to try it one day and get back to you.
If there are any bloggers out there reading this (hi!), particularly if yours is a personal blog like mine, I would love to hear your feedback on how to combat these barriers.
How do you avoid self-censorship, how do you capture your ideas when you can’t put them straight in to a post?
Thanks in advance!