My mind never stops. It whirs at 100 beats a minute and it is always contradicting itself and then coming back around. It has half-cooked ideas and then burns the hell out of them. My mind is my best friend and my worst enemy.
That’s why I blog.
It sorts things out. It forces me to synthesize, analyze, reflect and postulate. It allows for me a place to go back and read what I was thinking a week or month ago.
I will tell you, it’s freakin’ tough.
It is hard for me to sit down, focus and write. I want to be coherent, intelligent, insightful and original; although, most times, it probably isn’t. I know people are reading it. I know my friends, family and colleagues are reading it. Heck, people from around the world, US, Indonesia, Ghana, France, Spain, England, Australia are reading it. That’s crazy.
I’ve been blogging consistently for three years. Is it an ego trip? Yeah, probably a little. I mean who doesn’t love posting something and then having people read it and tell you they love it. But it really isn’t about them. It’s about me.
I blog about education. I blog about my thoughts, my frustrations, my condemnations and my hopes for school, the system, and my students. I’ve chosen that theme because it what I’m passionate about. And as you’ll see, when I’m passionate about something, watch out.
Now blogging doesn’t come naturally to many. Some it will. It will be too easy for some. They’ll pound off post after post without breathing. To them I say, slow down, reflect. For some, it will be laborious, every time. To them I say, just press publish. It doesn’t need to be perfect; it doesn’t need to be Shakespeare. It just needs to be sincere and genuine.
For everyone, I’ve put together a little Top 10 List of things to think about as you blog. (A top ten or six or whatever is a great trick for many bloggers.)
- Be Passionate: When you write, write with passion. Unleash it. The first few might be tough to find it, but we’ve all got it. What you write about should come from a genuine, sincere, and honest spot inside of you.
- Write Like No One is Reading: Write for yourself. Ramble on about what interests you. Don’t worry about being perfect, it doesn’t need to be. Heck, there isn’t such thing as a perfect piece of writing. (Some of the other English teachers might disagree)
- Write For Your Audience: I know, I’ve totally contradicted number two. Sorry. The truth is, sure write for yourself, but recognize that people will read it and it is a reflection of you. Good grammar, interesting phrases, keen insight all go a long way to drawing in a reader. Think about what would make you want to read someone else’s blog. Think about what makes you want to read. Is it just the topic, probably not.
- Don’t Worry About Grammar, Worry About Communication: Ultimately, grammar doesn’t really matter in this medium. What really matters is getting your point across. Communicating and connecting with your reader. If you’ve got a run-on sentence, that’s okay, as long as you don’t lose your reader, which you probably will, so, it is probably a good idea to cut it down into smaller, shorter sentences.
- Respond to your Comments: People will leave comments. That’s the real nature of blogging. Connecting. When someone leaves a comment, reply. Even if it just a note of thanks for reading. Build community. I’ve got many a nasty comment on my blog, I’ve responded either way. The commenter is still trying to connect, what do you have to lose, really? Respond to their questions, their criticisms. Maybe it is just clarification, maybe it is just an acknowledgment of a differing viewpoint. It your conversation to have, so have it.
- Include Media: Many blogs I read connect to videos (original or not) or links or include images, even if it just to make it a little more appealing. Don’t be afraid. That said, try to use original content. Take your own pictures and include them. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words sometimes it could lead you to a thousand words. With this said, don’t just let the video or image do the talking, comment on it. Share your thoughts, your insights.
- Write With Regularity: Try to set a schedule of when you write. I read a great blog by Seth Godin that is updated every day right at 5:45am. Every day. I’ve come to look to that as my morning startup. He’s made a dedicated reader out of me. If I see that someone doesn’t post regularly, chances are I won’t subscribe. I’ll wait until someone else tweets about it. Build regular readers. It builds community and connections.
- Keep Notes / Ideas for Later: Without a doubt, some days the well will run dry. You’ll feel like you have nothing to write about. You’ve used up all your good ideas. If you keep a list of ideas to blog about somewhere, you’ll come to find it as a saving grace. Good blog topics come at any moment, by jotting it down you can go back to it, maybe after it has been fully formed, maybe when you just need to write. The list will help, guarantee.
- Design the Space: The look and feel of your blog can go a long way to informing people about who you are. If you are pink and purple type guy, deck out your blog in pink and purple. But, don’t over do it. There are a bunch of free themes that you can use, this way it is your space. You’ve defined it. Make it your own.
- Never Stop Growing: Your blog will change. It might start somewhere and then change directions. That’s okay. Ultimately, your blog is a chance for you to share your thoughts, reflections and ideas. They change, they grow. Allow your blog to breath.
Bonus: When all else fails, write a top ten list.
If you want to see my blog, check out http://blog.mrkemp.ca.
I also wrote a blog while riding my bike across Canada, check out http://ridecanada.mrkemp.ca.
I also keep track of the books I read on a blog, check out http://books.mrkemp.ca.
My favourite blog to read is http://sethgodin.typepad.com/
I also follow these blogs, daily:
My Expectations for You:
Blog. Blog, at least, twice weekly. Your blog should be a demonstration of your thinking, your writing, your revision and your understanding of your audience.
Don’t write inane reflections on your day to day life, who wants to read that. Instead challenge ideas. Question theories. Read newspaper articles and complement or criticize. Be intelligent. As a reader, I want to walk away from reading your blog thinking.