This post is for me. But I'll let you in on my thoughts if you promise to share some of your journey after reading this.
I started this blog over two years ago, but had exactly zero page views--because I told no one about its existence. I stopped after a few posts. It wasn't until I had words that were burning holes in my soul two years later that I dusted the ole blog off again to link it up with another site. It was terrifying--and exhilarating--to have words I wrote be read by others. But it wasn't until I jumped in to the write 31 days challenge that I really flexed my muscles as a writer. And after 31 days straight of writing, I couldn't imagine it not being a part of my life anymore.
I've been writing consistently now for the past six months and I'm spending this post (my 97th!) reflecting on this journey so far as a writer (as every teacher who's ever assigned a "reflection" can appreciate). Here are few things I've learned along the way.
1. Blogging is a unique style of writing. Blogging is perfect for the lazy reader. It's more conversational and casual. It defies all the rules you learned in English class. For example: Writing.like.this.for.dramatic.effect. Bolding random lines. Writing lists like "9 Things I've Learned in 6 Months of Writing." And using fragments. Or one word sentences that get their own space.
2. Writing is not a means to an end. Writing is an end in and of itself. Writing, like running, has become therapeutic for me. There have been moments in the past six months where I have literally written out my anger, loneliness and frustration and gotten up from my chair feeling like I had molded those emotions into something more beautiful and useful. I'm finding that I'm not writing to publish or to get X number of "likes" or follows (and certainly not to make money), but because I love writing and it gets my inner gears turning in ways I can't even explain yet.
3. I share much more in my blog posts than I do with people
face-to-face. Although I'm an extrovert, I'm more private
than I realize because some of my close friends have read more about me
in the past six months than I shared with them in a year of in-person
friendship. I like hiding behind words. It is terrifying to
accept new friends on Facebook who don't know about my writing because
they will have a doorway to my heart. Honestly, I would rather
write for strangers than for friends and peers.
4. You have to let go of control when you share your words on the Internet. Once I hit publish, I have no more say over who can take my words and share them on any social media platform they choose. Though I haven't had any posts "go viral," I have experienced a spike in numbers of a certain posts that have left me pondering the fact that some stranger somewhere is sharing my heart words with people I don't know. It's flattering, but also unnerving if I think too much about it.
5. I constantly question how much self-promoting I need to do and it never stops feeling kind of icky. I usually share to my personal Facebook page once a week, but share every post several times on Twitter. I make myself feel better about this by telling myself that people only have to click on the link if they want to. Many blogs host link-ups, blog hops or blog parties where you can link your blog, but have to comment on one or two others. If I did this every day, it would take up every minute of actual writing time for me, so I've found the next point to be a better way to get my blog out there.
6. I appreciate the challenge of attempting to get work published. Since January, I've submitted several articles for publishing. A few have been published and even more have been sent back. The ones that weren't published, I've usually re-read and wondered what I was thinking to have even tried to get them published. In most cases, I've reworked them and made them better than before. So lately, I'm relieved if I get an acceptance, but with the caveat of "but would you mind working on this some more?" I'm thankful for the second chance to polish up my rough drafts that seem more rough from a distance than the day I first hit "send."
7. God is so pleased that I am using this gift. I know it sounds arrogant to put words in God's mouth, but I can't tell you how many supernatural winks, nudges, smiles and hand-squeezes I've felt over the past six months of writing. Like the probably overused quote about Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure," I can honestly say that that's how I feel when I write.
8. I wouldn't be writing if it weren't for my husband. I'm thankful to have a husband who has not only an appreciation for the arts, but a real love for them. With a bachelors in theatre and a masters in acting, if there's anyone who understands doing something you love without hope of monetary compensation, he does. Since I started this venture, he has been my cheerleader, proofreader and greatest fan. I would have talked myself out of writing long before now if it weren't for his encouraging words and support.
9. My world is wider, my friendships deeper and my soul more attuned to God's work in the world now that I am writing. I have met people I never would have known existed were we not bumping along the same roads of the Internet highway. They have enriched my life. And though I have often chosen to write instead of calling a friend, the new friends I meet can get to know me at a much deeper level more quickly by reading my blog. And finally, as a writer, I am more aware of the metaphors, symbols and details in daily life than I have ever been before. I now walk through life with ears straining, eyes open and my mind ready to receive whatever God wants to show me.
I'm sure I'll think of 10 more things to add to this list as soon as I hit "publish," but I'll leave it at this for now. If you are a writer and/or blogger, what have you learned through the months or years you have spent writing that you wouldn't have learned otherwise? How have you grown? And do you have any advice to give me as an amateur writer? I'd love to hear it!
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