I enjoy reading blogs. Some degree of formality has been pushed aside to allow for entertainment value. There’s a feeling of freedom to enjoy reading something for pleasure, rather than reading it because it was assigned. The title I have forgotten, but I think it was a blog on how to grocery shop when pregnant that had me in stitches. The woman added an anecdote about sneaking food and spilling coffee down her shirt as she shopped, later to realize her plan to buy groceries was flawed by her current state of gestation. I realized I wanted to write like that: real, helpful to others, and witty. But I wanted to be me, and record it in a way that best represented exactly who I was. Not to mention that I just wanted to write and not be tied down by all of the writing rules.
More research, reading blogs, and giving blog writing a shot gave me a perspective on writing that I never got from writing college papers. I officially decided to develop a blog site to write about education. Even for this English teacher who is expected to know it all, a door opened and I learned so much more about writing less formally.
And so I present to you 5 things (only 5 because that keeps you focused on finishing my blog) that surprised me about blogging. I want you to see what I saw in blogging that changed my perspective on reading, writing, and life.
- I don’t read like you think I do. You may be surprised to learn that I am not as avid of a reader as everyone assumes me to be, a truth I finally accepted when I started blogging. I think the most common image of me, thanks to being an English teacher, is sitting next to a window, with my steaming tea on the table beside me, my glasses across the bump in my nose, and my intense attention to the Complete Works of Shakespeare, the whole scene narrated by someone with a British accent. Well, I enjoy a good book, and don’t mind the tea, but it wasn’t reading that attracted me to being an English teacher. I cannot claim to be the best writer, but I can say that writing is what I like to do. And I find myself preferring to read non-fiction from the internet, or pick up a non-fiction book from the library, rather than sit down with the great American novel. It took me until now to be able to say it, but it is okay that I do not prefer reading fiction.
- It’s the lists that people like to read. My father once told me that he noticed his co-workers and bosses read his emails more closely when he started bulleting and listing his ideas, rather than writing an essay. He’s right, unfortunately. There is a laziness factor for some readers. If you want the attention of your audience, the ideas must be simple to follow. I’m still not completely sold on lists, but it’s something to think about when writing a blog. I can say that blogs with lists are often viewed more by readers than ones that seem more like an essay.
- It’s the smaller things that matter. Not only am I expected to be short and sweet with each blog, but the best ideas for writing are simple and minute. The blog that got my writing out there was on the similarity between teaching my son, Owen, to Velcro his own shoes and teaching paragraph writing. The image that advertised my blog was of my son’s roughed up play shoes. I had hundreds to thousands of reads on that blog. People were curious about the correlation between Owen’s shoes and my argument, and I was proud of the way I incorporated something so seemingly small and ordinary about my life, yet unique and thoughtful. I think it will have lasting memories for me, and hopefully for my readers, too.
- I get to be a photographer. Some professional bloggers who do this for a living must work on the business side of their writing. They must sell each blog. One way bloggers draw in readers is through images. All of the “how-to” books place an emphasis on producing the images to avoid copyright laws and to advertise the central ideas of the writing. I saw blogging as a 2 for 1 deal, as far as hobbies go. Take up blogging and take up photography!
- I use the word “that” way too much. Wordiness is the dirtiest grammatical crime of a blogger. I read several blogs that made me want to print them out and use my angry red pen to correct them. Turns out I had a wordiness obsession with “that.” Sometimes I just have to use the word, but the more concise I can be, the better. In fact, I found that I could delete most words and still have a clear point to communicate.
I could add a #6, mentioning what I’ve learned about conclusions that may shock you. But we can save that for another time. What’s important to mention before ending this blog is to explore blogging by doing, and discover what about it surprises you. I can’t wait to read your first blogs!