I recently came across a tenet of blogging which says one should never apologize for not having blogged recently.
So I won’t do that. Instead I’ll share a bit of what I’ve learned about blogging while not blogging. Lesson 2: provide your readers with something of value or something useful. (See above for Lesson 1.) Late last year I took an on-line class called Blogging 101 through Writer’s Digest University. I took it hoping to figure out why (or if) I should be blogging, and I haven’t exactly answered that question, but I did learn a lot about the right way to blog. Our teacher, Dan Blank, provided lots of practical advice and concrete examples and took the time to give thoughtful and encouraging personalized comments to everyone (while keeping up two blogs of his own!).
(Small World note: While checking out Dan’s We Grow Media blog, I discovered a video interview he did with Betsy Bird, a children’s literature blogger, whose mother happens to be in my poetry critique group. Betsy’s blog, A Fuse#8 Production, is admirable in many ways, but I don’t recommend it for anyone who’s worried they’re not blogging enough.)
Which brings me to Lesson 3, the two most important points I took from the class: 1) Have a Focus, and 2) Post Frequently. The point of the latter is to keep your audience interested, but it amounts to basic writing advice – if you want to write, write. Don’t wait for great inspiration or lots of time. It’s what Ann Lamott calls “Showing Up.” Betsy Bird shows up.
So does at least one of my fellow Blogging 101 classmates, Sandra Bell Kirchman, who blogs about fantasy fiction. I was determined to start right in after the New Year, but Sandra actually did, and she’s been keeping it up. She’s an inspiration!
Lesson 4: It’s a good idea to plan ahead and store up some posts, or at least topics for when time is tight, and when isn’t it? Sandra turned me onto WordPress’s Daily Post, which is a blog of ideas to blog about. I’ve filed away some of those as well as some of my own ideas, but I’m still trying to pinpoint my focus.
I admit it’s very meta to be blogging about blogging, but the Daily Post suggested writing about writing if all else fails. I’ll try to keep the Ars Blogetica to a minimum. (I made that up just now, but then I Googled it, and of course I’m not the first to use the term. See Memory Speaks in Tongues. Lesson 5: It’s good to include links in blog posts, but this may be a case of too much of a good thing.)
Betsy’s mom, Susan, says the poetry police are under-staffed, and I’m hoping it’s the same with the blogging police. In Dan’s final comments to me, I think he actually gave me permission to do the exact opposite of what he taught – at least for a while, until I can figure things out. I’ll go with that.