Initially reluctant blogger reaches one-year mark

One year ago today, I uploaded my first blog post. That wasn’t the first day I’d tried but the first day I succeeded. I’d been encouraged to start a blog by other participants in the ethnic knitting online group. I’d been extremely resistant to take on anything new because I was all too aware I didn’t have time for one more thing (which has turned out to be true).

But after reading a couple of books on blogging, I started one. Leaning heavily on the perspective and guidance in Rebecca Blood‘s The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog, I decided to start slowly, find out what blogging was about for me, and see what happened.

(It turns out that Rebecca Blood is also a knitter. . . . )

My initial intention was to write two or three posts a week, of about 200 words each, which I’d learned was the "optimal" length. I borrowed, then traded some work for, an old digital camera. I signed up for a TypePad account and began figuring out how to post. I didn’t do anything to attract readership (one of Rebecca’s smart suggestions) other than add the blog URL to my e-mail signature and make up business cards with the address that I could hand to people if we happened to be talking face-to-face about blogging.

It’s been a year and it’s time to evaluate.

  • I’ve written 100 posts, which over the year averages out to just about two posts a week. The intervals vary widely, but the overall goal has been met.
  • The 200-word framework is a joke. If I could limit myself to shorter posts, blogging would take smaller chunks out of my days and readers would find it easier to skim the contents—but 200 words rarely gives me time to find out what I’m thinking, much less to shape those thoughts with any nuance. And nuance is how my mind works. I don’t edit the posts much because they’d never get published. ("Don’t edit much" for me is probably not the same as it would be for most people; I am an editor, after all. I edit reflexively. But the blog posts are not "finished" in the sense that an essay is "finished"—often after months of exploration and revision. I could do 200-word posts, but they would take five times as long to complete.)
  • I get to talk about things that normally just rattle around in my head, and sometimes people comment on them. This is a huge plus for someone who generally works in solitude in a small home office in a basement.
  • Blogging takes even more time than I thought it would, in part because I enjoy it. At the time I began considering the blog experiment, I was doing individual creativity coaching with Eric Maisel. Eric said, and I’m paraphrasing, "Watch out. A blog may consume time you could be spending on other projects," the implication being that those other projects would be more creatively and/or financially rewarding. Eric was 100 percent right. I’ve been spending time and energy on blogging that other projects could use. Those other projects would have had more creative mass, and might have helped pay the mortgage. What I need to do in the coming year is figure out how to do both the blog and the bigger projects (plus, of course, the independent publishing and the knitting and occasional housework, deadlines permitting).
  • Digital photography is fun. I’ve even indulged in a smaller, more convenient camera that has opened up many possibilities for me.

The best thing is this:

  • I’ve met new people I’m delighted to know . . . some only through the internet, and a few in person after making blog connections.

Conclusion: I’ll keep posting, even though it’s amazing how much time it takes! Yesterday’s post began at about 9 a.m. and finally resolved about twelve hours later. I spent a chunk of time chasing down links through Google and then entered changes to update and revise some of them thanks to input by another of the High IQ Kids editors.

(1. I could have chosen not to include the links, which would have cut my time by two-thirds, but I thought they were interesting. 2. In the realm of regular work, I did get one medium-sized Cowichan knitting chart completed before bed, and probably kept a few other balls in the air that I don’t remember because I take that kind of work for granted. As I recall, I did tasks related to shipping 3,000 books in the new printing of one title around the country and set in motion an order for more advance reading copies of another title, because the printer’s going to be about ten days late with the real books and we have a blog tour starting October 1.)

On the positive side, by the end of the day I felt like I’d not only started a job but also finished it. Most of the work I do, including those other, more substantial personal creative projects, takes years to get from idea to completion.

Thanks to everyone who’s visited my blog over this first year, whether you’ve commented or not. You folks who comment: thanks times a hundred. I appreciate our conversations a great deal.

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10 Responses

  1. I’ve been blogging about 1 1/2 years now. What really takes too much time out of my time spent on the PC is reading all those blogs I’ve bookmarked. I don’t write long posts. I know from what I like to see/read on blogs is, pictures and an explanation what’s going on. If it gets too long I’ll skim. But there are always exceptions of course. If somebody can write well and I like their style, I’ll read everything, pictures or not. ;o)
    I love the connections I’ve made through blogging and other internet groups.

  2. Wow, Deb, as I keep telling the Women Writing the West members, I don’t think most blog entries should take more than 15 minutes to write. Sometimes I write things that take longer, that are more like mini essays, and when I write book reviews for skepchick.org I spend more time on those. But I just don’t have more time than 15 minutes a post or I’d never get anything on my blog. The way I figure it, a blog is because readers and other folks want to know what I’m up to, so I just dump it out there. I edit a little bit, mainly to try to get rid of really embarassing typos, but otherwise, I just let ‘er rip. Would I have a better blog if I spent hours on every post (or even on a good proportion of them?), undoubtedly. But that’s not what my blog is for. It’s just for postcards that say, “Hey guys! Here’s what I did this week…”

    Donna

  3. I probably take more time with every blog post than Donna does, and less time (and words) than you do. That said, I get an enormous amount out of some of your blog posts. I learn, I think about them, I question myself about my own ideas and motivations. I’m reassured that someone out there is thinking about these issues in detail the way I am (whatever it is) and…most important? I’ve made friends with you. Thank you for taking the time to blog and to build bridges to the rest of us who are sitting by ourselves at the computer!

  4. Congrats on your Blogiversary!

    My first post was November 28, 2002. My blog system says that my last post was number 2505. I wouldn’t change it, though sometimes it is a hassle to get everything up I want/choose to put up there.

    My own goal is 28 posts a month. I sometimes write as much as you, sometimes much less.

    I adore your posts! (I particularly loved the sweater design process and the publishing information is always fascinating.) Yes, the links are what can make a post take twice as long… yet they do make a better post.

    I always wanted to write a column, my grandmother wrote the whole local paper once a week, singlehanded. It’s in my blood.

    But whatever reason we blog, the best part is the connections we forge with others in far places. I’m grateful to have met you through my own blog. Thanks for commenting!!!

    What did we do without the Internet? We were much more alone, especially those of us who are self-employed. I’m delighted with the community we have gained.

  5. Congratulations on your first blogiversary, Deb. I enjoy reading you and am pleased with the connection you and I have made via blogging.

    I’ve found the same thing about blogging being more of a time suck than I anticipated. I’m also finding that it leads me to places and to learning things in a way that I never could have anticipated.

    May you have many more!

  6. Happy blogiversary. It’s a wonderful glimpse into a new world for many of us. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  7. I wish I could remember how I came upon your blog but all I know is that I can’t ‘wait” for your posts. Interesting, provocative, and occasionally there is knitting! Consider I will be here as long as you are and may that be a loooong time!

  8. BTW, I think the amount of time you spend on blog posts depends on your goal as a blogger. My goal on my knitting blog is primarily to keep my readers up to date on what I’m doing and to get some extra traffic to my website. I read blogs more like Deb’s a lot, where there are more thoughtful posts. I just don’t always have time to write them, and I can’t beat myself up over it, or neglect posting completely. I’ve been totally awol on my charity knitting blog because it takes me a couple of days to prepare the monthly posts for that site and I haven’t been able to do it for about half of this year. I really want to, so I will have to shift some priorities next year.

  9. Deb,

    I’m a big fan of yours. Love your language and the time you devote to process. I don’t have a blog YET, but I think about it. Thanks for your thoughts. You’re brilliant.

  10. I’m way behind because I’ve been pushing blogs to the side in favor of other creative projects. If you find the key to balancing the blog with the other stuff let me know 🙂 With the photography I do my blog posts take much more time than Donna takes, but are often completed in a semi-reasonable amount of time. I think I’d like to post to my blog a bit less and knit and spin a bit more, but since I sell through my blog regular updates are important to bring traffic in. But sometimes it feels like work trying to come up with something to blog about!

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