There is still a perception out there that spending a part of your time on blogging or social media is wasteful, frivolous or simply inane–a “soft” pursuit that you choose to follow because you’ve chosen to not take the more serious or rigorous paths.
But for me, far from being inane or frivolous, four-and-a-half months of blogging has helped me learn so much more about the nuances of writing than what many other forms failed to drive home successfully.
So before anyone tells you you’re wasting time just blogging, think about how blogging helps. When you’re blogging, you’re
1. Generating ideas and practising writing: Blogging is a superb method at getting writing practice. And if you manage to get a few readers, you have a process of constant feedback. No matter who they are, comments always make you stand back and take stock and that’s a very important avenue towards becoming a better writer. Getting used to generating new and original topic ideas on a periodic basic seems very difficult at first but it has amazed me how much more easy it becomes with practice.
2. Understanding audience: We all start with a general idea of who our audience is. But you learn the nuances as you go along. Nuances are very important in writing. One very important lesson I learnt is this: You can never fool an audience with substandard material no matter who they are. On days that I write out a blog hurriedly throwing some points together, I get far fewer readers. The other side of the coin, the good side, is that when I put in effort, more people read. You also learn how much effort is too much investment on a single thing. So it’s not a haphazard world out there which is very heartening.
Also, connecting with different kinds of readers in different ways depending on realizing what different things they are getting out of the same material is a very important learning process. This only comes with putting your wrting “out there” as I could with the blog. You can never take readers for granted. They are very discerning.
3. Focusing on organization: Understanding how/what people read taught me important lessons on where to insert the breaks if I had a long blog in mind, how much to repeat if I was breaking it into different posts, what to foreground for quick readers.
These lessons carry over to other kinds of writing, even to other areas of life strangely–something I learnt as I was recently writing and commenting on a completely different kind of material. As I was working on that, I realized how much I had developed as a writer, how flexible I had become and how much more I was keeping in mind the reader’s point of view as I was working compared to what I was four months ago–a legacy of my blogging experience. All the while, practising organization in writing was teaching me how to organize my life! (No. Writing won’t help clean up the mess in the room. I mean it helps conceptually to see how the parts fit so where life is going as a whole and which parts need to be revised.)
4. Practising patience and preventing procrastination: The two P’s. The former is a virtue I lack. The latter is a vice I had developed to perfection. If I wrote something, I’d either want to submit it immediately to get rid of it or stop thinking about it. Or I would be so anxiety ridden under the surface of my writing self that I wouldn’t be able to start. Since each blog does not matter so much in the great universe of things and since there’s always another chance in blogging, the procrastination driven by anxiety disappeared. Writing was fun!
As for patience, when better edited blogs received better feedback and more readings, when better timed blogs had more readers (and you knew how you had fared almost immediately), you learnt to discipline yourself much more easily because there was a reward at the end of the process and the process was not isolating.
At first, we think there might be some short-cut method to attracting readers. Innumerable accounts in innumerable social networking sites where you can share, constantly monitor and “friend” people with a purpose. Not to get something out of them but just to make them read!
But in the long run, it’s what you have to say that matters and how you say it where writing is concerned. That’s a constant learning process and blogging makes that process fun.