Blogging is HARD.
No, seriously, it is.
Now, before you brush me off, thinking that “you just write a few paragraphs every so often and that’s it,” let me assure you – there is quite a bit more to it than that (or rather, there has to be more to it than that if you want your blog to be at all successful).
Unless you’re just writing a blog as you would a journal or diary (that is, for no one to read but you and maybe your best friends), then you are right – blogging is easy. Just write about what you did at the mall today or how mean your teacher was to you in 3rd period English, and you’re all set.
Now, if you want to write seriously and maybe even get random strangers to read your blog and (presumably) enjoy it, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
The biggest hurdle for new bloggers is just getting something to write about, and actually writing. Constantly – or at least regularly. If you only post once per month, nobody’s going to come back, and you’ll be doomed to only be read by the occasional person who got lost while searching Google.
Once you commit yourself to writing on some sort of regular schedule (doesn’t matter what it is really, as long as you stick to it), you’ve got to… well, actually WRITE. And if you think back to your English or Creative Writing or Essay classes or whatever you took in school, you might remember that it’s often very hard to write about something – everyone gets “writer’s block” at one time or another. And blogging is no different than a weekly essay assignment – except that you won’t flunk a class for not blogging, and without that strong impetus to write, you may be tempted to slack off. (Even with the strong impetus, you might still slack off – I know I did in college!)
So blogging is hard because you have to write, and write often. But of course that’s not it, either, because you have to write, and write often, about things that you feel strongly about (and hopefully that other people want to read about). And believe it or not, that’s not always easy, either.
At first, if you’re dedicated, you might find it somewhat easy – just spout out a rant here and there on a regular schedule – while you have your morning coffee or whatever – and you’re all set, right? Well, sort of.
It’s easy at first because you don’t know any better. Like anything, practice makes perfect. As you blog more and more (and presumably read other people’s blogs at the same time) you’ll become a better writer. And part of being a better writer is that difficult stage where you’re good enough to see the flaws in your own writing, but not quite good enough (or perhaps confident enough) to make the changes you need to rectify the flaws.
In point of fact, I’m sort of at that stage myself. I’ve started using the “drafts” feature of WordPress quite a bit to work on … well, drafts of posts. When I first write them, they are often horrible – full of grammar problems, ideas that just wander all over the map with no cohesive vision to link them together – basically, a mess. But over a few days (or sometimes weeks) I work them into something that “works.” And some days, my writing muse is working overtime and I manage to write a few good posts all at once.
In the old days I would have posted them all immediately. Now, though, I’m taking a cue from Raymond Chen and using the “scheduled post” feature of WordPress to schedule any extra “good” posts for later – that saves me from having to work like a dog, trying to come up with stuff to write about to keep to my schedule.
So blogging really is hard – and that’s fine, things that are hard are often worth the effort. In the case of blogging, the pay off is two fold: you get to participate in a new communications medium that is sweeping the Internet, and by writing often, you will become a better writer – and that can have “real world” benefits.
So by saying “blogging is hard,” I’m not trying to dissuade you from blogging – far from it. I’m saying that blogging is hard because that’s my excuse for not posting anything for a few days. Wait, no, that’s not right. I’m saying that blogging is hard because that’s how you know it’s worth doing.
So give it a try – there’s no excuse not to. You can get a free blog just about anywhere these days, so there’s no cost to start, except for your time. And the time and effort you put into it will pay off someday. Who knows? You might even become such a good writer that you’ll get offered a book deal. Hey, stranger things have happened!
(Image credits to mathowie and andyp uk for their Creative Commons licensed pictures.)