It’s always interesting to me how different people approach blogging. I think the mark of a good blog is how effortless the writing seems. I remember, when I first started reading blogs, it seemed like churning out posts would be the easiest thing in the world. I mean, everyone has thoughts, and blogging is pretty much just putting that down in text form. Easy peasy, right?
When I first started blogging, it really was that simple. I had a lot of ideas, thoughts and opinions that I hadn’t really shared with a lot of people, and so it was always easy to think of something to write about. Back then, pretty much anything was “blog-worthy”, because I was working off an empty slate, and no one really knew much about me. My life in university gave me plenty of “adventures” to write about, and I had about 20 years of backstory to draw on for any deep, intellectual posts about life and growing up and such.
Then, as I emptied that first barrel of blog-worthy topics, and I began to feel the pinch of posting regularly, I started to look everything I did through blog-eyes. Was this worth posting about? Would people be interested in it? Was it funny enough to make a story out of? I started thinking a lot more about the mechanics of posting – it wasn’t just enough that I had a thought or an opinion or an event in mind, it had to “click” for me to be able to write about it. Some things were blog-worthy, most things were not. I would often whine, “But I have nothing to write about!”, when people around me, whose lives really weren’t that much more exciting than mine, were managing to churn out much more content than me.
Getting on board the A to Z challenge has really been a way to try and get out of this “click” mentality, and to write without getting too critical about the content. By and large, it has worked, because about 60% of what I’ve written in the four years of the challenge so far have been things I never would have considered “blog-worthy” before. (I’ve gotten desperate enough to write about gourds, for crying out loud.) Without the challenge, I wouldn’t even manage the 26 posts a year I do now.
From what I’ve seen of friends doing the challenge, everyone struggles with ideas, even the regular bloggers. The easiest way to go about it is to make a list of things you want to write about anyway, and then assign letters to them as needed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work for me, since the whole purpose of the challenge is to get me to think of things to write about. It also helps to have a muse, like a child who does and says something new and different on a daily basis, but even that takes skill, to be able to take the everyday things and turn them into material worth reading about, and I’m not sure I have that skill. Many people pick a theme, which does make coming up with content easier, but since this is a personal blog about my life, I don’t like the idea of it getting too factual or repetitive.
There is no method to my madness (and, trust me, it is definitely madness come April every year). A lot of people write their posts in advance, but I just like the feeling of everyday panic and despair too much to do that. The mood varies every day. Some days, I know what I want to write about. Most days, I’m struggling to come up with ideas. About half the time, that struggle leads to a post I’m happy with. Other times, I write with the knowledge that future-me will not be as critical and that she’d rather have something to read than nothing at all.
On my most desperate days, I just have to write and hope that no one notices that I’ve essentially written about not having anything to write about.