Six months ago this week, I launched Boats Against The Current (which makes it sound like I set out on a long, arduous sea journey – I actually just started a blog!) and entered the big wide world of book blogging. Back then, I had no idea just how big or wide a world the book blogosphere was, and so becoming a part of it has been pretty incredible!
Prior to that I had toyed with the idea of starting a blog for a couple of years, ever since doing a module for Creative Writing at university about Creative Non-fiction writing, which is where I first heard about blogging. It became one of those things I definitely intended to do one day, but kept putting off and putting off because, well, it looked like a lot of hard work, and to be honest I can be kind of lazy! And you know what? Blogging is hard work, really hard work, in fact. But it is also one of the most fun and most rewarding things I have ever done, and I have learnt so much along the way!
That’s why two months into my blogging journey I did a post called ‘What Two Months of Blogging Has Taught Me’, and I said I’d do a catch up post six months down the line…and here we are! I thought this topic would work quite nicely as a discussion post, as I’d love to know what other bloggers feel blogging has taught them, whether they’ve been doing it six weeks, six months or six years!
Blogging has taught me…
- …how to write better
One of the most common pieces of advice on how to improve your writing is ‘actually write’, and creating and maintaining a regular blog makes you do just that. I for one have done way more writing than I have ever done before (except during NaNoWriMo!) and on a much more regular basis since starting my blog, and I’d like to think that doing so much of it has improved it. I definitely find writing posts so much easier than I did in the beginning anyway, which I think is a good sign!
- …that non-fiction writing is just as fun and creative as fiction writing
Although I have always loved writing, prior to starting Boats Against The Current I mostly wrote stories, and if I’m honest I used to kind of think of non-fiction as the less fun, less creative cousin of fictional writing (possibly because of its association with essays!). I now know how untrue that is! It takes a hell of a lot of creativity to come up with a certain number of post ideas per week/month, and executing them well is a whole other matter!
- …to write what I would love to read
When coming up with ideas for blog posts, I’ve recently learnt to ask myself, what would I like to read? Whilst having a blog with a readership obviously requires you to write what your readers want to read, I have found that the posts I have been the most excited about writing and publishing have often had the best reaction. I think you can always tell when someone is really passionate about what they’re blogging, and whilst people certainly have preferences with blogs (as I discussed a couple of weeks back), I think as long as you love what you’re writing, someone somewhere will love it too!
- …how to use social media
To be honest, prior to starting my blog, I was totally clueless about social media. I had a pretty stagnant personal Facebook page gathering dust somewhere in the recesses of the Internet, and that was about it. I had never even heard of the likes of Google+ or Pinterest! And whilst I’m hardly a social media wizard now, I’ve definitely got more of a grasp of it, and have found out how amazing it is for connecting with other people. Twitter and Google+ in particular have been huge breakthroughs for me, as I love the ease with which you can communicate with others through Twitter, and the Google+ communities make it so easy to quickly find people with similar interests to you! Which leads me on to my next point…
- …how many other lovely people share my interests
Unfortunately, in real life, I have very few reader friends (and by that I mean one – one solitary fellow book nut!), so discovering such an enormous community of like-minded people has been one of the best things about blogging.
- …that it’s OK to put yourself out there a bit
My blog isn’t exactly personal – at the end of the day it’s about books! But at the same time, every time I click ‘Publish’ I do feel a little bit nervous, because I’m putting out into the world both an opinion and a piece of writing, and therefore opening myself up to potential criticism. For example, last week I did a post about the genres I don’t read, where I detailed why certain genres weren’t for me, and I was kind of nervous. If someone loved one of the genres I didn’t, would they be insulted? Would they tell me I was wrong, or leave a horrible comment (I know on the whole the blogging community is lovely, but you never know!)? Well no one did, and it actually generated a really great discussion! In fact, in my six months of blogging, I haven’t had a single negative interaction with anyone yet! ‘Putting myself out there’ as it were, has been a really positive experience so far, and as someone who is a major introvert, it has been a huge learning curve!
So how about you? What do you feel blogging has taught you?