June will mark nine years since I started Red’s Wrap. But because someone asked me yesterday how long I had been blogging and I said “nine years,” it occurred to me that now would be a good time to blog about blogging. Even if it is only April. Here’s my advice from nine years of blogging.
- Write who you are. I can tell real from not real in about five words. I have no patience for pretenders or posturers. Say who you are. If you are stuck about that, use Hemingway’s advice: write one true sentence. And then go from there.
- But keep yourself to yourself. I don’t want to know your every pore. I’m fine with a few drops of blood, leaving the rest to my imagination, but I will leave if the blood is gushing and continues, day to day, week to week. Don’t give readers your core. That’s yours. But hint at it, show glimpses, that will be enough.
- Have courage. Unless you’re doing recipes, blogging is about exposure and risk. Change lanes! Write about things that make you uncomfortable, make yourself think about foreign ideas, get out of your kitchen or office or front yard. Be bigger than you are. And try different formats. Write a poem. Write a post that is entirely dialogue or one that is mostly photos. Scramble your words. Surprise me.
- No cheese without bread. My cousin, Joan, had six kids and this cheese rule was one of her mainstays. I reinterpret it for blogging to say no blogging without a photo. Us readers? We can’t have just cheese. It’s too much. Too dense. And for the writer, a blog without a photo is too hard, too expensive wordwise. Make the words go farther, post some bread.
- Make your blog beautiful. A blog that is clean and readable, easy to navigate, welcoming, ah, that’s a blog to follow. One with a lot of extras, ads, pitches, artsy font, and other varied indulgences tells me to click on and click off.
- Consider yourself a writer. If you are posting pieces of substance on your blog, you are a writer. You are a writer who blogs. So act like one. First order of business is making sure what you post is literate. Second is constantly seeking to improve as a writer. That takes practice (frequent posting), education (learning new things from experts), and feedback (putting your writing on the table for criticism).
- Push the damn button. Don’t suffer the contemplation of whether you should post something you’ve written. If you like it, push the button. If you don’t, ditch it. There are always more words. You will never write the last words. The longer you wait to post something you’ve written, the more scared and tentative you’ll get. You only need your own approval.
- Assume your readers are strangers. Most of them will be. The internet is an enormous cavernous place populated by people you wouldn’t meet in a thousand years. So think of those as your readers. Don’t think of your mother, your ex, or your business colleagues as readers because, even though they are quite likely to read your blog, thinking that will cramp your style so don’t.
- Be proud of your work. For years, I would run away from my work, disown it like an unpopular potato salad at a potluck. “Who brought that?” I would shrug. But not anymore. Red’s Wrap belongs to me and, while there are posts that are silly or over the top, there are pieces that are so clear and ring so true that I can’t believe I wrote them. I’d hang them like jewels around my neck if I could, I love them that much. It is grand to be proud of oneself. Very grand.