Metablogging: Finding my voice (and it sounds funny)

You know how you always sound weird to your own ears when you hear a recording of your voice? That has been what the last few months have been like here, for me.

I’ve gotten a little off my intended track in the last week, posting a UU post on Friday in an attempt to be timely, and a somewhat political, not very spiritual post on Tuesday, because I felt I needed to get the idea out there, and it didn’t leave me with time to write another that I was happy with. I’ve got some great notes for the next few posts, but today I want to talk about blogging.

How do you people do it? I know some just post when the spirit moves them. I know others who post as often as they can come up with an idea. It must be nice having a mission or adventure to blog about. Me, I am just trying to push myself to write more and refine my ideas.

I’ve been told that my writing is good. I’ve been told by a few people that I’ve inspired them in one way or another. It is great to hear, and it makes me want to keep up the effort. The thing is, this is hard! Not so much the self-imposed schedule, mind you. Sure, I don’t always have ideas, but as a product of not only the American education system, but the “honors” version there-of, I can write when there is no topic. The hard part is making it something I want to say, and something I am proud to hit publish on.

I’m also trying to not let this or other personal or blog related posts be just filler. I am trying to make sure that, even when all I can say is that I am overwhelmed or lost, that I say it truthfully, and that I find something in that which is worth sharing. And I am still amazed when those are the posts that people respond to.

So, I ask my blogging friends: How do you do it? How to do engage readers, and give them enough of yourself to genuinely make a connection, and not loose your mind putting it all out there for the world? I know some people use a nom-de-plume, but for some, the boundary is either so thin that it hardly serves its purpose, or (the bigger fear for me) it is so removed from the author that it takes on a life of its own. Because so many are pseudonymous, I can’t even be sure which is more prevalent in the blogs I try to follow.

On that subject: how many blogs do you try to read? Do you use some method or 3rd party to help figure out what is worthwhile this month? Do you find that the give-and-take creates a dialog that helps, or do you think that too many posts responding to other people’s work just confuses the reader?

I am still trying to feel comfortable at this. It means a lot to see more comments. I means a ton that they are positive. (Though I am open to constructive criticism!) Still, it worries me, each time I post something more personal than my view on politics, culture, or theology (funny how that doesn’t feel personal…) that I will go to far and the trolls will find me. So far, that hasn’t been a real problem.

As always, I invite comments. New commenters are screened. Once I approve one, though, future comments using the same identifiers will post automatically. If your comment isn’t approved in 24 hours, tweet me about it, and I’ll try to track it down.

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10 Responses

  1. I post one post a day. My blog Liberated Way is a developing project. Its a case of blog and find what you are happy with through the doing. As to blogger participation, being involved with the blogging community reading and commenting builds relationships.

  2. Hi, Thomas. Such a pleasure to discover your blog, which I did thanks to its mention on The Interdependent Web.

    One of the greatest encouragements to blogging, for me, is that blog hits, to which I am shamelessly addicted, rise and stay risen when I blog often, and fall off sharply when my blogging falls off. Comments are even more encouraging, but much rarer. I try to blog 2-3x/week, but the fact is, I’m blogging a lot right now because I’m on study leave, and a couple of hours spent writing feels like a nice switch from reading (which is pretty much what I’m doing this study leave). When I’m in my regular work schedule, it’s really hard to blog as much.

    I think you’ll find your rhythm and I think your instinct is right on re: filler. Write about what moves you. It will begin to feed on itself, and on the things you read, and you’ll have the readership that’s interested in what you’re interested in.

    One small technical thing that helps me is to create a draft post the moment I think of an idea–usually no more than a title and a sentence giving the gist. If I waited until I had time to write the whole thing, I’d forget the idea. I now have a little stack of ideas that I can flesh out when I have the time.

    Reading? Ha. Keeping up with all the blogs i like is impossible; even keeping up with my blogroll is a stretch.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I was in shock at being included on the Interdependent Web. It’s added a bit of pressure to see my blog hits (which I have looked at once in a while [or nearly every day] double one month, then again the next. I’m too much of a perfectionist for this, but that’s not something I am proud of, and I am working through it in order to force myself to work through ideas and get them out into the world.

      My first rule is to be real and honest. I want this blog to really represent where I am and what I think. I want it to be in my voice, and sadly, this is how I sound in my own head. The editing is actually quite minimal on most posts, as I don’t write many more than a day or three in advance. Things are crazy, and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for review or feedback before my self-imposed deadlines.

      I also have a long list of “drafts” that are just a title or a thought. Some of them have been put off because I no longer find the idea interesting. At least 2 have been ignored because I completely lost the train of thought, and I don’t know what I was thinking. Still, it is my best bet for keeping a well to draw from.

      I can’t read all the blogs I want to. I can’t even keep up with the blogs of people I consider friends, mentors, or inspirations. There are too many good ideas on the internet for there not to be a better system for curating them. The Interdependent Web helps, but it often just ads another URL to my bookmarks, which does nothing good for my time management.

  3. My biggest struggle is finding the time to transform that jotted down idea into the blog post I want it to be. That is to say, I’m right with ‘ya! Some days I am more successful than others, some days I am feeling particularly creative and environmental factors don’t allow me to get back to it (and by “environmental factors” I mean my 2 year old and my 4 year old. It happens)
    You do the best you can, try to make time for it, and prepare to be disappointed some of the time.

    The fact is that there are bloggers out there who have more practice and some who just have more time. The biggest challenge, I think, is to discover what works best for you in your life and run with it! (I will be checking back for tips on this for my own use, of course=)).

    That said, I love your blog and the level of authenticity that you bring to the blogosphere. It is so refreshing! Keep up the awesome work!

    • Quality is my biggest hurdle, followed closely by sincerity. I demand both in this project, because I want to feel like I am raising the level of communication. I try not to over-do the links, for instance, but I feel that it is important to give context and allow people to judge the authenticity of my posts. It takes time to track down the right thing, some times, but it matters for keeping the communication honest.

      I’ve got a 5, 6, and 16 y/o in permanent residence, and my 7 and 10(!) year old kids every long weekend. It can be tough. I manage, mostly, by the use of sprinklers, NetFlix, and not sleeping. Those are my secret blogging tools, right there.

      That said, I really hope that this isn’t “what works best”, and that I’ll do better when school starts back up.

      BTW, thanks for the links today. Luckily, not having real tv, we don’t have to explain breaking news to the little kids. It is still nice to have reminders that help is out there when we encounter tragedy.

      • No problem =) Also, I laughed out loud when I read that “not sleeping” was one of your tools. Yes. and Yes. 2am blogging is more often than not the way it gets done!

        • I think that it is near universal in its use for all sorts of creative endeavors. Like alcohol to Hemingway, I may not always be proud of the use or the side effects, but I can’t imagine what my work would be if I abandoned it for restful nights.

  4. [...] meta post was intended to be a comment on this post by my good UU buddy Thomas over at his blog A Material Sojourn.  But it was getting a wee bit [...]

  5. I was going the comment route but it got waaaaaay too long. So, here’s my reply! http://blog.spiritualityandsunflowers.com/?p=1495

    • I replied to most of your post on your blog, but I wanted to come back here and say, again, that mattkinsi is one of our rising stars, and someone who could very well shape the way the UUA sees, utilizes, and serves our Young Adults for the next couple of decades. That is, if we are smart.

      If you haven’t read his blog, or if it has been a while, go. It is worth a few hours our of your week.

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