For the last little while my blog posts have required a lot more effort and motivation than I’m used to. I post just to keep my blog active, rather than because I feel I have something relevant to say, and I think this shows. I make every post pic-heavy, to make up for the lack of writing. And while I love sharing the photos of my kids, I find the whole act of blogging quite boring lately.
I’m not planning on chucking it in – I don’t think that’s where this is going. I probably would quit, but for one thing – I so love reading back over my old blog, from years ago, and reliving those days of 2 kids and the life we were living back then. But I do need to change things around here, so that this is a worthwhile thing for me to spend time doing.
I’m writing as I think here. I have no idea where this post is even going, it’s just happening as I write it. And I’m ok with that, because I think that’s the only way I am going to find my blog voice. Forget about polished. Just write what I think, as I think it. Which I think is problem #1 with why I’m sick of blogging: My blog doesn’t express my personality.
I’m almost 32. I’m finally in a stage of my life where I comfortable with who I am. I know what I like, and what I don’t like. I have very strong opinions on most things and I have no problem expressing them, even if they’re different from others, because I know I’m not an idiot and I give everything a lot of thought (actually I can often tend to overthink most things) and at the end of the day, I’m not so close-minded I can’t end up changing my mind after giving it more thought. I remember reading, I think it was in Velvet Elvis, that the Christian journey is one of constant wrestling with ideas, not just a set of beliefs that are firm and unmoveable. I agree with that. There are absolute truths of course, like what is and what isn’t, but it’s in how we respond to those truths that I think we all need to be more flexible. The grey areas of life, like breastfeeding vs bottlefeeding, or whether or not gay marriage should be legal. We all have opinions, and I do too, yet I never talk about them on here. I find that boring. Because it’s a huge part of who I am. I think about these things, yet if you read my blog you’d never know it.
I’m not saying I want to get all serious and start posting lectures about controversial issues. I hate reading blogs like that. But I should be expressing myself more truly, and when something is on my mind, just write about it and post it and not worry about whether or not those of you reading this will be interested or agree with me or remove me from your reading list.
Which leads me to problem #2: I’m a bit of a comment-whore. I love it when I open my email inbox and find that someone has left me a comment. It lets me know that people are actually visiting my blog and reading it, and that I’m not just talking to myself. But when I post something – or don’t post something – with readers, comments, page hits, shares, followers in mind, it takes away from the honesty of my writing. It means that I am absent from my writing. And if I never really engage with what I’m writing, neither will anyone else. So I need to stop checking my blog stats, stop thinking about how to get more traffic, and most importantly stop censoring myself. I’ll just write what I want to write and stop worrying about who’s reading it.
The blogs I love the most, that I click on straight away when I see that they have a new post, are the ones who do just that. They write whatever’s on their mind at the time and don’t apologise for their views. Their experiences are real and personal, and yet so typical to mums everywhere that by opening up on their blogs they create a bridge between themselves and their readers. We laugh together, cry together and pray together.
When I read those blogs, the ones that feel as if they are holding a mirror in front of my face, a bunch of things happen.
1. I feel less alone, because someone is going through the same things I am going through. Whether its teething babies, or questions of faith, or frustrations in marriage, it’s important to feel like it’s all a normal part of life and you’re not the only one on the planet having that experience.
2. Often I laugh at myself, which really helps me see that experience in a different light and not get so hung up on what is probably only a stage that will pass soon enough.
3. I am inspired – to do something, to stop doing something, to change something, to create something or just to enjoy what I have.
The interesting thing about each of these blogs (the ones I’m thinking about as I write this) is that each of them is different from the others, because they each have their own authentic voices. Even if they all posted about the same thing on the same day it wouldn’t sound the same. Which leads me to problem #3: I haven’t been writing in my own voice. This is probably the biggest problem, and why I have been finding it so hard to sit down and write.
Back when I wrote about getting back into blogging, I found it inspiring to read a lot of other blogs. I found some that I really love and still enjoy reading, but because I find their work so great it’s hard not to get into the “I need to write like that” kind of thinking. I mostly read other “mummy blogs” because that is what I like to read, and they all had certain things in common. I felt that as a “mummy blogger” I had to be writing a certain way: funny or cute stories about my kids; crafting projects; photography; homeschooling; fashion; or tips for home making and all of that. I felt I had to fit into one of these “mummy blogger” categories. I don’t craft, I’m not a photographer and I don’t have the time or expertise to write tutorials. So my blog doesn’t really fit in the “mummy blogger” world, if that is what it has to be. I have lots of cute stories about my kids, but actually, they have their own blogs. I’m not sure if I can stand to try and fit in anymore with my perception of the “mummy blogger” label. Who cares?
And that brings me to problem #4: I’m trying too hard, and it’s killing the enjoyment of the whole thing. Back when I was trying to find my “blogging mojo” I read lots of tips and advice about blogging. I followed the advice I was reading, and when I did, I gained a bunch of new followers, so I kept following the advice. I joined in linky parties regularly; I took more time “photoscaping” my pictures; I even gave my kids blog names/aliases because that’s what the seasoned bloggers said to do. It was good advice, all of it. But following it has made me miserable and bored. Because I never wanted to be a “blogger”, I wanted to be a writer, and blogging was a platform for it.
So I’m giving up blogging and going back to writing.
I’ll still join in with linky parties from time to time, when it suits me, but not all of them and I will link up if I see one that suits a post I’m already doing, rather than creating a post for a link-up. I’ll still share pictures, because it makes me happy to, but not necessarily in every post. If I continue with #photoadayMay it will be on my Facebook page – feel free to join me there. And I’ll still enjoy reading the blogs that I love, and new ones that I find, but when it comes to my own blog I need to start embracing who I am. Some will enjoy my blog more, some will not. But I’ll enjoy it.