The Truth About Blogging

I wrote this post on the BloggingME site a few weeks ago. I thought I’d share it here, for two reasons. I don’t have time to write today because once again I’ve been up until 3 trying to finish an assignment, but more importantly it’s a personal piece and I think it belongs over here as well.

I find most of my personal revelations or epiphanies come through chatting with friends. There’s a lot to be said for stopping for a coffee, a chat in the supermarket aisle, or in my case last night, a shared drive home.

My blogging buddy Sarah and I were talking all things blogging while she drove me home from dinner. It was the stuff we bloggers love: hashtags, hits, favourite bloggers, and online blog courses. All of these discussions though are a disguise for what’s really going on behind a blog. Every great blog has a heart with a pulse, and if you don’t believe me, read a blog that doesn’t and it becomes obvious – it’s dead.

When it comes to blogging it should never be about “likes” and “shares”- when it is it’s unappealing and obvious. Bloggers screaming for attention are the equivalent to the guy who has carried the condom for so long in his wallet that it’s now etched a permanent ring in its outline – a little over prepared, desperate, and confronting.

Good blogging, real blogging, is about finding the thing that gets you excited, the sentence that makes you sit forward in your seat. The moment that urges you to share, whether it be electronically or verbally that night at the pub. It’s the little sparkle behind the words – it’s what drives us to keep writing. It’s what makes us keep coming back – both blogger and reader.

Years ago I was asked in an interview for a local magazine “why do you write?” At the time I was embarrassed about my very passionate answer. It sounded part Oprah part evangelist and entirely self indulgent. “I’m writing for all the women who have felt like I have. I’m writing for people who have maybe moved around a lot. I’m writing for women who feel isolated, whether it’s because they’re somewhere rural or somewhere foreign to them.”

And for the longest time I’ve believed that that is why I wrote.

It’s not. Perhaps that’s what it was when I began, but that’s not what’s at the heart of it all now. That’s not the pulse behind the blog.

Nearly two years ago I wrote this post. It was about a birthday I’d spent at the beach and how I’d watched a man draw an enormous map in the sand. What he’d done that day had a huge effect on me. I sat at my table and watched him quietly go about outlining a map of Australia, it was a huge map that took up a sizeable section of the beach. When he was finished, before he walked away he’d written “Beach Guest Book” and left a stick for people to write their names or indicate where they were from. That night when I told/gushed to a couple of people about it they didn’t seem to feel the same way about it as I had. They’d almost intimated that it was all a bit naff, a bit goofy. A month later when I decided to write a post about it, it had a huge response, hundreds of comments, because readers got it – they felt the same way. That connection to home, the need to make a community. That’s the pulse that beats behind my blog’s heart.

Earlier this week I was talking to a friend about how our lives can sometimes be misunderstood through social media. That when Instagram and Facebook are full of holidays snaps, champagne bubbles, and smiling children we forget about the broken tap in the bathroom, the supermarket tantrums and traffic jams. I remarked that we were all living the same life, just in a different location. I took a shot the next day of me stuck in traffic and labelled it #myreality hoping others would share pictures of their reality, wherever and whatever that was. By the end of the day I’d seen my sister in law’s school run in Hong Kong, yoga classes in Moscow, tuk tuks in Jakarta, cattle in Australia, drivers in Congo, dog walking in Norway, and rain falling in Phuket. The photos were breathtaking to me, everyday shots of flower stands in Bangalore, busy roads in Nairobi. I savoured each and every picture, thinking of those women getting about their day.

In the car on the way home from dinner with Sarah we talked about her blog, what she was doing, what she enjoyed. “You know what I love, I just love it when you can see what other people are doing, where they are, what their world looks like.” As the words were coming out of my mouth I thought about the guy on the beach. When I’d written the post about him I’d asked people to sign in, it had given me the hugest of thrills when everyone began to introduce themselves. To me it felt exactly the same as travelling, just without the dirty washing. Introductions, experiences, an insight into a snippet of someone else’s life. I was doing the same again, but this time with pictures, all of us connected together.

Sometimes we look at “big” bloggers and call them clever and tactical to get where they have. They develop an everyday buy-in from their audience, they market ebooks, and partner with brands. And yes, there’s a little bit of clever, but the truth is there’s a whole lot of heart. Find what the heart of your blog is. What sets your pulse racing?

That’s the truth about blogging.

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