Of all the various forms of social media out there, blogging is definitely my favourite.
The ability to blog is a wonderful privilege for someone like me, for I was always the kid everyone was trying to shut up.
At school, despite being a strong student, I was constantly criticized on report cards for talking too much – both in and out of turn – and in general disrupting the class with my compulsive need to share every last idea that came into my head.
Thankfully, my father, who was a huge proponent of self-expression, told my teachers he’d much rather I talk than not talk.
Yet for someone like me, blogging is the perfect pursuit, for I get to express my thoughts (and my thoughts are usually fairly detailed, which is why I do better on WordPress than Twitter), and those who care can read it while those that don’t can tune me out entirely.
And yet, I’m not really that good of a blogger.
Despite my love of blogging and connecting with readers and other bloggers from all over, I’m actually a reluctant convert to the digital age.
It’s no mistake that I’ve mostly confined myself to blogging about writing. Coming from a writer, writing craft is a topic that doesn’t call too much attention to itself; an almost invisible topic.
It’s a topic I can write about indefinitely without revealing a lot of myself as a person. To reveal little is very much the type of person I am.
In my offline life, I’m the same way: if we met, I’d give you lots of attention and ask you tons of questions about yourself – anything to deflect attention away from me. I’d answer truthfully anything you asked me, but my answers, at first, would be short, and then I’ll turn the focus right back to you.
I’m a virtuoso at this: so subtle and skillful, you probably wouldn’t even notice, especially if you’re the type who likes talking about him-/herself.
Perhaps my old teachers and their report cards were more effective than any of us realized.
Becoming a digital person
Another reason I’m not a good blogger is because when I first started, my goals were more related to presence rather than process: develop an online presence for when I someday have books to market (i.e. the requisite “writer’s platform”); write a quality post every week.
But no goals or plans around attracting readers or otherwise writing for an audience.
It wasn’t a mistake, my blogging mainly about writing, and yet neither is it really the right thing to do. For, in the digital age, if we want to promote ourselves, we have to become digital people.
We have to be open to living a little bit more of our lives online.
Over the Christmas holiday, I read an awesome book that has really changed the way I think about social media. According to social media expert, Kristen Lamb, in her book Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World:
Why are we being so self-centered that we demand that readers find us via what we love? Books. Writing. Publishing. As I see it, the fundamental problem is that we have failed to appreciate that authors now have the ability to become personalities. We are the new reality stars. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are our “reality shows” that allow people to connect with us on common ground. (p.103)
While I never considered myself on par with Snooki from Jersey Shore or Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty, I can see Lamb’s point. Even though many people read books, the act of writing a book isn’t necessarily interesting to everyone.
It’s not a topic that’s going to help me gain the diversified audience that I want.
Though, what might, is what Lamb goes on to promote as “high concept blogging”.
High concept is one of those industry terms that a lot of people define differently, but in this case, refers to,
- Having broad appeal,
- Evoking the emotion of the reader, and
- Giving the reader something to contribute or something to take away.
In trying to help people know more about my writing, I ironically have to write about writing less – to blog more about other things that interest me that might also interest those who don’t write.
So, I’m going to be changing things up a bit around here. I’m not giving up on posts about writing craft entirely because it is a topic I love to discuss. But I’ll also branching out a bit – broadening my digital identity to make this less a writing blog and more my online home where, hopefully, anyone can feel comfortable visiting me.
A/N: Now seems an auspicious time to make this change: a new year has just started, it’s my first post of 2014, and also my 100th post on this blog – a milestone!
A/N#2: I’m also going to change the blog’s name. More on that next week.
(Image: J.G. Noelle)