Lessons From a Year of Blogging
My domain renewed and my blog turned a year old! What started as a fun technical project has turned into a wildly gratifying medium for expression. I'm starting to think it might even become my life's work!
I've learned a ton in the process of writing a bit each day. The first draft of this has a list of bullet points a mile long. Here are some of the most salient takeaways, and why I'll keep writing:
Performing on a Stage
The process truly is the product. The greatest gift of sharing online isn't really so that thousands of strangers can see what you create. It's in the making.
But there's something to performing on stage that's different than the practice room.
It's the feeling of elevation and a sense of audience that can really stir the spirit. I write for myself everyday in a journal. But I don't quite reach the same clarity of thought or spiritual sense of communing with the Great Creator.
Put another way — sure, in school you might doodle on your math homework. But when given a canvas that will be framed on a wall, there's a calling to create something more.
Maybe that's overstating things here. It's just a blog, after all.
But the feeling is there. It was the same with music. An audience of 3 is still an audience in a concert hall. Any audience is enough to complete the performance.
I thought this was just a point for software, but it goes beyond that.
Writing about code helps clarify thinking around it. That goes for writing what I'm learning, topics reading about, and projects I've built. It even goes for testing.
Turns out, the same is true for everything else. Writing a post about creativity solidifies my thoughts around it. I've had moments in the studio where I was stuck on something, but remembering "hey, didn't you write a blog post about practicing slow?" actually came up.
There's the technical side of it, too. Wanting to record a guitar tune for this site makes my practice on it that much more focused. Same for art — having a platform to share pushes me to want to refine my line quality and try new skills.
Kleon makes a good point that writing helps him figure out what he has to say. The more I write, the more I feel a writing voice coming through. I become aware of what's valuable in what I have to say through — well — saying things.
Long Term Conversations
Alan Jacobs mentions that the best part of blogging is revisting themes and topics.
Everyone who writes a blog for a while knows that one of the best things about it is the way it allows you to revisit themes and topics. You connect one post to another by linking to it; you connect many posts together by tagging. Over time you develop fascinating resonances, and can trace the development of your thought.
I'm just at the start, but I'll echo that already it's been fascinating holding a long term conversation with myself and other blogs and books.
It's Surprisingly Expressive
It's a great answer to the equation of Impression Munis Expression Equals Depression
You know how there's probably that thing you're really into that's pretty niche (say, vintage radio collecting?) Or maybe the work you do is too technical to be good small talk fodder? Or maybe you just have those sensations, feelings, and impressions that are too nuanced to express in a passing conversation? Yeah, writing is good for that.
What makes a personal blog interesting is bringing in the full spectrum of what tickles your brain. Somedays it is executing SQL queries through Python, other days it's musings on books, other days it's leaving memories from a fun weekend. Some of my favorite tech blogs have a wild amount of personality shining through them. It's fun to have many pots boiling!
All creative practices are actually really similar once you get past the details of medium. If you want an outlet but don't feel like you're creative ("I couldn't sing my way out of a paper bag!", "I can only draw stick figures!",) I think you ought to try blogging. You're a Mozart in your own way of speaking and living. Words are a pretty great way to capture your impressions.
A year is just the start. Many of the folks I admire are prolific and diverse bloggers. If you've read, commented, emailed, or been a part of it in anyway — Hey! Thanks! Here's hoping for many more years!