January 23, 2015

10 Lessons Learned From 1 Year Of Blogging

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
  - Maya Angelou

On January 23, 2014, with great trepidation, I gingerly tapped the "publish" button and sent sailing my first blog post. It was like showing off a newborn baby - hoping no one thinks it's ugly. It was simple, and it was profound and I almost fell off my chair when 46 people read it. It was titled: Maybe Success Is Just Not Giving Up and here is what I posted:

 I LOVE this! ( <=== My only original contribution to the post. Don't judge me.)

Genius is only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it: so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many people have thrown up their hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success. As the tide goes clear out, so it comes clear in. In business, sometimes, prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.
- Elbert Hubbard, 1856 – 1915

Looking back one year later, having shared over 70 blog posts on a host of topics that have been read by 15,835 people, that original post seems very fitting to re-share in my anniversary post. So - do I consider myself to be a "successful" blogger? What does that even mean? I'm not trying to "sell" anything so there is no income to measure. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind about anything so I have no "converts" to report. 

 “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
  - Ernest Hemingway

What blogging is to me is writing - and I love writing - and I am writing, so I guess that makes me a "successful" writer/blogger. 

Writing is bringing forth the intangible contents of my heart into a tangible form and sending them out into the wide expanse. It's a place where I can think out loud and then turn those thoughts loose to seek other thoughts that are broadcasting on the same frequency, and when they meet, it causes a spark of realization that none of us are alone - even with our thoughts.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” -Ana├»s Nin

So today, on my blogging anniversary, I thought I'd share with you what I've learned from one year of blogging. Here goes:

1. I love writing. I love writing more than eating...and that is a big deal. (OK sometimes I love writing while eating, but only chocolate!) There are very few activities that I'm passionate about or can lose myself in - but writing is one where I can and often do.

 “I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” - James A. Michener

2. I've learned to recognize my own unique voice. Not only have I become familiar with my voice but finding and honoring that voice has brought with it a long awaited sense of freedom. 

“Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”  - Margaret Atwood

3. I've come to know and appreciate other voices that I wouldn't have heard any other way. Bloggers tend to create a sense of community among themselves and as the year has gone on, I've found several of those communities where I enjoy reading and responding. Reading is to writing what cooking is to eating.

 “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” - Stephen King

4. Writing focuses noticing. The passing of time is a blur. If we blink we may miss something very important. Writing causes me to blink in slow motion. It gives me a cause to pay attention - to notice things that I otherwise might have lost.

“Write what should not be forgotten.”
 - Isabel Allende

5. Writing is cathartic There is something about writing that's a lot like talking to a friend. Often a friend doesn't have to say a word for the answers you need to become crystal clear. The blank screen is a friend waiting, with rapt anticipation - offering no interruptions and never changing the topic before I've exhausted all of my thoughts or feelings on it. Best of all, those feelings can be revisited again to be re-evaluated, weighed, measured or changed as more information or greater experience allows or requires.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
  - Anne Frank

“Tears are words that need to be written.”
  - Paulo Coelho

6. I've learned a lot! I've learned so much about myself. I've learned a lot from other bloggers and blog posts and books that I've enjoyed reading. I've learned I'm not nuts - or at least not nuts alone. There is a whole other breed living among the normals. People who like me also feel compelled to fill up blank spaces with words and stories. What a relief!

“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”  - Eudora Welty

7. Creating is an essential aspect of my life. Since I wrote my first poem in 4th grade, writing has been an important part of me. While raising my 6 children - that being a creative process all it's own, I did very little writing. My stories were being poured into those little minds to be forgotten and sometimes trampled on when those little minds became teens and beyond. (The same way I trampled on my parents stories.) But an empty nest brings back that longing to create and it boils as an undercurrent of discontent until it finds a place to flow freely again.

...Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
- Kurt Vonnegut

8. I am diverse and complex in my interests. That's why my topics have a wide range and may seem random and disconnected. It's a bit of how I experience the world - in a scattered, haphazardness that makes sense mostly to me.

 “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
  - E.L. Doctorow

9. It's not so much about the readers as it is the writer. I learn as I write. I understand as I write. My sense of wonder becomes expansive and I want to learn, understand, write and then wonder even more.

 “I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. ”
 - Joss Whedon

10. I will blog and write as for as long as I can still type and think and wonder, and appreciate and love and....

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
 - Rainer Maria Rilke
A special thank you to all of you who have taken time out of your lives to let me share my thoughts with you. Thank you to those of you who have shared your thoughts back. When two minds join they create a third mind that is bigger than either one of the two. I've enjoyed sharing those experiences with you!

“There are three rules for writing... Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
  - W. Somerset Maugham


  1. I love this list and can relate to so many of them! And I love the quotes, very appropriate - I just saw the Stephen King one yesterday. Find your voice, cathartic, create, learn, focus, a great blog, thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet thoughts! It's nice to meet another voice broadcasting on the same frequency!

  2. Such a wonderful blog post. Thanks for sharing it. I've been blogging publicly for 3 months but writing since I could hold a pen. It is in you soul and you have identified how I have felt writing.

    1. Thanks Susan. I'm starting to believe that all of us who write are possessed! Keep going on that blog. If no one ever read mine again I'd still do it for my own sanity!

  3. Three cheers to this! I love doing my blogs so much I sometimes have to remember that my main business is writing novels. I have my book review one, my self-pub one on another site, and my own one - like you, I post anything that comes into my head that I want to write about, on that. I don't see it so much as a cathartic thing, except when I want to have a bit of a moan about something (usually the misuse of words and overuse of buzz phrases!), and I must admit I do write for the reader more than for myself, but I think that's because I AM a novelist - you get used to writing with the reader in mind so much that you don't even think about it. Let's hear it for the internet, and especially Twitter!

    1. Thanks Terry and I second your cheers for the internet and Twitter. I've met some great people on there, you being among them! I even met my husband on the internet!

      "I must admit I do write for the reader more than for myself, but I think that's because I AM a novelist - you get used to writing with the reader in mind so much that you don't even think about it."

      This may be the biggest reason I've not become a novelist. I want to keep loving writing and if it ever feels like a "job" to me I'm not sure I'd love it as much. That could change however. I swore I'd never open a Twitter account less than 18 months ago. :)

  4. Anita, this is an inspiring post for all new writers/bloggers like me. Thanks for reminding us that it’s a journey. You write with humor and compassion, a lovely combination and an enjoyable read every time. I’m glad we’ve connected. 

  5. I'm glad we've connected too Kate and thank you for your kindness! Keep writing!

  6. I can so relate to this list. Feels like I'm writing this myself. :)

    1. I'm glad you can relate Lux, but not surprised! I believe we writers are a lot more alike than we are different...and we're really different!

  7. Me too, Anita - to EVERYTHING in this anniversary blog - except the raising of 6 children (kudos to you!). Keep writing - your words obviously stir something inside your readers...and LOVE LOVE LOVE the quotes from the authors.

    1. Thanks Suzan - I love the spelling of your name by the way! I'm afraid where writing is concerned, I have little choice but to keep going. I'm like a shark - if I stop swimming I'll die. I had a great time looking for those quotes. There are a million great ones and reading so many by Stephen King's (who's books I've never read) has me reading his book "On Writing" which I'm enjoying immensely.

  8. As I new blogger (since Autumn 2014) I'm learning everything I can about it. Riddle me this: Why are almost all the best bloggers women?

    1. I'm not sure that's true. It could just be that the topics that interest you most are the ones that women write about more often. What I've found - in my own brief tenure (since January of 2014 is that most of the men I follow take on more business/leadership types of topics instead of life/feelings/experience types of topics. That of course isn't a hard and fast division. There are women that take on those same topics brilliantly and men that tackle life issues as well. What I've noticed as far as my own enjoyment goes is that it has more to do with the degree of passion the blogger has about whatever topic they're writing about. Some people can write about drying paint and make it sing while others can bore me with a compelling story. I'd say write about what means something to you. Your posts are hilarious to me - but I should warn you I've been told I have a warped sense of humor. :)