The Non-Blogger’s Guide to Blogging

Even though my business card claims it as one of my “titles,” I’ve never really, truly considered myself a “blogger.”

Bloggers are people who understand social media and who tweet pithy and memorable things at regular intervals throughout the day. Their posts are the right length, include lots of lists and always have SEO-friendly titles and Pin-able images.

When my first literary agent told me that I needed to start a blog, that’s what I said to her. “I’m not a blogger!”

Bloggers had big personalities and highly photographical lives and pretty dishes to display even prettier meals. More importantly, bloggers were funny, and I’d once had an English teacher read a “humor essay” assignment of mine, look up at me with raised eyebrows, and say, “You’re just not a very funny person, are you?”

I just wanted to be a plain old, run-of-the-mill writer, one who used the Internet primarily for research, emailing friends, and posting pictures of my kids on Facebook. I wanted to work in notebooks, to write chapters instead of blog series, free-writes that no one would ever see instead of blog posts that people had carte blanche to rip apart in the comments section.

I had zero desire to elbow my way into the online space, and when that agent told me that she was taking my book off submission until I figured it out, I cried and cried and ate a gigantic box of McDonald’s French fries.

And yet, I wanted to be an author. It was all I’d ever wanted to be since I first learned how to string words together on paper. I had a finished manuscript. A graduate degree in writing. If blogging was the only way to move to the next step of the process, then I would find a way to figure it out.

nonbloggers guide

I started blogging in September of 2011. I remember the sunny morning that I published my first post — my almost-five-month-old napping in the baby swing, my 2-year old zoned out on PBS in the living room. I’d spent most of the summer reading about this “blogging” phenomenon on the Internet, bookmarking tips on writing good titles, coming up with ideas, and gaining a following. I ordered a couple of self-published books about social media on Amazon and ventured slowly into the world of Twitter.

I christened my blog “How to Talk Evangelical” after the initial title of my memoir. The idea was to take a different Christian cliche for every post and riff on it. Expand on it. I wanted to try to get to the bottom of the things Christians say. Where did my own experience of reality meet these phrases? Where did they highlight truth and where did they obscure it?

I thought that this format might be interesting to the future audience of my book and that it might provide me with a ready-made structure so I wasn’t constantly scrambling to come up with topics. I created a list of these terms, and each week I picked one out.

In the (nearly) three years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I’ve also done a few things right. I’ve learned things along the way — about both the process and about myself. And, in a completely unexpected twist, I found that blogging actually feeds my soul. It forces me to write and publish regularly, and in doing so, it works that writing muscle that must be kept in motion.

In the blogging world, I’ve found unexpectedly deep friendship and camaraderie and other beautiful voices working through the same issues I find myself struggling through.

It’s hard, and it’s time consuming, and I need to step away sometimes. I’m still not great at the social media stuff, and I’m still not all that funny. But I’ve found a voice and a place in the online community, and I’ve become part of the conversation that I always wanted to be in. And for that I am grateful.

blog - then and now

This week, I’m doing a short series on blogging…for those of us who never though we’d be “bloggers.” Maybe you’ve been trying to figure out how to start. Or maybe you’re just feeling stuck. Wherever you are in your “blogging journey,” I wanted to offer my thoughts and my personal experience with this strange virtual world.

I’m by no means any kind of social media/blogging/internet expert, and by some standards, I’m probably doing it all wrong. And yet, it works for me. And that’s what I want to give you — some general guidance along with the knowledge that there is no right way to be a blogger. There are a hundred thousand ways to connect with readers, and in the end, it’s about finding your own unique voice and way of interacting in the online space.

Here is the lineup for The Non-Blogger’s Guide to Blogging series this week. (As I post these, I’ll add links here.)

You’ll notice that the final post of the series, scheduled for Saturday, June 28, is called “A Celebration of Blogging.” In this post, I’m planning to include a link-up for readers to share their own blogs. I’m not sure whether this will be in the Comments section or in a formal link-up yet, but I want to give people a chance to share what they’re about and to connect with others that might be interested in that subject matter. Make sure to stop back on Saturday to link up your blog if you write one!

Thanks for joining me in this series. I hope you’ll add your own thoughts, insights and input as we explore this weird, wonderful virtual world together.

41 thoughts on “The Non-Blogger’s Guide to Blogging

  1. I love the way you blog (and write) Addie.
    I’m so glad that you’ve done it your way.
    I so get this perspective. It’s taken me a long time to feel that blogging was “real” writing, as opposed to what I’d done as an English major, and since. But I’ve found that even though I don’t have a lot of pin-able images, and pithy phrases and, lets face it, humor, there is something really good about writing often, and getting immediate feedback and stretching myself.
    It won’t replace longer projects, or writing that I submit places, or do for myself. But blogging is definitely real for me, and I’ve loved it for a lot of the reasons you have.
    xo

  2. I’m sorry you had to drown your sorrows in McD’s fries, but ever so grateful your agent pushed you. Your voice is one we all would have missed if not for that. And I think you are frequently funny in your own dry wit tell-it-like-it-is way. I will never be a blogger(ya think?!) since I struggle with just this little comment box, but look forward to this series, because it will help me understand all those lovely people that I read and their struggle to bring us their words.

  3. This is great! I was just (seriously, JUST) thinking about posting on why I’ll probably never be a “real” blogger…although to be fair technically I’ve been blogging (just not Blogging, if you know what I mean) for close to 10 years now. Anyway. Looking forward to these posts!

  4. Addie I found your book last year when several of the other blogger’s I read did a synchroblog around the release of “When We Were On Fire.” It touched me in so many ways, as I identified with your lifetime in the church, your crises of faith, and your journey back to it. So I have been a follower of your blog ever since, and just in the past month have started up my own site over at http://untoldstoriesabout.us to slowly begin sharing my voice and stories. For a beginner, I am so excited you are going to be doing this series as I am soaking up any advice I can get right now. I am especially looking forward to your thoughts on sustainability and would love to hear any advice you have found on maintaining your passion and inspiration for writing without burning out in the midst of it.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words about the book! I love that you started your own site and I’m excited to check it out. Maintaining passion and not burning out is definitely a challenge; I hope my thoughts are helpful. 🙂

  5. I’ve been eager for this series since you mentioned it a few weeks (months? they all run together) back. I’ve been working on launching my first blog (http://leahswannhollingsworth.com/, an exploration of motherhood, faith, and depression) for the past four months and it’s now been live for all of three days. I always love your posts, thoughts, and writing, but this series is particularly timely for me and I’m thankful for it!

  6. Looking forward to your thoughts. I began blogging a few years ago because I knew I needed to get in the practice of writing again. Now I blog (in a new space) because I want to be a writer. But I STRUGGLE with social media. It creeps me out. My “growth” has been slow, but I have met a couple of women who inspire me, challenge my writing, and are becoming dear friends. Blogging isn’t that bad, I guess. 😉

  7. Addie I just want to say that I am exceptionally grateful that that first agent pretty much forced you to start a blog! Your posts have been so nourishing for me, and I especially appreciate and connect with your writing about depression. Thank you. (And thank you, former literary agent!)

  8. This series on blogging was recommended to me by a friend. So, it’s my first visit to your site. I began blogging about MILs (mothers-in-law) and DILs (daughters-in-law) about a year ago (Ssshhh! Don’t tell mine!) – http://www.milsanddils@wordpress.com – with no blogging experience in social media. Looking forward to learning!

  9. Thanks for the post! My friend, Debbie, recommended your blog to me as I have several book ideas and want to become published. I’m already in the blogging world but have been doing it on my own for years – without doing research. Just blogging just to blog! I look forward to reading the rest of your posts and learning from what you write!

    If you’d like, you can check out my blog: http://www.thetravelinchick.com

    I also want to get into the speaking realm of things too, so I also started a website: http://www.crystalhodges.com

    Thanks, again, for your posts!

  10. Hey Addie, Ive been writing for years but only as a blogger/article-type stuff, mostly about faith, life, and psychology. I’ll look forward to reading your posts this week and sharing my two blogs. I actually do four, but two I don’t post on much. Basically, I decided to have four blogs for the four main areas in which I write or post about. Happy Writing!

    p.s. – I admit, I only post about 2-3 times a month but after my job each day, I dont always feel like writing. Ive found the best inspiration comes early in the morning or later at night. I also find editing doesnt annoy me as much as it use to, though after the third look-over I just post it. It feels funny calling myself a writer or blogger since I dont have a book, but Ive been writing since I was in middle school and online since 2005-ish, so its basically been a decade.

  11. I’m so happy I came across this post on Twitter by chance, since I’m contemplating starting another blog. I had one, but I got tired of all the spam and the constant struggle to come up with profound topics or unique perspectives on daily issues. I know I need to blog in order to be take seriously as an author and speaker, so I’m really looking forward to your series and to following your blog. Thanks!!

  12. Love this idea, Addie, and now that I’m back in the land of the (at least) semi-conscious, I look forward to reading them.

  13. ‘I wanted to work in notebooks, to write chapters instead of blog series, free-writes that no one would ever see instead of blog posts that people had carte blanche to rip apart in the comments section’ – that’s me exactly! 🙂

  14. This looks like an amazing treasure trove of links! Thanks Adie for writing such a practical series of posts and for giving us all the chance to share our own blogs and find new kindred spirits. I started my blog about a year ago and still have so much work to do on it. All I do know is I love writing and love interacting with readers.mI’m interested in exploring faith and social justice, in reading and creative writing and in discovering who I am shaping up to be at this midpoint of my life.

    My most read post is a thank you to the evangelical women whose witness brought solace to this exiled Catholic:

    http://stilllearning1.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/a-catholics-love-letter-to-evangelical-women/

    My favourite is a recent one introducing myself:

    http://stilllearning1.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/just-for-fun-ten-things-about-me/

    Now to set aside a few long blissful sessions reading through these blogs 🙂

  15. Hi Addie,
    Guess I’m late in joining the link up for sharing blogs but here is mine anyway. Love your writing. The experiences you shared hit home with me. It was wonderful to see your transparency and vulnerability shining through on the pages of your book. Good reminders that we are not alone in our struggles.
    Thank You!
    Jessica
    My blog is The Dalai Mama
    http://www.travelingmercies-jessica.blogspot.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

^
Back To Top