Saturday, May 28, 2016

Climbing Out of a Blogging Funk

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This is the first post I've published since early April.  It's not that my ideas weren't flowing. I just couldn't seem to develop them into a post worthy of publishing.

It's not uncommon for me to have one or two drafts going at any given time.  As with any creative endeavor, I feel a rush of inspiration and park my ideas until I can complete my thoughts, fine tune them and share them with my professional learning network. But this time, it wasn't just one or two, I started seven posts and was stumped soon after starting each one.

And then it hit me.  I was in a blogging funk.

Coming to that realization was liberating. My ailment was diagnosed and this diagnosis was the CPR I needed to resuscitate my blogging practice.  Most importantly, identifying the issue caused me to consider why I found myself in this black hole in the first place.  The more I pondered, the more I recognized that it's perfectly normal to go through phases of feeling uninspired, tired, stressed or perhaps just a little bored.  But as a reflective practitioner, committed to sharing my reflections via blogging, I'm going to take this as a learning opportunity in the hopes of minimizing its reoccurrence.

So for any of my fellow educators out there who may need help getting back to blogging, below are some questions that facilitated my reflection on this rut and helped bring back the blogger in me.
  • Why do I blog?  This is an important question to continually ask myself because the reason I started blogging is not the reason I continue to blog.  Am I just keeping up with the Joneses or do I find any personal and/or professional benefits?  When I first became interested in blogging, it was a little bit of both.  I was intrigued by the practice because so many educators were blogging and I wanted to give it a try.  However, I also felt that sharing my reflections publicly would hold me accountable and would help me reflect more deeply and purposefully - and I was right.  Two years later, my PLN has grown, my career goals are evolving and while I'm not exactly keeping up with my peers, it does help me grow my professional learning network and stay connected.  Yet, it's the reflective practice that for me is the most beneficial because it keeps me grounded - a form of self-therapy.
  • Who do you blog for?  First and foremost, I blog for myself.  However, I have to say that after having my first post published in Education Week last year, I am much more cautious about what I write and how I write. Having a writing coach review and edit my piece helped me grow as a writer but it also impacted my approach to writing. As a novice blogger, I would whip out a post in an hour, proofread it myself and fearlessly take the plunge. Since then, my audience has expanded and I second guess myself a whole lot more than I did early on. Now I usually ask a friend to proofread my work before publishing and/or tweeting it (which is the right thing to do anyways) but I find myself mulling over my writing before I muster the courage to publish.   While I certainly don't want to be impulsive and careless about what I publish, it's important to strike a balance in order that I may write more freely. Otherwise, I will drown in my writing insecurity.
  • How often do I really need to blog?  It all depends on what I'm trying to accomplish.  If blogging is truly for me, how important is it for me to be consistent?  On the other hand, as my career goals evolve, my blog is now part of my professional portfolio and a reflection of my personal brand.  During my early blogging days, I participated in blogging challenges which had me posting anywhere from once a day to once a week.  I quickly realized that blogging so frequently was unsustainable so I set out to post at least once a month.  The idea is to have some sort of consistency that holds me accountable for writing. Perhaps I need to add blogging to my calendar (not sure why I hadn't thought of it before).
  • Are they posts or are they articles? I've always said that I enjoy blogs that read more like a conversation than an article.  However, I found that as I progressed in my blogging practice, my blog posts became more like articles than personal reflections.  Though they have my voice, I don't think it's as warm and personal as it was at the start.  And while I don't want to regress in my blogging skills, I do want my posts to reflect a little bit more of my personality.
  • How long do my posts need to be?  Am I sounding like a typical student?  As I tell my learners, "it's not about quantity, it's about quality. " My first writings were not nearly as long as my recent ones.  During my daily blogging challenges, some were even just two or three paragraphs.  As I became more comfortable blogging, my posts have become more lengthy and the lengthier my posts the longer they take to write and edit.  Furthermore, I want my entire post to be worthy of reading.  When I read others' blogs,  I find myself skimming through lengthy posts, while I read every word when they are around 500 words or less - and I'm thinking my readers are probably doing the same thing. Perhaps if I write less I will publish more often.
There are numerous other questions running through my head, but I think I'll end there. Throughout this time, I've learned some valuable lessons.  I learned that I will be a better blogger - and certainly a better person - if I remain true to myself.  I must live life to the fullest and seize every moment. Sure, I want to capture special moments, write about them and share them with the world, but I must fully enjoy the experiences first.  The writing will naturally flow from those experiences.  I must also embrace my perspective and feel free to be myself, allowing creative juices to flow.

So, if you are stuck in a blogging funk or are considering starting a blog and can't seem to get going, I hope these questions will get you started on your journey or help you pick up speed.

If you have found yourself unable to blog for a period of time, please share how you were able to climb out and get back into blogging.  I look forward to learning from you.