Well, I did it. Sort of. At the beginning of 2021, I set a goal of posting once a week on this blog. I didn’t hit a post every week, but I ended up posting 52 times for an average of once per week. I hit my goal despite a lengthy hospital stay of someone close in early 2021, a personal bout of breakthrough Covid, and numerous other minor and not so minor setbacks, slights, and ups and downs.
Some posts I know were better than others. Some too long. Some too short. Some made little sense, but some, a precious few, were pretty good, I think.
In retrospect, I learned (or maybe relearned) four things about blogging in 2021.
First, as with most things in life, it’s good to have a goal when it comes to blogging. A goal that may not be easy but which is achievable with enough perseverance and discipline. Having a goal gets you moving. Having and meeting a goal somehow takes away some of the sting and trauma with which life sometimes hits you. It forces you not to dwell too much on what can’t be changed and more on what you can control: achieving your goal. And thank you, gentle readers, for your support in 2021. Lots of days, especially with Covid, I didn’t feel like writing but knowing you were there, and reading got me moving toward my goal.
Second, like lots of things, writing is uneven. Like I said above, some of my posts weren’t too good. But I have learned with writing, it is unrealistic to expect to have a good, widely read post every time. You have to keep trying if you want to hit a sweet spot now and then. You can’t be too hard on yourself when you miss. You have to know that some posts you think are really good aren’t. And some you feel aren’t all that good, actual are. With writing and with life, you have to accept what you can’t change even if it hurts.
Next, if you want to write and hope to write well, it pays to read. A lot. Another goal I had this year was to read one book a week. Again, I didn’t meet this goal every week but did make it in the aggregate. And by reading—reading a variety of genres—I think my writing and style got better. My voice got more refined as I channeled the people whose books I read. Reading is like practice-you need to fertilize your writing muscle by reading a lot. And it makes you more interesting to boot.
It helps if you have a trusted and earnest someone to read your drafts and give unvarnished feedback
And finally, find someone to help you edit. It helps if you have a trusted and earnest someone to read your drafts and give unvarnished feedback. An anchor to windward. Someone who can see what you may have missed when you haven’t been clear and help you say what you are trying to communicate better. It helps if that someone does not do the same kind of work as you. They can give fresh perspectives as a result. They can better challenge your assumptions and make sure you convey what you want to convey. Hemingway supposedly said write drunk and edit sober. I think it’s accurate to say write a draft and get someone good and smart to edit and make substantive suggestions and, where need be, offer criticisms.
Set a goal, write a lot but don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t hit a big one. Read a lot and have a trusted confidant to help you. Oh, and one more thing. Have fun.
My goals for 2022? Write better posts, be more consistent, read a lot, be nice to myself and my earnest helper, and have more fun.
And try not to dwell too much on things I can’t control.
Happy New Year, everyone.