This week I started another blogging challenge designed to help participants blog with intention, hence the name Intentional Blogging. It’s only the third day and I’m feeling overwhelmed fearing I may have taken on more than I can handle right now.
There are over 800 bloggers taking part. Amazing bloggers and wonderful writers with great stories. There is no way I will be able to read all I would like and still tackle the writing and blogging tasks.
The outcome from Day 1 is a more developed “About” page. I’m not done with it yet, and it still needs some work but I feel I’m on the right path by moving some paragraphs from my introductory post to the page. The challenge for Day 3 (today) was easy as I had already done this last month. Thank you Sandy, Tony, Caroline, Therese and Jen for offering your opinions on my writing voice. All of you had compliments for me and if others find my writing voice truly is direct, personable, insightful, accessible, conversational, honest, articulate, thoughtful, nice – not snarky, I will be delighted.
About Day 2. This task truly challenges me. Answer three questions about your blog: Subject (what you will be blogging about); Theme (your specific area of focus) and Objective (what you hope to accomplish). The rationale behind the questions is to better define your audience, who it is you’re writing for, your tribe (to borrow Jeff Goin’s term).
For someone who just decided to allow herself to publicly state her status as a writer one short month ago, answering these questions is difficult. It dawned on me during my hour-long drive down the New York State Thruway yesterday that I haven’t begun to write for an audience. Right now, I’m writing for me. Yes, I’m thrilled that some people have taken an interest and 26 of them (the count as I write this) have subscribed or followed me. There are so many strong writers sharing their work in the blogosphere and the fact that people are taking time to read mine is humbling. I am filled with gratitude for each and every positive comment, “like” and note of encouragement.
But, right now my purpose for writing is to develop the habit, and to force myself to share what I write with others. I made a death-bed promise to my sister Mary Jane that I would write the book we had talked about writing and the only way I will accomplish that task is to develop a daily writing habit and then invite others to read and comment on my work.
Don’t get me wrong – I see a day when I will have a clear objective. I know I need to keep these questions in mind as I develop my writing habit and explore topics and themes. Someday, I will have a paid self-hosted blog (I’ve already registered the domain name) and I will have a tribe of my own.
This challenge is about self-discovery as much as blogging and I am learning about me. I’m learning to define what it is I’m passionate about, what I’d like my writing to offer others, and what I don’t want to be.
Here’s what I want:
I want to be open and truthful. I would like to open my reader’s eyes to a way of life other than their own – the life of a woman who is living a full and happy life regardless of physical ability. I would like to encourage happiness and gratitude in others.
Here’s what I don’t want:
I don’t want to be a motivational or inspirational writer who uses her own experience to say, “If I can do it, so can you, because I do it all despite my disability.” I have probably only read 50 blogs by my fellow challenge participants and I think it is safe to say at least 40 of them want to motivate or inspire their readers. Whether it is motivating someone to follow their dreams, inspire them to be mindful and present in the moment, or encourage their readers to act now, not later – there are quite a few motivational and inspirational writers out there. That is great for them, and I’m glad they have honed in on their objective. I cringe when others call me an inspiration. As much as people want to pin that label on me, I resist strongly even though it may be perceived by some as me being bitter, ungrateful or mean. I don’t care if that is what my readers are looking for. To quote the amazing Stella Young, “I’m not you’re inspiration, thank you very much.” If you haven’t watched her FANTASTIC TED Talk, do it now. I’ll make it easy for you:
The lessons I’m learning are all important lessons. I am doing my best to keep myself present in the challenge, recognizing that even those who have been blogging and writing for years struggle with the tasks like me. The community has been supportive and I have done my best to offer words of encouragement to others who have expressed fears and doubts similar to mine.
I have always been a person who tries to live a life of service to others, often putting my needs second when it comes to helping a friend, supporting family or volunteering for a community event. I force myself to go out when my body is craving rest even though I know every physical act will take me twice as much time and energy. I’m not saying all of this to make myself sound inspirational or like a super hero. The point is, it might be time for me to make something about me and I think right now that “something” is writing.
Along the way I will work on permitting myself to be vulnerable and share those vulnerabilities with others – a position I have avoided my entire life but which is necessary if I am going to grow as a writer. I will work on continuing to develop those objectives I listed as “wants” above. I will explore my passions and strive to identify subject areas. I may discover that even though I don’t envision my writing to be a certain way now, it is what speaks to others and helps me form connections. After all, I started this blog by saying I wanted it to be a dialogue. If I’m not willing to listen to my readers and recognize what resonates with them, we won’t have open communication.
So thank you, reader, for indulging my selfishness for now. I hope in time I can have the answers to these questions. When I do, you’ll have to play your part and let me know if my tribe is one you can see yourself joining.