There are many different ways to approach writing a blog, I think. There are those of us who document our daily lives, speaking only to ourselves and our nearest and dearest, documenting last night’s dinner or tomorrow’s tantrum. I like those kind of blogs. They are personal and flawed, and a fairly authentic view into the life of someone a bit like you. Nice.
Of course, those are not the only kinds of blog, warts-and-all is not everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe you blog to entertain or educate. Maybe you are quite the marketeer and blog to gather a tribe. Maybe you blog simply to self publish. Maybe you write to beautify, engage, promote or preach. Maybe you blog solely about Neil Diamond or dolls in minature outfits, or things you can do with peaches. That’s fine too. Go you. Set the words free, I say, in any way you care to. That’s the beauty of the blog.
Taking into account these free-flowing words, these varied topics and approaches, these wildy differing motivations, we do have many blog traits in common. Links, for instance. I think it’s fair to say that most of us are peppering our blogs quite liberally with links to the people and places that inspire us. Be they finger-biting baby videos, crafty how-tos or marketing e-books, the blogging community, and in fact pretty much the whole of the internet is powered by such helpful referrals.
I like to think of these links as a little trail of stepping stones dotted through an ever-changing, fast flowing river. The links we leave for each other help us focus on the path ahead. And if I follow a link from your blog to somewhere you like, I can kind of bet that it’s going to be an interesting stepping stone for me. It will probably get me where I want to go, creatively at least, a little faster. At the very least I’ll learn a bit more about what you like, which is good too.
Linking is important and useful. I think it’s great to serve up great new sites, and to invite people to step onto one of your fresh new stepping stones. You can hang on tight together, try not to get moss on your shoes and marvel at the view. This linking caper is a bit of a double edged sword, though. The quest for new, fresh, daily, never-before-linked-to content can leave you a little tired and net-numb. It might also leave your tried and true old favourite sites and blogs sitting wallflower-like on the shelf. Granted a familiar, smart, useful wallflower, but wallflower all the same.
It’s important to be mindful of and grateful to those that may have inspired you to start writing or live creatively in the first place. Maybe you do this by way of a blogroll or list of favourite links on your own site. Maybe you diarise a day when you might take some extra time to read and comment meaningfully on one of those old faithful sites. Maybe you send them a short email letting them know how much you like them. It doesn’t have to be a daily thing. You don’t even have to tackle them all at once. But do tackle them. Honour them even. Those first steps, however wobbly, are there to keep you grounded. It’s kind of like high school, I guess. Of course it’s nice to have cool, new friends, bathing in the golden light of their fresh new cleverness. But don’t forget your cool, old friends. They like Neil Diamond too.
Are you forgetting your (old!) fave bloggers in the hunt for the new?!