Sunday, 1 January 2017

Blog Challenge: Day 1: What, Where and Why I Write.

I've decided to ring in the new year with this blog challenge, which should end up being 30 posts over January under given headings. At the end, I'll post the titles if anyone is interested in taking part in them themselves.

The reason I'm doing this challenge is because I really enjoy blogging, but often run into problems planning and brainstorming my posts, and actually this title for "Day 1" is a great way to explain these reasons.

Recently when I've blogged about my daily life - literally writing everything I do in a day, often in pretty boring, deadpan detail, people have seemed to really enjoy it. It's given me a taste of the thrill I used to love seeing my views go up, or when people came up to me at school and told me they'd enjoyed something I'd written that week. I was also surprised and pleased by the interest people were taking in my life and what I'd been up to - whether they were friends nearby or family in other countries, or even a few strangers on Twitter.

I stated writing at about 12 when I decided to write a novel. It was, and I'm sure is, absolutely terrible stuff. But I really enjoyed it. I fell in love with characters I had invented - and probably fell out with them a lot, too - and escaped into my own little world for an hour or so pretty much every day. At fifteen, I decided I liked writing so much I wanted to share it with the world - but I would never share my fiction (for the sake of the general public), so I started to write factual stuff instead. By sixteen I was a "blogger", for my own personal blog as well as for another couple of websites. It was really enjoyable, and as I had chosen to aim my writing at a target group - Irish teenagers - it was generally easy to come up with relevant content. I was also part of a huge network of people doing the same thing I was - and the support and inspiration they gave me was unbelievable. On leaving school, I had  bit of a following, to the point where people and small businesses would get in touch to request content, and I decided to start this newer website to track a more adult journey, and also to write about myself - which I hadn't done before. University, however, with all its distractions and providing me with an actual "life." By the time I got to second year, I was back writing again, but this time as an editor for the student newspaper, Concrete. That taught me to face a lot of my writing fears and put aside the impostor syndrome and just write about things I had researched as much as the next person. However, now, I've put that aside to concentrate on the publishing society I helped set up, and I really miss getting things put in print every fortnight.

Now, it's become a bit of a struggle to know what to write. I'm aware that many female bloggers and content creators   - both huge industries and art forms. I really admire those women, and I always find reading and watching that sort of content really interesting - but I just don't have that immense knowledge or the passion to research and write about it. There are things I do know lots about, but I don't think early modern History is something I'd want to fill a whole blog up with - at least, not at the moment. I have lots of opinions, too - but being part of a generation who are constantly reminded by our better-knowing elders that our opinions are not important (as if we thought they were life-changing), it can often be hard to put something online only for millenial-haters (let's call them millenemies, I just made that up, let's go with it) to tell (remind) you that you haven't got a clue what you're on about and don't know you're born. So I guess the only thing I feel qualified to write about is me.  Is that boring? My readers don't seem to think so, but I remain unconvinced.

Where do I write? Now, I write everywhere - as well as everything, come to that - and I'm not sure how positive that is. I think that when writing becomes life - and when you don't have that "creative space", a phrase I myself might scorn - it can be harder to separate the everyday from the extraordinary, and all those parts in between. An email is functional, a document analysis is necessary, a newspaper article is an achievement, a piece of prose can be from the heart, and a blog usually ends up as all of the above. If I were to write the way I used to write when I sat up in bed at all hours - inventing worlds and pouring out how I really felt into Microsoft Word, through the safe, private medium of the fictional protagonist - in the same place as I wrote my essays or even opinion pieces - when I am decidedly writing "as me" - I think it would feel quite uncomfortable. So perhaps finding a different "where" should be my first step if I really wanted to give "proper writing" a go.

As for why, I often forget. When writing becomes  your life as it is for so many of us - lecture notes, essays, blog posts, emails, social media comments, even shopping lists - it can be hard to remember what a real joy it can be for those of us who "write, write." I'm hoping that the next month will help me to remember how much motivation and success I got out of doing what I love - to remember the why, and hopefully, to decide what it is I'd really like to write about. 

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