It’s not foreign for me to contemplate the role blogging plays in my life. The allure of gaining Internet fame is ever-present but as a man understanding probabilities and likelihood I’m not going to quit my day job.
Maintaining a blog has become meditation. Like maintaining a journal I can take thoughts and parse them through writing. I’ve often sat down with a vague idea in my mind and as I write, the quest for the precise set of words to convey an idea with its subtleties acts as a sieve to remove the chaff from my thoughts, leaving a focused idea that I can develop further.
The hunt for wording is exciting. As an aspiring poet of (hopefully) above-average skill I’m drawn to the feeling of discovering the perfect word, not unlike the feeling of placing the correct puzzle piece in its rightful home. I reach back well into the recesses of my mind to access words I haven’t thought of in years sometimes and it sends waves of warmth down my spine as if I’ve found an old game I loved to play. My voice as a writer develops in tandem, and as cross-training helps in the physical realm, pursuing multiple forms of writing serves to improve my core strengths, benefitting everything I do.
I challenge myself to express ideas more concisely, to use metaphors that are uncommon or perhaps even brand new. I challenge myself to grow as a writer and to speak my ideas with the same intensity I have in thought.
Here’s an example. Just a few paragraphs ago I said, “…I can take thoughts and parse them…” That section of the sentence initially said, “…thoughts in my head…” rather than just “thoughts.” Reviewing it I wondered, “Where else am I going to have thoughts?” It hit me that unless I was expressing a specific way the thoughts are behaving in my head, such as a whirlwind of thoughts, it is assumed that the thoughts are in my head.
Revelations like that fascinate me, and as I write I have many kinds. Recently I looked at Gunslinger Girl critically and reviewed it. In the process I managed to distill my enjoyment into its component parts. With that information in hand I could then apply it to other things I enjoy and compare, or better yet I can predict more accurately if I will like something in the future.
Getting to know myself, whether learning about my preferences or developing my voice, is a reward for writing unparalleled short of winning the lottery and a lifetime supply of chocolate.
I’ve spent considerable amounts of time deciding what I wanted to get out of blogging. The thought process lead me to ask questions like “What exactly is the role of blogging in my life and the lives of others?” and “Does my voice even matter?” After much thought I think I’ve settled on some answers that work for me.
What is the role of blogging in my life?
To be honest I have delusions of grandeur about blogging. There are a number of resources that cultivate the idea that any blogger can become an internet phenomenon, achieving fame and fortune in one fell swoop. The truth is mundane, however, and without joining the circle jerk that is blog optimization I either have to be famous outside of the blog originally or have insight into a niche that relatively few others have access to for sharing. It takes time and effort and nothing can fully develop overnight.
Neither describe me very well.
For me, blogging has come to be an avenue of self-development and introspection. Through writing content I learn, grow, and use words that I don’t get to use frequently as an engineer. When I sit down and write about games I am playing, such as my impressions of Warhammer 40k: Space Marine or my experiences with choice in games, I am taking a passive enjoyment of video games and making it active. Through this process I have teased out what I like and dislike about video games, allowing me to do things like focus on the aspects I do like while being able to determine if any flaws in a game are deal-breakers for me. I engage myself with my passion of gaming by criticizing the industry, analyzing games, and looking to the future. There’s never a stale day as a result.
Blogging also provides new perspectives. Because the nature of the beast is to be public I take time to consider what other people might think of what I blog. This takes me out of my shoes and into others’ shoes, seeing my thoughts with an angle I personally may not have. On top of that I have people who leave comments with thoughts that may not have crossed my mind at all. Taken together my ability to mature myself improves every time I go through the experience of blogging.
What is the role of blogging in the lives of others?
Does my voice even matter?
I think the simplest answer for both questions is that readers will answer this for me. If people find my words to be appealing they will come to the blog and seek more. If they do not, they will not. That’s all there is to it.
As long as I am benefiting from this endeavor it will hold value for me and I can continue without feeling as if I’m wasting my time.
What does this mean for this blog?
I have thoughts occasionally of halting this blog and doing something else. What kept the blog alive was the uncertainty in the “something else” I’d be doing. Now, with some thinking behind it, I can say the blog has positive value to me and I will continue writing for it.
Interestingly, in this re-imagining of blogging as something very personal I find that a lot of successful blogging tips still apply. For example, one of the most popular tips for blogs that I’ve seen is to write often. I think that’s also useful for me because when I go long stretches of time without blogging I find I’ve spent less time processing what’s been happening in my life. Like keeping a journal for some, blogging slows things down and helps me deal with things in life.
You’ll definitely see more from me and I hope it’s entertaining and useful for you.
If you’re a blogger, what are your answers to these questions? If you’re not a blogger, is there anything else in your life that plays this part in your life?