When I first considered blogging, I was trying to figure out how best to hone my writing skills. It sounded like a good thing to do, and in my head it was something that real writers did all the time. Except I wasn’t a real writer. So there was no way I was actually going to try it myself. Right?
Then when I was 19, I got Blogging for Dummies for Christmas. So naturally I decided to give it a try. Not that it would ever take off or anything.
Once I started, it was fun! I liked how much easier it was to express myself than in the real world. As time passed, both my blog and my life saw various chapters come and go. The turbulent university phase, where I experimented with poetry and that weird 4 temperaments reflection series. My internship and the aimless job hunting that came before and afterwards, during which I reflected on topics such as mission trips, rude customers, and whether or not autism should be healed. Seven years and about 180 blog posts after I started, I thought I’d reflect on what I have learned from blogging.
The first thing was the importance of writing with feeling. If something makes me feel, it should make other people feel. After my internship’s mission trip, I tried to capture the lows of an anxiety attack on the plane, and the highs of going on an adventure with friends. When my neurotypical “mask” was failing me, I wanted people to understand how draining it was to maintain in the first place. When I was despairing about how anti-vaxxers think autism is a fate worse than death, I wanted to emphasise how it feels knowing that some people think I’d be better off dead.
Similarly, if something makes me laugh, it should make other people laugh. The trick is to make it relatable. When I wrote about some of my embarrassing stories, I was prepared to sacrifice my dignity for the sake of entertainment. I wasn’t prepared for it to become one of my most popular posts ever. I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered by the attention or disconcerted by how many people were amused by my mishaps. But hey, it got a lot of laughs.
One of the trickiest things is getting the beginning and ending just right. Too long, and you’re rambling. Too short, and it doesn’t flow. To introduce and conclude a point, it pays to be conversational. But not go off on a tangent that distracts you altogether.
The other is striking the balance between opening up but not too much. This depends on what you – and people you write about – feel comfortable with. Anyone can read a blog, so for me it’s important to remember what I’m prepared to disclose publicly, and what I’m not.
And finally, with a blog, you have the power to use publicity for good. If an issue matters to you, write about it. If you have challenges that most people don’t, educate by sharing your perspective. More than ever, we have the potential to make even a small difference to whoever we reach out to. If nothing else, that has to count for something.