Response to a Blog Reader

Hi Conan! 

I was in UWRF while you were the ISS Director and have been following your endeavors on Instagram since we met pretty much. I think its really cool how you have turned a journal to just keep in contact into a blog and so far looks like kept it going. I feel like you probably get the question a lot, “how do you manage to keep it consistent?” but I genuinely wonder that as well. If you ever have a minute, I have been wanting to start a blog or even just writing for myself for a while but even though I feel a desire to do it, can’t bring myself to actually do it or to keep it going. I started one on Tumblr in which I posted like 3 times but just fell out. So basically, I know you started as a way to keep in contact with friends and family but you turned it into a blog that I find really aesthetically pleasing and interesting as well… How do you do it, in as much of a detailed answer as possible.

Hope all is well and you keep up the great work!

XX


XX,

Hi, I remember you from my time at UWRF. I hope all is well.

I am surprised by the number of people who are in contact with me on Facebook or Instagram that pop in and read my blog post from time to time. Glad that you have discovered and enjoyed my blog as well.

In regards to your question, my first recommendation is give yourself a blogging goal: either write a post once a week or once every two weeks—force yourself to stick to this routine. When I came to Doha, I made the goal of writing one blog post per week. The first several posts were difficult for me. I was self conscious about my writing and didn’t know if anyone would be interested in what I had to say. However, I forced myself to adhere to my posting goal, and the reception to my posts were positive. Later, I discovered that if I posted more than once a week, my readership would decline, so a weekly post was good for keeping people interested in but not bored of my blog. It also kept me interested in writing. There were some weeks I struggled with inspiration and motivation for a post. Still, I was able to figure out something at the last minute that I wanted to write about.

My second recommendation is blog about what interests you. You are right, at first, my blog was strictly about life in Doha when I started posting. It was new and interesting. However, after the first year, culture shock wore off and both my reader and I were used to life here. I then started posting more things that were off topic from the original intent of my blog: poems, short screenplays, photos of my travels, teaching tips, personal writing, etc. In order to stick to my first goal, I had to allow myself the freedom to write whatever I felt like I wanted to write. When I moved from Blogger to WordPress, I added categories to my blog to sort the type of posts that I wrote. Sometimes I write a post that is deeply personal, sometimes I just want to share pictures from a country that I visited, sometimes I just want to poke fun at a random work email that I receive. By allowing myself to deviate and play with my blog posts, I have not only kept my interest in blogging, but I have improved as a writer by experimenting with new modes and form of writing.

My third recommendation is challenge yourself. This month I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. I have to write 50,000 words by the end of the month! That is about 1667 words per day. My average blog post is between 800-1200 words. Had I not been writing on a regular basis for the past two and half years, I would not have felt capable of this endeavor. But with the encouragement of a couple friends, I am now three days deep into the writing, and my word count is 5100, which means that I am on track. You don’t have to write a novel, but in your blog (or in your writing life),  encourage yourself to try new things. Maybe try your hand at a sonnet or a Rogerian argument or an epistle. You might discover you enjoy and have aptitude in a new form. But, if the experiment ends terribly, you don’t have to share a output. Just chock the loss up to experience.

My last recommendation is use the internet to study and inspire your writing. I will confess something: I struggle to read books nowadays. There is a stack of books at the side of my bed that only gets taller. As an English major and an academic, this fills me with tremendous angst. However, I am still an avid reader, but I have shifted from printed texts to online texts. I have subscribed to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day and Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day. I also installed the Poetry, WordPress, and Medium app on my phone. When I have idle time, I will read content from these apps. (I have been especially interested in the content on Medium because the writing is fast both in terms of readability and how it’s written.) I also have a weekly diet of podcasts that I listen to which provide me with language and ideas that might inform my blog posts. So, despite not reading The Diary of Anne Frank (which I bought the first year I arrived here) or the last several trade paperbacks of Saga (which I will get to, inshallah), I am still reading/consuming content on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

I hope that my recommendations were “in as much of a detailed answer as possible.” Again, thank you for reading my blog and best of luck with yours!

Regards,
Conan

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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