I was conversing with someone this week about blogging. They were really having a tough time with it. “Am I using my voice? Am I going to let down the Twitter community I have built if my blog isn’t what they’re interested in?” I’ve had a lot of similar conversations. I’ve witnessed others. People who tweak their posts. People who go back and delete older posts.
It reminded me of the days when I was first learning to crochet.
For me, the phase of learning how to crochet (and knit…and cross stitch…) was a lot like learning how to blog. In other words, I thought I should be able to jump right in and do it. Perfectly. This didn’t seem unreasonable in either scenario. In the craft world, I was seemingly surrounded by people who could whip up an afghan in five seconds flat, and it would be BEAUTIFUL! When I was learning how to blog a little better, it seemed like fifth graders were blogging more and better than me (nothing against fifth graders, of course).
Just like with other crafts that you learn, blogging is based on some basic tools that everyone uses. You need a blogging site. A computer is an awesome help. Things to write about. Ways to promote. A person learning to crochet needs a hook and some yarn. A knitter needs two needles and…some yarn. That’s it. Pretty basic stuff.
When you set out to blog, just like with any craft, you think it’s going to be easy. You know all of the pieces and parts. You’ve seen other people do it. You’ve even gotten lots of helpful tips. Where crafters have patterns, bloggers have tons of informational resources. Then you sit down to blog, and it’s like your brain just starts leaking out of your ears on to your keyboard. When I was learning to crochet, I could not for the life of me figure out how to make the slip knot that you need to make before you even start to do the actual crocheting. This did not bode well, I thought at the time. Learning how to knit, which requires, really, two and a half hands, is also extremely awkward, whereas when a long-time knitter is knitting, it looks effortless and even kind of hypnotic.
Inevitably, with blogging, you come to a point of distress or mild irritation, depending on your personality. “Why am I not getting any comments?” You yell at your personable computer. “I mean, I mean, look at this post! This post is about ORANGES and it got 57 comments. This is stupid.” Now, I am not proud to say this, but when I was learning to crochet, I actually threw a project off the deck of a place my family was staying in for vacation. Every time I sat down to make something, it ended up looking like a DNA molecule, all twisty and uneven. Very un-blankety. In a fit of rage, I just threw the whole mess away. I went to pick it up later, by the way.
So what do you do after you hit this point of despair? Do you just give up your blog and say, “I don’t know. I must just not be meant to blog.” No. The temptation might be there, but blogging, like any craft, is ultimately, in the end, a test of patience. You start to realize that the less you stress about it, the easier and better it gets. My first completed crocheted project, although not a masterpiece, happened when I sat down and said, “Aw heck, I like doing this and I’m just going to do it for fun.” My stitches relaxed. I relaxed. Everything got better.
As you get more into a craft, you realize that what once looked like everyone using the same tools is actually people using the same tools in their own particular way. In blogging, some people use very personal anecdotes. Some people like to come across as teachers. Others like to be kind of biting and funny. Sometimes a blogger will drift from post to post *cough* In crafting, it’s the same thing. Some knitters will swear by bamboo needles while others lust for aluminum. Some knitters refuse to knit with anything but natural yarn, while others are okay with whatever *cough*
I would say my blogging is about where my crocheting and knitting are. I can create some passable stuff. Some of it turns out pretty well. Sometimes I sit down to write a blog and I end up staring into space for 20 minutes. Sometimes I sit down to knit a hat and end up with something that is three feet in circumference. In both cases, I’ve learned to calmly back away, take a few deep breaths, and believe that one day I will be a blogging master and a crafty master. And you know what, no matter what kind of blog posts you write, no matter what “craft” you might be learning right now, you’ll become a master too. It just takes a little time, and heck, I’ll go ahead and quote Guns ‘n Roses. It’ll take a little patience.