What I Think About When I Think About Blogging*

My scriptwriting professor failed to show up in class that Wednesday afternoon because of a schedule conflict and I was left in between two choices on how I would spend the rest of the day. The left side of my brain was trying to persuade me to go to the mall and watch a movie. The right side, the lazy side, was convincing me to just walk into an Internet shop and kill time surfing the web. In this “what to do when you’re bored” battle, the latter won. It was the best decision I had made in my life.

Minutes later, my web surfing would lead me to a blogging platform and I would sign up for an account, write my first entry, and give my otherwise predictable life the kind of kick it so needed. With just one click, without me realizing it, I gave my life a reboot. That was eight years ago.

In a span of eight years, this blog gave me everything. Because of this blog, I landed my first digital marketing job. Ironically, also because of this blog, I reached a level of stability that I could already quit that full-time office job to pave way for another passion. I set up a travel blog and a beach website, and around them I built a career, the kind that allowed me to ditch the work desk and be anywhere I want while still receiving monthly paychecks. I met great people and made greater friends. Heck, I even met my romantic partner of almost four years now through this blog. (He was a regular reader.) I was supposed to be a filmmaker and this blog pushed me off the road and singlehandedly changed my life.

Why am I saying this now? Because there are times — and they pop out more and more frequently these days — that I feel like I am losing it. It, that drive to blog. Every time I sit in front of my laptop and stare at the screen for God knows how long, thinking what to blog about next, I almost always end up not typing anything at all. Maybe because much of my energy has shifted to my travel blog. At times, the thought of abandoning this blog would cross my mind. And when such a terrible moment would present itself, I would look back and think about how I started this blog, how it is now, and the long evolution that slowly took place with every word that I chose, every punctuation mark that I meant, and every emotion that snuck its way through the lines. But when I do pull myself together and decide to write something, here are the things that always run in my head before I give my fingers permission to spew my thoughts.

1. Write. Just write.

Write passionately like it’s your first time to write. Write meaningfully like it’s your last. Write mindfully like everyone is reading. Write soulfully like no one is. Write to express yourself, not to impress others. Write with no other goal but to write something good. Write because you want to write. Blog because you want to write. Blogging can give you money, perks, a teensy bit of fame, and other opportunities but none of them can be as good a motivator as the sheer passion to write, just write.

2. Blogging is not therapy.

Blogging can be therapeutic but it doesn’t mean it should be your therapy. Don’t blog just so you could have a venue to rant or rave about the things that are going on in your life. When you’re extremely angry, happy, excited, sad, scared, or jealous, talk to someone — your partner, your closest friends, your family. Give them a chance to be the first to congratulate you, celebrate with you, console you, advise you, help you. They deserve to be the first to know what you’re feeling, thinking, bleeding for through words carried by the warmth of your voice and not the clanking of your fingers.

At the height of emotions, you will vomit words that are too sweet, too sour, too bitter, and one day you will regret spitting out for all people to eat up. There’s a big difference between sharing news and begging for attention. There is no thin line that separates the two but a wide, wild river called “maturity.” You’re an adult; act like it.

3. Do not lose yourself.

At one point you will realize that there are topics that your readers enjoy more and react to more favorably. You will discover that some subjects and styles earn better than others. You will find yourself caring so much about the number of comments, likes, shares, views, and whatnot. In the same way, you’ll encounter haters who will hate on everything you put forward.

And you will see that the next time you write, these things will squeeze themselves into your head as you weigh in on what to write about and how to write it. You are free, of course, to take them into serious consideration. As in many other fields, it is difficult to write when others are watching. Finding the healthiest mixture of pleasing your readers, being conscious of what you write about and how you write it, and staying true to yourself is no easy business.

Change is good if for the better. But do not let these changes take over who you really are. The last thing you want is to wake up one day and see that your blog is so oddly distant from the real you. Your blog is yours. Blog for yourself, and don’t lose yourself in the process.

4. Your blog matters.

Write for yourself and write like no one else will read it. Easy in theory but difficult in practice. The challenge is to find the balance between keeping your posts personal and knowing that they are in public spaces. People will stumble upon your posts. Your words, like everyone else’s, have weight. Your blog, like everyone else’s, matters. Whatever you say has the potential to influence others. Still, it shouldn’t restrict you, at least creatively. The common ground, perhaps, is to ensure that your blog, like other publications, breathes truth, upholds fairness, adds value, and, above all, makes sense.

5. Do not write anything that you can’t be proud of.

My scriptwriting mentor once told me, “Do not write anything that you can’t read out loud.” While we were talking about dialog and his point was something else altogether, I took his words to another place and interpreted it differently — Do not write anything that you can’t be proud of.

Picture yourself 30, 40, 50 years from now. Do you think the future you will have a good time reading your blog and say to himself, without an ounce of shame and regret, This is how I lived? At the end of the day, your personal blog is your life journal — not a collection of press releases, not a showcase of perks, not a book of lies, and definitely not a diary of a person who is not you.

These five blogging mantras that I have followed for a long while now have kept me from being more prolific. They have kept me from writing more freely and more frequently. Many times, I resisted them like five spoonfuls of nasty syrup that I had to swallow before hitting the “Add New Post” button to keep me in line. And more than a few times, I threw them away and broke them myself anyway.  Nevertheless, when the drive is running dry and laziness gets the better of me, these guidelines have challenged me to stop,  look further, dig deeper, and find inspiration in the littlest of things and the most unexpected of places.

I may not be a filmmaker anymore but it doesn’t stop me from being a storyteller. Do not write anything that you can’t read out loud. One day, I will walk up to my screenwriting professor and tell him that every time I am about to finish a blog entry like this one, I pause to appreciate that single line that has become both my muse and my warden. And, of course, thank him for not showing up in class that Wednesday afternoon. Yes, maybe I should do that.

*with apologies to Haruki Murakami

Comments

  1. thanks yoshke for this post… learned a lot really…. i’ve been silently following ever since I got introduced to blogging… and yes medyo sapul nga yung mga points that you mentioned…. well hopefully i could write about better things in the future… =D

  2. “I reached the level of stability that I could already quit that full-time job…” – you mean level of KAYAMANAN??!! Sabi na nga ba eh. Umamin ka din. :p

  3. haha love the title, Murakami inspired! 😀 and of course, as always love the content. Napa click na naman ako kahet and2 ako s bkk nagbabakasyon. haha
    I love #3, really good reminder. thanks Yoshke for writing and sharing this. 🙂

  4. Same sentiments. I love you, Yoshke! 🙂

    Since we’re almost in the same situation (you’re only richer and you have a partner -chos!), I can say that I gave more time and attention to my travel blog since I am traveling every month and I want to put my adventures there setting aside my personal blog. I also earn more from it toinks. There was a time wherein blogging felt like a chore for me and right now, I have a lot of pending posts in my drafts tab. I don’t want my personal blog to be a sell-out with tons of press releases on it (although I love Philippine showbiz haha). I learned to just not force myself to blog if I don’t feel like doing so. I have my green notebook with me anyway 😀

  5. “There’s a big difference between sharing news and begging for attention. There is no thin line that separates the two but a wide, wild river called “maturity.? You’re an adult; act like it.”
    I LIKE THIS.. haha.. :DD

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