The Power of Blogging
There are a myriad of ways blogging can help improve your writing.
But don’t just take my word for it! Read on to find out what’s in it for you.
My blogging journey (The Why)
Initially I started blogging just to experiment. I have always written a diary, but at a certain point I wanted to try something different. I wanted to share my thoughts with other people, for a start. So when I moved to China in 2010, I grabbed the opportunity to start my first blog with Travelblog. It was very popular, free and reasonably easy to use. Mine was public at the time, but alas, I switched it to private after the last post was published and it’s been collecting dust ever since!
I wrote my travel blog for 3 years, one entry each month, and I embedded as many pictures and videos as I could. In many ways it was the ultimate window to my adventures – you could read, see and hear exactly what I was doing. In fact I feel quite excited thinking about it now, knowing I can go back and re-live it all again. I’m actually thinking about converting it to an e-book or something. More details coming soon!
My blogging journey (An Obsession Develops)
So why did I shut down the travel blog? Well, I wasn’t really travelling. I was simply living in China! I had intended to be there for a year, maybe 2. But it ended up being 6 years! Eventually I wanted now to switch from sharing my daily life, to sharing my daily interests – teaching and learning. I was living in another world, immersed in another language and culture, and I thought it would be good to write about those experiences instead. I began to speak with Chinese teachers of English & Chinese, to better understand teaching methodology. And with a growing interested in the integration of technology in the classroom, I started to interview teachers I met who also experimented with tech.
Later, I took to writing about my experiences during my Masters. I like the ease with which I was able to record and reflect on my experiences. I wrote lesson plans inspired by what I learnt. And most importantly, it now serves as a permanent database of useful resources that I can access at any time. Love it!
From there new blogs came thick and fast. During my studies I chose to set up another blog for my Creative Writing Module, snappily titled Karina’s Technology-Enhanced Creative Writing Project. While running an online professional development course for language teachers, called Teachers As Designers, I thought – that’s right!- starting yet another blog would be appropriate. I won’t even mention the ill-fated Chinese language podcast, Educollaborate, for sharing teaching practices between Chinese & English language teachers – that also got blogged!
OK, OK. You’re all blogged out. Let’s press pause on the addiction and skip to the benefits.
The benefits of blogging for me
Getting smarter. I like to write down my thoughts to make sense of them. By isolating thoughts I can go deeper and make connections between old and new knowledge. These connections lead to small changes in the way I think and/or what I do. And I think this heightened awareness actually makes me smarter. TBC (!)
Expanding my vocabulary. While blogging about that particular interest that I love, I inevitably find myself saying the same things again and again. Therefore, in order to say things in different and more exciting ways I must expand my vocabulary. And that’s why I began to use the dictionary more often and the thesaurus became my new best acquaintance. Sorry, friend.
Discovering my style. The (blog) writing process allows me to slow down, think deeply and express the very best version of myself*. So whether you read my book review On Writing, or on feminist texts, you’ll soon discover how witty and charming I am.
*So is that really you? Yes, it is me. Or at least it is if I have enough preparation time! Essentially, the more I prepare (write), the better (writer) I become.
The benefits of blogging for you
First up, writing improves your writing! Yup. You need to practice in order to improve. So just through repetition, you are likely to spot certain mistakes, and self-correct, and thus get better. But of course you can always benefit from external advice. And by sharing with an audience, you can receive comments & feedback which will tell you how you’re doing and shape future pieces of work.
Following on, having an audience, no matter how big or small brings with it a certain responsibility. That is to say, knowing you have a reader, who is waiting expectantly for your next post, means you feel more motivated to get your work out there on a regular basis.
And as blogging is all about you, it can help you develop your voice. Why you write, what you write about, and the way you write it. That’s all your voice. Realising and relaxing into your style, your voice, will make you more comfortable with writing.
Once you build your writing confidence you may start to think more about the reader. You might think what small changes you can make that they might like and that is also in keeping with your own style. This means that blogging never gets boring. There is always something to fine-tune, whether it be the organisation of text on the page or the inclusion of multimedia.
Finally, you can do whatever you want on your blog. Because it’s yours. And you have the power! So it’s the perfect place to experimentand say what you want, when you want. Blogging is freedom!
Bloggers (look) like you
So you’re thinking:
But you do! There are both new and seasoned bloggers in our very own SYSWC community. With varying passions and interests, I am sure you can find a blogger with a style you like and/or an interest you share.
For example, go for A Foray Into if you want to read about reflections on life, travel and work with social impact. The Within Blog is a very personal re-discovery of writing through blogging. Vagabond English blog is written to help you take that journey from book reader to story writer. Visual English School blogs about the value of short films for language learners. And also related to languages, Time to Be Italian blog is a beautiful video + text collection of must-know Italian expressions. Che bello! If thinking, feeling & being are your thing, then the Thurston Crow blog is for you. And for learning experiments with sound, vision & language, then The Wrong John blog may just be what you need.
Go on. Pick one! Dive in!
Baby steps to blogging
I bet now you’re thinking:
Well, OK. I can see that you’re still worried about the technical side of things, and you’re shuddering at the thought of exposing yourself to the world (wide web). So I suggest, rather than diving straight in, you can dip your baby toe into the water by becoming part of a group and sharing your work there.
You’re welcome to join our writing community on Facebook – Share Your Story with Confidence. It’s small, cosy, and very experimental. We share articles & tips about writing to build our writing knowledge. And we also have monthly challenges to develop our creativity. If you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone, join us. And we’ll help you take your first baby steps towards your ultimate writing goal.