Last Monday, while enjoying a riverside walk with a friend of mine, she posed a question that at the time completely stumped me. She asked, “What have you learned by blogging?”** Although her inquiry was simple and should have been easy for me to answer immediately, it has taken an entire week and a considerable amount of pondering for me to formulate any type of response. And even as I sat down to write it out, I repeatedly asked myself similar versions of the same question while staring at the blank screen and blinking cursor.
What have I learned? Why do I blog? How have I grown over the last six months?
I have said before that writing is an emotional outlet for me. It offers an avenue through which I can make sense of myself, my thoughts, and (as much as possible) the world at large. Throughout my lifetime, the act of writing of any kind—be it work on my manuscript, blogging, journaling, or even a personal email/card/letter—has provided me with tremendous insight, understanding, and compassion. But thinking about blogging specifically, I realize I have gained three valuable skills.
I’ve learned Focus. For the first several weeks every post took hours to write. I was often distracted by worry and anxiety—judgment and criticism and comparisons, oh my—as well as to-do lists, drama (both real and imagined), emails/calls/texts, etc. You name it, my attention was likely diverted by it and I recognized very quickly the detrimental effects of my lack of concentration. The more time I wasted, the more time my butt had to be glued to my desk chair, and the less time I had for other life essentials. BUT when I focused solely on the task at hand, not only did my work improve, but I also got more done in less time. And as an added bonus, this learned focus has bled into other parts of my life, like when I’m working on my manuscript.
I’ve learned Stamina. My original intention in starting the blog was to keep my family and friends abreast of my novel-writing journey. But a short time later, it grew into a way to connect with other people who, like me, may have big dreams and goals and plans, but also experience difficulty following through on them. But blogging isn’t exactly an “if you build it, they will come” proposition. Building a readership is a marathon, not a sprint, and much like long-distance running, it takes stamina to keep going. And as a self-proclaimed quitter, I am happy to report that through training and persistence, this priceless trait is one that can be honed and strengthened.
I’ve learned Consistency. In the beginning, I made a commitment to myself to publish two blog posts every week. Twenty-five-and-a-half weeks and fifty-one posts later, I am still upholding that promise. This has been made possible mainly because of a consistent writing schedule. Creating blog content has become as much a part of my daily routine as working on my manuscript.
So, what have I learned by blogging? Focus. Stamina. Consistency. Three skills that I wouldn’t have necessarily expected to acquire, but I am grateful I have. For it is armed with these precious assets that I have also made progress in other areas of my life. And it just goes to show that we never know what unforeseen growth can come out of our experiences if only we keep our hearts and minds open.
What about you? Are there any qualities/skills/abilities that you have learned in an unexpected way?
**Thank you, Julie, for prompting the topic of this post.