Sunday, July 20, 2014

To Blog or Not to Blog - is that the right question?

Dear Teachers,
I had started a blog a little over a year ago and wrote a few posts, but I never really got it off the ground; I just couldn't seem to find a consistent theme. I've been wanting to get back to it for months, but I've been all hung up on two things. First, a name. What should I call my blog? What eye-catching and/or memorable name could I come up with that would make readers say, "Hey, that’s catchy. I sure want to read that one. Bookmarking it right now!" More importantly, what’s my angle? What topics do I want to cover? What should my focus be? So I just kept sitting on it, knowing that I wanted to write SOMETHING, but letting procrastination win out. I tapped my toe. Thought about it some more. Whistled a happy tune. Didn't want to go rushing into an idea for a blog when I knew I had serious Blog Commitment Issues. But here's the deal. I've been asked to do a back-to-school professional learning session for teachers on blogging, and it seemed like I'd certainly be one big fat hypocrite if I didn't have something of my own making to show as an example;  I imagined the conversation going something like this:
Me: Blogging is easy and fun! 
Teachers: Do you blog? 
Me: Ummm... [crickets]
If I was too phobic and procrastinating and excuse-generating myself to actually do it, how was I supposed to convince others of its value? And what do I really believe about the value of blogging anyway? Certainly there are enough egoists and egotists in the world to go around ten times over; who really cares that much about someone else's opinion anyway?

It was when I finally sat down to write - a huge step from just thinking about sitting down to write - that I was reminded of what I have learned many times before. It is in the simple act of writing that we come to know what we really think about something. We revise and edit and stumble and type the wrong thing and backspace and cut/paste until we find our truth. I didn't know what I was going to write when I first sat down to give this blog thing another try, but it was in the act of writing itself that I came to the idea of blogging as though I was writing letters to friends.

Writing a blog is a lot like “dear diary," or writing letters, and I've gotten a kick out of letter-writing for as long as I can remember. It started way back in the early 70's when I was passing notes back and forth in junior high. I often wrote several letters a day when I was in college to my dear friend Charles, when long-distance was an issue and staying in touch with people via paper mail was a big thing. I enjoyed jotting letters to my kids when they were at camp. And most recently, I am absolutely loving being pen pals with my wonderful (and nearly perfect - but that's another blog post) 8 year old granddaughter. My letters have always been conversational, folksy, and (I like to think, anyway) fun to read. They’re the kind of letters I would like to receive.

So I took Nike's advice and just did it; I decided to stop waiting for the perfect blog title or inspired topic or whatever other elusive thing I think I need to get started. That’s what I’ll be encouraging teachers to do next month. Because I know that once I get past the initial roadblocks that I’ve set up in my own mind and just get down to writing, I’ll enjoy it. Because in a way, I've always done it.
When I actually started to write something a little while ago, it just came to me. I found my truth: I enjoy writing letters to people I like. So here's my first post on the new blog, just a letter to friends, some of whom might be teachers, some of whom just indulge me and read just because they're kind friends. I don't think blogging has to be earth-shattering or life-changing and it certainly doesn't have to be perfect. So jump in, start writing, and find the kind of voice that makes sense for you. My style on this go-round looks like it's going to be letter-writing. Having a wonderful time; wish you were here.



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