What does it mean to be a ‘blogger’? And what do you do when you ‘blog’? These words seem to have normalised nowadays, but they used to be a ‘big’ thing some years ago. I still remember the days (before Facebook and Twitter) when young adults were trying to have a say in the internet-world with things like MySpace or Fotolog. There were even some of us who were adventuring and going a bit further by trying Blogspot and the alike, feeling that we could become a well-known content writer with a series of online publications. Of course, none of this happened and I never became a famous writer or an influencer. So, why did I keep blogging?
Freedom and creativity
One of the key elements in blogging is the element of free writing. Apart from some basic stylistic and structural writing guidelines, you are more or less free to write about whatever you want. As a blogger, my main aim is to share my experiences with those who have similar interests to me. For instance, working for the PGR blog, my primary audience are postgraduate students and other people with some interest in academic/research life. This frees me of the pressure of trying to please everyone and gives me the chance to express myself in a different way, showing who I am to an audience that could resemble me. While I still have some constrictions of content, like a journalist can have by working for a specific magazine or publication, the PGR blog doesn’t have any self-interest except that of improving the sense of community among postgraduate researchers. Blogging for the PGR blog is closer to writing for yourself, focusing on a particular experience lived by you. And once you got an idea for writing about, you just need to find creative ways to express that!
Regaining writing confidence
Image credit: Adriana Alcaraz
Blogging can become very important for people like me who spend a lot of their time writing ‘academic’ stuff. I do appreciate sometimes the tough requirements to write academic articles and to have an established way to write things. But other times, the restrictions, demands and high expectations in academic writing bring you straight to the famous writer’s block. I hear (and I say) countless times, ‘I haven’t written in a while!’ when I talk with my peers. That and ‘I don’t know how to start’ lead you to a futile whirlwind of frustration and paralysis that can last from hours to days. That thing that starts with ‘I should write a chapter of my thesis’ can sometimes end with ‘I should choose a different career path that doesn’t involve writing’. The frustration of not been able to write brings you to doubt yourself and your writing capacities. Stepping aside, switching to another area and changing the writing style can make miracles! After writing some blog posts I realise that I can actually write and I recover confidence in my writing skills.
Sense of community and relationships
I might work mostly ‘online’ and I don’t need to show up to an office 9 to 5, but this doesn’t mean that blogging is a lonely job. Quite the opposite! In the PGR Blog team we like to organise frequent (in)formal meetings where we discuss our ideas and do some brainstorming over a cuppa. I also find my blog posts a good way to find a topic of conversation with my friends. The ‘I once wrote a blog post on this topic...’ comes quite often followed with an interesting discussion on a shared issue among people. Sharing my posts also allows me to improve my communication skills by finding a space where I can attentively think on something that I want to express – take my time and organise my ideas.
Have you tried blogging, professional or amateur? Do you own your own personal blog and would you like to share it with us? Or do you have any idea for a guest post at the PGR blog? As ever, let us know via the comments below, Tweet us @UofGPGR_blog or get in touch!