Read Slowly

This is a story about blogging. I’m warning you now that it gets a bit scary in places but hang in there. It looks like everything turns out okay in the end.

Writing a blog about living and teaching in Barcelona and about my travels started off as a decadent pleasure. As a complete novice, I created a little blog – invited 15 trusted friends and family members – and was happy posting a couple of times a week. This blissful state of blog-rule ignorance lasted about a year until I decided to go public. Wanting to do it right, I trolled the net for information about setting up a blog, the proper length of a post, how to use photos and how many, installing widgets, using Feedburner and checking my authority on Technorati. I learned that rules for blogging abound. I was shocked and awed (like in a military campaign) at the number of posts committed to the topic of how to increase your blog traffic. I was told that I need only be a “decent” writer and that I should make it my goal to be insanely helpful. (Who decides what is helpful?) I was also informed that readers are only interested in the title, and the first and last bit of every post so I had better make them short. Really short. I was left with the distinct feeling that there is no “i” in blog.

“Who makes these rules?” my boyfriend asked. I shrugged.

I became obsessed with posting every day. My new existential crisis revolved around why no one was leaving comments. I started sneaking out to the living room in the middle of the night to check my Feedburner stats. If, as sometimes happens in the blogospere, I had lost a subscriber or two, my guy would find me in the middle of an anxiety attack. I was in danger of becoming the eye-bleeding victim from a horror film except that the villain in my film was Feedburner.

Wait! This is not healthy. This little blog was supposed to be fun. Why am I worried about the number of subscribers I have? I have a job; we can afford groceries. In fact we are both a bit round with tapas and other good food. I don’t even have any ads on my blog.

A self-imposed blogging time-out provided me with time to consider this blog problem. My boyfriend reflected on it too because it makes me grouchy beyond bearing. My thoughts bring me back to this: the blogging technology (that I love so much) promised to enrich our lives by helping us communicate our experiences and ideas with others… including people we have never met. Especially people we have never met. The planet has indeed become smaller as we bloggers have moved into the lovely living rooms of each other’s Google Readers. But we are not, all of us, the same. We are not telling the same story and we do not need to tell it in the same way.

Blogging to make yourself happy:
1. Write about something that you are passionate about!
What is it that moves you most? What do you spend your spare time thinking about, dreaming of, or doing? Whatever that is… cooking, knitting, or mountain climbing… there’s your blog. “The blogosphere is already flooded with cooking blogs” you say. Perhaps… but not your cooking blog. “They” used to say that if you did what you loved, the money would follow. That’s not working as well with blogs… Write it anyway for the pleasure of writing about something that blows your metaphorical skirt up.

2. Write in your own voice
If you don’t know what that is, keep writing and you will find it. Write as if you were talking to a dear friend or family member. They already know and love you so have absolutely no one to be impress. Now your job is to describe, explain, report, synthesize, and make connections… whatever it is that you want to do. Let readers into your life if you are comfortable with that.

3. Yes, damn it! Do strive to become a better writer.
How can your writing be more succulent? Dare to describe a garden party in such a way that your readers can taste the tiny cucumber sandwiches and dandelion wine. Help them feel the sun upon their face. Be more persuasive where persuasion is demanded. Develop a larger vocabulary. No one was ever hurt by knowing more words. Learn how to most effectively convey meaning.

4. Keep a journal
Write things down. Make lists of potential blog posts and exotic vegetables you would like to try. When you travel, make time to sit with a cup of coffee and your journal. Record your impressions before they disappear like ghosts. Use Nathalie Goldberg’s “Wildmind” principles to free-write with fierce abandon. The first thing is to get the ideas down… this writing doesn’t need to be perfect. This is just for you. You can invite your Editor back to the party later. Some people call their journal their “everything” book as it contains writing and grocery lists. It’s all a way of being creative.

5. Slow down
Not everyone needs their news, entertainment and blog posts in bite-sized bits. Some readers crave the details and love a story’s long circuitous route like a lazy Sunday afternoon. Breathe. Let your posts grow a little. Encourage them to let their hair down. Instead of writing your post using the “New Post” feature, write it in a Word document. Come back to it a bit later after you have lived with the words. Edit. Be proud of what you publish. Enjoy writing it.

This baby blog is a celebration of lovely slow blogs being written all over the world. I will feature slow blogs once a week – on Saturdays (when my life is slower) and possibly more often. Please send any recommendations to me at teachermeetsworld (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment here.

13 comments

  1. This is nothing to do with slow blogging but I spied the human calendar on your page and it made me laugh out loud. As chance would have it, I recently (as in two days ago) uploaded a photo to the human clock website – 7:13 a.m. – see if you recognize the location. Over and over again, out of the corner of my eye I spot something round with numbers on it and, without fail, my brain expects it to tell me what time it is – gets me every time. Like I said, nothing at all to do with slow blogging but I have just nabbed the first comment on your site !!Here's to living, and everything else, in the moment…CJ

  2. Hi Monna,I am enjoying your slow blog so far. Thank you for sharing. I was inspired to create a wordle using your first slow blog post. You can view it here. I can send you the original if you like.Here's to savoring the slowness of each day…Heather

  3. @CJOkay, I am very embarrassed to admit this (I'm normally pretty adept with technology) but I can't figure out how to view 7:13 a.m. I will have to do it the old fashioned way and look at the calendar at 7:13 tomorrow. Wait, tomorrow is Sunday. At 7:13 a.m. on Monday!Here's to living life in this moment indeed. Thanks for your great comment.@HeatherI totally dig the wordle! I have seen them but did not know what they were called. I would love for you to send it to me and I'll post it here on the site. Thanks for creating it!I hope you have a lovely, slow Saturday!

  4. i just stumbled upon you (from the glass doorknob) and have to tell you that you have now renewed my faith in the blogosphere. i've been struggling a bit with this whole social network in the sense that i've stopped using it as a social network and started finding myself needing something more positive. there is a tendency to live in a vacuum of tabloid bloggery and it smells and chokes. thank you for renewing my faith. i'm looking forward to reading the beauties you find.krista

  5. Hello Monna,I'm a faithful reader of the glass door knob and that's how I found you also.My blog had started out as a fun way to get me back into the 'write' of things. Suddenly, I felt consummed and doubtful that anything I had to say was of any interest to anyone. But wait… my whole reasoning for creating a blog in the first place was to remind myself to notice all the wonderful, simple things in an ordinary day and to help myself and those who share my "Circle of Five", to keep a positive outlook.Thanks so much for confirming what I already knew, but doubted for just that fleeting moment!Your blog has helped me put my blog back on the right track!Thanks again. B:-)

  6. Hi there! What a lovely idea for a blog. You definitely have a committed reader in me, as I love slow, thoughtful posts. (I'm guilty of writing them myself from time to time.)I can't wait to read more.

  7. I can really appreciate what you are doing here. I have blogged, live-journaled, word-pressed and (gasp) paper-journaled on and off for quite a while now. About 2 years ago I gave it all up – for good I thought. Then my dad got sick. And the bridge collapsed. And I found myself with a new blog because I had things to say that I just couldn't say out loud. I have played around with obsessing over stats on readership and hits and bounce rates and pages viewed. Fortunately my life is just too busy to spend much time obsessing over this part of blogging. I do feel guilty occasionally about not posting as often as I think I should – but I've decided that when I'm right for a post, I'll post. The main thing I try to do is be disciplined about doing something creative EVERY day – writing, making art or something that gets my creative flow going. I've added your blog to my bloglist so that I can easily come back when you've had the time to put up another post.Thank you.MGM By the way, I also found you through the glass doorknob blog.

  8. Bless you. I have spent today at the vet's with a sick cat and at work & haven't had lunch, unless you count a bag of Fritos & a Dr Pepper (and yes, sometimes I do), and have been sitting at the computer thinking, "Must get something posted, must get something posted, must get something posted", but really diddling & just looking all around at stuff in my office & at stuff on the internet & found you on my first trip to The Glass Doorknob. Bless you again. I'm adding you to my list of links – yes, I know, a blog thing, but one I really love.Really – you could charge a fee for this little piece of therapy. I feel better already, I am slowing down . . .:) Debi

  9. What an awesome idea! I'm so happy to have found your little piece of paradise in cyber-space. I am now ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that I am a slow blogger. It's crushing to obsess over the popularity of your blog–the page loads, the comments, the attention from others. It really soils the whole enterprise for me. Three cheers for slow blogs, yours especially!

  10. Hi–I just found you, and this post, in a circuitous manner (but isn't everything on the internet circuitous?) Anyway, my dear husband is at this very minute cooking me a nice dinner because I am in such a funk about blogging. Something I started as a simple way to keep family back home in the loop once we moved overseas, but now I am in its grip and totally doubting my ability as a writer and communicator. I was clueless about the blogosphere, and the communities that exist, but now that I know about it, I just feel like the girl not invited to the party. Ah me … thank you for this post, and for reminding me to just keep writing what I want to write without worrying about comments and stats. And I will check out these other slow blogs, too … (though my heart is starting to beat a little faster, so I'm reminding myself that it's for inspiration only, not comparison …) Thanks again.

  11. I came here via stumbleupon, read your post and agreed with it. Wondered why your tone seemed familiar, checked your sidebar and discovered you are Teacher Meets World. LOL, I didn't realize it was you Monna!

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