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Blogging to Build a Writing Habit

On Saturday, February 6th, I facilitated a workshop for the Long Island Writing Project on blogging to build a writing habit. My hope was to inspire more educators to give the March Slice of Life Story Challenge a go this year by jumping into the world of blogging, as I did in 2015. Preparing for the workshop, I took a walk down memory lane and explored my  writing from my first March SOLSC. Next, I revisited posts from 2016 through the strangest March ever in 2020.

Having this collection of writing is a treasure.

It is like time traveling and remembering what I was thinking and feeling at different moments in time. When I began blogging, my daughter was turning 2 and my son was 4. Now they are almost 8 and 10 and life has twisted and turned during those years. Professionally, I’ve gone through highs and lows as the years have gone by. Rereading my posts, I see patterns in my life and thinking. I see themes emerge about what matters to me- as a teacher, as a mom, as a woman.

One post I wrote in 2015 captures how daily blogging helped me live more like a writer in the world, finding ideas in many different places. I was reminded how writing begets writing- the more I make time to write, the more I have to write about.

During the workshop, we spoke about how audience and community make blogging more motivating than simply journaling for yourself. While both types of writing are valuable and meaningful, for me, blogging is more motivating because I am sharing with an audience who can give me feedback. I find more motivation to write when I know my writing will be read by others.  A writer’s notebooks is the perfect place to catch snippets of ideas I want to remember and then turn those ideas into blog posts that will be read by others.

But what audience do you share your work with? Community comes into play here. In my workshop, I spoke about the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life community. How it is such a caring community of gifted writers who share pieces of their personal and professional lives. How reading the blog posts of other educators makes me a better writer myself (so many craft moves others use that I cam emulate) and a better teacher and person. I feel so proud to be part of this community and it felt good to encourage other educators at my workshop to connect with the Slice of Life writer and educators.

During the workshop, we spoke about the power of mentors. A few years ago, I wrote a post that shared a padlet of mentor blot posts. I updated it and shared this one with my workshop participants yesterday.

Made with Padlet

One of the workshop participants had an interesting observation. She said that reading the post and then the comments added to her overall understanding of the  post and deepened her thinking about the   post. I hadn’t thought about comments as part of the whole reading experience but when she put it that way, it made so much sense that other readers thoughts on the post would also help shape another reader’s thinking. It made me realize how valuable comments are- for feedback for the writer and for creating a type of conversation that might spark new thoughts for future readers.

Towards the end of the workshop, participants took some time to think about what they would name their blog and why, the audiences they might write for and the topics they could choose. Heidi Atlas, who is another one of the co-director of the Long Island Writing Project and also a Slicer who blogs in March, suggested thinking of your Writing Territories, as described by Nancie Atwell. (I wrote a post about creating a map of your Writing Territories which could be an interesting way to mine your life for some writing material!)

If you’ve been thinking about joining the March 2021 SOLSC, I hope you do! Stacey and Betsy hosted a Facebook Live event to answer questions, along with a group of dedicated and talented Slicers. Be sure to fill out the Participant Information Form to officially register, which makes you eligible for some fantastic prizes! (Prizes will be revealed this Wednesday, so stay tuned!) I’ve always bought myself something at the end of the March SOLSC as a celebration of my commitment and perseverance to write each day, but the truth is the rewards are many and go beyond any material object.  When I’ve written to celebrate my daughter’s  birthday,  or to honor my grandmother,  or to capture a moment in time with my family, or navigating teaching during a pandemic, my writing is there for me. It’s evidence of the life I am living and moments that mattered. It can be so hard to carve out the time, but like everything worth doing, blogging is worth the effort. Being a blogger has helped me to be a writer and live life more awake. I wish this for you, too.

 

9 thoughts on “Blogging to Build a Writing Habit Leave a comment

  1. Thank you for this post. I am thinking of starting to blog as a way to move forward with my writing. Currently, I notebook for myself. This was very informative and the Padlet is a resource I will use often.

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  2. What a lovely and thought-provoking post, Kathleen! I love the idea of mentor blog posts and the insight about the role comments play in the overall meaning of the post. You are so right about writing and slicing in general: it serves as a powerful way to move through the world and hold on to the precious moments in our lives. – Krista Senatore

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  3. What a wonderful workshop it was! Thank you Kathy, for all your insights about writing and commenting and blogging. You are, indeed, such a gifted teacher and writer. Applause for you, dear friend.

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  4. It’s true that reading the comments on other’s slices widens perspective. When I first started reading comment people left on other people’s slices, I felt like I was sneaking around, spying. But then, I found myself in conversation with other colleagues/slicers who would say “did you read that comment on so and so’s slice” and there we were having a conversation about the slice and the comments and the conversation felt healthy – writerly! Great post, Kathleen! I know your workshop will inspire new, brave, bloggers!

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  5. Love this reflection on blogging. I also find Glenda’s comments about comments interesting and something I had not given much thought. The idea that there are some writing clicks so to speak. I realize if in a hurry I to look for the folks I have come to know and have build an online friendship but I also try to find a few new voices (new to me) each time I write. I think I need to do more of the hunting for new to me writers. Thanks for the thoughts Glenda! And Cheers to seeing lots of old and new friends in March!

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  6. This is a beautiful post, Kathleen. I particularly like your comment that “ writing begets writing- the more I make time to write, the more I have to write about.” However, I’ve learned that if one blogs expecting others to read what they’ve written they’re setting themselves up for disappointment, especially if they don’t comment on a lot of other posts first. Sure, there are those few who get by w/out reciprocating comments, but no matter how well you write, that’s not true for many. It’s something I think about often, and I think the idea of being part of a community gets overstated and distorted a bit. People have their go-to blogging friends and preferences, and breaking into these groups is like trying to sit at the popular kids’ table when you’re the new kid in a school.

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    • Thank you, Glenda and Joanne! Glenda, I agree that you have to write for yourself and not just for the comments. A slice of life post I wrote last week didn’t get a single comment (I posted later in the day) but it was still a piece that meant something to me and I’m glad I wrote it. I agree with Joanne that I often read bloggers i am familiar with or have built a relationship with. I often want to read more but can’t always find the time. Glenda, your comment is encouraging me to do what Joanne suggested and be on the lookout for new (or new to me) writers. I know TWT would always want the community to feel inclusive and welcoming to all and not like a clique or a table where others aren’t welcome.

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