1. Blogging has helped me find who I am as a writer. I’m not wholly there yet, in the writer-finding process, but I’m definitely closer than I used to be. I’ve always written well (at least, judging by my grades), but writing for class always carries some amount of artificial restrictions. I was always a more personal writer than I probably should’ve been in academic contexts, but in grad school, writing for class and writing a blog at the same time really helped me to pick out which parts of my writing came from academic requirements and which ones were me, and how to use both to my advantage. And also figure out that I’m a much better fit as a blogger than as an academic writer.
2. Blogging has given me an online community. Blogging is very fluid and bloggers in general tend to be very open, and you can enter communities without too much difficulty, if you try. I’m still on the outskirts of the film blogging community, but that’s because I haven’t tried hard enough yet (and I don’t want to completely alienate the people who read because they know me personally – more on that in #5). But blogging is also an easy entrance into other social media options – I have a really enjoyable cadre of friends on FriendFeed right now that’s largely independent of this blog, but I wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t been a blogger first.
3. Blogging has helped me shape not only my identity as a writer but as a person. It’s a cliche that you can be whoever you want to be on the internet – I’m not sure it’s 100% true, because it’s very hard to be someone completely different than you consistently. On the other hand, it’s not difficult to shape and mold your identity a little bit online, and as you learn to do it in safe anonymity and distance online, you learn to become a little bit more like the person you want to be offline as well. I can definitely state that I’m a different, less shy (except with phones, that’s a different thing), less fearful person than I was before I started blogging/interacting with people online.
4. Blogging has given me a different perspective on online life. Sort of what Anna mentioned about learning to value internet surfing more since she started blogging. I’ve been a participant in message boards and journals for years, long before I started this blog, but after seeing the things that the tech sector and the political sector and the film sector and, well, everywhere really, is doing with blogs – using them in innovative ways from the very individual to the very journalistic to the very academic – I’ve learned again and again that to claim that bloggers are just a bunch of navel-gazers focused on minutiae is to miss the wide variety, interests, and quality of the blogging world. If you think that about bloggers in general, you’re reading the wrong ones.
5. Blogging has made me very aware of audience. Writing for school, the teacher is the audience, no matter how much they try to make the assignment call for a different audience (unless you have a fairly radical composition teacher, which I never had). In blogging, you have to constantly remember at least three audiences: the one you know you have (from people who comment or tell you in person they read your blog), the one you want to have, and the completely amorphous one made up of everyone anywhere who may stumble upon your blog from a link or a Google search. For me, the first one is a few people from my church, a few people from school, internet friends from previous boards, and people I know on FriendFeed or in the film blogosphere. That’s a wide range of people already I have to think about as I wonder how everything I say will come across. The one I want to have is the film and entertainment blogosphere (I would say film only, but I’m having increasing trouble keeping music out of the spotlight), so I think about trying to post things that would interest them. The amorphous one you can’t really plan for (though you can follow it somewhat through stats trackers), but you have to be aware that everything you say is public. Lately, potential employers have been greatly on my mind in this category, since my blog is my major writing sample when I apply to writing/editing/proofreading jobs.
That last thing has actually been on my mind for a while, as my blog has gone through some focus and identity changes in the past few months, so it’s good to get that out there. Thanks, Anna!
Let’s see, I’m horrible about tagging people, but saying “I tag everyone!” is a cop-out. So I’ll tag:
Abby – Pretty Funny for a Girl
Kat – So. There’s That.
Lori – She’s No Lady
Evan/Luke – MovieZeal
Ed – Only the Cinema
And anyone else, of course.
Here are the rules:
1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.
2. Link back to the person who tagged you.
3. Link back to this parent post on Seedlings in Stone.
4. Tag a few friends or five, or none at all.
5. Post these rules— or just have fun breaking them.