I was nominated by Gerry from The BookNook UK for the Blogger Recognition Award about a month ago! Gerry ranks among post-it notes and cinnamon buns with cream cheese as one of the more awesome things that exist in this world, so go shower her with love.
- Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
- Write a post to show your award
- Give a brief story of how your blog started
- Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
- Select 15 other bloggers you’d like to give this award to
- Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them, providing a link to the post you’ve created
This was meant to be a whole separate post in June, but then I realized July is the 6-month anniversary for this blog and so I thought, “What better way to celebrate a half-anniversary than foisting terrible advice onto people?”
So here goes!
The story of my blog getting started is astoundingly dull and short, and I’ve mentioned it twice already (here and on a post that I can’t remember the name of), so today I’ll just talk a little about the series of events that snowballed into its inception.
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, reading and writing had been two massive parts of my life. Then university came and the latter half of my undergrad soon became my lowest point. I don’t want to get into massively triggering details because this is supposed to be an anniversary celebration post, but most days it was like crawling to the edge of an abyss and wondering if today was the day that I finally had the energy to tip myself over. And so I stopped reading and writing for the most part.
Then I came across Robin Hobb’s books. And it won’t be an exaggeration to say that they saved my life. (I’m 100% sure that if I ever get the mind-numbing pleasure of meeting Robin in real life, I’ll break down sobbing and they’ll have to wheel me out in a gurney and everyone will be traumatized by the experience).
So after reading through every book Robin had published up to then, I thought:
I want to read more of this.
And then a year later:
I want to write like this.
And the goalpost just kept moving forward, tiny bit by tiny bit.
Up to now. (Sometimes it’s the small victories that matter the most)
So I’ve been blogging for just six months. I’m a small, waddling toddler trying to duke it out with the heavyweights. And today I’m here to dispense some of the wisdom that I’ve gained in my very, very short life.
I imagine all the veterans reading this right now are doing so with an indulgent smile, like they’re humouring the antics of a 8 year-old who came home from school one day declaring they’ve discovered the secrets of the universe.
“Yeah okay, kid, let’s see what you’ve got.”
Right. No pressure.
Well, I don’t claim to have stumbled upon the secrets of the blogsphere, let alone the universe. The internet freaks me out half the time and most days I’m just tripping over my feet hoping I don’t break anything when I hit the ground.
So my advice are as much an advice as they are reminders to myself. I can’t promise they’ll help you become the most successful blogger to have ever blogged. I can’t even promise that they’re good advice. But maybe they’ll help you feel a little better about yourself and make you smile or cringe (or both–I’ll take both).
1. Write your posts however the way you want to
Seems like a no-brainer, yeah? But I’ve seen a few people worrying about finding their “blogging voice,” so I’m guessing it’s not an uncommon problem people face.
Well, there’s no one way to write a blog post. I mean, there’s no one way to write, period.
You can be as informal or formal as you want. Use gifs and emojis to your heart’s content! Gifs and emojis are unprofessional, they say? Fuck that. The vast majority of you are doing this for free. The idea of someone caring enough about a book to write an entire post on it–gif-riddled or otherwise–is professional enough for me.
And not every post needs to be in contention for the next Nobel prize for literature or whatever pseudo-prizes they give out to bloggers (here I’m very much lecturing to myself). There are no English teachers or profs looming over your shoulder checking to see that your independent clauses are sufficiently independent and docking marks for overabundant use of semi-colons.
So use this opportunity to stick a middle-finger at your 11th Grade English teacher who kept scribbling on the margins of your paper, “This sounds good but STOP USING SO MANY SENTENCE FRAGMENTS” (FFS they were creative writing papers, Mr. Wallace). Because two of the greatest joys of being an adult:
1) Ice cream for dinner
2) ALL the sentence fragments, baby (
unless you’re writing formal papers)
One thing that I keep in mind when writing reviews or any other posts is, “What would make me keep reading this?” For some it’ll be humour, for others it’ll be a super formal essay-style. Everyone has different tastes and you can’t please them all. So write in a way that pleases you.
And go wild! Experiment! Loosen up!
If you want write your reviews in verse, go for it!
You want to try rap lyrics? Heck yes!
I mean, hell, Captain’s Quarters writes like a pirate! (It’s pretty awesome)
Or if you don’t want to do anything super fancy, then don’t. Just write. And as long as you’re getting your thoughts across, I promise you no one will care about grammar errors or typos.
And if it takes you months and months to get settled into a style you’re happy with, that’s perfectly fine too. I imagine blogging is as much of journey in itself, with its high and low moments that sometimes mirror the trajectory of your real life and other times have an entire life of its own. And if you’re enjoying yourself, your readers will be right there riding the crazy train with you.
2. You’re never too big or too small to show kindness
“Kathy, if I wanted a fortune cookie’s worth of all sap and no substance, I’d have cracked open, well, a fortune cookie.”
First of all, once in a blue moon, those cookies give you fortunes that aren’t completely asinine.
Second of all, I don’t know why so much of our society has decided that kindness is something worth belittling. That it’s a show of weakness and naivete–a giving of all in exchange for nothing. I’m not saying that kindness is the answer to every woe that exists in this world–a sort of a deus ex machina–but it does make for a more fulfilling day-to-day life. And that applies to blogging as well.
Jealousy is an easy thing to get caught up in as a blogger (as in every area of life)–especially when you see people getting all the physical ARCs and all the followers. And that’s perfectly normal! Jealousy is a common and valid emotion that you don’t need to be ashamed of. The problem arises when you deny it and/or when you let it mutate into resentment and bitterness.
So focus on yourself and focus on the qualities that make these other bloggers so great. Is that always easy? GOD, no. Sometimes your brain is like a dog that just flops down in the middle of the street and refuses to budge. So you gotta haul it up and painstakingly drag it along the direction that you want it to go–which in this case is the Road of Kindness and Generosity.
But pretty much everyone I’ve interacted with in the blogging world have been wonderful thus far, so you won’t have to reach far to find something nice to say about them. And whether they have 20 followers or 2000, a short comment of “Hey, I enjoy this thing that you’re making! Keep going, you beautiful butterfly, you!” can make all the difference in the world.
And in the words of Justin McElroy, “There’s no narrative to your life, no arc, no reward for achieving all the things you want. That kind of thinking is a recipe for a you-centric world view and is a very lonely road. Focus instead on the role you play in the stories of others…Putting others first with a cheerful heart isn’t easy, but because of that, even the smallest acts can leave an incalculable impact.”
So to those who have ever read, commented, or skimmed my posts and went “Eh, I guess that wasn’t a half-bad read,” thank you for making this experience as incredible as it has been. Here’s to six months more. ❤️
I’ll nominate Vera from Unfiltered Tales, Maddie from Munch Reviews, Consu from Paper-Eyed Girl, Kaleena from Reader Voracious, Kristin from Kristin Kraves Books (None of you are obligated to do it!), and anyone else who feels like taking a shot at advice-giving!