Have you ever started a project and doubted you would stick with it for very long?
This month is my two-year “blogaversary,” and if I’m completely honest, I never even thought I’d make it six months writing my blog. It’s not that I don’t love writing, but like most people, I was nervous about starting a project and realizing I lacked the responsibility required to put words on a page on a consistent basis. I mean, I still don’t remember to put my backpack in the mudroom or hang up my coat or shut off the lights in my bedroom when I leave for school, so starting a blog seemed like a really big deal. I imagined failing publicly and having to write some super sappy goodbye post admitting defeat 😬.
But that’s not what happened, and I’ve learned A LOT as a writer in the past two years, especially about voice, audience, and making a commitment to my own writing journey. I think the best way to celebrate this milestone is to share six “bits” of advice I’ve learned as a kid blogger. I hope my blogging adventure might encourage you to try something that requires patience, practice, and persistence this year 💪.
BIT ONE: WORDS REQUIRE RESPONSIBILITY
Writing is messy! When I first started my blog, I knew I liked words A LOT, but I had a hard time imagining how to put words together. Sometimes I struggled with how to begin a blog, and sometimes with how to end one. Words didn’t always come to my brain in neat ways. Instead, they’d rush in and make a mess. I’d find myself frustrated and overwhelmed. I found out I could tame my words by talking them into my iPad as soon as they popped into my mind. I began making voice threads of ideas I had for blog posts, and soon I realized how often my seemingly messy words fell into absolutely lovely categories 😍. Now, instead of thinking about my entire blog post all at once, I use ideas from my voice threads to frame my paragraphs. I found out the more I talked about my ideas, the more excited words would get inside my brain, and the easier it was to write a post my audience might like! I feel responsible for my words, and this strategy helps me use all my best ones.
BIT TWO: LISTEN TO YOUR HEARTBEEPS
I’ve learned it’s really important to write about the things that make my heart beep. This isn’t always easy because writing makes you vulnerable, and writing about your most heartbeepy ideas can sometimes make you feel out of sorts 🤪. But, I promise if you take the chance and share those ideas with the world, you’ll get feedback that will help you grow and change as a writer and thinker.
Heartbeepy ideas are like a writer’s “secret weapon” because they connect you more genuinely to your readers. I’ve learned writing about hard things, like my Grump’s death or how a close friend walked away from our friendship, is actually easier for me than talking about hard things. I guess you could say writing about heartbeeps also allows you to write out the heartache, and that’s a pretty powerful realization. So, listen to those heartbeeps each and every time you sit down to write.
BIT THREE: SEEK FEEDBACK...A LOT
I’m lucky I have a writing coach 👯♀️(I’m waving at you, Heather) who reads most of my blog posts and gives me really good advice so I don’t sound lame. She’s also tried to help me use a semicolon correctly 🤪and taught me about the power of the emdash 😍which I think might be the coolest punctuation I’ve ever used. I can’t say I’ve improved all that much with the punctuation I use in my posts, but I can say I’ve thought about it a lot more. Having just one person in your writing life who expects good ideas from you can help strengthen your writing chops in ways you never imagined possible!
But, writing a blog also means I get public comments on my posts. Sometimes the comments are critical, and sometimes they’re encouraging. I’ve learned it’s important to get both, because as a writer, I have to consider what my writing means to others. If I get critical comments, I know maybe I need to rethink ideas or learn how to express them better so my audience can relate to my thinking in the ways I intended. And sometimes I just let the criticism sit there in the universe, because it’s not meant to help me grow at that point in time. That’s OK too. The feedback you keep in your writing heart should be the kind that helps you see your writing future.
BIT FOUR: LEARN YOUR WRITING PACE
The absolute truth about me as a writer is that I like to write fast. Sometimes it happens that my writing coach isn’t available to read my work immediately, and I’m an immediate feedback kind of writer, also known as a #badwaiter 😬. I’ve had to learn how to be patient and not delete big pieces of my writing because I’m uncertain how it sounds. I’m still not great at waiting for feedback, but I have gotten much better at not deleting away good ideas 🤷. Writing requires an awareness of your writing speed, and developing a pace that works for you. I try to talk ideas into my device everyday, but not everything I talk about becomes a blog post. I’m lucky words and ideas find me quickly, but I think it’s because when you practice inviting words into your life, the more likely words will find you. Finding a balance between getting all my ideas out on the page, and also letting some things marinate has been key to finding my writing pace.
BIT FIVE: FIND A VOICE THAT FITS YOU
I’ve learned how to be more playful with my writing voice, and I’ve developed a voice I feel represents my thinking on my blog. I’ve learned how to change my voice depending on what I’m writing about. Depending on the topic, I might use a voice that’s goofy, passionate, descriptive, or wonderous. Most importantly, I want my voice to always be accessible to my readers. My writing coach has also been very direct about my voice, and has helped me understand how others might interpret different voices I’ve tried. Readers will want to come back to your writing again and again because of your voice. If you’re really lucky as a writer, your audience will carry your voice around in their head and heart, maybe even quoting you to other people 😍. I can’t think of a more powerful compliment than seeing my words being shared by other people. It’s one thing to be brave enough to put your words into the world, but it’s a whole other kind of awesome to have your words resonate inside someone else’s heart 💗.
BIT SIX: BOOKS CAN BE AWESOME WRITING MENTORS
I read A LOT of books. When I read, I find myself considering a lot more than the story and the characters. I think about the writer’s style, in particular I notice how the author structures her sentences, what kind of words she uses, and even the kind of feeling I get when I think about the message of the story. Sometimes I even try those styles in my own writing. For example, after I read Susan Hood’s Shaking Things Up, I went back to some of the poems I’ve written, and I tried to write them in the different forms Susan used. By the way, I’ve never been brave enough to ever post any of the poetry I’ve written, but maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to share that type of writing with an audience 🤔.
When I read Come With Me by Holly McGhee, I thought a lot about how simple repetition of phrases or sentences can help the reader connect deeply to the story’s message. Finally, when I read Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl and walked around with Astrid’s motto “tougher, stronger, fearless” in my brain for weeks and weeks, I discovered the power an author has to create a character whose story mirrors a reader’s life. I guess you can say, books are powerful writing mentors. The more you read, the more opportunities you have to learn about your own writing and ways to improve it.
I hope these writing bits help you reflect on how you put words into the world. I hope they spur you on when you want to give up on your own writing and resonate enough that you might share them with someone who needs a writing boost. Words are meant to be shared, celebrated, and cherished, so most of all, I hope you find a kid you know and encourage them to share more, talk more, and write more💗 .
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
Hi, I'm Liv and I am super excited to share my thinking with you!