Hard to believe, but I’ve been blogging now for eight years, and looking back, I’m realizing what blogging has taught me about life. My life, the universe, and everything.*
After all, when you get to the point where cranking out a blog post is as second nature as putting on socks, you know there’s got to be some carryover.
Funny story first: when I first started a blog on Blogspot, I wasn’t doing it to grow an audience. I posted pieces of my wine memoir so I could read my writing drafts online at my wine store job and make my boss think I was just reading wine reviews!
Eventually, I started posting fresh stories about wine at TastingRoomConfidential.com and then I migrated it to WordPress, an experience that rocked my life. With the knowledge I gained from working on my WordPress site, I began designing sites for other people and tutoring them on how to use WordPress, which led me to launch this blog, sell ebooks, etc.
Blogging has opened all kinds of doors for me and has given me a livelihood I didn’t expect when I moved to Canada in 2005. Sure, I’ve made a bit of money, but what’s it all about on a personal level?
Turns out, a lot, as I learned when I was writing this post. There are tons of connections between blogging and life, but here’s what rose to the top the fastest.
Top 5 things blogging has taught me about life
1. If you’ve got something to say, just spit it out!
When you have a point to make, get straight to it. Don’t waste time, words, and energy dancing around an issue. Don’t bore people with a long story-telling session leading up to your idea. Just say it.
Google has reinforced this idea by advising that you state your keyword phrase in the very first sentence of your post, a writing requirement I can rarely reach. They want your first word to be your keyword, which I find impossible as a writer.
I do try to keep my blog intros pithy so that I can state my keyword phrase fairly upfront and not waste the readers time. In life, I do the same because I respect my listener enough not to waste their time wondering if I’m going to praise them, rebuke them, or simply pass along information.
Just say it!
2. You’re remembered more for your questions than your acquiescence
Anyone can go along to get along, but if you want to be remembered as someone with a brain, ask more questions. Doubt. Analyze. Contradict. That’s the way to get someone’s ear. Create controversy where controversy is due and watch the response.
I got more response to the 5 Most Annoying Things Winemakers Do than any other post I’ve written on tastingroomconfidential.com. All because I took jabs at the almighty winemakers and made them think harder about what they do.
In life, people remember me for stirring things up, and not always in a positive way. Yet I keep doing it. When I hear an exaggeration or a falsehood I can’t just zip my lip, especially when stakes are high.
My voice is my best asset.
3. Inspiration comes when you’re open to it
Because I’m more than a blogger, I update this blog only weekly, yet time after time the weekend comes around and I’m stumped for a topic that is fresh, relevant and/or timely. And then, without warning, an idea presents itself after reading or listening to something, or just taking a walk around the neighborhood. And I think, damn, I’m lucky that inspiration found me or I’d have to watch my traffic go down this week.
But it wasn’t luck, per se, it was my openness to receiving inspiration that gave me an idea. The same goes for my general writing. I think, I wait, and I hope for an idea of how to approach something and – bam! – the plan eventually comes to me. It happened when I thought of this post topic. I know it sounds borderline mystical, but the universe really does provide. Choose your cliché, they all apply.
Ideas come to those who want them.
4. Review what you like and ignore what you don’t
I’ve tried blogging about things I didn’t like – books, wines, music, movies – and I find there is precious little satisfaction in it. If I was a professional reviewer of something it might be different, but I’m not. I choose what to write about and experience has shown me that I’d rather spend my time and thought reviewing good things instead of bad.
(My caveat is when something is physically dangerous and needs to be warned against. For bad writing it’s reader beware.)
The same goes for life. I would much prefer to talk about the good things instead of the bad and I suspect there’s a karmic reason for it. I know there are dozens of clichés to reinforce the idea. I like to “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.”
Life is too short and I’m too old to concern myself with bad things.
5. Recordings are more accurate than notes
When I interview someone I always record them. I’m too ADD to pay attention and take good notes and think of follow-up questions at the same time, so it’s a much more relaxing experience when I know that the subject’s words are being preserved by technology. Having a verbatim recording is the best way to quote someone – and you know I Ioves me some quotes.
In life I do the same, thanks to the sound quality of smart phones. Whenever I’m listening to a speech, lecture, or when someone gives a long explanation of something, I whip out my iPhone and press Record. Especially when I talk with doctors, while my mind is swimming with emotion, I want reliable documentation of what’s said, subject to no interpretation. Recently, I shared a Mp3 recording of my mother’s doctor visit with my siblings so that we could all be on the same page without me be responsible for accuracy.
Recordings make life so much more memorable.
Blogging to the end
I don’t know how long this blogging business is going to last, but whatever technology comes along and makes it obsolete will probably be on my radar. The things blogging has taught me are applicable in all my creative endeavors, and I’m sure to use them over and over.
When I think of more things I’ve learned, I’ll let you know.
Meanwhile, what things have you learned from blogging that carries over into your offline life? I’d love to hear!
* Deep nods to Douglas Adams, author of Life, the Universe and Everything, part of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy.