Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blogging: The New Miracle Multivitamin for Your Writer's Block by Mary Sheffield

     My mother gave me her camera for Christmas; it’s a really nice one – even if you’re bad at photography (like me!) or unskilled (check!), the camera takes beautiful pictures. I was photographing my cat Luco when an idea fluttered into my head: why not write a blog about Luco, why he’s sad (he’s got this expressive face – so grave), and use it as a way to discuss things that are important to me?

     Why not? Well, I mean, I ask myself “why not” because I’m probably too negative most of the time, but besides that, I wondered who would even care about a blog about a cat. I mean, it’s not like one thinks “serious” when one thinks cats. It’s more likely you picture that cute little orange kitten dangling from a string “Hang in there, baby,” written across the top (I don’t want to be called a liar, but I’m pretty sure we all had that poster plastered on our bedroom walls as kids. And maybe I still have one in my house somewhere. Maybe).
     So I began the blog thinking I was being silly. Even stupid. But then, I’ve found that with each entry I write, my writing gets just that much better. I think it’s because I know I’m writing for an audience (my blog has a modest [a humble, an astounding, an unthinkable] 13,246 views), so I take my time. This has had two unintended and delightful consequences. One: Because I hold myself to a once-a-week blog schedule (although, honestly? I’m faltering right now because we’re having major plumbing work done – this is a pretty terrible excuse, but major plumbing work has a way of making a person feel pretty terrible in general) I find that I write more, not just the blog, but other stories and poems and essays as well. I’m in the rhythm, if you’ll allow me. Two: I really do think it makes me a better writer, as I suggested above. Maybe it’s the audience thing, maybe it’s the frequency thing, but I can’t recommend keeping a blog intensely enough.
     Look. I know you’re busy. Maybe you think you don’t have time to keep a blog. Maybe you’re thinking your work on that novel or memoir or book of poetry is more important, but listen, think of the blog as vitamins (why is “vitamins” such a difficult word for me to spell? Apparently blogging is not a panacea – my spelling is still atrocious). Think of it as light jogging. Broccoli. It’s a thing you do that’s good for you, that really doesn’t require that much work. Just use Blogger or Wordpress – they’re both totally intuitive – you don’t have to be a computer guy to use these sites. Trust me. You have time and ability to string 500 something words together. Every week.
     Because the positive effects of my blogging were totally surprising. So I’m telling you now. And I’m using that teacher voice we all have. And I’m gesturing wildly with my hands. Isn’t this enough to convince you?

Mary Sheffield lives in South Florida with a cat who blogs his despair to the world here: whyismycatsosad.blogspot.com. She’s a proud alumna of the MFA program at FAU.  You can read one of her short stories "Modern Science Cannot Keep Up With Her" at the Eunoia Review.

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