Five learnings from three years of blogging

November 26, 2014 marked three years of my venturing into the world of blogging. Looking back and reflecting on the last three years, I can say without the least bit of exaggeration that blogging has changed my life. I owe the version 2.0 of my life to blogging.Power of Words

Today, I want to take a moment to list out the five most important learnings from three years of blogging.

 1. The world always has enough room to accommodate one more blogger.

When I started out, I was unsure if my blog would be read by anyone. I didn’t know if people would like me, my voice, my writing. Three years from there, take it from me: The world always has enough room to accommodate one more blogger. In fact, the world has enough room for one more *anything*. Don’t look at the high-brow crowd. They intimidate you. They confuse you. They put fears in your mind.

Look at you own inner self and ask it “What story do I have to tell the world today?”. If you answer that question everyday or every now and then, then that is good enough. Take it one blog-post at a time.

2. Your story is important enough for the world to know.

People often tend to shy away from sharing personal stories on their blogs. Most do for reasons of privacy. But some simply refuse to believe that their story would interest the world. Trust me, your story is unique and it *deserves* to be told to the world.

Believe in your story’s power, believe that your experiences would be interesting enough for readers across the world to read and like. This single belief would take away a lot of your inhibitions. You will start to believe more in yourself.

3. It takes one person to make a difference, and you can be the one!

While you are blogging and enjoying it, don’t hesitate to start a campaign or a movement of sorts, if you feel the need to. Some experiences are so moving, that just writing about it is not enough. One needs to do more. And, one can!

4.  Page-views are not everything

Page-views excite the blogger. They are proof that his work is being read by people across the world. But, they are not everything. Don’t judge your work or potential by page-views.

5. It is okay to desert your blog once in a while

Yes, you love your blog! You love it to bits. You probably post everyday. However, if there comes a time when real life takes over and you have to let go you of the blog for a while, don’t feel too bad about it. It won’t be long before you will be back if you really love writing. Priorities change in life, and there’s no reason to feel bad about it. Its all fine till you always manage to find a reason to return to your blog.

Please share your five learnings from blogging!

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The highs and highs of blogging everyday!

This will be my 28th consecutive post, starting from the 29th of November.
Earlier this year, mid-way through November, I heard of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). It’s a WordPress.com challenge that tests if you can post a blog each day for the whole month of November.
I loved the concept!

There are Writing Communities, Daily Prompts from WordPress to help you with the inspiration bit. It is like working out in a gym, where the ‘community’ feel of the thing helps you become regular.
You might not make it if you are doing it alone, but when you do it with lots of other people, you don’t have to look far for inspiration.

So, I too wanted to do it, but November was already half way over. Therefore, I decided to do it in December, all by myself. Just for the fun of it. And also to test if I’m up for it.

It is the 26th of December today. I’ve survived so far! I just have to make it to the finish line now. 5 more posts to go after this to complete one full calendar month of blogging.

WHY I RECOMMEND YOU TO TRY THIS?

1. As it is with every tough challenge, this too will test your limits, your commitment, your integrity. You’ll be writing through good days, bad days, sick days, festive days! At the end of it, I bet you’ll be proud of yourself.

And even if you do not make it, you can take pride in the fact that you tried.

2. It will make you a better observer. You’ll always be on the prowl for ideas. Every conversation, every event, every detail is important because you’ll always be on the look out for ideas to write about. Observation is a quality every writer desires to have.

3. You’ll take long strides towards building an active community of readers and friends. When you blog everyday, people treat you seriously. It makes them feel that you take this seriously; it makes them feel that you’re not just another blogger.

4. If you like to see your blog stats increasing, this should be a good enough reason for you to start. Personally speaking, December has been the best month for my blog in terms of numbers. My monthly stats have doubled from my previous best and it is still counting.

5. If, like me, you too like to learn new things, I’ll persuade you to give this a try. When you are writing each day, there are times when you need to read other good blogs too. For inspiration. For a fresh perspective. This has helped me. I’ve formed connections with other awesome bloggers, and I learn from their writing on a daily basis.

6. You’ll be a disciplined man (or woman) at the end of it. The general law about life is that you cannot improve one aspect of your life, without also improving your life in general. Discipline is a great quality to learn. You may argue about writing being an inspiration job, but the truth is that you also need discipline.

7. You’ll treat your ideas with a little more respect. Seriously!
Earlier, there were times when I used to shoo away any idea for a new post, when it seemed to be inadequate to feature in my blog. Now I don’t. Every idea is a blogpost in disguise. Maybe not in it’s present form. But just don’t discard it. Work on it. Polish it. Show it some love! And you never know. . .

8. Your confidence on your writing abilities will increase manifolds. And that is a wonderful thing! Even if you make it to 20 consecutive posts, I bet you’ll be more confident about your writing.

Try it!

Does a blog really need facebook?

Yes, the title is self- explanatory.
Does a blog really need facebook?
At the end of the day, do all those likes mean anything at all?

Nowadays, almost everything has a dedicated facebook page.
Books, inner wear, the actor who can’t act, your friend’s one eyed cat – you name it!

It was with this mindset that I had created a facebook page for this blog. Another reason was that I was becoming increasingly conscious of sharing links to my blog from my main facebook profile.

It felt like shameless self-promotion.
So I went ahead and created a facebook page for the blog.

Next, facebook prompted me to send invites to people I am friends with to ‘like’ my page.(Again a form of shameless self-promotion).

Also, that facebook notification when you send an invite provides a funny read – “Someone has invited one to like his Page”.

How can I invite someone to like something? Isn’t liking a personal choice?

Also, I often find myself trying hard to figure out what to do with the facebook page. I do share links, post a few quotes, now and then. Apart from that, what?

What can a blog possibly have that can be shared on the world’s largest social network?

But, of course, if you have a photo-blog, then facebook could be just the perfect medium for you.
This is because facebook is all about instant gratification.
Instant friendship, instant relationship status, instant updates.

And, photographs provide that instant gratification. You could upload pictures in addition to sharing links.

People might not have time to read through your posts, but photographs will surely grab their eye balls.

But for purely text based blogs like mine, facebook isn’t of much help.
There isn’t much value created through facebook.

Visits from facebook to my blog are sporadic, depending on how catchy the titles of the posts are.
Months back, in July, when I wrote about rape and molestation, there was a deluge of visits coming from facebook.

I guess people want to read about rape.

But, as I shifted to other topics, the visits diminished.

I understand facebook is not the perfect medium for a text-based blog. After all, it’s a social network. People log in on facebook to check out what’s happening in other people’s lives, and to interact with friends.

But, not to read.

Currently, I’m thinking of deleting the facebook page for the blog, as I don’t find it particularly useful.

Facebook is for dynamic people. It doesn’t have time for a blogger typing away from his cozy abode.

What are your views? Does your blog have a facebook page? How do you use facebook for your blog?

All about the “About” Page. . .

The “About” Page is one of the first things I read, when I’m visiting a blog for the first time.

It is just not enough for me to only read someone’s writing. I feel this urge to know that ‘someone’ behind the words.

There are some “About” pages that I absolutely love. Usually, those are the ones that touch a chord, or are brutally honest.

Example : Some of the self published authors I follow clearly mention on their about page that the blog was made to showcase/promote their writing.

I like this kind of honesty. They state upfront what they’re all about, and you can make a choice whether or not to “follow”.

But, I really hate those people who are not honest.

Example : I used to follow this self-published author who mentioned in the about page, that the purpose of his blog was to share insights on writing.

Which was a lie! Because soon, I discovered that he was all about selling his books, or publishing ‘paid’ interviews or promoting other people’s books.

I promptly unfollowed, feeling cheated!

There’s nothing unethical about selling your books with the aid of your blog, but the least you can do is be honest about it.

I’ve found this quality to be very helpful in blogging – Honesty.

It goes a long way. For instance, I write almost diametrically opposite articles on my blog. Ranging from articles on the Indian society, to a tribute to a beloved, I write about everything that touches my heart.

With time, I realised there’re readers who hate one kind of writing but are absolutely in love with the other. And vice versa.

The way out is to write tell-all Titles of the blogpost. This allows the readers to make a choice beforehand whether or not to read.

And they don’t have to read half a paragraph to discover that this was a waste of their time.

Also, I enjoy “About” pages that are a bit personal. For instance – someone writing about a city-change, or about motherhood.

No I am not a voyeur.

It is nice to know the human side of a blogger. Also I appreciate blogs that speak of personal feelings without inhibition.
Because after all, this is a medium for sharing our experiences.

Reading about someone’s experience and how someone dealt with a problem is so enriching. You can learn a lot.

I also believe that bloggers can be much more that just bloggers. They can connect, outside of wordpress.
On social network. Through text messages.
Through a phone call!

And I write from experience. I am very good friends with someone I met through my blog. We’ve even talked over the phone. He and I have lots of things in common. And we’ve made a pact in meet in the next 6years. Anyhow.

Blogging can be far more than just venting your emotions, and getting likes, comments, shares, and follows. Only if you’re willing to make room for the ‘human touch’.

It can be the start of a beautiful friendship.
It can all start from the “About” page.

How’s your “About” page? Is the “About” page important for you, or are you least bothered about it?
Do you even read “About” pages?

Share your thoughts!

An apology and half a blogpost.

I’ve had a revelation.

I believed that I was the most ‘perfect host’ that a blog could ever have.
I felt I was mature and could handle criticism and appreciation with equal grace.

I was proven wrong today.

This blogger totally lost his cool this morning. He could not tackle a counter-view and ended up creating a mess.

If you wish to know the exact thing, please check the comments on the previous blogpost. (The taxi-drivers of Guwahati).

I apologise. Sincerely.

Never before have I reacted in such a childish manner. I’ve had comments that have called ‘sexist’. ( on the post “Will you marry a raped girl?”).

Even then I was able to maintain composure and poise. Not today.

I’m still trying to figure out what went wrong. I read this comment in question the first thing in the morning. That’s not a great way to start a morning.

Perhaps that. Or maybe something else is bothering me inside.

I’m still trying to know why.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d leave you with some useful tips on how to tackle criticism on the web. (Yeah! I know you’re thinking, “Practise what you preach”).

But this is as much a post for you, as it is a reminder for me. Hope it’s useful :

1. Don’t reply immediately.

2. Read the comment(s) a few times and analyse.

3. Thank the person first of all for his comment.

4. If there’s any clarification needed, first clarify in a friendly tone.

5. While replying, don’t take it too personally. It’s just a blogpost and not the end of the world.

6.Make your point and stop. Don’t go for more explanation than needed.

7.Finally, while writing a post and replying to comments it’s wise to remember that not everyone will subscribe to the same view.

Please add any other useful tips you have in your comments.

I’ll try to be a better blogger.

A letter to my readers

Dear all,
Maybe this is your first visit here. Or probably you’ve have been here before.

I want to talk to you for a moment.
I also need your help.

The last few days have been overwhelming for me. Traffic to the blog spiked. Number of followers, likes, and comments increased.

My brother, friends, and my blogging guru called me up to congratulate me. They said my writing had ‘matured’.

I don’t know if that’s true. I’m not here to brag. I want to get to the point quickly without further wasting your time.

I’m moved. You see I am a small town guy. I still consider myself young. I’m 22. I’ve been writing for a little more than a year. I’m new.

And this exponential increase in ‘everything’ thrills me.
Frightens me.
Places great responsiblity on my shoulders.

When I didn’t have readers, I didn’t care much about what I wrote. Today I do.
I feel responsible for what I write. I also feel a little proud.

So, with this letter, I promise to write to the best of my ability.
To write often.
To be passionate.

A word for Jamie Furlong, a friend and reader – I’m sorry I’m not able to write the kind of article you want right now. But I’ll be back with them (post April 2013). Thank you for your patience.

Gratitude to Mitali, my girlfriend, for helping me out with her support.

To all those readers whom I haven’t named, I’m indebted to you for reading my work. Thank you.

I need a little help. Please mention in the comments the topics you would like me to write on.

You see I’m running out of ideas. A little help will be appreciated.

It’s 1:10 a.m. here and the dogs are barking in the street downstairs. Signing off from Guwahati, India..

Regards,
Subh

Word that counts.

I’m back with yet another post on blogging or writing for the web. (Did I just hear a collective “boo”?).

Before you jump to any conclusions, I want to clarify certain things.

No I don’t happen to know a lot about blogging.
No I am not a pro – not by a long shot.
I’m a student. I learn. And, I wish to share what I learn with people – people who care to read my blog.

If you’ve been at this game for some time now, you’d already know how important it is to maintain a certain length of the posts.
Maybe, people tell you about ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

But, this is not about people’s diminishing attention spans. It’s certainly not about minimalism.

One word – IMPACT.
Whatever you write, you’d want to create an impact.
You’d like it if people left your blog with a thought, an idea, not just random words swimming in their heads.

It is widely believed that the bone of contention is ‘word count’.
But no, it’s about using the right words, not saying a word more, not one less.
For me, THAT is an art to be mastered!

Saying what you wanted to, and not lingering a moment more.

Be it a novel that you’re writing, a love letter, or the grocery list, it is wise to make each word meaningful.
Each sentence indispensable.
Every little word counts.

For TIME is the most precious entity that people have.
And you wouldn’t want them to feel that they wasted it on your writing.

The thing about writing rituals. . .

Almost every person who writes has a certain writing ritual.

Some can’t write unless it is night, and the moon is full, and the wind is blowing exactly in the western direction, and a rose is tucked in between the thumb and pinkie of their left hand!

While there are some who can write just about anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

Writing rituals are as old as the art of writing itself.
Here are some famous writing rituals :

* Victor Hugo wrote in the nude.
To ward off procrastination, he would send his valet away, with all of his clothes and lock himself up in his room till he wrote something satisfactory.

*Truman Capote called himself ‘the horizontal writer’. He always wrote lying down, claiming that he couldn’t think sitting down or standing up.

*Ernest Hemingway wrote “The Old Man and the Sea” standing up!

*Friedrich Schiller liked to have a smell of rotten apples, concealed beneath his desk, under his nose when he was composing poetry.

*Voltaire, a French Enlightenment writer, used his lover’s naked back as a writing desk.

While it is easy to dismiss these as quirks – mildly amusing, and entirely personal tendencies, the point to be noted is these difficult writing rituals didn’t stop these great men from writing.

Voltaire had to persuade his lover over and over again for participation, Schiller had to keep an abundant supply of apples, whilst Hemingway had to deal with pain in the legs!

The moral of the story is – There are no excuses. It’s well and good if you have your own little quirky writing ritual, but at the end of the day, if you haven’t filled enough empty pages with the ink of your pen, the world will never know about you and your work.

THAT, is where discipline comes into play.
You’ve got to show up, everyday, whether or not you are inspired, whether or not the words flow out of you with ease.
It doesn’t matter.

Quality will follow, readership will follow, fame and name will follow – once you start showing up.

The world is interested in the finished product, and if that is good enough, maybe someday they will want to know more about you, your story, your writing rituals, your eccentricities.

The 50th blogpost and et cetera. . .

Yes, this is my 50th blogpost. But, as usual, it’s only me and the blank screen staring back at me, and the chilly midnight air.

Writing….er…..blogging is a lonely vocation. (Some people are offended if I equate writing with blogging). And it’s better that way. I like lonely.

Now, if you’ve been blogging for few months now, you know how important inspiration is for bloggers.
Especially, if you don’t have any specific niche/genre and pretty much try your hand at everything.

When I began, I had a bunch of ‘pet’ rants –

“Inhuman face of the society”.

“Repetitive, lame tv soaps”.

“Fake God men”.

So, the first few posts contained my disappointment, anger, and sarcasm.

Then, followed few posts about love, heartbreak, stuff that a friend of mine finds to be too saccharine-y. (Yeah! Even I am embarrassed when I read those posts).

Then, came a massive failure in my life. For the first time, I wrote with a purpose. I wrote for myself.
I wrote to lift my spirits, motivate myself and in doing that, perhaps, created posts that’ll stand the test of time and help people to cope with failure even in future.
I felt better about myself.

Then, for Mothers’ Day, I wrote a tribute to my Mum, who’s faced many trials and tribulations, and yet fought on.
It got a good response.

I learnt a valuable lesson that day. People are ready to read your scribblings about personal life, as long as it’s got a message that’s universal.
A thought that’ll stand the test of time.

There’s been no looking back since then. Maybe my writing has changed. The things I write about have changed.

But, one thing remains the same – Everytime I write, it is to create value. It’s about the message I want to convey. It’s about an idea that’ll stand the test of time.

I often find myself thinking backwards, when a post is taking form in my mind. I find myself asking, “Can you see the end of the post? Does it have a message, a strong ending note?”.
Unless the answer is “yes”, I can’t get myself to write.

Another important lesson that I’ve learnt is – “Embrace the personal”.
People avoid writing about their lives. They feel their lives are not interesting enough, not writing ‘material’.

Nothing can be further from the truth.
For inspiration, I’ve often looked into the secret closets of my mind, for hurt, hidden pain, regret or any other emotion.

Whenever I found one, I’ve tried to portray that emotion in my writing. And it has worked. Readers have liked that emotion. I’ve learnt that one has nothing to be ashamed about the ‘personal’. It is to be embraced.

With every passing day, I learn a lot from fellow bloggers.
I’ve also been able to figure out my writing process, my writing hours, and my optimum frequency.

I’m really grateful to all those bloggers whose work has been indispensible in helping me shape my writing. Thank you.

Here’s hoping that the next 50 posts don’t take so long. Happy blogging to you all!

Find your type of crowd.

Crowds are everywhere – on the streets, in the shops, on public transport, and even on the internet and its various off-shoots.

On the internet, however, crowds are different from the ones you see on the streets.

It is not just about random people thrown together in a place that has it constraints with regards to dimensions.
But it is more about like-minded people willingly gathering in one place, sharing their thoughts, beliefs, art and craft.

It is about meaningful conversations, stimulating thought-exchange, mutual admiration, and a general sense of happiness.

Extending the same reasoning to blogging, I feel that the blogosphere too has its share of crowds.

There are techno-crowds – bloggers that blog about technology.
There are the self-published crowds – courageous people who go the independent way.
Then there are poet-crowds. And many more.

Like in life, I feel it is very important to identify your type of crowd even in the blogosphere.

Lets face it. Time is short. We don’t have all the time in the world to dedicate to blogging alone. So it makes a lot of sense to find your type of crowd and only ‘hang out’ with them, visit their blogs, learn from them, get inspired and create.

And the upside is that as you begin to find your type of crowd, the blogs that you enjoy, the kind of writing that stimulates you – you also discover a lot about your own writing.

I believe we all write the kind of blogs that we ourselves would enjoy reading. So, it also means that the blogs that we enjoy reading tell us a lot about how we should write.

So, go ahead, find out your type of crowd, get inspired and create.

Maybe it sounds a tad selfish, but after all, that’s the sole season we’re here – TO CREATE.