My name is Matthew, and I'm a blogger.
I originally started, while riding the high after a writers convention, with the aim of posting at least once a month for a whole year.
And I've been at it now, I realised the other day, for more than two.
(To be honest, I didn't think I'd make it to six months.)
It was a colossal pain in the arse for the first few months -- and, I'll admit, some months it still is.
It can take many hours to produce a single post -- that's precious time away from my writing.
So why do I persist?
I can only suppose that I am gaining something from the experience.
Blogging for Analysis
The primary benefit I can see, reading back through my posts, is that blogging has afforded me the chance to look at my writing process.
Many of my posts -- my Writing Tips posts -- have taken the form of breaking down my creativity processes and story techniques.
This was a conscious effort to write the kind of blog I would have loved to come across when I was a budding writer -- something by Clive Barker or Robin Hobb or Sir Terry Pratchet explaining how they wrote as well as they did.
The old adage is true -- if you want to learn something properly, teach it.
The act of reducing my craft -- a craft I constantly take for granted -- down to its bones has actually helped, I think, improve it.
Take my penchant for descriptive prose -- something my writing group and beta readers have always liked about my stories.
Prose was something I simply worked and re-worked until it sounded right to my ear -- no process or direction.
I wrote a series of posts earlier this year -- breaking down some of my favourite passages of prose to see what I like about them, defining common techniques these writers had used, and applying those factors to my own writing.
It was in many ways a revelation to understand how I did it.
Prior to this, if my descriptive passages weren't working, I'd either wrangle with them for days on end or simply drop them -- completely clueless as to why they didn't work.
Now I tend to fall back on the techniques I articulated in these blog posts.
It still doesn't always work -- but I can logically work through a problem passage more quickly or abandon it sooner when I realise it'll never work.
The benefit alone to my writing process alone, I think, is worth the price of admission to blogging.
Blogging for Therapy
If you've ever read any of my Writer's Journey posts, you'll have picked up that I'm deeply affected by self-doubt and low esteem.
I am also prone to bouts of anxiety.
I like to think of writing as a kind of therapy for my disquietude. (That and my daily-ish walks.)
I shied away from acknowledging these problems for a long time -- even in this enlightened day and age, I think there's a lot of pressure for men to simply harden up.
Blogging about my inadequacies -- that occasional yawning abyss within where I know my feelings should be, and the way it cripples my creativity -- helps immensely.
Very recently -- last month, in fact -- I blogged about the anxiety I experience when stepping out of my social comfort zone at writers conventions.
Intellectually, I recognise the benefit of such conferences, and as a result, have to wrangle with my inner demons the entire time I'm there.
After reading that post, a fellow writer reached out to me -- she was writing a paper on coping mechanisms for introverts in similar situations.
I learned quite a bit in my discussion with her -- including strategies to help cope at future conventions.
While I've only ever written my Writer's Journey posts for myself, I like to hope that other emerging writers may one day benefit from them (when I'm famous!).
Blogging for Vanity
I've made no secret of my love for the stories behind stories.
It almost certainly stems from my lifelong desire to be a writer and spending many a formative year looking for stories of my own to tell.
I've blogged about the inspirations and methods behind my own work only three times in the my blogging career.
(Yes, I am a slow creator.)
And each time, I found it an interesting exercise to pour over my initial drafts and notes, recalling the doubts and the excitements I felt with each stage of the story.
In retrospect, it can appear to be an exercise in re-affirming my talent as an author -- illustrating that I am just as unsure with the successful stories as I am with the failures.
But I don't think that's the underlying drive to write these posts.
Stephen King, I may have mentioned, is exceptionally good at writing about his inspirations.
I read his short story collections avidly as a younger person -- keenly skipping ahead to the section where he wrote about creating each story.
And I can say with absolute certainty that these helped inspire my own scribblings when I was dabbling in the craft.
Ultimately, I guess, I'm hoping that one day, when I too am world famous, some wannabe author, who is also a fan, may stumble across my blog.
I'm hoping -- with complete and naked vanity -- they will also discover that it is the mundane and the humdrum and the workaday that inspires the best stories.
And I'm hoping that they too will pay tribute to me in a blog of their own one day.
My Own Evolution
As with all learning -- especially a topic for which I have a passion -- the more I repeat the lessons, the more proficient I become.
However, when I'm in the thick of that passion, it is difficult to determine if I'm improving or stagnating.
Personally, the most interesting thing I've learned from two years of blogging is that I have actually evolved, both as a writer and as a blogger.
Now, I don't do journals and I don't do diaries.
(I used to, as a teenager -- but they were sordid, disturbing things to read as an adult. Now I just write horror.)
So to me, it's a revelation to see how much I've improved in a scant two years.
Practice -- or, at least, repetition -- does indeed make perfect -- or, at least, a level of competence.
And I reckon, in another two years' time, it will be a further revelation to read this post and marvel at just how little I knew about the craft of writing a blog post.
Taking the time to develop and write a blog post each month does indeed consume much of my creative juice -- often at the expense of story writing.
And I suspect at some point in the future, I will give blogging the flick in order to more ardently pursue my story writing career.
But for now, I think the rewards are worth the effort.
While I can still learn something, at this point in my career, it is definitely worth the investment of time and creative energy.
All images from pixabay.com