Thursday, May 23, 2013

12 Things I've Learned From Reading Blogs

I love reading blogs--all kinds of blogs. Chances are I've read YOUR blog post in the last few days, and I want to say thank you for sharing your life, your wisdom, your ideas. I've learned a lot over the last few years of blog reading, and today I wanted to share the top 12 life lessons gained from your insights.  These are:
  1. From Blogs on Writing: Write Deep. Go for the problem areas and dig deep, especially into the topics or themes that would prefer to be left alone.  Rather than simply writing the surface story, I want to go into my plot and characters as far as I can go, even if means taking the wrong turn, having to tear it up and starting all over. Writing deep might mean it takes an extra year or two before a new book reaches print, but the extra wait is worth it.
  2. From Book Blogs: Be Literary, Or not. In other words, don't apologize for being the author or writer you are called to be. We can only write what we love to write--and read. For instance, I love language, I love doing things people tell me not to do, and I love an unconventional narrative. So for me, despite the nay-sayers of the publishing world, I'm going to stick with literary fiction. It's my genre, no apologies or excuses.
  3. From Art Blogs: Dive Into Paint. Similar to the first two points, I've learned from art blogs to jump into my art supplies without worrying about "law and order" or the ensuing results. In the past I used to think my paints and oil pastels had to all stay pretty in their little paper jackets lined up in a row. And my pictures had to be GOOD. (Read, PERFECT.) No more. Now I break, smear, poke, prod, cut, tear, and smash my supplies until they obey (or disobey) my every whim! And I'm a much happier artist for doing so.
  4. From Fashion Blogs: Dress in Your Favorite Clothes. As Sara Ban Breathnach so famously wrote in Simple Abundance, "Life is not a dress rehearsal." So if the costume fits, put it on "just because" and enjoy every flounce, ruffle, or scruffy T-shirt you own no matter the occasion. No more saving outfits for "good."
  5. From Photography Blogs: Take Photos. I was afraid of technology for a long time. The thought of me and a digital camera seemed like a very bad combination. What if I dropped it? What if I took a GOOD photo? What if I liked taking photos so much I'd then want to become a photographer on top of every other passion pulling on my sleeve? Well, what indeed? Taking photos of things that interest me has been fun and helps me with both my writing and my artwork.
  6. From Business Blogs: Diversify. Some days I like to paint. Some days I like to work on my screenplay. Some days I like to look at beads in bead stores and visualize the neat necklaces I want to make. My interests are wide, my writing interests are even wider and sometimes I worry I'm going in too many directions. But diversification is a healthy approach to creativity. The necklace can play a role in my screenplay. The screenplay can suggest ideas for painting. And with each endeavor I get to know my subject on a new level. Better still--I have multiple avenues for selling my work!
  7. From Poetry Blogs: Write Poetry. A lot of people will tell you poetry doesn't sell. Don't listen to them. Poetry is making a huge comeback and in a big way: as novels! Right now I've got The Marlowe Papers on my TBR list--check it out! (Sincere thanks to Kathryn Eastman of for telling me about this amazing book.).
  8. From De-Clutter Blogs: Don't Waste Time. I don't mean to sound morbid here, but now is the only time we have. So be selective and make sure you are in exactly the place you want to be, doing what you want to do right now. If you're not happy with the way you're using time, make changes--throw out time wasters, be ruthless, learn to say no--and mean it.
  9. From Creativity Blogs: Celebrate the Unusual and Different. Never go for the easy answer. March to a different drummer. Do your own thing! Yes, that means you!
  10. From Runners' Blogs: If You Can't Run, At Least Walk. Blogs on running inspire me, but there is no way I will ever run down the block let alone attempt a marathon. And that's okay, because walking, I think, can be one of the very best exercises for writers. You can observe, think, keep up a good and healthy pace, burn calories, and stop to write along the way. One trick I've developed is to always seek out the worst parking spot. The one that's really far away from where I want to go. And then once I'm inside my destination, e.g., the grocery store, I make sure to go up and down every single aisle regardless of my list. It's a work-out.
  11. From Spirituality Blogs: Read What You Love. Just like reading blogs, I now read only the books that uplift and fill my creative heart. If a book isn't doing that for me, I stop reading and donate it to the library. This is related to #8--no more time wasted on so-so, or dare I say it, bad books.
  12. From Everyone: Be Honest in Your Own Blog. There are so many blogs out there: some are full of humor, some bring me to tears, others make me want to get out my red pen and start editing, but most of them make me want to stand up and applaud. It's not easy blogging. It's not easy to dream up ideas for blog posts week after week, and that's why I think the best blog posts aren't "dreamed up" at all. The ones I have learned the most from are the ones where the authors have truly wanted to share what's inspiring (or depressing) them on any given day. Words from the heart are always the best, don't you think?
Tip of the Day: A good way to show your appreciation for your favorite blogs is to follow and/or leave comments. But commenting isn't always convenient as soon as you finish reading. Something I like to do now is to read a blog, and then write up a comment later. It's easy to "copy and paste" my thoughts when I'm feeling less scattered and rushed.


Kath said...

There's so much good advice here, you could have written 12 separate blog posts. Each point you make is inspiring in its own way. And you're so right about making a mess, thinking big and us all doing it our own way.

I'm bookmarking this one, so I can return to it, and not just because of your very kind mention - for which, thanks!

Valerie Storey said...

Thank you for visiting, Kath! And that's a grand idea about writing 12 new posts. I would enjoy expanding on the various points. Happy creating!

kimi said...

Really enjoyed this post, Valerie! I know you've stopped by my little art blog from time to time and I've always appreciated your feedback. You read so many different types of blogs; it's interesting to see your gathered insights. Sometimes I feel perhaps I have too many interests, so I laughed when you worried you might like photography too much. :) It's fun to do many things but making the most of your time gets more challenging. Nice post!