Saturday 15 February 2014

Three Months of Being a Blogger

Saturday morning and I'm sitting in my favourite coffee shop devoid of ideas.
It's been 3 months since I started blogging and time to reflect on the experience so far.
As I have previously explained, somewhere, writing has never been a big part of my life until recently. When I did write it was because I had to and not because I wanted to.

My, how things have changed.
I always thought my ability to express myself in English was limited. English was not a strong point of mine during my school years and I didn't believe I possessed the required vocabulary or grammatical structure to be able to write successfully.

Things changed somewhat when I came to South East Asia as a middle aged teacher of English.  Doing a TEFL course to teach English helped to galvanised my rambling thought processes into a more coherent style for writing. ( Some may say it didn't work) For 7 years I taught mainly listening and speaking skills to high schools and university students with the occasional foray into the written word.

It wasn't until I came to Malaysia to live that I had some idle time on my hands to use to express myself on paper. (Just thought how interesting it is I used the word paper as I write this on my ipad.)
The blog started the end of October last year after spending time at the coffee shop I'm currently sitting in, talking to the owner who is himself an avid blogger of some 2 years.
Having already written a few short stories for my classes I decided to first dip my toes into the water by posting those.
I read a lot about how to successfully establish a blog and tried at first to encourage my friends and family to view what I had written on my blog via Facebook and Google +.
Then came a series of social observation pieces with the occasional short story thrown in that up until today totals 30.

Observations thus far.  Blogging is addictive. I find myself elated when I finish and publish a story and a feeling of steady pressure building up when I haven't submitted for a week or two.
Each morning I open the blog to see who has  read it the day before. The statistics don't uncover a lot  apart from what story has been looked at and from where.
 Of course, it doesn't tell you if it has actually been read and appreciated. Most people do not comment and those who do, give scant feedback.  Still, looking at the numbers gives a certain level of satisfaction, especially if there is an unexpected flurry of activity.

Talking about activity, its not always positive. Stats companies sometimes visit the site for whatever reason and artificially inflate the hits. Days vary with little or no activity to say for example 100 visits from someone or some group in Israel. The United States is by far the greatest hit source followed closely by Malaysia. I have had hits from every continent apart the antarctic and even from such obscure places ( for me)  as Tunisia.

The first few stories I posted were too long and I soon discovered people won't read anything that takes time to read. Pieces less than a thousand words work better and generally receive the highest hits. At this stage, my most successful piece so far has been a satirical look at weddings in this part of the world.

A good title is all important when it comes to being found on the Internet. Being at the top of the search results requires a website that receives a lot of traffic and advertisers. Mine has neither, so to find what I have written by various search engines can be difficult.

The main purpose for me to blog is not for adulation but to encourage my creative writing class students to read.  In Malaysia like most other parts of the world teenagers don't read. The art is being lost to television and computer games. If the blog succeeds in this, I will be truly satisfied.
I would encourage anyone who has something to say to blog.  It's very therapeutic to write and not at all important who or how many read it. In a sense, it's like in the old days when people kept a diary to write down their thoughts and aspirations. It's certainly a good way to express yourself and if you're lucky make others think a little differently.

1 comment:

  1. I agree; to those of you who have something to say, BLOG. If you're gonna spend hours on end in front of your computer, you might as well use that time to blog instead of making angry birds angrier or crushing candies. In time, you'll love blogging as an activity and find that your command of the English language (or whichever language you choose to blog in) has improved.

    Good, sound points, Alister. By the way, that coffee shop owner sounds like a cool guy to be able to mix blogging and pulling espresso shots.


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