Thoughts on blogging / Quelques pensées sur le blogging (EN/FR)

Version Française ci-dessous

Why did you start blogging? What motivates you to keep on posting? What did you learn from it?

I would really like to know what your experience is.

Meanwhile, this is what I can tell you about myself. In a way, it’s a follow-up to a post I’ve written a few months ago about who our audience is.

The sky through cherry blossoms (Belgium / April 2022)

Hitting the bottom and back up

For me, it started as a way of dealing with a serious depressive episode. I felt lost. I felt disconnected. Day after day, week after week, it just kept on hurting. So I turned to some form of public expression: photography and writing.

It’s not that I wanted to tell what happened to me and get some sympathy and support. Oh no, that would have been impossible. I was too caught up in shame, guilt, fear, and discouragement. At first, it was more of an inward-looking, therapeutic process. I was trying to make sense of things and, in the process, share them in a way that can connect to a broader human experience.

Writing regularly helped me gain some clarity and distance from my own distorted narrative. The reactions and comments of others helped me re-establish some sense of sharing and community. Writing in a public space helped me practice again, in a context completely unrelated to my depression and the events that led to it, being part of something and contributing to something.

So I wrote about the toxic stories we tell ourselves and how we get stuck in them. About vulnerability and the invisible masks we wear. About trauma and living with the past. About guilt, fear, and shame. I also wrote about serenity and learning to tell a different story.

Naming the demons is a way of curbing their power. It is the first step in regaining some sense of autonomy and self-confidence.

As I gradually moved out of this darkness (very slow, much slower than I thought), my posts transformed too. They gradually shifted from what was essentially a crisis response to a more relaxed way of reacting to the world and rediscovering the little joys and sorrows of normality. Something was lost – a fire that burned so bright, an intensity of emotion and expression. Something was gained – some perspective and serenity.

Starting from what is here and now

I had my share of moments when I felt demotivated, out of breath, out of inspiration. Sometimes I chose not to post. Other times, I pushed myself and wrote something that, for the most part, did not feel fully convincing. I did it from a sense of duty more than anything else.

What I found is that my best writing came from facing what was there and then, from confronting whatever I happened to be going through. It started from the place I was in. From a place of pain, if pain was what felt most real about me. From a place of serenity and acceptance, if that was the experience unfolding in me. From a place of boredom and greyness, if this is where I happened to be.

My best writing (at least for me) was triggered by the problems, emotions, interests, limits, and passions I had there and then. Not the ones I would have liked to have. Not the ones that would have seemed more interesting or worthy of writing. No. The ones I was stuck with. The ones that just wouldn’t leave. The small pebble in the shoe. The unbearable. The annoying. The morning light at the edge of the forest.

When I say “best writing” I don’t mean some standard of technical perfection. It’s simply what felt the most authentic to me.

Most of us have a pretty good bullshit detector, irrespective of whether we’re good writers or not. There is a certain ineffable quality that comes through in writing if it comes from the real lived experience of the writer. It is, I think, what makes a text interesting for others. There is no human situation that is uninteresting. It is the way we approach it, regard it, and present it that makes the difference.

There will be a second part to this on writing for the sake of writing, metrics of success, consistency of output, and writing in a non-native language.


Pourquoi avez-vous commencé à bloguer ? Qu’est-ce que vous motive à continuer? Qu’avez-vous appris de cela?

J’aimerais savoir quelle est votre expérience.

En attendant, voici ce que je peux vous dire sur moi. D’une certaine manière, ceci est le suivi d’un article que j’ai écrit il y a quelques mois sur l’audience de nos blogs.

Frapper le fond et remonter

Pour moi, cela a commencé comme une façon de faire face à un épisode dépressif. Je me sentais perdu. Je me suis senti déconnecté. Jour après jour, semaine après semaine, ça continuait à faire mal. Je me suis donc tourné vers une forme d’expression publique : la photographie et l’écriture.

Ce n’est pas que je voulais raconter ce qui m’est arrivé et obtenir de la sympathie et du soutien. Oh non, cela aurait été impossible. J’étais trop pris dans la honte, la culpabilité, la peur et le découragement. Au début, il s’agissait plutôt d’un processus presque thérapeutique, replié sur moi-même. J’essayais de donner un sens aux choses et, ce faisant, de les partager d’une manière qui puisse se connecter à une expérience humaine plus large.

Écrire régulièrement m’a aidé à gagner en clarté et en distance par rapport à mon propre récit déformé. Les réactions et les commentaires des autres m’ont aidé à rétablir un certain sens du partage et de la communauté. Écrire dans un espace public m’a aidé à pratiquer à nouveau, dans un contexte totalement separé de ma dépression et des événements qui l’ont menée, faire partie de quelque chose et contribuer à quelque chose.

J’ai donc écrit sur les histoires toxiques que nous nous racontons et sur la façon dont nous restons coincés dedans. À propos de la vulnérabilité et les masques invisibles que nous portons. À propos des experience traumatiques et vivre avec le passé. À propos de la culpabilité, de la peur et de la honte. J’ai aussi écrit sur la sérénité et apprendre à raconter une histoire différente.

Nommer les démons est une façon de limiter leur pouvoir. C’est la première étape pour retrouver un sens d’autonomie et de confiance en soi.

Au fur et à mesure que je sortais de cette obscurité (très lentement, beaucoup plus lentement que je ne le pensais), mes textes se sont transformées aussi. Ils sont progressivement passés de ce qui était essentiellement une réponse à la crise à une manière plus détendue de réagir au monde et de redécouvrir les petites joies et les petites peines de la normalité. Quelque chose a été perdu – un feu qui brûlait si fort, une intensité d’émotion et d’expression. Quelque chose a été gagné – un peu de recul et de sérénité.

Partir de ce qui est ici et maintenant

J’ai eu ma part de moments où je me suis senti démotivé, à bout de souffle, en panne d’inspiration. Parfois, je choisis de ne pas publier. D’autres fois, je me suis poussé et j’ai écrit quelque chose qui, pour la plupart, n’était pas totalement convaincant. Je l’ai fait par un sens du devoir.

Ce que j’ai trouvé, c’est que ma meilleure écriture est venue quand j’esseyais de regarder en face ce qui était là, ce que je traversais. Quand je partais de l’endroit où je me trouvais. D’un lieu de douleur, si la douleur était ce qui me semblait le plus réel. D’un lieu de sérénité et d’acceptation, si telle était l’expérience qui se déroulait en moi. D’un lieu d’ennui et de grisaille, si c’est là que je me trouvais.

Ma meilleure écriture (au moins pour moi) a été déclenchée par les problèmes, les émotions, les intérêts, les limites et les passions que j’avais à ce moment-là. Pas ceux que j’aurais aimé avoir. Pas ceux qui auraient semblé plus intéressants ou dignes d’être écrits. Non. Ceux avec lesquels j’étais coincé. Ceux qui ne partiraient tout simplement pas. Le petit caillou dans la chaussure. L’insupportable. L’agaçant. La lumière du matin à l’orée de la forêt.

Quand je dis “meilleure écriture”, je parle pas de la perfection technique. C’est tout simplement ce qui m’a semblé le plus authentique.

Nous avons un bon détecteur de conneries, que nous soyons de bons écrivains ou non. Il y a une certaine qualité ineffable qui transparaît dans l’écriture si elle vient de l’expérience vécue réelle de l’auteur. C’est, je pense, ce qui rend un texte intéressant pour les autres. Il n’y a pas de situation humaine inintéressante en soi. C’est la façon dont nous l’abordons, la considérons et la présentons qui fait la différence.

  1. I don’t really blog. I see my site as an old-fashioned website with content for people to find. I only post reviews so I am building up a library of reviews which people find via google or other routes. Review posts never go out of date either, so posts of 5 years ago are just as relevant for those who search for them as they are at the moment I post them.

    The struggle for me is to explore my own emotions while reading books or watching films and then to try to put to words what those feelings were. There is an art to reviewing that involves knowledge of the field, the history, the comparisons to other works, and examining your own reactions. I have trained myself in this over the years and writing a review becomes a creative effort that I enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And you do it very well, I must say. I enjoy reading your reviews, even when (or maybe especially when?) I haven’t read/watched the material you’re reviewing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad that blogging and reaching out in this way helped you gain plenty. Let it last! We are good for us.

    I started eight years ago upon my move to Tuscany from Slovenia because my family and friends rarely responded to my emails with heaps of photos. I felt that was a shame. However, I blogged for a year without much interaction at all, until I started to take part in photo challenges. I’ve noticed Snow Melts Somewhere in comments to your posts: she was one of the first who took interest in what I was saying and showing. Without her I wonder if I’d still be a blogger.

    I’ll be interested in the second part of this post since I’m blogging in my second language too. (I studied English and speak it daily now with my Italian, but still.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoy reading your blogs and find them to be written with such expression.
    My blog writing started,to share my writing and my creative process. It enabled to have the courage to publish my first book. I was beginning a new chapter in my life and I guess part of me wanted to share the journey to encourage others. Sometimes
    new paths are difficult and not always expected.
    Our being is fragile, and anything which helps us cannot be a bad thing.
    Keep writing.
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You write it well. I am glad you have found an outlet and a place you love to be. I started blogging 11 years ago, to write poetry, or at least to write my own little poems. I was often depressed or feeling low at how the world is turning out with us humans at the helm. Well, not many read poetry anymore, at least not in Swedish, which is my language. Things started to really move with my blog when I began commenting others and participating in challenges. I wrote in both languages for a while, then only in English. Sorry to say I am feeling very low since the last two years and the war did not make anything any better. I hope you will go on writing the way you do. I believe you are much needed in this world. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I am sorry to hear you’re feeling low and I understand well what you say about the war but also other things from the recent past. I am also struggling to keep some balance – not exposing myself to the whole information that’s out there but not shutting down either. Comments like yours really mean something.

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  5. One of my favorites from your blog is the one about how to make yourself miserable in five steps. That’s a masterpiece. It’s important to remember that The followers who don’t know you, like me, will connect with posts that resonate with their own experience, irrespective of weather the story is true or completely imagined. As for myself, my blog is more about photography and less about myself. Blogging has made me understand that blogging is very difficult, that most people are not interested in what I have to offer, and that the little I can offer has been offered elsewhere and better. Although this may sound depressing, I like the challenge, of trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you, Alessandra! That is indeed a post written in a slightly different tone than I usually adopt here. Although I must say it’s a tone I have quite often in real life – more often than could be inferred from my blogging. As to your writing, it may be that not very many people are interested in what you have to offer, but I suspect you’re not keen on having tens of thousands of followers. And I also assume that the kind of people that follow you are a worthy audience – they comment, show empathy, and participate in what you’re doing rather than being mindless numbers on a follower counter.

      Like

    2. My followers are all that, but on WordPress people come and go. And that’s the reason for my perceived need to slightly but steadily grow a followers’ base. For example, some of my active followers have stopped blogging. Others have lost interest, which is normal and expected. Consequently, maintaining an active and interested group of followers requires acquiring new followers and that is difficult. I hope I have explained myself better now.

      Liked by 1 person

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