Blogging: when you just can’t figure out how to say what you want to say

This might be one of those ironic situations – in that I might not be able to figure out how to write this post. I’ll try. [pause for long while whilst I contemplate the amusing situation I now find myself in]. Ok back in the room. Blogging is generally easy. You write something and put it out there. But sometimes the process can catch you off guard. Sometimes you have an idea but you just can’t decide how to write it.

Ideas

There is so much variety in the blogs I follow, read and even in the ones I post. This means there is something for everyone. I think the ideas are probably the easy part for most bloggers. I’m still new to it (not even 6 months in yet) but my favourite thing about blogging and blogs is the variety of ideas that people have for their blogs and in my own own, the freedom to blog about various things in my life.

Types of blogs

All sorts. Loads.

  • Blogs giving advice;
  • Instructional blogs;
  • Meanderings of the mind and blogger’s personal thoughts;
  • Blogs about lifestyle, beauty etc.;
  • Travel blogs;
  • Photo blogs;
  • Blogs written as experienced by the blogger; and
  • Blogs written purely for the reader.

Im sure this list could be bigger. What is interesting to me is that the style of writing across all these different types can vary. So when you sit down with your idea – how do you figure out what style to write it in? Up until recently, this thought had not crossed my mind. My posts don’t have much preparation put into them; maybe just a few notes over the week in my (very pretty) notebook which is for capturing thoughts. There are times when I am writing a post and I will think about the structure and what I wan’t to say. I note this down in my notebook before the typing. Although often I write in one big flow, have a little break from the screen and then do a quick edit.

There are some post I read where you can tell the blogger has put some serious research into what they are saying. I’m probably not that type but, as said, it’s all about variety. Whatever preparation (or lack of) that you put into your blogs, it only matters to how happy you are with it. I think it’s great that there aren’t any set rules. Let’s face, when writing just flows it is a really enjoyable process. After you are done and the publish button is hit (morel like gently pressed with the mouse thingy) you just hope that others then find your writing enjoyable.

When it doesn’t flow

For me this happened in a recent post. It was a personal post about an area in Edinburgh that I spend a lot of time in (my five favourite things about Stockbridge). I had the idea. I had sat in Inverleith park with my coffee and my notebook and jotted down a few of my favourite bits. So when I got home I added a new post and sat down to write it. It didn’t flow. At all! My difficulty was the style of writing. I’m honestly not sure why this happened but I started to write in a style purely for a reader. The kind of post where you see a heading like ‘5 things you should definitely see’ or something along those lines.

I like these kind of posts as they give me ideas of what to do, what products have good reviews and information on all things yoga related. I even think I have written these types of posts (kind of). But I struggled with the Stockbridge one. It started to feel like I was marketing the place. I suppose I sort of was doing this; it is a favourite for me and I think it should be for anyone visiting Edinburgh. But I definitely struggled with how that would pan out in a blog as I am no expert blogger and there are other people that do the travel blog type post with flair.

Go back to your idea

I was in a situation where I had a list of my favourite things, I had the basic idea, but I just couldn’t figure out how to say what I wanted to say. Which got me onto thinking about how I generally write. Quick check of all my posts (not that many yet!) revealed that I am generally more comfortable writing from my own experience rather than for other peoples’ experiences. Even where I have posed a question or written a ‘why’ or ‘how’ post, they are based on my own views rather than generic ones (if that even makes sense).

So in this mixed up blog of advice giving and personal experience, I think what I am trying to say is that writing can flow better when you write in a style that is comfortable to you. Learning to write in another style is something I wan’t to do. But at the moment I know that I can translate my ideas onto the screen by just thinking a little more about what I want to say. That reflection time should lead me to knowing how I want to say it. When I was stuck, I went back to the idea. Fundamentally I was wanting to write about my favourite things. So no wonder I was stuck when I started to write about what other people could think about or do. The post was just much easier to write from my own perspective.

If giving advice is where this post is ending up then my advice is that it is worth thinking about what you want to say and why you want to say it. I am now feeling like this is stating the bloody obvious. It probably is. I’m still new to blogging though so I’m happy with the obvious. It is my own perspective after all. I am also hopeful others will enjoy it 🙂

Blogging Tips: Categories

This might not be the best example of a blog about blogging, or a blog to give tips on blogging. Im still a beginner. I don’t really understand all the intricacies of customising your site or how to get all my posts on it to show only the excerpts. I do like the ‘theme’ I currently have. That was a small acheivement for me when I was trying to make it all look a bit better. And yes, I did to a mini fist pump when I hit the publish button and it didn’t all go wrong. Today, given I am off work, I decided to sort out my categories. I thought it would be a good idea. It wasn’t.

Categories are important

I know this. Categories are important and I am a little jealous of the bloggers who maintain a clear focus. My blog is almost akin to life ramblings with a bit of a focus on yoga, Edinburgh living and some observations on the things I find amusing. This has meant, since I started blogging, that I have a tendency just to add another category when I think it best describes the blog. I am starting to understand the errors of my way – sort of.

So having done a little bit of research (aka google search and a blog search) I have learnt the following:

  • Choose categories well;
  • Don’t have too many categories if you want a drop down menu of categories on your site (it just looks messy);
  • You can do sub-categories to your parent categories but dont. I will probably repeat this statement somewhere below. Also see point above as sub-categories just add more drop downs to the messy list. If you like sub-categories then go ahead, just know the dangers;
  • Plan your categories; and
  • Try to stick to your categories. Avoid the temptation to keep adding to them.

How to add or change your categories

My learning would have been better done before I started to sort out my categories. But as it has been a rainy day I feel as though I have not entirely wasted the hours away. I am trying to be philisophical about this after a good two hours of getting nowhere.

So the easy bit. Bloggers on wordpress will all know how to choose and add a category on the ‘document’ menu of their blog. You go to your category tab and either tick the existing one which matches or add a new one. If you add it as a parent category, e.g. yoga, you can also add a sub-category, e.g. yoga props, and click on the parent category to add it in to the main one, e.g. yoga. Makes sense right?

If like me though you think you have too many categories (see the messy point noted above) then you might, like I did, start the job of tidying them up.

I started by thinking sub-categories were a good idea. So I went through all my posts editing them to get the right categories. I put things like ‘yoga practice’ and ‘yoga props’ under the banner (primary category) of ‘yoga’. I changed things like ‘Lifestyle’ to ‘Edinburgh lifestyle’ with sub categories below.

How to delete categories

This is a bit more tricky and took a bit of googling to figure out. You have to go into your main ‘Manage’ menu, select ‘settings’ and then go to the ‘writing’ tab. In here you click on ‘categories’ and woop de woo you can edit or delete them!

So I started deleting the ones I was no longer using. I felt quite chuffed with myself afterwards. Everything was starting to feel a lot neater and organised. Categorising is organising so this is what I should have been feeling. Right? Well….wrong. My high level of blogging smugness wore off when I went back into my ‘customise’ page and looked at the drop down menu of ‘categories’ I had put into the sidebar. It still looks messy! All the sub-categories just appear as if they were their own standalone category. So I have not reduced the size, and effectively messy, list. I have probably added to it!! This may not occur with all ‘themes’ and there might be a way to fix it on the one I am using. That level of blogging tips are beyond me at this stage.

I am, as I said, trying to be philisophical and reflective about the many (ok only two) hours I have wasted today. Today I have learnt through error. I am not going to tackle it again this evening. I will be favouring a glass of wine and a good book as my activity (I still have one more day off of work). I will however plan ahead and sort them out tomorrow…probably.

The most annoying bit about this whole thing is that I now need to add another blooming category just to categorise this post!!

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