July 16, 2012

Lesson 19: Month Three Evaluation

During a lecture on “How to Write a Good College Essay” senior year of high school, I distinctly remember my teacher reading us a sample essay entitled something like, Why My Sister is Like the Hoover Dam ...

Sisters and the Hoover Dam have nothing in common. And yet, somehow, through some masterful writing, a young man made this exact comparison and received an acceptance to the college of his choice.

This raises the question. Does good writing make writing good, or does good subject matter make writing good?

I Don't Have a Clue … (But I'm Finding Out) began innocently enough in April of this year. After that initial post, I resolved to sign on for another three months to fully give my metaphorical writing legs a chance to stretch out and see if this was a hobby I should continue pursuing.

Through the course of writing, I have continually run into this question. 

Allow me to recap the past three months through the lens of my blog.

The high of the initial post is hard to beat. Readership is good and continues to grow daily.

Doubts come. I express them in writing, the second post. I receive encouragement, gain confidence, and push ahead. 

I decide to make a career of this writing thing, and begin to research “How to Make Money Off a Blog.” Turns out it requires a whole lot more readership, a whole lot of time and energy, and most likely the publication of an e-book.

I consider writing an e-book, formulate a plausible idea, and proceed to get bogged down with summer classes … and two children under the age of 3.

My idea supply compiled on day one of the blog runs out. People are not really that interested in the mundane occupations of life that I don't have a clue about.

I'm forced to dig deeper. I reflect on the sister / Hoover Dam comparison. It's genius. I can do this kind of rando-connecting. In fact, this is what great writing is.

Why then, does The Story of My Hair (straight narrative) have more page hits than Greatness, Not Sweetness (touches on Starbursts, the Olympics, who knows what else)?

I continue on. In a season of hosting a graduation party, two baby showers, and a few birthday shindigs here and there, I manage to punch out some stuff every now and then.

I'm not posting enough. I'm letting my readers down.

I realize that a person's life is not dependent upon whether or not I write a blog post. 

I decide the entire endeavor is a total failure. The blog will cease to be prematurely.

But then comes ... the caterpillar. I am revived by the idea of making it big on Pinterest.

I wonder, why does my energy for this thing surge the second glory is involved? Sin. Sin. Sin.

I am reminded over and over again of the reasons I began writing the blog in the first place.
  • To share knowledge that it is assumed I should possess, but that in truth I am still attaining.
  • To practice writing, because it is a joy to do and a good way to be creative.
  • To entertain readers, at least occasionally.

Thus, we come to the present. The three month trial period is over. An evaluation is in order.

This blog has been a fruitful outlet for creative writing, and a slight inconvenience to the order of our daily family life. (I'm not the most gracious person to distraction when I am writing).

It has been a great way to reconnect with old friends, form relationships with new friends, and potentially alienate friends from both categories.

It has been a source of pride, humility and disappointment. It has also been exhilarating and fun.

Yet, through all this, I still haven't figured out the answer to this post's initial question. 

Is good writing about the writing or about the content?

Mark really liked the blog post about sewing, because he thought it was funny. He doesn't care about sewing at all. He loves the Olympics, but thought my post that talked about the Olympics was super boring. 

That makes me rank writing over content.

Then again, the content of Hudson's Bedroom Post just bored him all around. He loathes decorating discussions, and there was no way the writing was going to save me. Not a chance.

Mark's opinion matters, but other reflection is good as well.

Professional bloggers, that I consulted during my “blogging will be my career” stage, will say that in order for a blog to make money (and thus, be successful), it should never include personal information or references to popular culture (unless it is something like a fashion blog). Doing so negates the blog's lasting potential. A blog makes money when it continues to get hits on old posts after years and years.

Unfortunately, that is almost entirely what this blog is. Yet, I don't know if I would even want to write if it was impersonal and unconnected to current culture.

Professional bloggers will also say that a blog should begin with its target niche in mind. The topic should be broad enough to have sufficient content, but small enough that it does not confuse readers.

Unfortunately, I think I may be more confused about the direction of this blog than I was when I began. Yet, I have enjoying exploring various different types of writing and speaking on a range of topics.

Finally, professional bloggers will say that it takes at least six months if not way longer to even begin to make an impact and certainly to make any money.

On this, I will concede. Three months is not near long enough to properly evaluate something that is really just beginning to take form.

Thus, I have decided to continue writing and have set yet another date for blog evaluation.

You will be able to continue to read about the things I don't have a clue about, (but that I am finding out about) until I complete a full year of writing.

At that point, perhaps I will have more clarity. In the mean time, I'm simply doing it for the love of the writing. (If you rolled your eyes, that's ok. It was meant to be corny.)

Next post … How I Am Like an Ear of Corn.

What makes this more intriguing ... the potential writing or the potential content?

Who knows? Maybe it'll get me into college.

Lesson Learned: Blogs. Man, I just keep learning.

P.S. I have already graduated from college. That last sentence was a joke.


  1. I've had my own blog for over a year (though I've been writing and blogging a lot longer than that) and I'm still having the same inner monologues. As far as money goes, I've probably spent more than I've made. For now I've decided to forget about money, a blogging schedule, and even to some degree my audience. I'm just writing what I want to write about when I can write it, as an outlet I guess. I think each person just has to figure out what works best for them. :)

    1. That's good perspective to hear, Jessica. Thanks so much!

  2. I love this post. And the many questions you posed have left me wondering exactly why I love it. So let's see if I can put into words what about your blog has made me smile, think and return for more over the past three months...

    I love your humility. After reading many (and many) blogs over the past 5 years, I've found that many bloggers seem to be very self-absorbed. I suppose this comes with the territory, as you're forced to think and write about mostly yourself and your life, but I do think it's possible to maintain humility while doing this. You do a great job of that. I like people who want to learn, share, and be part of a community of people who are just trying to figure it all out (as if we're ever going to get there).

    Your intelligence shows in the questions you pose, the way you critically think about the world around you, and the way you approach your writing. I like smart people who cause me to think about new things (or old things in new ways) when I read their work. I also like good grammar and spelling. Nit picky? Maybe. But nothing drives me away from a blog faster than a 'their' instead of a 'there' or too many misplaced commas.

    I also like the randomness of your posts. There are some blogs I go to where I know I'll find a great new vegan recipe every day. While I do enjoy the reliability, I also like blogs where you never know what you're going to get. It's like those little bags at the dollar store with surprises inside. While it's guaranteed to be junk, I'm always tempted to buy them just because I'm dying to know what's inside! I'm not sure what it is about the human psyche that drives this, but it's definitely real.

    The moral of all this is... keep writing! I'm certainly going to keep reading :)

    1. Janice, What a sweet and encouraging message! I've definitely considered the different things you have said, and it's been good for me. Too much naval gazing (love this phrase) is not a good thing, but some reflection is helpful, and so, I really appreciate your words and the time you took to write this. Thank you! Glad you are going to continue reading!


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