When the magic starts… on #Blogging

I wrote the tweet below in 2020. We were nearing the conclusion of our year of #NurseBloggers2020 (some of you may have been involved!) and I was trying to capture some ideas around the blogging process:

Fast forward a couple of years and I’ve found myself being asked by others for some tips and thoughts on blogging – people wanting to know where to start and what to do in order to get their thoughts out there and into print.

So, why do I blog? Well, I may not be able to write a superb work of fiction, eloquently describing a fantasy that dives into the imagination of the reader and goes on to win the Booker prize but I can tell my story. I can share my experiences, I can pull together the ideas that are sparked by curiosity, the questions I ask, the lessons learned and the pure beauty I have found. I can use this platform to record my thoughts, and to ask what others think. To connect with the nursing and research community and to bring the possibility that those musings could be shared, contemplated on and, who knows, even inspire.

So, where to start? I think in practical terms you’re going to want to find yourself some sort of platform to blog from. I use WordPress and once my blog was up, running and becoming more consistently used I decided to pay for my own domain name. It tied in well with other social media outlets I was using and is an easy and recognisable way for people interested in my work to find me. Using a well-established platform has the benefit of an intuitive interface. For me, this has meant quickly being able to work out the technical bits fairly easily and means my readers have consistency in that interface when they read my work.

So, what do you want to write about? Well it’s obviously up to you but it might be worth having a bit of a think about the kinds of posts your readers might expect should they be considering “following” you or signing up to receive your posts. For me, it’s “nursing with a particular slant towards research nursing”. It’s broad enough to capture the sometimes eclectic nature of my posts but still gives subscribers a reasonable idea of what they can expect.

I think authenticity and honesty are pretty important in writing blogs but I will share one piece of wisdom I learned early on about this, and that is to share from your scars not your open wounds. Basically I’d suggest you consider being aware of the impact your writing has on you, your mental health, your soul even. Know your triggers and think hard about the impact of going to places that will cause you harm.

One of the biggest tips I can give is not to have the aim of your blog to be tied into specific readership numbers, unless you have to. For me, if I start to even contemplate this it immediately impacts on my writing. I start to over think, ideas get stuck, and my flow just fizzles. My aim when I write is to share. Not to have loads of people read it. Because even if one person reads it and finds something worth taking from it then it is worth writing. Even if that person is me.

And leading on from that… a huge benefit of blogging is actually to me which was a surprise discovery I made! Here’s another a post I wrote a couple of years ago:

It benefits me on 2 counts. One, it’s a great way of pinning down that swirling pool of thoughts that I know will just keep going around and around unless I do something with them. But also it brings the satisfaction of being able to look back. To read, and re-read. To see all of these parts of my story weave together and form a weightier cloth that in itself can be powerful to reflect on. Had I tried to do all that in one chunk it would never have happened that’s for sure!

I can’t remember why I first started blogging but I really do remember the feeling of posting my very first blog. I was terrified. I was convinced someone somewhere was going to pick up on it, think it was terrible, I would become a viral twitter sensation for all the *wrong* reasons and my life and career would be ruined forever. If you have yet to post your first blog, you may have had similar thoughts. I hear you! It’s scary to put yourself out there and offer something that might be criticised or invite contempt. In fact, it took about 18 months before I put out my second post. But the flip side is: What if it doesn’t? And what if it actually helps others and infuses those tiny thoughts into their day to day in a *good* way? What if sharing your thoughts or your story become someone else’s inspiration and just what they needed to hear that day?

I have learned over the years that, for me, my writing comes when I have something to write about. I find it much harder to write to a theme or “on demand” as it were although I have certainly done that. My passion comes through much more easily when it’s based around an issue I feel strongly about or a piece of learning I have engaged with. But you will find your own pulls and know when the best times are right for you. You may find having the discipline of a weekly or monthly post date helpful and the best way to organise your writing times.

Check over your posts and edit them as you need to. Ideally before you post them! However, sometimes I hit publish then have a panic “extra” re-read and find a massive typo or a sentence that just didn’t sit quite right. I can’t speak for other platforms but WordPress has an easy edit function that allows you to make these sorts of changes after publication.

I love the freedom blogging brings. I really hope if you’re reading this and considering going for it that you do. I love the richness that can come from bringing all of our nursing stories and thoughts and reflections out in the open. There can be great potency in these spaces.


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