Earlier today, on Twitter, I created a thread of blog posts that I love. These hark back to 2013 or ’14, around the time that I began to actively blog. Oh, I’ve been blogging for 10 years but it wasn’t until mid 2013 that I really got into it.

So, this thread I’m talking about, it’s here below. Feel free to check it out.

In the thread, you’ll notice I’ve linked to some favourite posts, written by bloggers I love and am in touch with even today. One or two of them don’t blog anymore, more’s the pity. I hope they read this and come back to it though.

Why did I create this thread at all? Today on Twitter and Instagram, being Thursday, a popular hashtag makes its rounds, called #ThrowbackThursday. Most people usually share a picture from their past, to somehow evoke memories of a time gone by. Perhaps it’s a way to find that moment from long ago that made us feel loved, content or just at peace with who we were. I did too. I shared a picture from my trip to Niagara Falls in 2010.

While I loved re-living that moment, albeit briefly, I did reflect upon something else that struck me. Back in 2013, when I began blogging in earnest, waking my blog out of its slumbering state, I dove into it with the delight of a child finding a new toy. 4 years later, that delight hasn’t gone away, but it’s become subdued in some sense.

And I wondered why. What’s different today that I didn’t have four years ago? The answer was three-fold.

One, I was writing regularly. I did two 30-day blogging marathons in November 2013 and April 2014 and was none the worse for it. That meant I spent more time blogging, actually writing and enjoying the process. I wasn’t exhausted by writing or worried about what people thought about my writing. I didn’t wonder if my regular writing was putting readers off from my blog. Hey, I had two readers, maybe three. So it wasn’t a big deal. I wrote because I loved it.

Two, I read more blogs. I stumbled across writing that took my breath away and lost myself in the magic of words. Doing so made me want to improve my own work, nudging it out of the cocoon of plain narrative to elegant prose. I found all the time in the world to read blogs and read some more. Blogs were read because I loved the writing, not because of any other reason. I joined link up parties, participated in writing contests regularly, got to read some excellent bloggers and what can I say? It was perfect!

Three, I wasn’t distracted by social media. Back then, I didn’t have an active Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest account. Even Facebook was just a way to share status updates and connect with friends. I made some wonderful friends with blogging, no doubt, but something else happened; something that would interfere with blogging as I knew it.

I got overwhelmed by the noise on social media. Instead of writing a blog post, I was reading a sly tweet or a vague status. In case you don’t know what that means, it’s when people make a generic statement such as, ‘I wish people wouldn’t write such long posts!’ or ‘Why do mom bloggers have to share every detail of their lives?’Β The problem with being vague is you tend to assume you are the target of said statements. That’s what I did.

The other thing that happened is I befriended a lot of bloggers on Facebook. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, a part of me wishes I hadn’t done so and I’ll tell you why. Facebook was primarily meant to connect you with people you know. This includes people you’ve known all your life or people you’ve studied or lived with, maybe even worked with.

The thing about people you’ve only met online (at least initially) is that you are now friends with them and privy to their every private thought. Usually, these don’t make it to the blog, but they do make it to tweets and Facebook updates. So while you are more likely to forgive a good friend for a rant on Facebook, you’re not necessarily going to do the same for an online acquaintance.

Net result? I stopped reading and writing blogs the way I did. They became irregular. The number of blogging friends grew while my distance from everyone grew in proportion. I was no longer reading the way I should or writing without a care in the world. It’s tough to doΒ  a tweet thread when you scroll past a tweet where someone is rolling their eyes and saying, ‘God, tweet threads should be banned!’ It’s rough to write a long Facebook wish for a dear friend when someone will sneer at the public display of affection.

So I stepped back, from the noise. It’s physically impossible to keep up with 1054 friends or 4300 followers and be emotionally invested in each of them.Β I broke away from engaging on contentious topics with people I barely knew. I stopped ranting on social media and vowed never to do it on my blog either.

But, the unfortunate thing was, I also stopped writing and reading regularly. I was now blogging on schedule instead of on whim. Don’t get me wrong. Schedules keep me sane. If you know me at all, you’d know that well.

But what happened to the woman who wrote a post like this one? Or this one? Where did she go? Why was she hiding from the world?

Shouldn’t she write, despite everything? She should be reading like nobody’s business. She shouldn’t give a damn what people think of her and guess what! I think I may have found her.

It’s time.

For the love of writing. Isn't that the reason you started to blog? Time to get back to that. Here's my experience. #Blogging #Writing

25 thoughts on “For the love of writing and reading

  1. Oh Shy, reading this is making me feel like part of my own block is because of the β€œnoise” because so much of what you said is resonating with me. Learning to block it and write like no one is reading is what I’m aiming to achieve now, ironically πŸ˜€

    P.S: Why do you have a plastic cover on you :O

    1. Learning to block is not the answer. Writing in spite of the noise is πŸ™‚ I’ll explain in another post, maybe at the end of this month.

      As for the plastic cover, that is the Niagara’s version of a raincoat, so we don’t get drenched by the surge of water πŸ™‚

  2. I am so glad that you’ve found her. I hope you get back to writing & reading just for the love of it, and not for anything else. The other pressures are normally self-imposed, and rejecting them can be very freeing.

    P.S. When in 2010 were you in Niagara? I was there too. In the Summer of 2010. So I am just curious. πŸ™‚

    P.P.S. Still writing the book, I hope?

    1. We’ve chatted on Whatsapp after this comment so you already know the answer to the P.P.S πŸ˜‰

      Niagara, I was there during Labour Day weekend. Stayed in Buffalo and visited Niagara. Fun trip!

  3. Awww…Shailaja..just let people talk what they want! Ignore them and keep writing/reading. That’s what I do. I am, thankfully, not so active on Twitter or Pinterest, and now just check Fb for some time. But, nowadays, I enjoy reading blogs and writing posts, because I love the whole activity. Participating in a blogging challenge also helps me to read so many gifted writers and in turn makes me want to better myself. I was not like this earlier, but have become more involved with my writing and reading since making the new blog.
    I think Metanoia did the trick! πŸ™‚

  4. I’ve always found your posts so well meaning and while you maybe introspecting and finding answers for yourself, you take the reader too, to look hard at certain questions.
    I have not been able to manage blogging and reading (blogs) actively but whenever I do, I do feel something is missing. Like you said, the genuine interaction. I feel quite alone in my writing/blogging despite say comments or blog shares. I am not very active on social media except blog related but I think i need to start taking efforts to interact with bloggers like I used to. You know, a message or DM to tell them you think of them.
    P.S. I thought you were on a blogging break as you were working on your novel…How’s that coming along?

    1. That sounds great, Aditi. Writing a personal message to people who you care about is always a good thing. Or maybe do a Roundup of favourite blog posts on your blog and gently get back to reading for the sake of reading. That may help.

      Oh I’m still blogging. My memoir is done with the first draft. I have to work on the edits. November, that’s the plan. πŸ™‚

  5. You know, Shy, I’ve come to realise that no matter what you do, people are going to talk. So I say don’t let the naysayers and critics silence your voice. Do what makes you happy!

    1. That’s absolutely true, MG. And as I blog and write more and more, that idea has been reinforced. Thank you. I shall do exactly that- what makes me happy πŸ™‚

  6. I don’t generally fret over stats but yes, there are days when I see numbers below my expectation(even if its too low). But I am here still writing to feed my own mind. I write because I have an opinion about something and I want them to come out. Social media is something I only do whenever I feel like. I think it is easy this way otherwise there is no fun in blogging. I am glad you will be writing your true self.

    1. That’s why we should write, I agree πŸ™‚ But as a blogger, you and I both know that being read is why we write online. Else the blog would be private or we’d be writing on paper, in a diary. The point is, I have no qualms about admitting that I love to be read. I still put in my 100% when it comes to writing- online or offline. That will never change. The social media aspect had upset my balance but I am finding my way back gently. That’s what I am happy about.

  7. Hugs. Love this post and love what you did with the TBT on Twitter yesterday. Honored you mentioned me. I understand what you wrote –and forgive me for saying so–but i feel the distance too. I miss that you.

    The online world, social media, the way people are constantly striving for “more” of everything without stopping to think why, is overwhelming. Years ago I wrote a post titled Why I blog and I stick with that. When I saw the race, I simply slowed down and continued to do what I enjoy doing. Sure, I enjoy social media once in a while, when there is a conversation, otherwise, there’s no rush for “more” or “more than”.

    Sadly, in the process, just as you said, the drifting also happened; because in the blogging world, you miss commenting on two posts on someone’s blog and it is easy to become history after that. Don’t participate in a sharing thread for two consecutive weeks? People just move on. Unlike the “real” world, not many have the time to find out what’s up or stop by to simply chat for no reason. Everyone is so busy. Reciprocity is also becoming rarer these days. There used to be a time when I would religiously keep up with people, regardless of whether they responded or not, but then, good sense kicked in and I have learned to focus on what brings happiness, and especially not on what does not.

    Not saying social media is all bad, because it isn’t. I am truly grateful for all the wonderful friends I’ve made online and keep in touch. Still, I can’t help feeling sad that the good times are fewer and farther between. I am glad I have minimized my time online and invest my time better on the things I enjoy.

    Love you, Shailaja. Very wise reflective post, indeed.

    1. Thank you, Vidya πŸ™‚ And I admit, I haven’t been able to keep in touch on the blog as much as I would have liked to.

      I’ve also been largely distracted by blogger behaviour on social media (including my own). Now, with mindfulness becoming a core aspect of daily living, I am at so much more peace. The really funny thing? I used to be exactly like that before I started using social media for blogging. Just write, enjoy visiting blogs and repeat. No stress. Else I wouldn’t have done 2 blogging marathons, no? πŸ™‚

      Now, I am creating the distance between me and social media for the best reason- to go back to blogging the way I enjoyed it. And to write, connect, read and fall in love again. So, I will definitely try and be around your blog more. If I am not, know that it isn’t anything specific other than Life taking over. Mwah and hugs πŸ™‚

  8. A introspection post that throws up some very valid observations. As I look back, I remember that I wanted to protect my blog from strangers so that I could write whatever my heart desired. So naive was I that I wondered why a stranger left a comment on my blog and only joined any blogging community perhaps in the 3rd or 4th year of my blogging. Looking deep within, I still write only when I want to write. I don’t really have a schedule so there are times when due to work or other reasons, I don’t update my blog for 2-3 weeks. Of late, I’ve been thinking about this as well. If you don’t wish to get burnt our or embittered, write because you want to write. Also write what you wish to write and not what your readers want you to write. I see many bloggers fall into that trap. And then all the game of numbers. Why are we running this rat race? What does it achieve? Currently, I am not really too concerned about monetization or pageviews. This is not to say that I don’t like the income that comes in but I am not working towards building a ranking or some stat. I do what I do for my blogs out of my own love for them and whatever is achieved is a side effect of that. And reading is a joy. I still read a lot of the blogs I read when I started out. Some of them have stopped blogging, sadly. As a matter of fact, the other day a friend was telling me how I manage to read so much. And I told him that I enjoy reading. When I get some spare time, I go through the posts of people that I like reading. For me blogging will always be a medium of interaction. I love writing long comments (like this one :)) and also getting long comments.

    Social media I share a love-hate relationship with. There are days when I feel deep despair and want to run away while there are others when I love the interaction. I know totally about those vague statuses. Sometimes I have put them up as well. I guess, we do what seems right in that moment. You really can’t please all and you really need to only go by your own philosophy. So I won’t abuse online or hold back on contentious topics not because of lack of opinion but because I hate conflict or long-drawn out bitter interactions. But yes, I will write what I want to write after giving it due thought. If someone takes offence so be it.

    So, you will be writing more and reading more now? Just don’t be too harsh on yourself if you are not able to. Life in the 40s is all about being comfortable with what you can manage.

    1. Thank you for that long comment, Rachna πŸ™‚ Appreciate it.

      I no longer hate social media, although I admit I did at one point. For now, it’s a wonderful tool since I use it with a lot of mindfulness. But I cannot control how other bloggers behave. It still makes me uncomfortable when I see sly tweets and vague status updates and I doubt I will ever be comfortable with those. For me that’s being unkind without being specific. I would much rather message the person privately (if I knew them well) and told them my opinion, than put up a sly tweet. If I don’t know them, I would not put up a tweet at all. Just move on, is my motto. That’s just how I am built πŸ™‚

      Yes, I do intend to write and read more. It makes me very happy. Not all of what I write will make it to the blog. Or maybe it will. At this point, I don’t have anything specific in mind. I want to enjoy blogging without the baggage.

      If you know me, You’d know I don’t worry about stats or numbers. But it does feel good to be recognised for your work or when people reach out to appreciate your work. I think that’s human and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.

      I won’t be too hard on myself, for sure. I know life happens and I am okay with letting go when it comes to regular blogging. But I shall make the effort necessary to make it worthwhile. I owe that much to myself.

  9. Shailaja, you are the one who has always asked me that one question every one who is serious about writing asks. β€˜Why do you blog?’ I love how this post is an introspection as well as a food for thought for all of us who write and blog. So since you enjoy the process, keep at it.
    Coming to social media, Twitter I am not active. I only use the medium to promote and share posts. I have always felt that you have nanaged these channels better. And you shouldn’t give up on what you do with all your heart. Writing. At the core of all external influences, writing is one that should stay put.

    1. You’re too sweet, Parul πŸ™‚ I do enjoy blogging and the parts of social media that help me connect with people, I love that! It’s been a great way to build relationships. As you say, like in anything, it’s important to find the balance and move forward, right? And I don’t intend to stop writing. If anything I may be writing more πŸ˜‰ Thank you again πŸ™‚

  10. Loved this introspective post. I’ll love it even more if it brings you back to more frequent blogging. Somedays I worry about ‘burdening’ people who read me with ‘too much’ too. But then that isn’t only with blogging – that’s just the way I am, an ‘over thinker’. Oh and as for those vague comments on FB and Twitter, I’ve learnt to disregard them. What you do (or don’t do) will always annoy someone. Also, I’ve noticed, specially on Twitter, some people consistently put out vague, insulting comments about everything under the sun, they thrive on being rude. So they shouldn’t really count. Looking forward to reading more from you.
    PS: Thanks for digging out that post, made me nostalgic :-).

    1. You were among the first to tell me that: ‘Learn to disregard vague posts and sly tweets’. You’d be happy to know I am FINALLY at that stage. And it’s come after a lot of reflection and introspection. So I am glad that it happened. You know, if I have 3 dedicated readers (like you) that more than makes up for anything else I may lost in the process of writing regularly. So, thank you πŸ™‚

  11. It’s totally time to come back to writing and reading Shy. I must admit I am a bit surprised that you’ve held back your opinions and your writing based on what people think. Admittedly, I’m not very active on Twitter but I think everyone is going to have an opinion and we are not going to be able to please everyone. Sure some people might dislike PDAs or threads but there will be others who love it. You can’t please them all. Write because you want to. Write because you love it. Write because you have something to say regardless of what people think about it. As for social media, just remember everyone wants to share their two cents on there and take what they say with a grain of salt.

    Looking forward to seeing you writing again! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you, Sanch! You’re absolutely right. maybe getting closer to 40 is the kick in the head that I needed and I am damn grateful for it too. Thank you again for the support. I love it when people are frank with me, like you are. Much love πŸ™‚

      1. It has been nice reading of the post as well as responses. I just wanted to know how and where to blog. I am past 50 and had been thinking of writing blog for almost 5 yrs but could never become serious and job neve provided time. And I just want to write not for any audiences. Since all of you have been blogging you might be able to give me some link which explains process of blogging.

        1. Hi Rakesh. Thank you for reading.

          I would highly recommend starting a free blog on wordpress.com if you want to start blogging. It will take a few minutes to set it up. Check out wpbeginner.com for some excellent tutorials and how to go about it. All the best πŸ™‚

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