Imagine the scene. A group of journalism students enter a classroom and are told that today they will be learning how to blog. This ought to be an easy task for one of them at least, who has been blogging for the past three years, albeit in a rather haphazard unfocused manner. And yet she sits in front of the screen, utterly unable to write.
In case you hadn’t realised, this is what’s happening to me at this very moment. Since 2010, I’ve blogged as regularly as essay deadlines and inspiration will allow, and yet when told to write a blog post today I found myself staring blankly at the screen with no idea what to do. It was the thinking that did it. I’ve always blogged for the love of it, with half an eye on my follower count and the idea of building an online portfolio admittedly, but mostly for the sheer love of writing. Suddenly, I had a whole host of things to consider, things that I perhaps ought to have been thinking about before, but which I had allowed myself to sweep under the carpet. What is my niche? Do I have a blogging “voice”? Why should anyone read the posts which I have chosen to put out into cyberspace?
Wannabe Hacks published a debate about blogging in 2010, with the idea that no-one can afford not to blog given the importance of an online presence weighed against the argument that blogging for blogging’s sake could do more harm than good. And thus we return to the idea of the niche. I do have one, not one which hasn’t been covered before, but how many truly original ideas are there in the world? As to the “voice”, I don’t know whether I have one yet, but there’s one thing I do know. Blogging and developing a voice are practical skills, which you can only learn by doing. And that, I think, is what today’s exercise was all about.