Last Round, I had a comment exchange with Gloria Weber, who is also a sponsor this Round, about letting our possibly geeky interests be part of our blogs, without worrying what others thought about them. The exchange has resonated with me since that time. Although I am not generally ashamed of my more pedantic interests, I have downplayed them in my blogs, saving them for the academic writing I do for my day job. However, they are an intrinsic part of me, my voice, and my brand. In fact, my trying to write what I think others want to read has more often led to my not writing anything. I have also been convinced that no one else is interested in the topics I enjoy writing about, but that conviction is belied by the continued amount of interest in the nerdy posts I have allowed myself since I began blogging nearly five years ago. Therefore, I promised myself that this Round, I will be more genuine, nerdy side and all. I spent years studying language and literature, so why not show my interests in my blogs? It is my voice; whether I try to hide it or not, it will come out. I plan to stop fighting it, to stop worrying about what people will think. Those who don’t enjoy it, won’t read it. No harm done.
These ruminations have some practical application to Row80, too. So many times I have heard participants say that they cannot think of what to write for their check-in, or that they cannot possibly write two check-ins a week, because an accountability listing is not very interesting. I have two suggestions, based on my new decision to let my nerd out of the back room, and on several RoWers who do a good job blending a check-in with their regular blogging.
Include some analysis of why you succeeded, or why you failed to meet a goal. While it is true that sometimes it is as mundane as “I was too busy,” or “I made myself sit in the chair and write 5 out of 7 days,” there are many times when this analysis unearths a habit to cultivate or choke, or a set of circumstances to institute or avoid. I found out I can write in the middle of chaos, with football games blaring from the next room, but that I cannot write on break at work, for example.
Fold your check-in into a regular post. You can delineate the check-in with typography from the rest of the post so that a reader can read just the check-in or the whole post. I find that even when I only read the check-in on a first pass, I often go back to read the rest of the post, and enjoy the glimpse into the diverse interests of the group.
Therefore, I encourage you to write about what interests you, and to let your voice ring true through all your writing, both on the blog during Row80 check-ins and in your longer creative writing efforts. A passion for a subject lights up the core of the writing done about it, and is mesmerizingly attractive.