I have a confession to make. I have technology anxiety. Remember math anxiety? The symptoms are the same—rapid heartbeat, panic, and most of all, inability to think clearly and solve your problem. I know because I had it this morning. I kept getting a frightening black screen every time I tried to restart my computer. And this was the day I was supposed to write my newly tagged blog, “Where the Scribe Meets Modernity.” The part I haven’t told you—and almost wasn’t going to—is that I had to phone my husband to figure out how to solve my problem.
You wouldn't know all this by reading my past blogs, because it turns out that I've managed to master my phobia--technology--in order to experiment with a new form of writing that wouldn't exist without it. Luckily, I've been helped along by savvy female guides to the genre. And so from She Writes to blogs everywhere, I give you my top five lessons learned about the fine art of blogging.
1. It’s easier to learn technical skills from other women.
Thanks to the very smart women who lead bloginars at She Writes, I learned the mechanics of setting up a blog and a Twitter account. Our Twitter teacher, Sarah Milstein, was one of the first people EVER to use Twitter in its caveman days, so I was a bit overawed. Yet when I asked a question, she didn’t act astounded that I didn’t already know the answer. I was able to write—and post—my first blog without male help.
2. Writing a blog is different from writing a news article.
Actually, I’m still learning this. As a writer schooled in the impersonal voice of journalism, I usually take myself out of the story. After my first blogs were posted, I realized that the traditional news lede didn’t always work. I’m trying to make that first sentence and the blog itself more personal.
3. Anger inspires the best blog.
I wrote my last blog
about whether I should let you steal my work. That was after three publications—all of which have paid me to write for them in the past—had just rejected a story idea dear to my heart. “You don’t mind writing for free?” a writer friend asked me when I told her I’d decided to write the piece for an online magazine that doesn’t pay. Actually, I was indignant when I thought about it that way. But at the same time, there was a sense of freedom: I could use my own voice rather than that of an established news organization. (I’m not alone: Kamy Wicoff’s indignation
about the zero women on Publisher’s Weekly’s 10 Best list sparked a social protest movement here at She Writes.)
4. The best blog gets the most reaction. My last blog
produced an outpouring of comments from She Writes members, some sharing in the indignation, others pointing out the advantages of putting your stuff in cyberspace for free. Your comments expanded the discussion and provided illustrative stories from your own experiences.
5. A blog lets you stop pretending.
When I went freelance in the ‘80s to work as a reporter from home with two small children, I tried to keep my location a secret from sources I was interviewing. Working from home didn’t just seem unprofessional; it was a badge of shame. I just read one of freelancer Lori Widmer’s blogs
about trying to work while her children were home from college. It’s a humorous and recognizable account of how hard it is to get anything done and seems perfectly appropriate to a blog about writing.
Her blog was just named one of the 25 best blogs of 2009
about the writing profession.
When the founders of She Writes asked me to write this blog, I had written for publications like the New York Times Book Review
about the intersection between writing and technology—e-books, self-publishing and new forms of experimental writing on the Internet. What I didn’t say is that the reason I find these innovations so fascinating is that I’m technologically naïve, a little like Tarzan emerging from the jungle. In a way, our world is changing so fast that we’re all emerging from the jungle together. With this blog I hope to take you all with me.
In the meantime, I’m hoping to find a girl who can help me at the genius bar.