Jim Hines recently gave the secret to writing a good blog: Be interesting.
But what is interesting? This is a topic I keep thinking about, thanks to my growing up as a shy, quiet kid who just wanted people to care that she existed, plus some jerks who told me specifically to my face that I was boring (in high school, they said this because my hair and eyes are brown; in college, it was because my parents had given my brother and me ordinary names instead of less common ones (I suspect that guy and his siblings had been teased about their names)). And while I no longer think that I’m boring, my greatest fear as a writer us that even if I become a master of the craft, there’s something inherent in me that means no one will ever want to read my stuff (I don’t need to be reassured about that, I do know it’s irrational and untrue–and I like worrying about irrational things, because I don’t really have to worry about them!).
So, what is interesting? Some months ago, I ran across a couple of posts by Justine Musk that led me to Cal Newport’s blog. Newport is specifically writing to high school students making plans for applying to college. His advice? Be interesting.
Newport’s instruction for how to do that is roughly to focus. Don’t do a ton of extracurriculars; instead, explore things and then delve deep into the ones you like best.
Which is where I start relating all this to blogging. Some bloggers have a niche.
If this blog has a niche, it’s “What Elizabeth has been doing lately.” Which I write partly so I have a record of it, and partly so family and friends know what I’ve been up to. I hope that it’s interesting. But if my goal were to build an audience, I’d focus. This would be a gardening blog, a cooking blog, or a fitness blog. Maybe even a writing blog. But since it’s an Elizabeth blog, it cycles through all of those topics and then some. Because my life would be pretty dull if I only did one thing.