If You Don’t Post a Bloated Reflection on Writing, Are You Even a Blogger?

If you don’t write at least one “writing reflection” post, I think they kick you off WordPress. Nah, just kidding. But it’s a good excuse to answer E.M. Kingston’s Ramble Questions. Image by Kevin Phillips from Pixabay

1) When did you first discover your love of writing?

I discovered my love of storytelling as a child…

At one point in my childhood, my parents moved us to a location ideal for taking long road trips to landmarks they found interesting but that were not especially interesting for young children. My parents bribed us into good behavior with ice cream. But also, one thing I did to make those long car rides more bearable was make up stories and tell them to my siblings until we fell asleep in the backseat.

My parents were very encouraging of this budding interest (possibly because sleeping young children are easier to deal with than wide-awake young children).

“You should write this story down!”

The voice of reason, aka Mom, on multiple occasions

I did not do this. Compared to other activities like playing, the process of sitting down and writing is actually quite tedious if you think about it. It felt like doing homework. Keep in mind that I’m not as young as my blogger handle or immaturity would suggest, so this was before we had a home computer.

“Writing it down is so boring! I’d rather play.” Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Besides, the stories were just as fresh in my head today and tomorrow as they were the day before. I figured I’d write the stories down eventually when I was actually in the mood to do something tedious like writing. I knew I’d remember them.

Fast-forward a couple decades later…

Cousin: [JYP], I remember how you told us such awesome stories when we were little! Remember the one about [insert name of character from a story I had made up about two decades ago]?

Sibling: Yes, that one was the best! Remember? You should write it and publish it!

Excerpt from Thanksgiving table conversation approximately 10 years ago.

I had no memory of the story they were talking about. I remembered that it existed and that I told it. But I couldn’t remember anything about it. And this was my story!

Moral of the story:

Write your story down because someday, you’re not going to remember this shit. You should do this even if your story is, in fact, shit [Cousin’s and Sibling’s feedback notwithstanding, pretty much all of my stories from that era were not actually that good, possibly because they were conceived of by a six-year-old (although that’s no excuse because there are talented six-year-old writers)], because the deeply crappy story you write down now could be revised to, or inspire, something halfway-decent later. I have done this with some of my crappy college/early post-college era poems.

Stories matter, but only if you remember to write them down. Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

2) Would you say that you found your imagination at a young age or when you became older? 

I don’t think I developed an imagination until I got older. I think this is because I was a really naïve child, and there’s a lot that’s impossible to imagine if you haven’t experienced anything because you’re sheltered and naïve. The plotlines of my childhood stories tended to revolve around a few not especially imaginative things:

  • Cats – because I really wanted a cat and at the time, my parents would not get one
  • Disney Princesses – because I was a child of the 90s which was the golden era of animated Disney movies
  • Game shows – because the only thing I was more obsessed with than Disney movies at that age was game shows

Even today, “imagination” for me manifests in the form of imaginative juxtapositions of images, cutting language, and creative metaphors in poetry. I’m not (and never have been) inventive enough to conceive of fantasy worlds or sci-fi scenarios. My imagination is boring, I suppose.

I don’t have the creativity for fantasy/sci-fi “world-building”. My imagination is boring. Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay

3) What is your favorite genre to write about? (Example: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, True Crime, etc.)

I love how this question presumes I do enough genre-specific fiction writing across a large enough array of genres such that I have a favorite genre. ~90% of the writing I do is complaining on my blog, sometimes in brutally honest and/or poetic ways. Here is a list of the media in which I dabble:

  • Poetry – I have a category on my blog for poetry and it’s one of my most frequently used tags. (I should rethink this, actually, because I really didn’t want this blog to be a poetry blog). Anyway, I write poetry because I find it comparatively easy, and I am lazy. By easy, I mean that poetry does not necessarily require any of the following:
    1. Characters
    2. Conflict/plot
    3. Dialogue
    4. Any other massively important element required for good fiction except for creative use of language and imagery. Poetry really needs imagery.
  • Parody lyrics to songs – I enjoy writing parody lyrics to existing songs. This makes me feel musically creative even though I have no idea how to write music [which is why I only write (and occasionally sing) parody lyrics].
  • Fiction(?) – Not sure this counts as “dabbling” exactly, but I took a workshop on starting a novel, wrote a scene, and it turned out to be a pretty decent scene! I’m honestly impressed that I did the following:
    1. came up with several characters who are not me,
    2. created conflict,
    3. wrote some realistic-sounding dialogue,
    4. and managed some humor!

Now I just have to figure out how to turn said scene into a whole novel. Which quite sounds daunting. Writers of novels, how do you do this?

4) Do you ever get “writer’s block”? If so, do you have a reason of why it happens?

Unpopular opinion:

I don’t believe in “writer’s block”.

I do believe in writer’s exhaustion, writing shitty first drafts (or just extremely shitty crap that does not even merit “first draft” status”), and I believe in the power of revision. But I don’t believe in writer’s block. Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

Do I think there are times when you don’t feel inspired to write? Yes. Do I think there are times when everything you write is complete crap? Hell yeah! Do I think there are times when you’ll feel stuck and unable to figure how to revise a piece that isn’t working? Happens all the time.

But “writer’s block” implies something preventing one from putting words of any kind on the page, and I don’t think this exists. You can always write something. If you take away the mentality that all the writing that you produce has to be good 100% of the time, if you give yourself a prompt or do some stream of consciousness journaling to jumpstart the creative juices, if you give yourself a deadline, or if someone else gives you a deadline that you have to meet, you’ll get over that so-called “writer’s block”.

It might be awful, but it’s something. And if it is awful, you can always revise. Revision is something I definitely believe in. Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

5) Can you tell me something that I do not know that you do not mind sharing about your style of writing?

My writing style (complaints about my overall pleasant life, being pessimistic, witty responses to poetry prompts, brutal honesty and humor, major oversharing and TMI, and thoughts related to Judaism/the Jewish world) is pretty self-evident from my blog.

So instead, I will share part of conversation I had recently and pose a discussion question for the comments:

Fellow Writing Retreat Attendee: So how long have you been a writer?

JYP: Well, I don’t know that I’d call myself a “writer”-

FWRA: You are literally at a writing retreat right now.

JYP: Anyone could sign up for this retreat. That just means I had no other plans this weekend. I don’t write professionally, I’ve never been published….

FWRA: So?

JYP: The only writing I really do regularly is on my blog.

FWRA: That counts! You’re a blogger. That makes you a writer.

JYP: It’s not the same thing.

FWRA: How is that not the same thing?

JYP: I think I’d characterize it this way: Blogging is to writing what karaoke is to singing.

Discussion Question:

What makes someone a writer? Do you describe yourself / consider yourself to be a writer? Is being a writer part of your identity? Does Blogging = Writing? Is Blogging the Karaoke of Writing? (By the way, I am not knocking blogging or karaoke; I credit karaoke as being a source of life lessons and wisdom).

Discussion time! Tell me your writerly thoughts. Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

70 comments

  1. HA HA! I love the karaoke analogy! Huh. I never wrote fiction as a child! Nor did I ever tell fiction! I kept diaries, though, and I expected myself to write “clean”, so every entry had perfect grammar and spelling, and it retold whatever had happened that day, complete with dialogue and descriptions and my emotions. That was masterful in helping me get good at capturing a scene. But there was never any fiction. In senior year of high school, we were assigned to write a short story. I really struggled with it. I don’t still have it, either. (Too bad!) If I recall, I wrote it up for the teacher on my dad’s typewriter. Yep, the typewriter. [Nods.] That monstrosity is still downstairs in his office. I keep digitally scanning and uploading his legal docs so they can be edited and formatted, because he has no clue how to use a computer. Income for me, though. Fun blog post!! I would’ve loved to have heard your earlier stories! I bet they were righteous!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so interesting to read about your meticulous journaling with such attention to detail and grammar! I also had this mentality about keeping the journals “clean”, but it meant that I never wrote anything in them because I was afraid of ruining the pretty white pages. That was pretty stupid, but that is what I thought. Honestly, I still have a hard time writing in physical journals.

      Sorry to hear about the story you lost. Man, typewriters! I had an assignment like that too. More of a creative nonfiction. I used a computer, but somehow I didn’t save it properly, lost it, and couldn’t recover it. Pity.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I’ll save your questions for yet another bloated post on writing. I loved what you said about writer’s block, and I agree in general, but I think when someone wants to write/finish a specific piece and can’t figure out how to move forward, that’s a block. Me, I just get so bored with my own ideas, I must abandon them for new ones!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting. I’m so used to thinking of writer’s block as a “I can’t start writing because I don’t feel inspired” vs. as a “I am in the middle of this piece and I am stuck”. I guess because I’m so used to writing poetry that, while I might finish a poem draft, not like it, and revise it at some later point, it’s rare for me to feel stuck in the middle of a poem simply because the poem is so comparatively short.

      I’m looking forward to your reflection post on writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on a lot of your answers. I write a lot, but I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m a blogger, but my blog is mostly photographs. Now that I’ve added Grammarly to my computer at the office, my weekly writing report says I average around 30,000 words a week. I’ve been trying to figure out those stats. Maybe they count each of my photos as a thousand words. That would do it. I love your “Blogging is to writing what karaoke is to singing.” Perfect analogy. I also agree with you on writer’s block. I can always find something to write about, but I don’t always feel like writing. I remember a woman once told me she tried to do a photo a day for a year and ran out of things to photograph after only a few days. Wow! I was speechless.

    Liked by 2 people

    • According to my WordPress stats, I have written less than 10,000 words of blog posts in 2022. Maybe you send a lot of emails at work?

      Re: photography, maybe this woman lives in a really boring, unphotogenic area without interesting critters. She might also just not be a photography person (although I don’t know why she’d do a photo challenge). Me, although I enjoy looking at cool photos, I don’t really have the patience for attempting to take them. I couldn’t deal with posting on Instagram because I found it exhausting take Insta-worthy photos, and I just overall hated the platform so I quit after a day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good for you. I’m not on any of those social media platforms. I think the woman was not very creative and should not have taken the challenge. I don’t do changes, prompts, etc. i have no problem coming up with material.

        Liked by 1 person

          • With cats and birds, I have to do a lot of the same things everyday, it it is annoying. However. The entertainment from the kitties and birds is well worth the routines.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I actually wish I could be more of a routine person. I’d love to be the kind of person who could have a gym routine, a skincare routine, etc. but I’ve just never managed to make a routine stick.
            Maybe it’s easier with animals because they will routinely remind you when it is time to be fed and you’ll get into a routine by default

            Liked by 1 person

          • Gym routines get so boring. When I was racing bikes, training was easier because there were so many options plus I was outdoors. I have a lot of trouble with routines.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Working out at the gym is boring. Deliberately boring, in a way. All those reps. Even swimming I get bored after a while, even if it does feel luxurious in the summer months. But going to the gym everyday seems not only physically tiring (I am not in shape) but also tedious. I do like going to classes at the gym. Those feel more interesting.

            Liked by 1 person

          • In my younger days when I went to the gym every morning at 4:30 am, the only thing that made it fun were the lovely ladies I worked out with. They were serious bodybuilders and as strong as I was at that time. I was strong back then. Now I’m a weekling. I remember one woman I worked out with a lot would have me change out the dumbells hanging from a belt between her legs when she did pullups so she didn’t have to undo the wraps she had on her wrist wrapped around the pullup bar to change the weights. She was impressive. Most women can’t do pullups, and I could barely do 20 at that time.

            My boss, another architect, and I often went to the gym for lunch back in the mid 80s. They were into lifting really heavy weights back then, I wasn’t. While they were being manly, I was working in with the bodybuilder women who lifted about the same weight as I did. My boss and architect were like two teenage boys talking about the different girls at the gym. One day when we were driving back to the office they were talking about one hot bodybuilder. They called her something like “hottie”. Then the architect looked back at me and said “you disappeared. What were you doing?” I told him while they were being manly and dreaming about Hottie, I was working out with her. Which was true. The envious look on their faces were precious.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I had freinds who used to say I was gay because I danced. I would say: “Dudes! Say what you want. While you are hanging out with a bunch of ugly guys, I’m holding beautiful girls in my arms. I think you have things turned around a bit!”

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the karaoke metaphor is great: switching to professional is about the commitment and the accompanying pressure. Ability or lack thereof can be found on either side. With this in mind, blogging is not just karaoke; some people turn it into a job. Whatever the job, giving yourself a label has to do with your intentions. Unfortunately, others use the label to mark your proficiency.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great points about the similarities, and the differences, particularly with respect to going professional and monetizing. It is interesting the connotations that come with labels. I’ve met incredible writers on blogs and incredible singers at karaoke. I guess the difference is that maybe it’s less expected to find them there.

      Like

  5. Do you describe yourself / consider yourself to be a writer?
    No, not really. I’m a blogger and blogging, for me, anyway, is a text-base media. Hence, I use text (i.e., write words and tell short stories) for my blog, but I wouldn’t say I’m a writer. I would like very much if I could say I was a writer, but I think that would be giving myself too much credit.

    Is being a writer part of your identity?
    See above answer. Being a blogger who writes for pleasure is part of my identity.

    Does blogging = writing?
    Blogging requires writing, but, as I explained before, I don’t think being a blogger is the same as being a writer. Almost anybody can be a blogger. Far fewer can be a writer.

    Is blogging the karaoke of writing?
    That sounds adorable but I don’t think it’s true. When you’re doing karaoke, you’re singing words that others have written and put to music. But when you’re blogging, the words that are in your posts are your own words, not someone else’s words. Of course, if you decide to put your words to music, then you’re a lyricist. And if you decide to then sing your own words into a microphone while standing on a stage in front of a lot of intoxicated strangers, we’ll, that makes you a bit of a weird narcissist. Does that make any sense at all? Probably not. Never mind.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi JYP! It’s nice to see you on the ramble again, and I have to say that I always enjoy how you express yourself. You have a way with words, and this place is like our paper. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. I am sometimes not as social on posts as I should be, but I do read 🙂 You reminded me of a piece I read in my English class in my first semester at my college when you mentioned the shitty first drafts. I wish I could remember the author of it. I will have to look through my folders. It was written so well, and it helped me with my first drafts. I do more shitty ones than I like to admit *laughs* The karaoke analogy was great, as others have said as well 🙂 Thanks so much for making this a nice conversation piece! I appreciate you! Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the thought-provoking questions that inspired this one. I definitely had a lot of fun with it, as you can probably tell. I’m a fan of the shitty first draft that may have some redeeming value when you come to revise it. We all have those shitty drafts. Anyone who claims not to probably isn’t writing, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

        • There’s definitely some of the older stuff that makes me cringe. Man, I thought I was such a poetic genius in high school and college, and….well reading the stuff from that era is very cringe-worthy and painful. But revising doesn’t typically bother me. Sometimes I need some distance before I can do it properly, sometimes it takes a lot of revisions to get it right (I’ve done so many revisions about this one poem about my grandmother’s death and I still kind of dislike all of them…), but somehow, revision doesn’t really bug me. I hope you can get to the place of being able to read your own work without beating yourself up. It’s probably a lot better than you think!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks for the encouragement! I remember the first time that I learned that you do not have to always rhyme in poetry, and now I barely write rhyming poetry unless doing a specific style. I suppose that I am getting better at reading my own stuff, but it’s definitely a battle within myself. I hope you get the poem about your grandmother the way you want it to be. I can imagine that is a hard one to revise.

            Liked by 1 person

          • It was one where some of the feedback I received on the piece was helpful in terms of pinpointing how exactly to revise it (eg. “this part really tells you a lot about the character(s), whereas this part is just confusing and distracting” – ok, that’s helpful and actionable), and some of the feedback was unnecessarily hurtful, (ie. “You don’t have any feelings about your grandmother’s death”). Actually, I have lots of feelings, thank you very much!

            I don’t really do rhyming poetry either. I did one several months ago (https://jewishyoungprofessional.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/risk-poetry-is-an-oxymoron/) but rhyming poetry, or form poetry generally, really isn’t my speed.

            Liked by 1 person

          • It was like that when my father died. I was tearless. I was feeling everything in my own way, and no one understood why I was acting like it was just another day. I mourned in silence and by myself. I was very closed in back then.

            I really enjoyed your rhymes. You do have quite a way with words.

            Liked by 1 person

    • It was intended to make a point about perceived quality of content/performance vs. actual content, but every analogy is flawed and you found the flaw in mine. I think there’s still some similarities in perception by general non-blogging, non-karaoke public, the range of content/perception quality (I’ve met and heard some incredible singers at karaoke, although there are also a lot of not-awesome ones), and even in elements of community (the competitive karaoke league I was part of really was this niche-interest community, not dissimilar to other interest-oriented communities like blogging), recognizing that the casual observer wouldn’t perceive this. But you’re right that when it comes to the question of originality, the analogy falls apart.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wanted to write a comment about how fun the karaoke analogy was but noticed everyone else had mentioned it too so I’m going to find something else to comment on whilst possibly subtly mentioning how nice an analogy it was but being somewhat cool and unnecessarily long-winded about it.

    Ehem… I mean, your inspiration for first writing reminds me of something which inspired me to do so too. I was talking to a guy about life and he always seemed so interested with what I had to say, so one day he asked me if I ever considered writing as a way to solidify my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The stories made up in my head tended to lean towards the romance genre; writing challenges/hops (which I gave up doing) tended to be variations of real life events; My blog (mostly blog challenge responses) tends to be on the pessimistic side of things🤷🏻‍♀️. Tried doing a ‘daily thoughts’ blogpost – that didn’t pan out so well 😂😅

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Heck yeah the no-writer’s-block gang. It’s almost like exercise for me. Most times I don’t feel like doing it. And everything just feels wrong. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t do it. That’s how I feel about the block, at most. Anyway, thanks for sharing these insights into your creative process!

    Liked by 1 person

    • *No-Writer’s-Block-Gang Secret Handshake* Hehe.
      I’m not sure if I feel you on the exercise metaphor though because while I can write some complete crap to power through “writer’s block”, I have rarely managed to get my lazy butt to exercise if I’m not feeling it!

      Like

  10. I sometimes challenge people who say “can’t complain”… of course you can, and sometimes should! Some people made a career of it (think George Carlin? Jerry Seinfeld? Scott Adams? Many more!), some find it cathartic (certainly bottling it all inside can’t be good), some of the greatest advances were made because people complained about the current state of things… Imagine if we were all ok with living in caves 🙃 Of course, I also find sites like despair.com hilarious (I’m not affiliated with them, but will own up to spending $ there :)), and I find your blog fun, engaging, and thought-provoking — please don’t stop!

    On a different note, I once read that Pulitzer-prize winning James A. Michener didn’t start publishing until after he was 40, and then published more than 40 books… Nothing wrong with getting a late start!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “I do believe in writer’s exhaustion, writing shitty first drafts (or just extremely shitty crap that does not even merit “first draft” status”), and I believe in the power of revision. But I don’t believe in writer’s block.” I hadn’t thought of it in this way before, but you are right. Our desire for perfection gets in the way of moving forward with so many things.

    Liked by 1 person

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