How Blogging Taught Me to Be a Writer

The New Hampshire Writer’s Network Welcomes Tracy Hahn Burkett

Blogging takes up valuable writing time. You have to write and promote the posts, maintain the site and interact with your readers. But with so many tasks competing for your writing time, is blogging worth it?

For this writer, the answer is yes. Among other benefits, blogging has taught me valuable lessons on how to be a writer.

I’m a very different writer now than I was when I began Uncharted Parent more than five years ago. Back then, I was a beginning writer searching for direction. I was also mother to a four-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter, and I felt like I’d learned more about life in general over the previous year than I had in the past three decades. I also suspected that, like many parents, I had no clue what I was doing. I thought about parenting topics constantly, whether I wanted to or not, so it just made sense to me to write about them. My multiracial, interfaith, part-biological and part-adoptive family offered me a built-in niche, and Uncharted Parent was born.

Writing and running a blog has provided me with an ongoing education. Here are just 10 of the valuable lessons I’ve learned by blogging:

  • Discipline: writing on a schedule – Sooner or later, writers have to meet deadlines. Blogging provides great practice because readers expect you to keep whatever schedule you establish. If for some reason I can’t meet my one-post-per-week schedule, I at least try to post a couple of sentences explaining why.
  • Discipline: writing even when you don’t feel like writing – This may be the biggest lesson of all. It’s so easy to tell yourself that the muse isn’t with you today, or that you’re blocked, or that the cat’s ears need scratching. But if you’ve made a commitment to your readers, you’ll have to sit in the chair and pound something out.
  • First drafts don’t have to be perfect – You’ve probably heard this one a lot. The truth, however, is that it’s hard to grow comfortable with writing ugly messes of shapeless word clumps until you’ve done it over and over and consistently been able to turn them into coherent, readable prose.
  • In fact, it’s okay to write first drafts that are so bad they end up in the trash – I used to consider the time I spent on the occasional unsalvageable draft completely wasted, but now I’ve learned that these garbage posts are usually just a warm-up. Often I’ll come back to my laptop the next morning and write a new post on a seemingly unrelated topic at super-fast speed, and frequently, this new post will need little editing. Don’t ask me how the brain turns bad post on topic A into good post on topic B; I have no idea. But having experienced this phenomenon repeatedly, I now allow myself more freedom to experiment with silly or odd ideas and just see what happens when I sit down at the keyboard.
  • I’ve learned to hone in on the details and connections in daily life so I can write about them – As much as I love my kids, I have to confess that not everything they do is worth writing about. Yet I’ve written hundreds of parenting blog posts and essays. While I reach beyond my own family for some of that material, I’ve also developed a sort of radar for detecting stories and meaningful connections in the stuff that makes up my day. It’s common for me to pause and proclaim in the middle of dinner, laughing with friends or even following a frustrated exchange with my kids, “Well, that’s a blog post.” This tendency–and my own blank stare that sometimes accompanies it–probably doesn’t make me a better social companion, but it’s improved my storytelling ability to an exponential degree.
  • I know how crucial it is to let a piece rest – I never put something up on the internet without leaving it aside and then coming back to it. Ever. I always catch something, even if it’s only sat a few hours between writing and review.
  • I’ve also learned that sometimes good enough has to be good enough – I could play with some of these posts for weeks. Fortunately, I’ve got a schedule to keep, so I have to let the posts go. Occasionally, I’ll reread a piece later and see a mistake. It makes me cringe, but the world goes on.
  • A career in writing involves mandatory, non-writing activity – All right, I still complain about this one sometimes. For example, I am not a tech person. But I set up and maintain my own website. I have had temper-tantrums over this site that rival those of my kids’, but the site exists. In a related vein, I originally had no interest in social media whatsoever, but I was persuaded two years ago that Facebook and Twitter were mandatory for writers. Just try to pull me away from Twitter now. (You can find me there–often–at @THahnBurkett.)
  • Sometimes a blog post launches into the internet … and nobody cares – It’s the blogger’s form of rejection, and like any other rejection, it hurts. You think you’ve written a sparkling post that deserves to go viral–and all you get is a single comment that’s actually pharmaceutical spam. Over time, you learn how to deal with it and you try to learn from it. See if you can write better next time.
  • The best part: every one of the above lessons has carried over into other forms of writing – I’m certain I never would have had the courage to attempt more complex forms of writing requiring study and longterm commitment if I hadn’t practiced regularly for several years first. Now, after years of work, I’ve got a first draft of a novel in hand.

I’ll admit that with a novel in revision, a list of essay topics waiting to be written or revised and a children’s book manuscript languishing for want of market research, there are many times I’ve thought of giving up the blog so that I might have more time to work on these other projects.

But then I remember how much I’ve learned by blogging in the first place, and I know my education isn’t complete. Besides, I still enjoy writing Uncharted Parent, because the compelling thing about parenting is that as kids grow older, the issues change. I won’t ever really know what I’m doing, so I’ll get to keep asking questions.

And isn’t that what writing is all about?

Tracy Hahn-Burkett is a writer who often focuses on topics inspired by her transracial, multicultural and interfaith family.  A former public-policy advocate, Tracy traded suits for blue jeans and fleece eight years ago when she moved to New Hampshire, where she lives with her husband and two children.  She blogs at UnchartedParent.com, is a regular honorary contributor at the fiction-writing blog, WriterUnboxed.com, and she’s working on her first novel.

274 thoughts on “How Blogging Taught Me to Be a Writer

  1. I agree so much with the points you mentioned above. Blogging teaches you all this-especially how first drafts at times turn into super hit pieces of writing and at others go into trash altogether. It’s delightful to read those little subtle and introvert outcomes we keep observing but hardly care much…hoping to carry forward my blog and becoming a better writer anyway 🙂

    • Thanks for your article. All your points rang true with me. I especially liked your point about letting a piece sit for a while. It is always worthwhile to do this for me, the more I sit on a piece the better it gets. Of course, then you run into deadlines and reasons to procrastinate publishing something. But we writer’s have a lot of inner dilemmas don’t we? Maybe that’s why we write…

  2. Thank you for the lesson, although blogging for me is a hobby to exercise my writing brain–not a job. I smiled when you mentioned finding writing material other than daily life as a parent. What a great reminder.

  3. It was so refreshing to read your post – I’ve recently taken to blogging so that I may sharpen my writing skills. I hope to one day become a published author, but I realized I hadn’t even the slightest inkling where to begin. Blogging has really been beneficial and I found that it’s also something I truly enjoy!

    • I’m right there with you! I just started a blog because I thought it would be a great way to get me writing. I’d love to write a novel someday, but for now it’s babysteps. To be a writer you have to write, so that’s what I’m doing.

      • I’m doing the same thing. It was wondering to read this post! I’ve just started blogging and feel like I’ve learnd a decent amount about writing already. Good luck to you both, writtenillustrations and Heidi, as you pursue your dreams of writing a novel!

  4. Great post! I’ve often wondered whether time spent blogging or sorting out technical or appearance stuff on my blog should be time spent writing. For me, as a very new writer, as well as all the lessons you’ve listed, it’s also the place where I’ve gotten my first few compliments as a writer- that is priceless.
    Katie
    coffeehousediscussions.wordpress.com

  5. Agreed. I know my blog writing has made me a better writer in general. I’ve really developed my own style and refined how I write. And it’s a great foundation for building an audience.

  6. Thanks so much for your comments, everyone. It’s great to read about your blogging experiences. You’ve got some great blogs, too!

    And Leah, you make an excellent eleventh point: a blog is a perfect foundation for building an audience. A web presence is crucial for writers these days, and a blog is a dynamic way to establish that presence. (Just don’t forget to include clickable “Contact” info or a form that’s easy to locate.)

    Here’s to continued writing and blogging success!

  7. Kathleen’s comment hit it on the nose–your post definitely affirms my daily struggle with being a stay-at-home mama while trying to maintain a blog and write my first novel (because I WILL be a paid writer some day, dammit! 🙂

    And I may have snorted at the part about writing a sparkling post only to have the only people read it be the tried-and-true friends who read my posts when they see the link on Facebook. Again, affirming!

  8. What an impressive list. I teach high school writing and would like to share it with my classes. I have also started to write a blog, and I find it more fun than keeping a journal with no known audience. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

  9. thank you for the posting.i’m impress what are you going to tell the reader about this blog matter. i’m not good in writing..but then when start to write in blog.it teach how to mix up and choose good word to readers to read..it just like we share whatever we know to reader.then it can become valuable..

  10. that’s why i’m writing one and what keeps me going. whenever i feel pressured to be good, i remember that i do this for me, and to practice a craft. everything else is gravy. it’s fun, and the best practice i’ve ever attempted. thank you for the post!

  11. I couldn’t agree more with a lot of your lessons but most notably, the lesson about writing even when you don’t feel like it. I suffer constantly from this inhibiting thought. I do think that sometimes if you can get over the initial hump and hammer something out, then sometimes it turns out to be your best work.

    • I agree with you on that. Some of my hardest writing (due to my lack of motivation) has turned out to be some of my best. Simply put: You Just Have to Start. =)

    • Writing in this sense is almost a game of golf. You let it slide and forget to nurture it and it nags at you, pulls at your shirt until you give in and put pen to paper. Always feels so good after too!

  12. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
    My wife feels my blogging is KEEPING me from writing a novel, and while that is somewhat true, I feel I’m sharpening my skills.
    And that can’t be bad.
    Great post!

  13. LOVE THIS! Your words of wisdom are spot-on! I’m a book designer who also mentors my authors on how to publish and market their books. I will definitely share your words of wisdom with my clients. Though they have managed to write a complete manuscript, many of the first-timers are timid about diving into the blogosphere. My husband (also an author) began his blog several years ago and has definitely seen his writing “grow” as well as his audience for his books. In fact, the very act of blogging itself has spawned several additional book concepts for him. Many authors find that this happens if they simply let themselves be open to the adventure.

    I wish you tremendous success in your writing and publishing endeavors!

  14. I agree with your points, this week I wrote my 100th blog so I know I have learned to stick-with-it. I know us bloggers are going to inherit the earth–we all write about everything on earth.

  15. I enjoyed your post and agreed with most of your points. Blogging is about discipline and about honing a craft. It is far easier to add a few pages to a larger work than to complete a single piece each day.

  16. This is a great list Lee. You are right that as writers we should meet deadlines and be consistent. I often hear the metaphor that a store/business does not open when they feel like it, neither should writers and bloggers writers post randomly as inspiration hits them. Great post!

  17. Thank you so much for the helpful and encouraging list! My blog is only 9 posts long, but I’m starting to ask myself the exact same questions you dealt with above.

    (I also agree that sometimes the cats’ ears need scratching, and this is a legitimate form of procrastination.)

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed! Looking forward to reading more.

    Kate
    http://ukate.wordpress.com/

  18. I totally agree. I am actually a frustrated writer and the reason why I started blogging is to see for myself if I can really write. So far, I’ve been enjoying it. Blogging has also made me appreciate the little things in life. I mean, there are a lot of things happening and instead of just putting them at the back of our minds, we exert that effort to blog them and so, it makes the experience more meaningful and memorable.

  19. As a young writer who has recently taken up blogging again, I can definitely relate to what you’re saying. I’ve been bloggng pretty consistently over the last two weeks and it has made me more of a disciplined writer and forced me to turn everyday events of mine into a story.

    I used to be bummed out whenever I didn’t get alot of feedback to a post, but now i’m taking it much better and I always have to remember that my hard work will pay off. I love to write more than anything and even if only one person reads my stuff, then it will be worth it.

    Keep up the good work!

  20. These are wonderful! It felt good to be confirmed by several of your points, but I have also come to the same conclusions. I had already written my first book, and I was trying to get the attention of a literary agent or publisher, so I started blogging to see what would happen (it worked!). But the most surprising learning was your fifth point: “I’ve learned to hone in on the details and connections in daily life so I can write about them.” Because of this point, I noticed that I’ve become a better listener. Kudos on being FP’d!

  21. Thanks for a thought provoking post! As many of the people commenting, I have only recently started blogging. I am loving it, am full of ideas and things to share. Sometimes I struggle for far longer than I should on a post, others just fire out so fast I can’t believe it! Using photos certainly help move writing along as I like to look at blogs with pictures, so try to ensure pictures myself.
    Your points are reassuring as I struggle along. Blogging about travel gives me so many creative places to go – sometimes it is a good idea to sit back and percolate! I have started to schedule my blogs for publish times – gives me a little more time to think about it!
    Congrats on FP too!

  22. Awesome listing out there, and so true! I especially hear you on the mandatory twitter and Facebook page – I’ve got the Facebook page covered, but I’m having trouble convincing myself to join the world of twitter. 🙂

  23. Thank you so much for your advice and knowledge of blogging in this well-written post. It is just the encouragement that I needed to read. I can honestly say that I can relate to just about every item that you mentioned, except for having a novel in hand.

    Good luck with it!!!

  24. I agree with your points about writing on a schedule, and being patient with yourself even if your first draft feels messy. The nice thing about a blog post is that it is not a submission, so you can always go back and edit it – even if you find an accidental spelling mishap or something similar.

    I wrote a post recently which isn’t about blogging, but about writing short stories that is in keeping with the post you wrote above. You may find it interesting, I’ve called it “Lessons From the Slushpile” based on my experiences as a reader for an online fiction magazine.

    http://cdeminski.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/lessons-from-the-slush-pile/

    Also, for a chuckle, you may also want to read my post “Reasons Why Your Short Story Was Rejected” …

    http://cdeminski.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/reasons-why-your-short-story-was-rejected/

    Regards,
    Carol

  25. I am a beginner blogger and I must say that your post was a great read, as well as being well timed for me. It was very insightful and I believe that it will help me out for the future ahead.

  26. As I began to read your post I immediately thought of the book, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. A wonderful story about writing from a writer. Scope it out if you haven’t already.

    Your ten valuable lessons you’ve learned are so on point (like the above and soon to be below writers have applauded). As much as I enjoy writing I am still honing my craft and am comforted to know that I am not the only one braving the challenges that come up in the world of writing. Looking forward to your book!

  27. I caught this on Freshly Pressed and loved your advice (being a novice at blogging it was great to read). I’m learning to be disciplined, but procrastination gets in the way (isn’t it amazing the jobs you do to avoid writing – I started rearranging my room).
    Writing is starting to become a bigger part of my life and this post has given me a little more confidence. Thanks.

  28. Loved this post! yes, blogging does teach you a lot of things! And you just pointed it out (literally) so beautifully! sometimes my head is in such a jumble but these valuable lesson are definitely going to help me shoo some of those clouds in my head! thanks! 🙂

  29. A very informative post. Thank you for sharing.

    I find that, in my writing at least, I tend to get a bit “wordy” with my posts. Letting a draft sit for awhile allows me the chance to revisit what I have written and make the appropriate edits, when needed. I try my best to stick to between 400 – 700 words per post now, and I believe it has helped the quality of my writing.

    If something can be said in fewer words, then do it.

  30. I’ve just started blogging last week, and I was worried about a schedule. This pointed out not only a few tips, but a few things to look forward to. Thank you for popping up on Fresh Pressed!

  31. This was very helpful, I just started writing again (after a while!).
    It was difficult to start again, I guess the pause was way too long. Thank You for sharing this – I liked it and I will be using it in upcoming weeks. Maybe it will work!

    Cheerio.

  32. Goodness you’ve certainly struck a chord with a lot of people with this excellent post! And given me reassurance and food for thought as a newbie to this site.
    My main problem is that it is so fascinating reading other peoples experiences (travel’s my thing) evenings just fly out the window!
    Will certainly check out some of your other posts and thank you

  33. Hi Tracy

    I really enjoyed reading your post. Those are some good lessons to live by. I was going to pick and choose my favorites, but they kept just getting better as I read them lol. Actually I do like the one on discipline, bad drafts, and letting a piece rest.

    I gotta re-read this post every so often to motivate myself:)

  34. Great Post! I can completely relate to the tech temper tantrums. One thing I have trouble with in writing (honestly in other aspect of life too) comparing my site/ writing/ frequency of posting to other blogs. Sometimes I just want to “Keep up with the Joneses” and have a tricked out site with great design and graphics. Then the fact my blog is about simplicity, D.I.Y. and motherhood reminds me to keep it real. Keepin’ it real for me is a not-so-perfect blog design and a off center header. Thanks again. Great post!

  35. Hi Tracy,

    Great post — there’s so much that can be learned by this endeavor!

    I just started my blog over the summer thinking that it would help me define myself as a writer. Having written in a marketing/PR capacity for decades, I have picked up creative non-fiction and fiction writing again, but it is so hard to call myself a writer. My blog has helped me do that, but I still need to work on getting over my bashment nature about my creative writing.

    BTW — my dream is to ditch the suits (got that far at least) and move to New Hampshire (still working on that part).

  36. Hi Tracy –
    Great post! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been blogging for a few months now and learn something everyday about writing better or new turns on publicizing. Unfortunately, it is my only writing outlet for now – book projects are on hold but still putting words on the screen and learning, learning, learning. It’s all writing, right?

  37. I’m not sure I want to write professionally, though my husband thinks I should. But I do like flexing my writing chops here on WordPress. I can’t just write once a week, because I get easily distracted. Tried it, failed miserably. So I started back to daily posting, so far so good. Somedays I even have two blogs in me. God bless who ever is stuck reading them lol.

  38. Blogging for me is an excuse to release all my built up thoughts throughout the week. When I was in college, I took a few writing classes and one of the more experienced professors told us to get good at writing we needed to practice everyday. Back then the web was just getting started and tools like these required a lot of setup. Flash forward 15 years and everyone has a voice who wants one. I am thankful that I learned early and can see potential post topics like you mentioned. Good entry.

  39. Everything in your post makes sense to me. . I just started blogging, just out of curiosity, to try it. I find my posts are very unfocused, with no overall theme or direction. i also think taking the time to write the posts, then let them sit a while before editing is a really good idea, and one I may try, instead of writing stuff in a hurry to post every day.
    Thanks!

  40. Very glad to have read this. I’ve noticed I’m moving up to some other writing projects thanks to people having viewed my blog and thinking of me for what they need. It’s a good feeling. Holding deadlines, though… that’s a big thing to work on.

    On of the concerns I have with forced writing is that it will have that feeling, and people will take note of that. Is it perhaps wise to have a post in reserve for those days, just to ensure that something gets out there?

  41. Thanks for the encouragement! Haha, i particularly liked the bit about ‘the blank stare’ that follows after you say ‘that’s a blog post’. I’m trying to keep from mentioning my blog every five seconds of the day!

  42. I believe you nailed this one! I just wrote in my blog something very similar. Of course, not as eloquently written as your post. I love it!

  43. Really enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing! I only started blogging recently, but I can already see the difference in writing from my first entries to my newest ones. Thanks for the great thoughts and advice, will definitely keep it in mind!

  44. Although I do not aspire to be a published author at this time, per se, your comments are applicable to any type of writing. I had to chuckle…sometimes I have posted something – which, of course, can never be retrieved – only to find some silly typo or weird wording!

    Great suggestions!! Thank you!!

  45. I have to agree with some of your points. Scheduling posts has been my saving grace as well as writing a post and then letting it stew for a few hours or a day or two – some of my better writing. Congrats on being FP!

  46. Great post! I never though that I would be a writer in any public way, and I now write two blogs. Your list of lesson helps me to think through why I am blogging! I might add that I really enjoy the feedback and dialogue that comes from comments on my posts and emails I receive. Some of the best professional development I have done!

  47. Wonderful blog, and one that so many of us relate to. May I ask a question: how do you set up your blog so that so many people can respond to it?

    Thanks for your help. Another rule I’ve discovered: Share. I have gotten ideas such as adding pictures to my blog, from other writers.

    Good luck.
    Ronnie

  48. what a co-incidence it is. I had created my blog around two years backa nd never wrote again. Afer being persuaded by some friends I thought to restart and first post I read today was this 🙂 I guess its all cosmic. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so motivated, I wanna just start jump to the new post collumn and write …something – anything 🙂 Thanx again. lots of Love

  49. fantastic post. i think the key to writing is that beautiful shift from inspiration to what manifests on the page. more specifically, that the spark catches fire with other people. communication that is received loud and clear. this post is testament to that, look at all these adoring comments. nice work!

  50. I have only very recently started blogging – translation = I have only made 4 posts! I love writing, I have notebooks full of it at home, it makes me happy to use my creativity. But life, full time work, uni and wedding plans get it the way and you figure it’s okay because it’s just writing… but then I realised I hadn’t written anything for myself in around 3 months and was surprised at how sad that made me feel.
    Then my work asked me to explore web 2.0 technologies, how they could be used in our workplace and devise training modules for them. I came to wordpress and viewed some of the ‘freshly pressed’ blogs and became excited at the variety of ways that different people express themselves. Some through photos, some through words, some through photos of artwork they had created, some through sharing recipes they had discovered etc. etc. you know the vast array of ways to express yourself on here – you all are doing/seeing it!
    I thought, ‘I could do that’ – so now here I am, a little green behind the ears, but jiggling with excitement like a kid waiting for their birthday cake!
    Congrats on the FP!!!

  51. Great post. I agree with your points, especially the one about learning to live with ‘rejection’ – my blog doesn’t have a huge readership, and sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it, but I continue with it because I enjoy it. And that’s pretty much the best reason to be a blogger!

  52. Thank you! I like it and actually would like to copy it and use it in my classes.
    Isn`t it amazing how life works? We learn something in a certain field and it rearranges all the other areas in our lives.
    Life is so beautiful and uplifting, if we have the heart and the eye to see it.
    Eugen

  53. I couldn’t agree more. As some one who just started blogging not to long ago, I’m starting to see your bits of wisdom coming through. Thanks for sharing!

  54. Some spot-on advice here – thanks for posting. Blog-writing and general writing – absolutely, they’re the same thing. Skills and techniques are transferrable. And yeah, trashing a bad first draft is sometimes necessary. Important. Even vital. Sometimes all that draft does is get your thoughts in order.

    To me the ‘blog’ style is akin to feature writing – same demands, has to grab at the outset, tell a story and then finish with a punch. Or, in the case of my blog, sometiems I drop the ‘h’ and it’s just a pun.

    Good stuff, and thanks again for sharing.

    Matthew Wright
    http://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com
    http://www.matthewwright.net

  55. I found your post on what you learned from blogging insightful. Oddly I already had professional writing experience when I started blogging and I still haven’t figured out the ins and outs of this medium.

    You mention posting something you hope would go viral and people ignore it. Been there, done that.

    Pacific NW Author

  56. All your comments are so on target. I have learned so much about myself, others and writing since I commenced blogging. Some days it is hard to motivate myself, but the personal rewards have been enormous.

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  58. I’ve definitely learned a lot from blogging, granted I was a staff writer at a newspaper before I started my blog two years ago.

    Blogging allowed me a public space to continue covering the issues important to me. It also was a platform that allowed me to take risk in how I write about a subject.

    Great post, Tracy!

  59. This is a great post. You made so nice points and I agree with most of them. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. How nice to meet with you and with your blog. Thank you, with my love, nia

  60. I often think of blogging as my b.s. writing – something to do when I’m not doing more important things. But then, no one gets to read the notebook I carry around with me, and people sometimes read the blog. Where are my priorities?

    A bit of consistency and reciprocation goes a long way in blogging, and two years in, I think I’m still getting the hang of it. Thanks for the tips.

  61. Very nice post. The issue I struggle with is editing as I go. You’re absolutely right about learning to be comfortable with coughing up shapeless messes which can later be shaped or discarded. Better to get the idea(s) out in their entirety first. Sometimes the words and ideas flow together simultaneously and sometimes the one abandons the other. For me, the challenge is abandoning the concept of perfection for discipline. Cheers and good luck!

  62. This is what I’m hoping. As a writer with a “work in progress” I often feel like blogging is taking me away from my primary work, but reading this is a pleasant reminder that we are writers in all forms and genres. All writing is good for the writer.

    Great post!

  63. I completely agree with you on your point about blogging- and I thought I was the only one under pressure about trying to write enough to keep my audience amused (and not disappear).

  64. Blogging can be the platform into another part of life you never really charted for in your first reading of the stars. I have had like 16 million blogs and all have failed but I think they have shown me the lack of commitment I have to myself as a writer. I love my ability to weave together a story and ignite the crowd of readers, but I let myself down when I get lazy or don’t have that muse.

    Your post has inspired me to continue with my blog Holy Sandals (www.holysandals.com) and to keep my Facebook account! We’ll see how it goes! Thank you!

  65. I found your post as I was mulling the idea of my own blog (again). You’ve reminded me that ‘live and learn’ is what we do. Thank you for the encouragement to let my words out into the ether.

  66. I totally relate to a lot of the things you’ve outlined. I’ve been freelance writing for a little over a year now and have used blogging (though never got around to marketing as well as I should have). This is a post that definitely deserves to be promoted!

  67. I’m going to start blogging on a regular basis soon. Basically, I write a ton of stories for fun, and so I show them to my friends. They make me write on a deadline (normally a chapter a week– a chapter every couple days for my Hunger Games fanfic), and then that also includes writing when I don’t want to, yada yada…

    It’s EXHAUSTING.

    But I think you’re a great blogger!!! 😀

    • Agreed – I’m a new blogger, too 🙂 One of the motivations for starting my blog was to get into the habit of writing every day, whether formal or information posts, for better or worse. So, the reminder about the importance of discipline in this blog post is spot on for me.

  68. thank you very much for this post, i just opened my blog and began writing in English. in addition, your post provides me for professional writing advice.

    I really learned a lot from this post.

    Best wishes

  69. Thanks a lot!
    Thats a really inspiring post for a new blogger like me.
    I have procrastinated a lot, done things unworthy of a fine blogger. You have taught me to mend my ways before the wrath of the blogosphere is on me!
    Its good to know that writing changed who you are, writers change themselves as much as they change those who read their work, perhaps even more.
    I hope the posts keep rolling!

  70. God be praised, this was just what I needed. I write for a living, and un/fortunately, the past months have brought quite a truckload of assignments my way. While I’m thankful for the ka-ching the extra work has brought in, I’ve gone on a major blog fast – not a single post in over a month!

    I’m beginning to feel that my blog is glaring resentfully at me from its spot on my Most Visited thumbnails. Your first two bullet points were a much-needed boot to the head for me.

    So here’s to a more diligent blogging lifestyle for me, and to your getting on Freshly Pressed!

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  72. Blogging is definitely a writing experience, and a lot of work to maintain it, but I would not give it up. I love communicating with the world and not just a selected group of people. Not to mention, it makes it easy to share my thoughts, and views. The feedback is great.

  73. As a beginning blogger I found this post particularly helpful! Especially the part about letting a post rest. I feel the same way. If you write something you should let it sit, walk away from it and do something completely unrelated before coming back and rereading it. I’ve often found what I wrote was what I intended, but sometimes I come back and have to ask myself “what was I thinking?”

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  75. Thank you so much for writing this article. I am a new blogger and at times I am my worst critic. I have a bad habit of giving more attention to more seasoned bloggers and neglecting my own. Every time I write a sentence or two I tell myself “it’s not good enough” or “maybe I’m not creative enough.” As a new blogger I am not where I want to be. Your article confirmed, that as a writer, you have to start somewhere.

    Thanks again!!!

  76. Pingback: “Blogging isn’t writing, it’s graffiti with punctuation.” | rileykulcsar

  77. I really enjoyed reading your post. Aside from the inspiring thoughts, I learned from the informative tips as well! I’m challenged and encouraged to keep writing, blogging and yes, to live to write/write to live! 🙂

    Discipline is the best key to be productive not only in writing! There are times I would experience writer’s block, but I help myself to focus and to relax; then later on, be flooded with fresh ideas!

    Congrats for being freshly pressed! Keep inspiring! 🙂

    ~LAF
    curlybookworm.wordpress.com

  78. Great post! Every word is true. Launching a blog has been the ultimate learning experience. Even when working on a larger project, I like the idea of stepping away to writer smaller pieces. The very act of writing is inspiring as is the community of bloggers. I love how we’re all in this together – the support and encouragement is phenomenal.

    Congrats on getting Freshly Pressed! 🙂

  79. Hi Tracy,

    I have much in common with you. Like you, I traded my full time job for a life as a homemaker taking care of my two kids. With the encouragement from my loving husband, I am now a blogger and am on the way to writing my first book.
    Yes, just blog on!

  80. I really appreciated your post. I was captivated by the headline and had to read it. I spend the last year living and traveling abroad and had many great experiences. Everyone is always asking me for advice, or information and I thought a blog might be a good way to accomplish that. I have always enjoyed writing and am much more expressive with a pen in my hand. I find it difficult to ‘let a piece’ sit and to cut out things that I created from the blog, even if it’s longer than it really should be. I have a few times rashly ‘published’, but luckily was able to go back in and edit out a few typos. I continue to hope that people will find my blog interesting and perhaps someday it will allow me to continue to travel while writing it. I hadn’t thought about including a ‘contact’ on my page, but that is a good idea. I also don’t use Twitter even though I signed up a couple years ago. I was wondering why it is essential to a writer? I’ve tried not to bring up my blog too much in conversation and drive people crazy, but I’m so excited by each post. I do feel a sense of discouragement when my stats are lower than the week before, and no one is commenting. I hope that people are reading and enjoying my work, and that my writing will continue to improve and reach others.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this insightful post for all of us blossoming bloggers.

  81. Thanks so much for the post Tracy, and congratulations on being freshly pressed. I’ve only just started blogging, also with aspirations to be a writer, and all of your points validated the amount of time I have spent so far. Heaps of it just trying to get the blog to look almost the way I want it to. Now I don’t feel it was time wasted!

  82. I have learned something, especially the part when “you have to write even if you don’t feel like writing”, now, whenever I will encounter that dilemma, I will remember your post.

  83. I so agree. And thank you for writing about your life, about parenting – what could be more important? You give even more credence to that old directive often given to writers, “Write what you know.”

  84. I used to post my stories on Facebook, really the worst possible venue for visibility. I can’t think of anything more frustrating than the constant feeling of rejection that went along with each post that disappeared in my readers’ News Feeds under an avalanche of Mafia Wars updates.

    When I moved here a month ago, I was completely naive about what a blog was or how to manage one. Posts like this one are very helpful. Thank you!

  85. What a wonderful, inspirational piece. I never have thought of blogging as an educational tool in my writer’s workbox. The points you bring up hit so close to home for me that I have to admit when I blog I’m practicing my skill. Thanks for the reminder!

  86. Thank you for this post. Right now, I would say that blogging saved my sanity. My decision to enter the blogosphere stemmed from a need to be creative, to find an outlet, to get back in touch with something that I used to do for a living. I have found that through writing what I enjoy writing about, gardening and life’s backyard adventures, I have found inspiration and excitement in the craft — and I have met so many supportive people out there. Yes, there is a certain time investment — but it has been well-worth the trip. Cheers!

  87. I agree and blogging not only encourages a person to write but also to some, it is a form of expressing one’s thoughts on blogosphere when one dares not say it aloud for people to hear

  88. I really like your post.Wiring is never easy…..Your post is very interesting and inspiring for young writers.Your points are very true and inspiring ..keep it up…

  89. That’s a nice post with a good inspiring message!

    Though I must say… some bloggers sometimes just rest of their “popular blog” laurels and forget about the basics like grammar and structure. As an ex-magazine editor, I had to deal with a few too many of those hahaha!

  90. Well this is a fantastic motivational post! I’m constantly worried though that I want gather readers to my blog. I know there are a lot of ‘tips’ to attract readers, and I’m really trying, but I can’t get constant readers. I love my personal blog, and love writing the posts that I write, but is it worth it if no one reads? Something to ponder… and work on.

    indiraadams.wordpress.com

  91. Good insights here about lessons learned from blogging. I totally agree about keeping a blog being good for discipline. Keeping a schedule and sticking to it has been great for building my creativity. Good post!

  92. Thanks very much for the tips and an overview of how to write a blog. I just started writing articles and this is very helpful. It also shows, you need some determination and keep going writing articles, even if it isn’t that succesful the first time 😀

  93. Hi Lee

    This is a lovely post. The book is on my read list; but isn’t it amazing how different writers’ lives are shaped in wonderful ways…:)

    How I did is at http://ciinnamon.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/how-i-discovered-my-true-calling/’ and is about my discovery …Quite unlike you; I went through a maze to find my career as a copywriter.

    Your post is very inspiring and I feel terrible about posting one of my drafts, so I trashed it. Then, I thought If no one reads or likes it, maybe blogging isn’t for me. But, now, I think will follow your advice:)

    PS
    am still discovering being a blogger is a different cup of tea,, I too have discovered some wonderful writers here who I think will shape my writing… Thanks for the post

    Valsa

  94. I don’t know if my blogging helped me get a book deal (I’ve never asked my publisher if he ever read my blog before contacting me) but it probably didn’t hurt. The book is specialised & non-fiction though, so while having a blog would give someone confidence that I have a basic ability to string sentences together, it wouldn’t be enough alone to assure them of sufficient knowledge to write competently on the subject matter. Still, a habit of writing certainly helps the process, especially on those days when the last thing you want to do is write another chapter.

    Good post.

  95. I love this article so much. It made me realized that blogging isn’t just for expressing your thoughts and ideas. I guess now I would be more certain to improve my posts thanks to this article. It helped me so much. 🙂

  96. I just started blogging and getting into the Facebook and Twitter. I’m not going to lie, but it’s nerve racking!!! Yikes! As a teenager I had no problem writing about my daily affairs, but as an adult I get swamped with life! Nonetheless, your post came across as true inspiration and I will brush up my skills and truck along… Thank you

  97. Thank you for this post! I’m a new blogger and I cringe every time I post something I write. I have very few readers and only a couple of comments, but I still write and I still post because I love to write! Thanks for the pointers!!

  98. Congrats on being freshly pressed! I’ve always been a big fan of the revision process in writing, first, second, third drafts, etc. Edit, edit, edit. Great post!

  99. Very helpful and encouraging composition.It has a lot of gist and any one who is interested in writing- oh! in blogging must surely follow the ideas imbedded in the writeup.Bravo Tracy,I will definitely reach one day where you are provided I get a Laptop of my own or a personal IBM.I have began to feel the cost of writing from an Internet cafe. Thank for finding time and you share your experience with us.

  100. It amazes me how many people read this post and felt completely validated. You have an uncanny knack for captivating the emotions of your audience. 🙂 I’m sure that your first novel will be well worth the read. Please keep us informed on that.

    Thank you so much for your insight, and best of luck to all of you future successful authors.

  101. My greatest dream is to be a writer. And guess what? This blog made me realise I already am a writer. I’m blogging for about 4 years now. I have a public and I write about once a week. So, what the big point… all the things you said.

    I’m begin to see this a lot more serious!

  102. I haven’t yet found my blog audience, but my passion for writing has never been stemmed I too have a finished manuscript maybe more than one set aside for years now. It’s hard to take that next step and get an honest opinion before making the neccessary edits and then there’s always the trial of securing a publisher. One day I hope to count myself a published author of more than just poetry, but I guess everything happens in time…just not “my” time Keep writing
    🙂

  103. You’ve managed to put down in writing the vague realizations that I’ve been having lately.

    Even though it’s been barely a month since I began blogging I’ve already found that it requires a lot of discipline and hard work. Plus, ever since I began my book blog, I’ve noticed a change in the way I read books. I find myself noticing the finer details and asking myself questions I would never have thought to ask before. Blogging is already proving to be a huge learning experience that I am, actually, enjoying very much 😉

    Thank you for this post. I enjoyed reading it very much!

  104. This was fabulous! You’re point of “honing in on the details of life” outside of what was obvious was a true fact. While I write mostly to tell my story and make people laugh so hard their nose goes all flare-y, it made me realize I can encorporate so much more than what happens directly to me-but what happens around.

  105. Wow, not just a great article, LOTS of comments! Thanks for the pointers. I’ve been doing this for a little while in a very undisciplined fashion. There is SO much to learn that all I can do is pace myself. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Thanks for writing.

  106. Ah! So true! Blogging has taught me a great deal of things too, and I hope it continues to teach me on how to become the writer that I wish I can be someday. While the act of blogging is tedious enough in the midst of all my schoolwork, at the end of the day (or of a post), I feel proud that I’ve accomplished something and it gives me a sense of genuine joy. It’s really an awesome thing to do as well! 🙂

  107. What a wonderful post! I just began blogging and to be honest, I haven’t yet decided for myself if it is truly worth it. The “blogger’s form of rejection” lesson is one I’ve learned quite well but your post has encouraged me to stick with it. Thank you!

  108. I have to agree and I am a novice blogger! I see both how much fun it is – almost addictive and yet how disciplined it is at the same time. I was hesitant to start blogging for the very reason you mentioned about taking time out of one’s writing hours, but it’s worth it for the other reasons you mentioned and it’s so stimulating when people out there actually connect with you and post comments – our other writing is not yet seen – may never ever be and here is a platform to express and teach and create an appreciation on one’s words and even a chance to build a following! Perhaps this is also valid in finally achieving more popularity when the actual book is released because people have heard of and are already fond of YOU! You have already become a HABIT! Don’t you love technology!
    You make some great points – loved your post and thanks for sharing these insights. I’ll be back.

  109. I absolutely love this post and agree with the points made! I started blogging a year ago and, I must admit, am still finding my way. All of your points I’ve had to discover myself and I love how you put them in words. Thanks!

  110. Wow! I am quite happy to have found this blog. Just started blogging and the most difficult part for me is getting the draft right 😦 My style is all over the place but hopefully after some practise i’ll get better (fingers crossed)….

  111. I really enjoyed this post. My day job is as a magazine writer and editor, but I rarely write just for myself. I’m new to blogging, and I hope it gives me the outlet I’ve been looking for to develop that personal voice.

  112. Great post; very good points. I had to laugh when you wrote, “You think you’ve written a sparkling post that deserves to go viral–and all you get is a single comment that’s actually pharmaceutical spam.” Again, very insightful. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  113. Great advice! As a journalism student juggling many different hats, I find that my blog often comes last on my to-do list. Using the points you made will hopefully allow me to put myself on a writing schedule and really launch my blog like I had originally hoped.

  114. I agree with your points, although I don’t follow them. I’m the kind of guy who edits while writing and then once afterward. It causes me to have some really nonsensical posts that I have to rewrite later. Great tips!

  115. A truthful and lovely post. I truly enjoyed reading it as it confirms what I originally thought about blogging when I began. It is another writing avenue with its own rules, audience, and style. It’s just as valid a form of communication as novels, magazines, etc. Huzzah for the new media!

  116. A lot of excellent blogs do not get reviews or fairly decent ones but we all keep on writing so that we can continue doing what we love because no matter how excellent we like to think our blog posts are not everyone thinks so. And we have to accept that.

  117. Superb post. I’ve also been using my blog to try to get myself back into the writerly side of writing rather than half-heartedly poking at projects. I agree with everything you’ve said–it works for the newbie as well as the jaded writer.

  118. Wonderful post. I have always been a believer that blogging is not a waste of time or anything, though many people think differently. I totally agree with you.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

  119. Fantastic post! I am an accountant who just started blogging to relieve stress and have a bit of stimulating fun. Writing on a set schedule (eg. once a week) ‘s tough and I tend to get lazy. Hopefully using your recommendations I can get back on track 🙂

  120. I love your fourth remark because I have experienced this phenomenon as well. I think it is because that initial piece of writing ‘turns on the brain’. The brain works in odd ways, tracing paths that might seem odd if spoken aloud. I suppose it is a bit like the new commercials about Bing search sites. One word or thought, brings you to another, and then another, and so on, until you have formulated something truly worth sharing with the world. Apparently it is working well for you! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  121. Very inspirational post, I could relate to a lot of what you said (except for being a mother.. not there yet; the closest I’ve gotten has been raising my German Shepherd boy!).

    “I won’t ever really know what I’m doing, so I’ll get to keep asking questions. And isn’t that what writing is all about?”

    Absolutely. Exploration of the world, and myself. That’s what writing will always be to me.

    Aun Aqui

  122. Thank you for writing this. I have been blogging for about a year now, but I didn’t make myself write. I have chosen to write at least one post a week, and I admit that sometimes I just don’t feel it, or I lost my thought on what I wanted to write about.
    I now have my handy notebook that I carry everywhere with me and when something pops in my head to write about I have the means to do so.
    I agree with everything you wrote and I do believe that blogging has not only helped me define myself but it has also helped me become a better writer!
    Thanks again!

  123. How true! If nothing else, blogging forces us writers to commit to a routine and schedule. And the hope that someone out there is listening keeps me going!

  124. A very interesting subject for me; i recently began blogging… i do love to write but really enjoy sharing, I ‘m sure my writing can use improvement. in other words this is a good place for me. Thank you for the helpful hints, perhaps one day I will complete a writing work i ‘ve set aside for the past few years. Thank you for the insight..

  125. Wow, this is a great post. I have just started a blog as a way of disciplining myself to write on a regular basis, so I can completely identify!

    Do you find yourself ever losing interest in the blog, though? And if so, how do you deal with that?

  126. I agree. “But then I remember how much I’ve learned by blogging in the first place, and I know my education isn’t complete.” so simple, yet so true. i noticed that a couple months into doing mine, and when i started thinking that, i just got better and better.

  127. I think it’s absolutely true that blogging hones your writing skills. I wrote professionally for about two or three years before I ever started a blog (my blog is over two years old now). I think the practice of crafting the blog posts has been just as valuable for building my skills as my professional assignments. Another big reason I keep the blog is that I feel like I need an outlet that doesn’t have word counts, assigned topics or editors of various commitment and skill. Fortunately, it’s not completely self-indulgent, as my readers say they enjoy it.

    I was initially resistant to the world of social media as well, and even blogging. I’ve gotten on Facebook but haven’t brought myself to join Twitter yet, though I know I should. Blogging is not just valuable because of the discipline and skills it lets you practice – it’s also about building a platform for yourself on your own terms, and seeing what styles and topics of your own work connects with readers. You’re marketing yourself for future work.

  128. Totally agree with the first draft bits, a lot of mine sit there as streams of conciousness and, reading back, wondering what I was on when I wrote them! Sometimes keyboards are better then paper for getting it down and thankfully we do have the option to keep drafts on WordPress! It would be a babbly world without it!

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  130. Thanks for this post. This is really encouraging for me because all my hopes of being a writer have languished…except blogging. It’s great to hear how valuable this new form of self-publishing has become and encourages me to keep at it.

  131. Hi. Thanks for your post. I’ve never considered myself to be a ‘writer’. I am a Registered Nurse, wife and mother and that’s it for me.
    Just over a month ago, I stumbled upon WordPress!!!! So, here I am blogging. Officially a blogger. My five years old son is Autistic and there are so many misconceptions about his condition. I found myself writing and trying to express what he’s going through so others will have a better understanding about Autism, which has been very therapeutic for myself and family.
    Your posts are extremely informative and I will be subscribing.
    http://jacquirose17.wordpress.com

  132. I think there have been two outstanding benefits for me.

    First off, it gets words flowing in a medium that I consider less “important” than my actual writing. Once you get used to the flow, it is easier to maintain it, for some reason. Just getting your fingers moving on the keyboard can do amazing things for your writing.

    Second, it gives me a sort of peer pressure. If I know people are reading about my writing, then I feel an expectation to actually produce something for them to read. If I know other people are writing, then it makes it seem less daunting and more like an every day task like dishes or laundry.

  133. I really enjoyed this post! I’ve also wondered if I should give up blogging a few times since I started it over a year ago, but that’s just in the moments that I’m experiencing writer’s block or really low energy. You’re right–writing when you don’t feel like it is a very valuable skill to develop. I’m sure I’m learning things I’m not even aware of that will help me out sometime down the road.

  134. “You think you’ve written a sparkling post that deserves to go viral–and all you get is a single comment that’s actually pharmaceutical spam. ” Describes my 2 year blogging career to a T!!!!

    -Baba T

  135. Agreed! Being forced to write, meeting deadlines, and writing garbage are all useful things about blogging – it’s like the traditional publishing industry at three times the speed. Writing improves your writing! (Yes, I think every blogger writes at least one post on what they learned from blogging).
    Anyway, thanks for the reminder about why it’s so good to blog!

  136. This is such a wonderful word of underlaying advice and encouragement! As I have recently finished my university studies and have begun to put my writing into real life action, I too am struggling with finding direction. There seems to be so many themes in life that pertain to us on a daily basis within such a changing environment and it’s important, yet difficult to find the voice that speaks to us the most. I have not yet found that voice, but I will use your point about writing/blogging daily and consistently to begin finding that voice that speaks to me that I may connect and share with others. Thank you very kindly.

    -Atheena J.Marie

  137. Love your post! In fact, I learnt making it a habit, from my cousin. My first attempt at it is on my blog. Let’s see how long am able to keep at it 🙂

  138. Pingback: Advice to write home about… « Life Simplistic

  139. Thank you for delineating the benefits of blogging. I agree that a weekly promise to my readers is a great motivation to write. I found your other boons of great interest and can see how they may manifest in disciplined writing too.

  140. Wow! I needed to read this! Thanks for posting this one. I often catch myself saying “that’s a blog post” too! Crazy how this world takes hold of u.

    I’m still very new and need all the advice I can get. I love your approach and how it feels like your talking directly to me about the exact things I struggle with. Thank you!

  141. Pingback: Cumin and Coriander, Garlic and Galangal : Week 39, 2011 « Che Nah

  142. “……….Writing and running a blog has provided me with an ongoing education. Here are just 10 of the valuable………..”

    Well say..!
    Yes , I agreed, writing needs a lot of practice.

  143. You are so right. Practice makes perfect and blogging also requires discipline because of the deadlines. It’s so important to let a piece rest. I love the way you explained all your points in a bullet list. it just makes reading so much easier.

  144. Pingback: Fresh « itzshayanne

  145. I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m a recent(ish) convert to the world of blogging. Initially daunting, my writers block set in, but I felt compelled to deliver something having spread the word of my interests in writing. I couldn’t let them, or me, down. And I stuck with it… And so far I’ve loved the results… Some completely different to what I started with! It’s certainly opened me up to the challenge of writing a lot more. thoughtsofrkh.wordpress.com, if you have some time, would love to know what you think!

  146. Pingback: UnchartedParent.com » I’ve Been Freshly Pressed!

  147. I am new to blogging and your piece really helps put things into perspective. I even think some of my posts are boring, but honestly, I should just let it go – like you said “sometimes good enough has to be good enough” 🙂

  148. blogging is worth giving a try. people blog for different purposes that best suite the life style … but the most interesting thing is that you’ill always want to make the out of it. so if you find blogging to be boring do’t worry you’ll get to like with time…cheerss

  149. Pingback: The First Spark | writeontheline

  150. very afraid of the written word….maybe that’s why I’m searching out my talent with photography…..hopefully in the future this will come to past…..thank you for your article.

  151. I want to say Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I have myself, 8 around 10’000 words of a prospective book sitting on my laptop and its posts like yours that make me want to keep writing. I love your blog. :0)

  152. Hello Lee,

    Awesome post!!! I started posting every weekday a month ago, so I can relate to just about anything you wrote here.

    I will put the beginning of this post with the link back to here, and I will put your name in the title. I hope it’s ok. I want more people to see this, even though you already have a big audience.

    Philippe

  153. Fantastic post! I am happy to say I can relate to all of your lessons as an aspiring writer who has been blogging for about 6 months now. It has been a great learning experience. I have found it habit-forming. Like you, I’ve developed an eye for experiences that are blog-worthy.

    One of the biggest benefits of blogging for me has been learning that I CAN do this. I’d always thought myself lazy, but I have managed to maintain a fairly regular posting schedule, even when I think I don’t feel like writing. Proving myself wrong has been a great treat!

  154. So agreed! It’s good that there are others that feel the same way with writing on blogs–the frustrations, procrastination, and rejection that can come with it all. Thanks and best!

  155. Thank you so much for your comments, everyone. And thank you, too, to all of you who visited and subscribed to my blog, followed me on Twitter and more. What an amazing response!

    There’s a lot of dedication and love of writing in these comments. Keep writing, and I’ll see you out there in the blogosphere!

  156. Very good points! I have a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. I was thinking yesterday about what I learned in my program. The honest answer is very little. I don’t know if it was my program, or every B.F.A. creative writing program, but the main focus is on practice and not on learning objective concepts.

    Writers learn by doing.

  157. Wow, this was right on time–especially coming off of a hateful comment on one of my blogs that sparked the beginnings of a bitchy rant. I’m still gonna bitch, but I think I’ll let it breathe a little before I publish. This also helps with the mental kick in the butt when I’m whining how much I don’t feel like writing. 😉

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