Blogging Is Open Mic for Writers, and That’s Why You Should Do It
I’m old enough to remember when the word “weblog” became “blog,” and when everybody was always saying “I posted about this on my blog,” and when corporate forces co-opted the blog to start making “branded content.” Blogging is nothing new or hip or cool. It is possibly the opposite of all that at this point.
But if you are a writer, particularly if you are in the early stages of a writing career, you should be blogging. Here’s why: Blogging is an open mic for writers on the internet. And it’s scheduled for whenever you want it to be, for infinity.
Open mics are fantastic, and it’s a shame that they are one of the most dangerous things we could do during the pandemic, because they serve many purposes. Musicians (used to) go to open mics to try out new material in front of an audience. Open mics might seem cheesy to outsiders, but they serve a bunch of purposes quite elegantly. The musician has a structured goal: Have certain material polished and ready by a given date and time. She gets to see how a (usually, hopefully) supportive audience reacts to that material. And she gets the chance to possibly form a community with other like-minded artists.
Though blogs look quite different, they are basically the same thing. They provide structured goals for your output (as long as you give yourself those goals). They force you to put new material out there and see how (usually, hopefully) supportive audiences react. I think getting stuff out there is critical to both writing and music—of course you can keep playing for yourself, but for most aspiring writers and musicians, communicating something to someone else, sharing what you made with others, is part of the whole thing. You’ll likely find that people—even if they’re just friends and family—are delighted with what you’ve made, even if it’s not perfect. You might even find that putting your work out on the internet allows you to form some sense of community, whether it’s on your blog itself or with other bloggers.
This sense of blogging as an open mic hit me in the last several months because of the pandemic. I have been a professional writer for a long time—since before the days of “weblogs”—so getting my written work out there in a disciplined way is not a problem for me. It’s how I get paid, so I feel pretty motivated. But I am an amateur musician; I play and sing acoustic guitar covers of pop songs. I used to go to open mics and had hoped to get back out there this year, but the pandemic made that impossible. So I started posting videos of myself playing online. First, I did it to promote my book Pop Star Goddesses. For an entire month, I posted a song by one of my goddesses every weekday. I found that people genuinely loved it, even though I am far from great. They weren’t looking for great. They just found a bit of joy, I think, in watching me do something that gave me a bit of joy.
I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) keep up the daily pace, but decided to downshift to weekly for the foreseeable future. So now every Monday, I post a song. I haven’t missed a week yet since I started doing it five months ago. It has lent a wonderful focus to my guitar practice, allowing me to work on one song each week. I’ve nailed a few harder songs I probably would have just fudged my way through in practice or given up on. It’s fun to see which songs particularly excite people. Cyndi Lauper’s deep cut “Hole in My Heart” was a surprising “hit” with my little audience, as was Pink’s “Just Like a Pill,” a personal favorite that I didn’t know other people loved as much as I do. Something I’ve learned is that people just want to share the experience of the song with others. For instance, people loved when I posted Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eyes”—harder than you think, lots of fancy chord changes!—just because it gave them the chance to reminisce about their love for the ’80s teen pop star.
Think of blogging the same way: It’s your chance to share your love of writing with the world. It’s okay if it’s not perfect. We all need ways connect right now, and this is yours. Sing your song.