Whereas I used to crank out about 4 blog posts a week, I’d be hard pressed to write 4 a month now. And even then, I’m finding they’re not particularly well written.
Never Enough Time for (Good) Writing
The trouble is in part time, it’s true… somehow, I managed to find a job that is at least as consuming as classroom teaching -- and that leaves me little time to blog. While I’m taking far less work home as a public servant than I did as a classroom teacher (or university instructor, instructional coach, workshop facilitator, etc.), I don’t typically arrive home until 6:30 or 7p.m. at which point it’s all I can do to get supper on the table, chase down kids’ school forms and homework and get everyone to bed before collapsing into a semi-comatose state in front of Instagram for an hour or so before bed myself.
Inspiration and Permission
The other issue is inspiration. As a classroom teacher, I was constantly excited to share what I was learning alongside my students and colleagues. But as an education officer with the ministry of ed., I seem to have far less to write about. Or, perhaps, less that I can write about, due to the political nature of my current job: Much of my work is “in-progress” and as such, not open for sharing outside of the office.
As a teacher, I was constantly reflecting on practice, and sharing stories of my successes and failures with my spouse, my children and my blog readers. But as a public servant, I had to take an oath of office that precluded me from sharing publicly pretty much anything I do before it formally becomes public. (And even then, my ability to comment on it is limited, as it should be.)
So what’s a novice writer to do, then? In what ways can I continue to hone my craft?
New Genres, New Skills
I’m finding it interesting to develop new skills as I spend so much of my time now crafting emails, memos and issue notes and a wide variety of genres I did not know even existed until this year!! From parent guides to teacher guides to internal and external FAQs, everything I write goes through multiple layers of approvals and is edited (sometimes heavily) by a variety of co-authors and editors before it is ever seen by an "end user". I consider purpose and audience like never before… and I realise daily new examples of how my understanding of said purposes and audiences may differ from others’ interpretations.
Evolution of Content… and Audience?
The amount of wordsmithing I am learning to do in my new job makes me considerably less prolific than I am used to being, but perhaps more nuanced in my writing. That’s a gift I hadn’t considered when I first accepted the job, and I am considering how best to apply my evolving written skills to my blog as that, too, evolves.
If I no longer write about classroom happenings, and can’t write about emerging themes in public education for an audience that was primarily comprised of teachers, then how can I instead develop new, possibly non-education-related content in a way that interests them (you), or begin perhaps to foster a new audience for my blog?
Maybe the bigger question now is, why am I even keeping a blog?
Some years ago, I read and wrote about an article from the The Atlantic, “Why I Blog”. I reflected on how the sometimes error-riddled writing in a blog post was -- as the article implied -- part of the genre of blogging, which is in some sense a less “published” style of writing than, say, a paper magazine article or a book, which has gone through many, many rounds of editing before it is ready for public consumption.
But do we blog for public consumption?
I know some teacher colleagues blog very intentionally to build their “brand” and develop a following. I’ve never done that, and don’t even know if I have a brand to speak of. (And now that I’m an OPS employee, I can’t really go seeking specific fame and fortune anyway!) No, for me, blogging has always been more of a public scrapbook, a place to store and reflect on photos or written memories of various facets of my family/personal and professional life, open for others to peek in on and laugh alongside me at my shortcomings and marvel at or cheer me on in my sporadic successes.
While I’ve occasionally kept more topic-specific blogs (such as my Learn to Fly with Vera or Smart Bansho sites) over the years, in general, everything’s kind of begun to merge together in one place for me over the past 24 months, and I’m okay with that. Afterall, why limit one’s eclectic life to a single theme or passion online?
So now I have to figure out -- if it’s important to me to maintain this online scrapbook -- how I can continue to make time for and find joy in writing my blog posts more regularly, despite or perhaps somehow enhanced by the inordinate amount of writing I already do as part of my new day job!