I often get questions about how I work my personal life into my blog posts - where I draw the line, how I deal with privacy concerns, if I think sharing has helped grow my business, etc. This is a huge topic, and a great one for a reader question post.
To start, I want to recognize two things :
First, despite all the craft projects, I consider this blog a personal blog. That's how it started and that's how it will end. Everything in this space - the projects, the photos, the editing, the scrapbooks, the recipes, the coding, the design, the writing - is done by me. Everything is crafted and written about because at best I'm passionate about the topic and at the worst, it seemed like something fun to try. I blog because I want to share. But obviously, when I share details about life events (our wedding, trips we take, etc) I provide more personal information. I sometimes share much more than that too and would consider the posts where I share my thoughts and feelings (on marriage, on running my business, on deployment, etc) to be the most "personal."
Second, I think I am lucky in that I started blogging in 2005 when almost every blog was a personal blog. Like most people at the time, I shared anecdotes from my life every few days and included the good, the bad and the ugly. I had no idea that this space would gain an audience or become a career tool. I saw it as a creative outlet where I could share my inspirations, be tastefully self-depreciating and nothing more. I consider it a huge blessing that I learned how to be authentically personal first and authentically business-focused second. It seems much more difficult to try and work backwards. (Though if that's you - I would recommend starting with "around here" & "currently" posts.)
I know that there is a lot about me (and Paul) on this blog. I do my best to keep specifics about where we live to a minimum, but in reality, I recognize it's not top secret information. I am not too concerned about it. Right now, I feel very comfortable, but this is something that Paul and I will look into more carefully once we have kids and their safety and privacy to consider.
What I share has changed over the years and I have become more thoughtful about what I post. I guess some readers might consider this a bad thing, but I think for me it's just been part of growing up as a writer. I have been blogging for almost seven years. I am (thankfully!) a different person than I was as a junior in college. Going back and adapting my original writing style again would be as impossible as it would to move back into my sorority house and attend classes again (not that I haven't considered it).
When you share your life online, you open yourself up for a stream of opinions from strangers. This is awesome and terrible depending on the topic. There is a lot of room for assumption on the Internet (though it does no one any good whatsoever). Unlike in the real world, where you can rely on body language, facial expression and tone to help you get your message across, in Blogland, your words float forever, to be interpreted in any way, by anyone. I'll admit that stresses me out a bit.
But, as I have been mulling over this post, I've realized I really need to let go of that stress. In my years of blogging, I received probably 20 rude comments and only a handful of those were mean-spirited enough to really hurt my feelings. On the flip side, I have made some great friendships, built a business, shared helpful insight and most importantly, documented my life. I have worked out many problems and thoughts in this little text box (sometimes I don't really know how I am feeling about something until I start typing) and I know for sure writing has helped me develop emotionally, creatively and professionally.
While I can schedule posts about craft projects or life events (you can read more about how I do that here), I cannot "plan in advance" personal posts because I have two hard and fast rules :
1. When a personal post doesn't come easy, I don't think it's the post that needs to be written...yet. Usually it means the topic doesn't fully make sense for me and I am still working on it. I have started and stopped many posts over the past few years, not because I worry about how they'll be received, but because I don't know how to write them. As a blogger, I am willing to share my thoughts on difficult topics, but I never fight for posts when they are not ready. I trust that the words will come eventually, and they always do.
2. And completely the opposite, when I have a "personal" or emotional post working though itself in my head, I write it. Immediately. My greatest posts are the ones that take me by surprise and pour out of my fingers. The posts where I cannot do anything but write usually become my favorite. Middle of the night? I get up and sit at my computer. Driving home from the grocery store? I pull over to jot down notes. One hundred other things on my to do list? I push them aside and type. These posts are the magic posts and written quickly, usually after I have just realized something monumental.
Other than that, I draw simple boundaries -
I don't blog (or tweet) mad. And have never once regretted it. This doesn't mean I don't get mad. I get very mad. But I like to work though that anger (or sadness) a bit first before I share here (if I share at all). That's not called "hiding my feelings" it's called, "dealing with my feelings the old-fashioned way."
I don't present Paul in a bad light. Again, this doesn't mean that I always think my husband is the most amazing person on the planet who can do no wrong. It just means that our dirty laundry stays ours.
I try not to take myself too seriously. At the end of the day - this is an online journal. That's it. It is not worth all the stress that I could so easily place onto it and it certainly isn't life or death. There are real problems and there are blog problems and never are those two things the same.
Blogging is so bizarre and amazing. I love the friendships and connections that I have made while writing here, and for me the good that has come out of sharing bits of my life vastly outweighs the bad. I have had a few ups and downs while finding "my voice", but after almost seven years, it's still a joy to write.
And please know that I am honored my words are read by you.