Almost a year ago I started this little blog of mine.
I’ve posted once a week 52 times.
I’ve certainly not become a famous blogging superstar. Far from it. You’d hardly need any advanced maths qualifications to tot up my regular readership. As I pretty much expected from the start, I’ve become a failed blogger.
But that’s just the numbers talking.
In this post I’ll discuss the benefits I’ve experienced from typing into the internet void once a week for a year and what I’ve enjoyed about being a blogger. I’ll also pick out a few of my favourite and most pertinent posts from the archive.
It’s Cheaper than Therapy
If you’d asked me year ago, I wouldn’t have said I was desperately in need of therapy. No more than anyone else living through a global pandemic at least. However, I’ve found writing a weekly blog surprisingly therapeutic.
It’s helped me to reflect on and make peace with the choices that have led me to this point in my life. It’s given me the opportunity to consider my perspective on the world and what's important to me. And it’s allowed me to regularly check in with myself and make sure I’m coping with these chaotic times we’re living in.
I’m definitely not saying it’s more effective than a decent therapist but it’s certainly cheaper.
The Friends I’ve Made Along the Way
It may sound corny but I’ve made some friends that I would not have made had I not started the blog.
As a sensibly paranoid introvert living in a comfortable setting in the middle of a pandemic, I haven’t exactly been inclined to be sociable lately. The blog has given me the opportunity to reach out and talk to people with similar interests, ensuring I haven’t totally forgotten how to interact with other humans over the last twelve months.
Including people in blog posts or reaching out to others who might be interested in my writing has always been an enjoyable experience. It’s created a gentle nudge of positive reinforcement that reminds my brain that other people aren’t frightening. Most of the time.
I’m still in touch with people I’ve collaborated with and hope to meet them in real life one day. I continue to sporadically help with Beta Magazine, which featured my article Learning to Fall in its fourth issue. Had I not been looking for more places to share my writing I would never have met the lovely Emily Ankers or had a go at editing other people’s articles.
Without the blog I wouldn’t have met Faye Hine and learned about the Manchester worker bee or the “power yelp” she emits when climbing extra hard.
I wouldn’t have exchanged messages with Coralie Huon and learned about the physical toll of painting a mural up a ladder.
I wouldn’t have swapped a chalk bucket (and some money!) for a delightful drawing of myself on my first boulder project by the artistic wonder that is Lizzy Lee.
All in all, I would be a bit more isolated without the blog. Even an introvert like myself can objectively see these connections as excellent influences on my life.
Any Excuse to Talk About Climbing
Anyone who spends half an hour with me will quickly catch on to the fact that I bloody love climbing. I try to reign in my compulsion to turn every conversation into a chat about climbing but I’m not always successful.
Writing the blog has given me the opportunity to bang on about climbing as much as I bloomin’ well want to and it’s been an absolute treat. I don’t even care how many people read it. The warm and fuzzy feelings I get from jabbering on about my passion for climbing are just as warm and fuzzy whether one person reads about it, or a hundred people read about it.
I hope I’ve managed to craft my enthusiasm for climbing into something coherent. I don’t wish to show off or bore people to tears with my constant climbing chatter. Writing about climbing is a source of enjoyment for me but I also aim to show that anyone can be a climber.
I had no upper body strength worth speaking of, frequent lower back pain, and significantly less self-esteem when I took up climbing. Five years later, I’m physically and mentally the healthiest I’ve ever been and I largely put that down to climbing.
If I can be a climber, so can you.
I’d like to bust the myth that it’s only a sport for buff men or that you need to be a certain height/weight/strength/body type to give it a go. I’d be delighted if I’ve managed to persuade even one person to try it and derive even a smidgen of the delight hauling myself up walls has brought me over the last five years.
Is it a Blog or a Climbing Diary?
I wish I had more videos and photos from my early climbing days. It would be fantastic to be able to look back and see how far I’ve come since I started climbing with wet noodles for arms and ill-fitting beginner shoes on my feet.
I don’t have that problem anymore.
This year (2021) was the first time I set myself a concrete climbing goal and decided to follow a training plan that I hadn’t cobbled together myself. I’ve put in a lot of hard work to address injuries and improve my climbing and I’m delighted that I will have a thorough record of that, thanks to the blog.
It’s given me the opportunity to reflect on my physical training.
It’s provided a space for mental training.
And it’s allowed me to share my progression with fellow climbing enthusiasts.
Whatever else the blog becomes in the future, I plan to continue to use it to track my own climbing journey so I can look back on the results of all my hard work.
Rekindling a Sewing Spark
I lost all my interest in sewing after my last job in a theatre. My sewing machine did nothing more than fix seams or patch jeans for about a year after my last contract ended. I gradually started finding the fun in sewing again but writing about it has given that a significant boost.
Writing about my old creations showed me that my time spent learning to sew wasn’t a giant waste of time. It reminded me of the pleasure I, and other people, got from the things that I made and the satisfaction I’d got from turning flat fabric into functioning costumes and items of clothing.
Sharing my current projects encouraged me to keep up my sewing habit and experiment with new ways to use the materials I had at my disposal. Making it my mission to reuse and repurpose materials as much as possible has also scratched the problem-solving itch that being a wardrobe mistress used to take care of. The ‘square peg in a round whole’ challenge, which involves making what you have fit the purpose you need it to.
I don’t feel sad that I’ve sold very little in the shop because I’ve found gratification in the act of making things again. I’ve been able to savour sewing not because my bank balance depends on it but because I genuinely get a kick out of doing it.
Fun, Fun, Fun in the Face of Failure
When I started the blog, I really wanted people to read it. Lots of people. I wasn’t heartbroken when very few people read my early posts but it was a gently upsetting to me. The feeling of failure I talked about in my post about ambition reared its head again and I prepared to feel thoroughly shit about another failed project.
I kept writing and posting every week and checking the analytics, which continued to tell me that basically nobody was reading my ramblings. My readership wasn’t increasing but, thankfully, my enjoyment of blogging was growing exponentially.
Despite the fact no bugger was reading my nonsense, I was having immense fun writing it.
Writing a weekly blog has been challenging but it’s also had many benefits.
It’s expanded my vocabulary.
It’s been educational.
It’s introduced me to new books, blogs, and information sources.
It’s prompted interesting conversations.
It’s made me consider my thoughts and feelings more carefully.
It’s made me write poetry (of questionable quality!)
And it’s been fun.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t be happy if more people read my blog. I’d be delighted. Please do share my words and any wisdom they may carry with anyone who might find some joy in reading them.
But I’m finding fun in writing these words, whatever their level of wisdom may be. Considering the overwhelming and often crappy state of the world, I’m all in favour of finding the fun wherever I can right now!
Much of the same really. Maybe with the odd tweak.
The more observant of you may have noticed that I’ve been writing posts on a three-week cycle.
Makes. Does. Climbs.
However, I definitely find some posts easier to write than others. ‘Climbs’ posts are the easiest by far because I’m always either climbing or watching climbing so I’ve got plenty of source material to draw on.
I appreciate the freedom of ‘Does’ posts. It’s so delightfully vague that I can get away with writing about hiking, dogs, and philosophy all under the same category. This occasionally induces choice overload in my simple little brain but usually it’s a matter of being decisive enough to choose a topic rather than not have a topic to write about.
‘Makes’ is the category I’ve struggled most with. Although I am enjoying making things again, I try to make things to fill a whole in my wardrobe or serve a clear purpose in my life. I don’t tend to just make things for the hell of it. If nothing needs repairing, no gaps need filling, or no handy second-hand material comes my way then I won’t make anything. This, therefore, limits my options for posts.
So I may cheat a bit now I’ve hit the benchmark of doing a year of posts in this cycle. I’d rather write fewer quality ‘Makes’ posts about interesting things I’ve made rather than trying to turn mundane sewing into a post or shoehorning some vaguely ‘makes’ themed stuff into this category. Especially if I’ve got more interesting stuff to write about in other categories.
I may also give myself a week off every once in a while. Even happy bloggers need a holiday occasionally and life is likely to get busier when we eventually manage to move to Cambridge and Open University stuff starts up again in September.
I hope you’ve found something amusing, thoughtful, or even useful in the thousands of words I’ve thrown out into the internet over the last year. I’d love to hear about any posts you’ve particularly enjoyed or found helpful in any way.