Oy! Today we are going to do a bit of a end of year* reflection-ish thing. Because the end of the year is all about reflection (and holiday cookies) I have decided to take a look at my blogging journey.
*my internal voice is screaming but it’s not the end of the year yet… you have 10 more days. Hush, hush internal voice, we are calling it close enough.
I started blogging in July. I had no clue what I was doing and none of the tech skills needed, but I plowed right in. I have learned so much over these last few months (apparently you can change the font size in wordpress… a fun little fact I learned a solid week ago), but above all I am so thankful for how welcoming and positive the book community has been. I have had so much fun getting to know all you lovely bookworms and creatively spitballing all of my bookish thoughts into the great void.
Am I going to expose myself a little bit? Yes. Yes I am. I could talk about growth and ya de ya da, or I could just show you.
Original Blog Design
That, my friends, is what we call progress. I don’t know what April was thinking back in July when she designed that orange and teal monstrosity, but to all of y’all who have been following for awhile, even with that peacock-goldfish confusion-fusion of a theme, you are the real ones. Thank you for bearing with me.
Not only have I recovered from my insomnia induced, fume created theme, but I feel like I have really grown as a writer. I’m still an avid overuser of commas (eek!), but being able to grow my blogging voice has been an experience.
I went back and read the first review I ever wrote and it was the stale cracker of a review. I basically said, me like books. Eloquent right?
I am beyond glad that the first thing (i will not respect it by calling it a book review) I ever wrote never saw the light of day. It is buried deep within the fiery depths of Google Drive, never to be seen again. My god, it was so bad. It has only been a few months, but the improvement in just this short amount of time is kinda cool to look back at. Now when I read my reviews and such I can actually hear myself saying them (or maybe my internal voice is just playing some sick joke on me). I’m really proud of how much I’ve grown and I am super excited to continue my journey (and that is my inspirational Aprilism for the day).
Ok. I have officially digressed from the point of this post. Were not even on the same thought planet anymore. So, with that we are going to call Booked Till Midnight: A History a wrap and move on to Dear Rookie Blogger April: A Reflection.
Full Speed Ahead, it is Impossible To Know Everything Before Starting
I spent so many hours researching. So many hours were spent scouring Pinterest (yes, Pinterest counts as research… I will fight you on this) and blog advice posts. I thought by researching I would better prepare myself, but being the chronic overthinker that I am I ended up freaking myself out. I should have just started and gone for it. Figuring out things are part of the process.
Your Blog Name is Pretty Permanent
Brainstorm. Let it simmer. Brainstorm some more. Have some options before choosing your name. Sleep on it. Then decide. You can always change it, but once you start building up your aesthetic and such, starting over does not look nearly as promising. I went with the first name I thought of, which I like, but I feel like I missed an opportunity for a season pun of sorts (because, ya know, april?? hehe). It has taken a while to build up my night/star/moon theme, but I have grown to really love it.
Write Your Wrap Up Posts As You Go. Your Bird Brain Will Thank Me Later
When you finish a book, write a quick Cliffnotes version of what you thought. Save the links to the posts you like so you don’t have to do a treasure hunt through your search history (trust me, i know treasure hunts sound exciting, but it will result in pure, unbridled, rage). Moral of the story: It is so much easier to start drafting a wrap up as you go along, rather than scrambling around trying to remember the entire month in a few hours (i don’t know bout you, but I don’t have the brainpower for that)
Talk To People
I know it’s scary, but do it. I know it goes against your introvert instincts, but suck it up. Engage with people’s content, let them know that you appreciated it, and just talk. People won’t bite. Probably. Once you take the initial plunge you will be able to make connections with fellow readers. That’s what it’s all about.
You Can Always Change Things
If you aren’t feeling your original headers or signiture, spice it up as many times as you want. If you aren’t feeling the original color scheme, go hit up Canva and do a total redesign. If you’re bored in math class and a bolt of inspiration hits, go design a new logo. Try things out, experiment. You can always change it. You did not make a blood sacrifice pledging yourself to that specific design, so feel free to change it on a whim if that’s what you’re feeling.
Don’t Edit the Life Out of Things
When I first began, I put my posts through every grammar check out there. Which is all good and swell, except it ended up affecting my blogging voice. Sometimes I need to ahhhhhhh to be a full sentence, but Grammarly just doesn’t understand that. Point is, I’d much rather have a grammar error or two than sound like fresh surgical gloves. All the grammar checking ended up going full dementor’s kiss on my blog post by sucking out all of the personality. It took awhile to realize it doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as it is authentically me.
Girl, Post What You Want
I personally love writing reviews. Not everyone does, and that’s totally ok. For some, discussion posts are their jam. Or advice. Or lists. Post what makes you happy because at the end of the day it is your blog and you can do whatever the hell you want.
I participated in Top Ten Tuesday for a couple weeks in a row and I really struggled to come up with stuff. It seemed like every book I had ever read exited my mind leaving me grasping for some spark of inspiration and praying for a bloody miracle. If I’m not feeling that spark of inspiration from that weeks topic then there is no need to sit there gaping at the list of books I’ve read like a goldfish out of water. Now I participate when the brilliance strikes and it ends up being a lot more fun for me.
Be As Weird As You Want
I was a bit afraid to write exactly what I was thinking because I know it sounded strange. But I have gotten better at owning it. YES, HELLO GOOD PEOPLE. I AM APRIL LEE AND I AM UNAPOLOGETICALLY WEIRD. If I want to compare a book to a bowl of soup then I will, thank you very much.
This is the Moment You’ve Been Waiting For, Pull Out Your Color Coded Pens
Hello, organization, old friend. Now is your moment to take the spotlight fully with a choreographed dance number and sparkly costumes. Ok, that might be a bit much, but organization is absolutely key. In the beginning, I kept notes on the books I was reading everywhere. In random notebooks, on my phone, in sidewalk chalk in front of my house, everywhere. Keep your stuff in one place, label them, and then color code them for good measure. It will make your life so much easier. Treasure hunts sound fun until its 11:59 and you still need to put together your review.
Reviews Are Like Sandwiches, Assemble Them in Layers
It took a while to get into a reviewing sort of grove. At first I tried to toss a bunch of words together and tie it up with a pretty bow and call it a day. I ended up with some pretty plain
Now I have a whole process that works for me. First I take notes. They are the base of the review, and in this elegant sandwich metaphor the bread of the sandwich. Then I form coherent thoughts with those notes. I’m adding all of the goodies. Next I use my layout and add graphics, dividers, headers, and such. Its so much easier, for me at least, to slowly write what I’m thinking over a week or so than to try to come up with everything on the spot. I found a process that works for me.
So that was a lot of words that kind of flew out of my fingers like little dragons rapid firing fireballs. But the point of this somewhat rambling post is… progress. One of the many joys of blogging is improvement. And on that note we are going to call this a reflection well done.
What are some things you wish you could have told yourself when you first started blogging?