I have been maintaining a blog in one form or another since October 2012. As such, blogging has been an important part of my personal creative practice for almost a decade, but I’ve never really talked about how I create a post. Today then, I’ll talk about how I blog and how it feeds other aspects of my work. As with everything I do, my practice is what works for me personally. If you’re thinking of starting a blog of your own and are looking for inspiration, just keep in mind that you should adapt anything you see here to what fits you best.
The first thing I would like to comment on is the regularity with which I post. I’ve posted consistently for this blog every week since I started it in 2018, and in the case of its predecessor The Fanciful Lobster, twice a week. A few people have asked me over the years how I managed to post so consistently, and the answer is that I have a stash. I tend to write my blog posts in batches, and at any given time I have at least a month’s worth of posts in my drafts section (even this post is from that stash; I first wrote it back in 2020). That way, if I get busy or I don’t feel like writing, I have material that’s ready for posting. Admittedly, within the last year or two, I’ve started relying less on stash work and putting more effort into content that aligns with what I’m doing in real-time, but it’s still helpful to have posts available when I don’t have the time or inclination to write something new.
Regarding content, my blog posts can be broken down into a few different genres:
- Research-related posts: these are the posts that address my academic work, and are a mixture of theoretical musings and more practical discussions of project organization or implementation. When I was taking classes, they discussed my semester projects or readings. During my comprehensive exam prep, I wrote about my reading lists. Nowadays, they focus on my dissertation, or in the case of my museum work, exhibition research. Depending on how many other related posts are in the queue, they may not appear for a few weeks, but lately they’ve been appearing soon after being written.
2. Travel/conference/exhibition posts: These tend to be posted a lot sooner than my research posts, since they are directly tied to either a trip I took, a conference I attended, or an exhibition I visited. I tend to write these shortly after the trip and post them within a week. They’re a good opportunity for me to think about the event or trip I took, and process what it will mean for me in the future. Admittedly these have focused on virtual conferences since the start of the pandemic, but I’m hopeful that will change this year.
3. Assistantship posts: This is where I talk about projects I’ve been doing in conjunction with my assistantships. When I was at the Mariners’ Museum, I talked about exhibit research and cataloguing. When I TA’d for Utopia in the Americas, I discussed course content, special lectures or activities I did in conjunction with that content, and my overall reflections on teaching. During my stint at the Equality Lab, I talked about the virtual conferences we put together. Right now I’m preparing new posts talking about the activity I’ve been doing as the JDP Fellow. I usually post about 1-2 of these per semester.
4. Brandon posts: Brandon features regularly on the blog, usually in passing, but I’ll also periodically write about his work as Senior Preparator for Colonial Williamsburg. I do this partially as an educational endeavor so that people who are curious about working in museums can learn about some of the different things they can do. It’s also a convenient way to keep family and friends apprised of what he’s been doing. Most importantly, I do these posts because I’m proud of Brandon and want to share his work with as many people as possible. I usually time these posts to coincide with a work anniversary, or to celebrate a recent project completion. Incidentally, these are among the most popular posts I write, both in terms of page views and the number of comments I get about them.
5. News/reflection posts: this is me responding to an important event or ongoing social phenomenon. I don’t do this very often, since my own practice is already pretty busy as it is, but sometimes you need to get some ideas off your chest. Sometimes these take the form of longer musings, other times they’re resource lists for learning about current events and taking action.
6. Creative practice posts: this is where I talk about art projects or hobbies I pursue outside of academia, such as baking or music. Sometimes I’ll post them soon after I complete a project, as when I discussed my seasonal colors of Williamsburg experiment. Other times I’ll write them but save them for when I have nothing else to talk about, or when I suspect readers need a break from the more academic stuff.
7. Miscellaneous posts: these posts are just my musings on random subject matter, whether it’s b-movies or toilet paper advertising. These posts usually aren’t meant to coincide with anything but are just there in case I have nothing else to write on that week. Sometimes they’ll sit around for over a year until I finally put them up. I always like to keep about two or three of these in my drafts section.
As far as my writing process goes, I typically write my blog text in one sitting, and then I go back and edit before publishing. If I know that a post is going to be heavy with images, I’ll sometimes put those in first, and then organize the blog text itself around those pictures. Sometimes I’ll put in all of the links I want to include at once, other times I’ll go back and add them when I’m editing.
So why do I write these blog posts? They serve a variety of purposes. In the case of research-related posts, they offer an opportunity to review what I’ve done and make notes for future ideas. Conference and travel posts act as travelogues and give me a space to note sessions and papers I especially liked for future reference. Art-related posts offer a way to both document my visual practice and explain it to others more effectively, particularly with complex or multi-step projects. Reflection posts are just that, an opportunity to talk about the news or a personal issue that I’ve been thinking about. Miscellaneous posts are just a chance to share something that I think is weird with other people.
For a long time, I tried to keep a journal, but I was never very consistent about it. A few years ago, I accepted that blogging is the journaling practice that works best for me. That said, I’ll admit that this blog, and its predecessor The Fanciful Lobster, is filtered. While I have become more comfortable with discussing emotional topics like Imposter Syndrome, or my ongoing experiences with misophonia, there are a lot of personal subjects that I prefer not to discuss here. While the blog is very much a journal in a lot of ways, I wouldn’t describe it as confessional. I have other outlets for that.
So those are the kinds of posts I write, how I go about writing them, and why I write them. As far as social media platforms are concerned, this is the way I prefer to communicate online. Sure, Instagram is great for image-based stories, Twitter has its uses, and TikTok is great for video-based communication, but when it comes to talking about my work or my interests, I simply prefer blogging.