Last weekend I was lucky enough attend Mumsnet’s annual celebration of blogs, writing and big ideas – Blogfest 2016. Here I met fellow likeminded bloggers and listened to a host of inspiring and interesting speakers reveal their secrets and tips for success. But as I glanced around the packed hall, something began to dawn on me. There I was, amongst a host of other people who, I can only presume, were all there in an attempt to follow the same rocky, yellow brick road as me. To the Emerald City – a place where our blogs would be widely read, recognised, and would eventually start producing the greens.
But in this hall, full to the rafters of fellow bloggers, I began to think, what is so different about my bog standard parenting blog? What is my piggin’ USP?
In a sea of literally thousands of bloggers and writers all striving for success, we’re told we need to stand out. To find our voice. To discover our personal style that makes us instantly recognisable to the reader.
But whilst sat in that hall, thinking these thoughts, I began to worry…
What if, the reality is, that I’m simply NOT that extraordinary?
That my documentation of my every day parenting disasters is no different than that of the mum sitting next to me?
If I’m never going to stand out, shouldn’t I just stop writing altogether?
I have to admit, the week before Blogfest I deliberately deleted the Facebook app from my phone, after making a pact with a friend to detach myself from social media until Christmas. The truth is, Facebook was making me miserable. As I obsessed from behind the screen over the achievements of others, I couldn’t help but ponder why my blog wasn’t emulating the same success.
My fascination over the number of likes and shares my posts generated had reached fever pitch. And my preoccupation over what I thought would be popular, what others wanted to read, had stifled my creativity so much it had essentially given me writer’s block. If no one was reading and “liking” my blog, then what was the point of writing?
During one of the brilliant talks at Blogfest on knowing your voice, a fellow member of the audience highlighted a quote from Observer columnist Eva Wiseman, which essentially said that mummy bloggers only start documenting their lives to fill a hole left open by their careers (or words to that effect).
Whilst the panel and the audience vehemently disagreed with what Eva had to say, I couldn’t help but personally find some truth in it.
When I had my first baby I said goodbye to my all-consuming PR career, unaware of how much hanging up my publicist shoes would affect me, and my sense of self, especially now I was just a mum. Amongst the daily chores of bottom wiping and vegetable pureeing, I desperately needed something else to think about – to add another string to my bow. And what is the shame in that? As I found my emotions and feelings becoming more incomprehensibly complex, writing my blog became my therapy. Writing and sharing my posts became a way to process and rationalise the sad and bad times, as well as documenting the fun and happy times too.
In short, the reason I started writing was for me – to help me. Of course it goes without saying, that I would like my blog to be widely read and appreciated. But whether a post resonates with one person or 100,000 people, or whether my writing is extraordinary or just darn average, the person who should ultimately be getting the most out of the process is the person behind the computer screen.
Ironically, my most popular posts were written from a very personal place – “How I Really Feel About Being a SAHM”, “Why Mum Must Come First (Sometimes)” about my experience of depression and “We Need to Talk About Fanny” about, you guessed it, my gynaecological problems (ahem). That being said, why should there be any shame in discussing the mundane or the ordinary? After all, as most of us will testify, parenthood can at times be pretty dull in itself. But ultimately, isn’t this the stuff that really resonates?
Hand on heart, I can’t give you my USP or declare my blog as widely different from many of the other brilliant mummy blogs out there. But as long as I have something to say, I will keep on writing regardless. And I really hope you keep on reading too.