These tips for personal blogging and emotional healing are from a blogger who survived depression and a serious head injury. Steffani Cameron spoke at Mental Health Camp at UBC in Vancouver; she’s been blogging since 2004.
Why is it better than okay to share your personal trauma and drama with the masses? “The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis, and we’d have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.” ~ William Styron, Writers at Work, 1958. As I explain in How I Became a Blogger – Laurie’s Story, we’re definitely not a bunch of happy chuckleheads here on Blossom.
Fellow bloggers, you could change your readers’ lives by sharing your neuroses. However, you must not spew willy nilly! Carefully choose what to share with your readers. Here are Steff’s tips for personal blogging and emotional healing…
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Ripping the Scab Off Through Writing
“Secrecy prevents healing,” says Steff. “If writing hurts, leaves me nauseous at the prospect of publishing, I know it’s what others need to read.”
Her blog chronicles her dramatic reversal of writers’ block and going into and coming out of depression. “Blogging’s cheaper than therapy, lasts longer than mastu***tion. What’s not to love?”
Steff’s goal is to help readers understand the why and how of her emotional healing. And, she wants readers to reach for that same type of healing through their own personal blogging.
1. Expect critical comments from readers
“The as*holes are on the Internet – and they’re anonymous,” says Steff. “They want to redeem themselves for their $8 an hour job by dumping on you. If you make yourself vulnerable on the web, you need to be prepared that you will be attacked sooner or later.” Personal bloggers need a thick skin, and have to be prepared to take criticism.
2. Look for the nuggets of gold in readers’ criticisms
Steff encourages bloggers to look for validity in readers’ statements, and learn from criticism. “Once you get past the negativity, the reward is that you gain a new perspective on your life,” she says.
3. Be aware that emotional healing can be compromised by blogging too much, too early
If you’re not ready to face your issues, you can damage yourself by going too deep with your personal writing. If you bury a memory and if you go into a deep place with your blogging, it can bring things out that you forgot that was there. It could be a fantastic catharsis, or it can be traumatic. So, if you are blogging for emotional healing, walk softly. Don’t forget your big stick.
4. Focus on big themes when you first start writing
You don’t need specific details to express yourself through writing. Write on big themes (eg, love, disappointment, human fears, etc) – experiences that most readers can identify with. Avoid the heavy specific topics (eg, severe depression, antidepressants, suicidal thoughts). Big general themes allow you to develop your blogger’s voice and protect you from readers’ negative comments.
5. Remember that it takes time and effort to build a blog readership
If you build it, readers will come….right? Wrong. Steff says, “Just because you write it doesn’t mean they’ll read it.”
6. Be aware of the great irony of blogging and social media
Social media can do the opposite of creating community! Friends assume they know how you’re doing because of your Facebook and Twitter status, and your blog posts of course. So they may not call or email you…and they don’t really know how you’re doing (though they think they do!). The price of blogging your life is that people take it for granted.
7. Balance emotional healing with your readers’ needs and interests
Look at your problems as a way to share with and help other people. What is relevant for your readers?
“Someone somewhere is weaker than you and has farther to travel,” says Steff. “Your story could give them strength.” She encourages bloggers not to blog just for the sake of hearing the sound of their own voices.
Since Steff is working towards self-employment, I couldn’t help but ask…”Have you thought about monetizing your blog?”
“That f***ed me up good,” she said. At a low point in her life, she started monetizing her blog and making t-shirts. At the time she was also trying to be an anonymous blogger, which created more problems. She worried too much about advertising, and stopped being true to her journey. She stopped writing authentically, and lost her motivation. As a bonus, she lost 95% of her traffic.
“Monetizing your blog changes your content, and changes you,” she says.
Fellow scribes, are you a “personal blogger” – and does your blog affect your emotional healing? I welcome your comments and questions below.
If you are interested in making money as a blogger, read How Bloggers Make Money – From Ads to eBooks.
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To learn more about this blogger, visit Steffani Cameron or follow her on Twitter at @SmuttySteff.