Being A Blogger and Staying Honest

The most common question I am asked by people about my blog, is how do I feel comfortable sharing so much of myself online?

The truthful answer, is that when I started blogging almost three years ago, I only had about 10 readers. So being honest about my thoughts and feelings was never a big issue. As I gained more readers over the years, it’s just something I never changed.

With that said, I guess I do have limits on what I will blog about. I won’t put up anything I would never want my mom or my boss to read. That’s a rule I’ve had since day one. I won’t blog about family members or friends in great detail, that’s their business not ours. I try my best not to disclose my exact locations, keep my last name off (although, it’s no secret what it is), and never ever mention my place of employment.

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Old-school TGBA header.

I will say, that over the years, I have become more aware of my audience. I always blog for myself, but I do try to write in a way that will hopefully interest people. Choose topics that people can gain knowledge from or relate to in some way or another.

My blog has evolved a lot over the years. When I first began blogging about food and exercise almost three years ago, I was admittedly embarrassed by it at times. Would people think I was weird for taking pictures of my food? Actually, yes, a lot of people thought it was silly and ridiculous. But I started to no longer care, because it was important to me.

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Another not-so-old-school TGBA header.

When I was diagnosed with cancer 12 weeks ago, it would have been easy to say “see ya later.” To take a long break from blogging and focus on the more urgent things at hand. But strangely, it’s become a time when I need to blog the most. Taking the thoughts and emotions that fill me now, organizing them, and writing them for whoever in the world wants to see, is the most therapeutic way I can think of to work through this process.

I think knowing I have an audience out there reading helps me develop these thoughts more than if I was just writing in a journal. Not to mention, I am a strong believer in that a writer is not a writer until they are read (in other words, get published!).

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With my "blog face" on.

I now have almost three years of blog posts to go through, probably close to 1,000 by now. Little things I’ve done or celebrated over the course of those days. Big things like graduating university, moving, and making big life decisions. It’s all documented, along with whatever I decided to have for breakfast that morning.

Even though the style of this blog has changed, I am more committed to it than ever. I know a lot of people say “I would blog even if no one read!” But I can assure you that is 100% truth coming from me. If there’s one thing I’ve always known about myself, it’s that I’m a person of creativity. From the first homemade journal I started as a 6-year-old, to the journals of poems and songs I wrote through my teenage years, to the blog I started as a university student. Happiness to me is creating something out of nothing, and doing that for a short period of time every day with this blog is one of the things I look forward to every single day.

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Blogging on my mother's hardwood floor gives me velociraptor arms.

So I guess if I were to answer, how do I stay so honest? I’m just honest with myself first, so putting it into words and sharing it is never a big stretch. Just don’t ask me to talk about myself in person. That’s when I start to clam up.

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Posted on September 4, 2011, in Lessons Learned. Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Great post Susan! You read my mind at the end there- I can talk about myself, feelings, full truth in writing, but in person I find it a lot harder! I always feel like if someone thinks my blog is terrible, I won’t really know, but in person they might have to hid their facial expressions! I’ve always been like this though, solved all middle and high school conflicts with “notes” and would probably still do this if it was in any way socially acceptable :)

    • People who just meet me are always surprised by how honest and vocal I am on my blog because I can be quite shy in person! It’s just my outlet for all that stuff I guess. Much easier than having to voice things out loud ;)

  2. Susan – I love reading your words….I’m quite sure I’d love to meet you in person one day as well! Maybe next year at Foodbuzz??

    • You never know!! Foodbuzz is definitely out of the question this November, but I do have some travels planned for when I’m finished treatment. And I certainly want to go to HLS next year depending on where it is :)

  3. Such a perfect rule thumb and truly writing for yourself primarily. That’s so important I think, to preserve your ‘voice’ on your blog as yours and not writing for anyone or any audience in particular. Any time I’ve fallen into that a bit, my words aren’t me, and I’m not happy with the post. Thanks for such a good reminder and I love the blog face pic!

  4. it’s really different when we talk in person. :) i’m shy in person. are you? :)

    • I’m not shy in small groups, but I definitely like to hear the sound of other people’s voices more than my own ;) Besides, most people I know read my blog now, so they’re already up to date on everything about me!

  5. Great post. I think the honesty comes through and that is what makes reading your blog such a pleasure. :)

    P.S I thought of you yesterday when I walked by a smoke meat shop! lol. I giggled to myself and freaked out a lady standing in line!

    • Baha, I love that smoked meat made you think of me!! Also funny, because I’ve been talking a lot lately about how I want to put a smoker in my dad’s backyard and everyone looks at me funny :P

      • gah! awesome idea! wouldn’t know where to start with smoking anything though!

        I should totally NOT mention that to my husband. Otherwise, he’ll have that bad boy installed and I’ll be eating SM for the rest of my life!

  6. Thank you so much for this blog. I found your blog around the time of your diagnosis and have found inspiration in your honesty.
    Jenn

  7. I love that you’re so honest with your readers. Most blogs claim to be truthful, but when I read yours, I really believe I’m talking with you. You have a very honest writing voice, and I love it. It makes reading about your experiences feel so real. Oh, and I love the blog face! Haha!

  8. I am so glad you decided to continue to blog – and I agree, its the best distraction you can have while you go through this. Love that your chin is up! :D Hugs!

  9. Wow, this totally relates to what I wrote some days ago as a comment on your blog. It is very interesting and helpful to read. I am getting more and more comfortable about blogging. I mean I sometimes think I just do not care what people think. It is me and how I am and if people do not like it I do not care. This is a really big step for me but it is working.
    I love your blog and wish you a wonderful Sunday!

    • Yup, the biggest step is getting over the “But what will people think of me?” On the flipside, my blog has helped people get to know the real me a lot better, and I think my relationships are richer because of it :)

  10. I love your blog!

    And I love that last picture. I see Archie behind you looking out the window!!

  11. I feel the exact same way about talking about myself in person. I’ll totally clam up. I know my family reads my blog so sometimes I’ll blog in detail about certain things just because I know they’ll read and then I won’t have to tell them in person. What a dork!

    I love reading your blog, so glad I stumbled upon it.

  12. A love is a love & you obviously found writing early! I think you writing here about your “journey” with cancer is helping so many, those that have it & those that don’t but need to understand how to deal with people that do. Thank you!

  13. Amen Susan,
    Being Honest is a lot easier as well… you don’t have to remember alternate story lines :-)

  14. I think a major part of being honest is being honest about your set boundaries. A few weeks ago, a commenter slammed me for being vague about how I was seriously stressed/anxious, but not revealing why. But honestly? I wasn’t revealing the source of the anxiety because my husband asked me not to, and I have zero problems saying that my marriage, family, and job security trumps the blog by a whole lot. My blog will never be my job–I love to write, but I love my profession even more, and if you have a problem with that, well…there are plenty of 100% open book blogs out there for you to check out. Go for it. You know?

    • It’s so true. Recreational bloggers don’t and shouldn’t have to share as much. All other aspects of life should come first, and your blog should never come in between that. Professional bloggers on the other hand, it’s a different story when your pay checks are based on keeping your readers happy. I definitely think the expectation should be higher there.

  15. I have a hard time being completely honest on my blog… I set some boundaries and keep some stuff to myself.
    I had such a hard time allowing friends and family to read my blog as I am worried about criticism. As well, I don’t share every detail and disagreement in my real life, so I keep those out of my blog as well. I just said my kid’s names on the blog… kind of by accident, before then I kept to their nicknames of thing 1 and thing 2 from Dr Suess. My hubby, is just that… my hubby, or picky hubby, and our last name is left off!
    It is one of those things I do to protect my privacy from any possible strangers who might be reading… although not many read at this point :P I am honest, I just hold stuff back, as I agree if I don’t want my Mom or work to read, it shouldn’t be on there!

    Thanks for posting this!

  16. Susan,

    you really are a true inspiration. so many food blogs (like mine) are intended for recipe-posting only. while that is absolutely perfect and fun, i love that you reveal so much about yourself in your posts, not just delicious recipes, exercise, and healthy eating. people are getting to know the real ‘you’ and that takes courage. you have so much of it, girl.

    Katie at http://www.ohshineon.wordpress.com/

  17. well here’s to another 3 plus years and to an audience that adores and admires your honesty! I am so honored to be part of that audience!
    Cheers.
    LC

  18. Your blog, your honest, doing it, keeping up with it…you are so right that lots of people, most people! I think given your current situation would have scrapped it. But since it gives you joy, I love that you’re keeping it up. And I truly believe you WOULD blog for yourself b/c you love it. But trust me, you have zillions of readers who will always be tuning in :)

  19. I’m so glad I read this post; it’s my first time here, but I loved the honesty of your writing. Good luck with all your treatment, and I look forward to reading whenever you do post.
    xx

  20. Great post Susan! I feel the same way, I still have a LiveJournal (created several years ago, does anyone even still use LiveJournal?) and every night the very minimum I write is 5 things that I’m thankful for/5 things that made me happy that day. It’s private so nobody reads it, and probably nobody ever will, but it’s for me and that’s enough. I’m the same as you, I love to go back through it and see how much I’ve grown over the years and see what I’ve accomplished (and what mistakes I’ve made that I’ll never make again). I’m happy you’ve continued writing ACD and hope you do for a long time! Blog on!

    P.S. Loved the velociraptor arms :D

    • I had a LiveJournal too!! Haha. Only a small group of friends could see it. I think I deleted it, which is too bad. I bet there was some priceless stuff on there ;)

  21. Sometimes I can become a little scared to admit to others that I blog. I actually share more personal stuff on my blog then I do with my friends. For me it is almost like thearpy, I can express my ideas and have others communicate with and I don’t feel judged at all. I used to journal all the time, and I have found that blogging is a great replacement to journaling.

  22. You know I’m 100% with you on this post! I think it’s so important to remain honest – not only for our readers but for ourselves…to really learn and grow. :)

  23. Yeah I was a bit surprised about how in depth you go into your treatment and everything – you are so honest, and I think it’s a good thing :) I love reading your blog, I rarely comment, but each day I like to see how you are going with everything.

  24. Still reading and rooting for you Susan!
    Steph

  25. SUSAN LOVE!

    sorry it has taken me soooo long to catch up on your blog – no excuses my friend. totally unacceptable.

    anyways…i am glad you hear you are hanging in there. i can only imagine the plethora of emotions you must go through everyday, and i just thank you so much for sharing it all with us. i think hearing your journey has been so eye-opening and helpful for us to understand what you must be going through. annnnddd i am glad you love edward sharpe + the magnetic zeroes. if you want more of their stuff, let me know, and i will totally send you some more.

    love the wig. love your weekend trips to the cottage. and LOVING your writing. so beautiful lately, my friend.

    and don’t worry 0 i am going to send you my friend meg’s email (who had the same cancer you have) so you two can touch base! hope you are having a lovely weekend – hugs, love and prayers to you as always.

    <3
    holly

  26. Several thoughts/reactions:

    - I also agree about what I’ll post. I just go ahead and assume that my current and future bosses read/will read my posts and if I can really OWN everything that I put out there. This applies across all the social media platforms for me.

    - I’m so glad that blogging and all those other social media forms weren’t around when I was in college/early adult years. I KNOW I would’ve messed up with what I put out there.

    - It’s interesting to keep tabs on the differences, if any, on one’s blogging style, content, and the reason(s) for blogging throughout the months and years. Like you, I bet most folks have evolved a lot in at least one of these categories – not for me, though – simple, boring, and inconsistent from the beginning! :)

    - Blogs can change like people can change. I think I finally know who I am, but I’m more mature now. :) I’m straightforward online but usually much more sociable offline.

    - And now, of course, I’m thinking that I should just be more like how I am offline in my blog posts. Ha!

  27. I adore this as you nailed it for me in the line about being HONEST WITH YOURSELF FIRST.

    Thats from whence it all originates for me.

    hugs and prayers as well.

  28. I think it’s so brave of you to blog through this. I get chills when I think of all of the people who read this and whose lives you are having such a positive effect on.

    While I would say I’m very honest on my blog (probably even more than in my real life), I am also very private. I don’t know if I could do what you do, and I admire you for it!

  29. I like to think that I was one of those first original readers :) I know you were one of mine!

    I love your words about creating something of nothing, and I love that you have also been journaling since you were little. I started my first “diary” when I could barely write, and I love looking back on those. Honesty is the only way to go, I agree.

    Hugs.

    • Yes! You were! It’s crazy to think how much time has passed and how much has happened since I started following some bloggers three years ago. Not just in my life, but in the lives of the bloggers too! I know more about them than a lot of my good “real life” friends :)

  30. I love this post, Susan. I have a hard time being honest some days, simply because I really hate offending people and/or being insulted and questioned. But, the beauty of honesty is that you’re always yourself. You’re open and people don’t have to play a guessing game with you. And it really is therapeutic. It is for me, so I can imagine it is for you, too.

    And by the way…I can’t believe it’s been that long already since your diagnosis. You’re really rockin’ away. Keep it up…you’re inspiring!

    • I know! Just last week I was thinking about how crazy it is that I’m already 7 weeks into treatment. Not complaining. The month after I broke my arm passed by SO slowly, I’ll be happy if this cancer thing feels like the blink of an eye ;)

  31. I just lost my shit at the velociraptor remark. All other comment I had in mind went out the window.

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