One of the most recurrent themes at BritMums Live this year was the need for bloggers to "find their voice".
This is something I have been thinking about ever since I started blogging way back when (2006 I think it was, I lose track!) It was mummy blogs that introduced me to the blogosphere even though I was a long way from being a mummy myself at that point, and so I struggled to find a voice for my blog.
I then started to find home and craft blogs and so, as I set up home with TJ in 2008 and then left full-time work in 2010, it seemed natural for me to start blogging about those things.
But you know what? I'm a terrible housewife (well, compared to all those with homemaking blogs anyway!) and although I love crafts, I have so many other passions as well.
I switched from one blog to another, changing my voice each time (and sometimes even within one blog) and eventually started "Amanda's Patch" (which later became "The Family Patch") so I could write about anything and everything.
This coincided with my leaving work due to ill health caused by my Endo, so I naturally started writing about that. We were also planning a wedding, so I wrote about that. And then we started thinking about trying to conceive. So I wrote about that too.
I even started a series on iVillage.co.uk about it.
And then I had the worst pregnancy I could ever have imagined. And I hardly ever blogged. Instead of writing all the "what I'm craving this week" and "look at my bump now" posts I had planned, those few posts I did write were very often focussed on just getting through the pregnancy and surviving HG.
And then, of course, Little Man came along and I barely had time to think let alone blog. But I had so much I could have written about. Like my difficulties breastfeeding. I covered this briefly but not really as much as I'd have liked. And although I have touched upon HG and the book I am writing about it, I haven't had huge amounts of time to write about the other things that are important to me.
And I always put it down to time… or rather lack of it.
But BritMums Live made me realise that this was just an excuse. It wasn't time that kept me away from blogging all the things I was thinking about (although that is a factor, I must admit!) Nope, it wasn't time but lack of direction.
One of the things that people have consistently commented on when reading my blog is the candour and honesty that I write with. And I do indeed find it incredibly easy to pour out my heart when it comes to things like Endo and HG. But these are major issues in my life. And like all those other bloggers who write about the more challenging and traumatic events in their lives, sometimes it is therapeutic to get those things out and onto paper (or screen as the case may be).
And yet, sometimes I don't write about the "day to day" difficulties. I forget that these can be just as important as the big issues I tackle. It's like I've been censoring my posts and only writing those that I felt were "worthy", or rather "meaty", enough to warrant attention.
And that isn't the point. BritMums Live introduced me once again to the reason I first started blogging: to write. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy every single comment and wish that I could generate as much conversation as some blogs do. Not just for myself but also to prove the popularity and therefore need for books like the HG one so that I have a chance of at least interesting an agent and/or publisher. But too often I can get hung up on stats and comments rather than just writing from the heart.
Which brings me back to the idea of finding my voice and where I want my blog to go.
Well, that's a hard question. Even though I can recognise that I need to forget about stats and comments and just write from the heart, it is hard to actually put that into practise. I am an open and honest blogger. People in my real life see my blog as well as those in the blogosphere. I like it that way, but it does mean sometimes I find myself holding back.
What if I write something that someone in real life didn't realise about me and it puts them off? What if I write something and one of my new blogging friends does the same? It's scary stuff…
But it also needs to be faced. I've known this for a long time and BritMums gave me the kick up the bum that I needed. My life is diverse, so my blog should reflect that. I needn't worry that blogging about one area will detract from another. Sure, writing about my spirituality on here may not really coincide with the "public" impression I'm trying to give in terms of the HG book, but this is my personal blog. When it comes to marketing myself for the book I can always set up a separate page for that, if needs be.
My voice is honesty. It's saying what I feel, rather than what I think needs to be heard. It's sharing how deep and dark certain health issues and life choices are. And it's sharing the faith that gets me through that.
By holding all this back I am denying a part of who I am and weakening my voice. The very act of worrying about what others will think is stopping me from being who I am. And what's the point of having a blog if you can't be who you are on it?
So, with that in mind, here are 10 things I want to address over the coming months, in order to find my voice and let it sing:
- HG (of course). This is a biggie, so it's natural to want to write about it.
- Endo (see above)
- Depression, anxiety and CBT. These are major things in our lives right now, so why not talk about them?
- Housework (bleugh). I am so bad at housework you would not believe. I have times when I want my house to be perfect and times when I just don't care. It's time to talk about that.
- Faith and Spirituality. I have skirted around this so often you'd think I didn't really know what I believed. But I do. Kinda. It's high time I let go and discussed it properly.
- Lifestyle choices. Tim and I have some pretty strong views about certain things, and each one has a reason. They affect how we raise Little Man, so again it's time to write about them.
- Frugal living (I hate the word frugal, it sounds so frumpy!) We live on a low budget. It's tough. But we get by and I think I should write about that sometimes.
- Dreams (we all have them). Our dreams are what keep us going. They can be happy, aspiring, even painful! I'm a big dreamer, it's time to admit that.
- Insecurities and fears (we all have these too). I'm fed up of pretending not to have these… let's be honest about them. I do this in CBT sessions and it is so therapeutic.
- Parenting (the highs and lows). Parenting is the most wonderful thing ever, and yet the most draining, challenging and downright brutal task you'll ever undertake. I want to write about it all, not just the "fluffy" stuff.
I'm sure there are many more things I want to write about, but most probably fall under one of these ten categories.
So, tell me, how are you finding your voice?