Re-Discovering The Basic Sanity Of Blogging

The constant mind state of the writer.

There is no denying that blogging is a therapeutic endeavor to many of us. But do you ever wonder why it feels so good to come back and write a post or read comments, or what kind of affect your blog is having on your overall mood? I think that blogging and, more specifically writing regularly can have immense benefits on our psychological health.

I think some of the reasons for this include:

  • You are more likely to pay attention to things happening to you as if you were the observer.
  • You are more likely to think of what you might write about later, which, if you have a diary-style blog, makes you more likely to do stuff that would be fun to write about.
  • You are more likely to see things creatively and to have something to go back to in the future.

As hard as other things can get in the day to day, thinking about what to write is sometimes the only thing that can ground me out of a rather chaotically deflated mental space. In the past, there were no readers to my habitual writing. Instead, it all ended up on thick journal pages, with handwriting of different sizes, touched by the breath of different states, both mental and map-related. But was that as therapeutic as blogging, and did that writing help me at all? I think yes. And here’s why.

Nearly 12 years ago, I graduated high school in Connecticut. I flew out to meet my friend Adam in Venice Beach, California after my first year in college. His uncle lived on the canals. We spent time on the boardwalk and were amazed with the artists and vagabonds. We came from suburbia, you see, and there were few people from out town that could make a living selling art; and none that would claim the streets as their home. Our minds were easily blown.

One man who made a living selling  flowers made from palm tree leaves opened my eyes to things I had never considered; he showed me that by sitting on the sidewalk, people looked at you differently. Or rather, they didn’t look at you at all. Unless they wanted some “local art.” Or pot. Or both.

Adam’s uncle was going on a business trip, and told us to stay at the local hostel while he was gone. That was going to be fun, until we met the hippies with the school bus. Sure, they were two men in their 50′s, traveling with a dysfunctional lesbian couple and a whole lot of San Pedro cactus. Sure, there was hardly a such thing as cell phones and we were hardly old enough to buy cigarettes. Sure, but who cares. We stayed on that bus for a few days instead of the hostel.

A few months and a hefty collection of state lines later, our lives were rather different.

The reason I bring this up is that when I decided to write my book last year about the ten years of adventure that were spawned by that experience, I learned a lot about myself and the bigger picture.  Details came flooding back to me as I sat in my little room, drinking tea furiously and writing down everything as it came.  I was convinced I had the whole thing under control. That is, until I found my journals.

Those pages put my memory in its place. There were vague love poems on many of the pages, sure, and those proved to be rather useless in the end. But then there were pages covered in nothing but fragments, bits of conversations and colors. Those were the days where I  sat and smoked cigarettes and wrote down every last little thing that I could, burning it into the pages instead of my memory, because even then I knew that they were slipping away with every laugh, every shift in conversation.

Where would my book be without those details; how would that trip have gone without that outlet, and how would my life have gone without the ever-happening process of writing? I can watch through those old diaries the process of myself working things out, the process of considering each step of the path, the value of being a bum versus going to school, the value of going to Connecticut or staying with the hippies. I could watch my little struggles and re-see the tapestries hanging on the windows, the looks on people’s faces as I wrote, the sun glinting off of the windshield. I could remember snippets of funny conversations that happened, the ones that seemed they would never be forgotten. All those things were preserved in my little letters carved on those pages. The sketches I did of the bus against and the people, they are  better than photographs at conveying how the whole thing felt.

And I see many people doing the same thing in their blogs. They work through the daily troubles, they plan future fun things, they sort out the good and the bad and what  needs to be done. They keep track of which  things work to reduce anxiety or bad feelings and which things don’t work. These are great things, they are necessary things. We are staying sane by doing them.

Exactly. Another bit of wisdom found in “Zen in the Art of Writing”

As writers, we are are drinking in details; we are keeping track of and logging our experiences so that they may prove to be a useful analogy or metaphor later on. We are peering into the eyes of our friends, wondering, “How exactly would I describe that color?” My wish for us is that we realize these things, and embrace them.

Something is driving you to write. Something is driving you to write every day, or every week. Instead of automatically doing it, or forgetting where it is coming from, look around. Look at the world, and maybe try something new.

Try writing on a piece of paper like the old days. Haul that paper out to a spot that you can’t possibly bring your computer. Paper is much lighter, much softer. You can scribble on it and write in new directions. You can circle stuff and cross stuff out and crinkle a whole page; which is so much more satisfying than just hitting Ctrl A and delete, right?

Personally, it helps me to get back to my roots. To sit at a bar sometimes with nothing but a note pad, writing down a strange poem that can’t receive Likes or Follows, a poem that is just mine. It is fun to look back at my writing, back when writing had to be personal unless you showed someone yourself, read it out loud at an open mic, or got published in a zine or a real book. Plus, you never know when you might need those details.

Writing helps us interpret the world and it helps us to see ourselves clearly. At least, clearly enough to write. It helps us to have an outlet for converting grief, anger, resentment, sadness, or uncontainable joy into something we can use. Maybe I would call it our emotional catalytic converter, just because it sounds right. The truth remains that writing is important; whether it is in a journal that is taking up precious space in your one back pack, or on a blog that you can access from any corner of the globe that has Internet.

Do you ever look back at things you wrote on paper and bar napkins long ago, and have any of them proved to be useful in the least, or is blogging where you first began writing regularly?

And, most importantly, how does blogging help YOU feel sane in this crazy world?

39 thoughts on “Re-Discovering The Basic Sanity Of Blogging

  1. While I don’t tend to use my blog as a diary or a way to sort my feelings, I really just enjoy the satisfaction of writing a piece that will be relatable for many readers….thanks for sharing your great post!

  2. First, great quote. :-) Second, you bring up several good ideas in this entry. I keep a journal, but sometimes it gets too technical. I get too caught up in rattling off my day, and I overlook the parts that make each day unique and special. Sometimes I forget to write for ME, and I think this post was just the reminder I needed. Thank you for writing!

    • The quote, I am glad you saw :) I had that paper made for almost a week now, waiting for the right post. It was going to have its own post..and then I figured, what the hey, may as well make a dual-picture post, why not? I similarly find it so hard to write for just me now, the world is so different, it is hard to imagine writing without somehow tying it to my book or this blog. I hope that you are able to do it, maybe it’s kinda like nourishing our own roots before we can provide nourishment to the world, or some other more-hippie-than-I’d-like-to-be metaphor :)

  3. I really loved this piece Jennifer. I completely feel that blogging has a positive effect on my psychology, which is why I do it. It also helps me to become a better writer, as I have an audience, so need to tailor my language and my stories accordingly. Each time I complete a post, a feel immense satisfaction. A sense of personal achievement, as all the words tie together and form something new and exciting.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! Isn’t it a fun process? Sometimes my brain goes to “Jen, dear, you are spending too much time on that blog and not enough on your book,” but then I realize, the blogging does on some level help with my book writing. Since my other job is pumping out content articles all day, this page gives me a chance to use my voice, to express it through writing, and to practice using it wisely and meaningfully. It is such a blessing to be able to share such space with other people, people that maybe we would never run into, no matter how many coffee shops are in our town! Thank you for affirming that through your comment :)

  4. Great post, I keep a journal where I write things that probably aren’t safe being seen anywhere else. It’s a scary place, in that it’s existence and discovery could have far reaching consequences but that’s part of the excitement I suppose. This post came at just the right time, I was actually writing a post when and low on gas when I decided to come and read one of yours. The magic in them always leaves me feeling a bit more inspired. Thanks :)

    • I’m so glad! I get inspired reading your posts as well, they help me to get that great feeling I used to have in college of noticing habitual responses to things- like the fundamental attribution error, and conditioning. Inspiration has many faces!

  5. You don’t write words…you write feelings…thoughts…soul extensions. You make me smile. I sense a beautiful light within you. Please do not let the edges of humanity extinguish this light…
    Well done Jen…

  6. Hi there, thank you for taking the time to stop by my bog Vacant Pages, and choosing to follow, much appreciated. Cool site, hope it goes from strength to strength.

  7. Thanks for your words. I’ve loved having you follow and comment on my posts and would like to return the gesture! You’ve got some great stuff here.

  8. I really liked this post, writing is something I’ve done a bit in the past and have just started again recently (but blogging is new to me). I’m doing it because it is encouraging me to observe my world more and think more creatively and for all the other reasons you mention. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your book :D

    • thank you! I am new to blogging too, it is so interesting! I think you’ll like a lot of the stuff I post about, good luck getting back into the world of writing, I’m sure it’ll be a super fun process!

  9. Great post, for me blogging keeps me focused on what I am truly interested in, instead of getting sidetracked by other frivolities, and it makes me happy to allow myself to dig deeper about my thoughts and feelings about food.

  10. This is too funny I was just thinking this earlier today: “blogging and, more specifically writing regularly can have immense benefits on our psychological health.” How I’ve been feeling since I started blogging and how my mood swings (to altered highs) when I comment on posts and find like-minded or like-writer selves, on blogs— it’s really interesting. It can be a positive influence to write and express yourself (which is why I am blogging) but it can be a negative if you expect too much from the online world to reply back, praise you or follow you, having a voice is important, but I am still struggling with being “just happy” with me and my writing and having anything more is just bonus, because it does get you down as a blogger if you write alone with no audience. But the creative juice that I feel when I write and to have a platform like wordpress outweighs all negative backlash, as I plan to continue to build my blog and my content in writing for me first and you (online world) second, it’s the only frame of mind one can have if they are to remain humbled in blogging. You have a most excellent blog by-the-way very happy I stumbled across it today.

    • I am happy you found it too! I fully agree with that backlash thing. I’m also still trying to find that balance, and to write for myself first and foremost, and to truly figure out the balance between what is nourishing to write about for me, and what is also nourishing for the reader, since it makes me so happy when people can walk away with something in their little emotional toolbox that they didn’t have before :) I’m trying to see it as a multi-year process too, so that I don’t get too caught up in “aw man nobody even LIKED this yet!” and look more at “what am I going to write about next to resolve some little tension I’ve been feeling” so that I can stay on track. It’s tricky, you are definitely not alone in that, and it’s good to hear that you have such a cool grounded mindset about it. I look forward to exploring your blog!

  11. my blog has been the best therapy for me wish I had thought of it earlier! I love looking back at my posts as I tend to write without thinking so learn things about myself as well LOL only a month into my blogging “career” and I’m in a better place than I have been in for years!

    • Wow, just one month! That is great! I have such a resistance to looking at my older posts, even to looking at my older comments, because sometimes I write without proofing it or thinking about it as a whole, and I’m always afraid of finding silly mistakes and things I wish I didn’t say, but it’s true that looking back at it with more fearlessness would probably help me to learn about myself! Good call! Thanks for sharing that idea :)

  12. I’ve had diaries before, but I used them to write what happened that day. I think I’m going to try having a little notebook with me, just for snippets of conversations and such. Especially my daughter says the darndest things!

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