200 posts, half a year of daily blogging- What subjects worked! June 30, 2012
It strikes me as interesting, and disappointing perhaps, that the post that got the maximum reads ever on my blog was written months before I started the daily blogging habit. It was a post I wrote about my sense of belonging for Goa after a trip back home for Ganesh Chaturthi in September 2011. Even after getting into the routine of writing everyday, I have been unable to recreate the magic of that post. That teaches me something very interesting, and also highlights why blogging and blog browsing has become so popular.
It’s the emotional content of that post that made it successful. Many could relate to it (Goa, longing for home when you are far away, the closeness of family, love, bonding, tradition, Ajjee!) and were enthused to refer the piece for the consumption of others as well.
Blogging is a release. For the blogger, it is a way to present thoughts, emotions, experiences to the world at large. However small your reader base, once you hit ‘publish’, there is a certain sense of releasing your thoughts into the atmosphere and letting go! In an emotional post, the reader senses and travels on that journey of the heart, with you. I’ve written articles for several publications and always believed good writing is about quality research, the ability to sequence information into a powerful argument and the final flourish of language well used. Blogging has turned that perception around for me. Good writing is about feeling what you write, the skills are additions.
The other thing that nearly always works in making a post readable is images. Visual content, and I usually use photographs, is easy for readers to relate to and really offers them a peek into how you view the world. When you combine an interesting experience with pictures, like in travel writing, it’s fail proof! Some of the best responses (in terms of traffic, comments, syndicated views and social media response) have been for travel-related posts. For some reason, the Pune bakery post worked really well, getting considerable interest from Parsis in many parts of the world, Pune-ites in general and food lovers as well!
I haven’t actually written enough about food, though I know its a great subject to explore. I guess I’m not much of a foodie, though being around Rahul and the office folks will convert me sooner than later. Hmmm, another aspect to look into for the rest of the year 🙂
Children always surprise us: Notes from our weekend club- Apr 30, 2012
We have a weekend club going about once a month for a few children. Usually, one of the parents facilitates some interesting activity and this time I volunteered. The idea was to get the kids to think and write creatively, focusing on narration.
The children, seven children aged about 6-9, were first asked to talk about their current favorite book or story, highlighting what they particularly like. Words from their narration were written on chits, which were then folded and placed in a box. The chits were jumbled and each child picked about 4, using which they had to come up with a story of their own, in written!
The results varied, but some attempts were pretty amazing. Aarush, younger than the rest, made up for lack of writing speed with his brevity. He wrote :
Once aliens invaded the galaxy. they used to be eating dictnory’s for power. the aliens were as stupid as idiots. like if sombody said something to them they jumped about.
I’ve transcribed the spellings and punctuation precisely to indicate that skill levels have nothing to do with how well someone can narrate! This was simply amazing. The other kids were also quite appreciative.
Nitya’s piece was notable as well, in which she described the joy experienced by a geeky kid who got to spend a day with his favorite author Roald Dahl. Most interestingly, they “ate ice-creams, they went to a movie and had lots of fun.”
The second exercise split the kids into two groups. They were each given a picture cut out from Lonely Planet Magazine. They were to include the picture in a verbal narration. One group, which included Udai, Utsa, Aarush and Aryan (below), chose to each make a story; then they found a clever way to weave it all together into one story and they took turns to narrate different bits. Nicely and confidently done.
Sushant and Nitya (below), on the other hand, decide to dramatize their narration, even weaving the toy wooden horse into the tale and using it as a prop!
Medha, who had opted out of this activity, was a bit sulky at this point. To cheer her up, I gave them a short lecture-demo on how a solo actor can essay multiple roles on stage, or show the audience that there are other imaginary people with her on stage.
Four children chose to go solo with the ‘dramatize a picture’ format. Medha did a really professional puppet show (I was so engrossed, I don’t have pics!) using the little half wall in the room (she was quick to spot that opportunity, totally appreciate that!). All the others did a great job of incorporating the elements I had spoken of in their little skits. Pretty amazed we were to see how quickly they picked up the nuances and were able to translate it into their own imagination and the context of their narrative!
Well done, kids! We have a lot to learn from you all…..
Lessons from a month of daily blogging- Jan 31, 2012
Posted by ramblinginthecity
I’m over the moon at completing a month of daily blogging today. It’s not been easy, but it’s been addictive and here are the highs and lows.
Off the cuff
An overall positive reaction It’s been a high to get appreciated certainly and thanks for all the pats; it makes it worthwhile going on. However, I am particularly grateful for the constructive criticism from my closest friends. Pointing out typos, inconsistencies and debating points via the comments made some entries really worth the effort!
A growing and varied readership In the beginning, it was only my friends list on FB that read my blog. In the latter half of the month, though, some new bloggers from around the world have joined the list and that has been gratifying.
A new ability to shed inhibitions One of my earliest lessons was that it is easy to get caught up in the diplomacy game. I decided I would blog honestly and express opinion without reserve, as far as possible. Am hoping to sustain that!
A huge lesson in self-discipline Being able to exercise the discipline to write everyday and make some sense has been the single largest achievement of the past month. There are days I have literally punched away not knowing where the heck the words were trying to reach! Thanks to all those with faith who cared enough to worry about the days I posted at nearly midnight and shared my relief when the post actually went up!
Not enough ‘city’ in my posts The subjects I write about are a bit all over the place right now. Yes, you can’t really focus too much without boxing yourself in and boring the reader, but some posts really struggle to fit into an urban context. Hope to correct that over time!
Too affected by the site stats Once I discovered the site stats pages, I was in a tizzy. Much as it is gratifying to see what posts really pushed buttons out there, it is equally discouraging to see phases when traffic simply peters out! Sometimes I see a pattern and quality of content plays a significant part, but sometimes the logic for the highs and lows is not very apparent. I think starting today, I will try and tone down my focus on the stats and focus the next month on just writing!
Brevity, where art thou? The posts are far too long. I pour my heart out, but its not always fun to read more than the equivalent of a single A4 page! And if there is a point to make, I should be able to make it in about 500 words, right?
Here’s what I’m focusing on in the coming month- Resisting the urge to ‘plan’ the blog and keeping it spontaneous for now, trying hard to pack in the punch and not ramble too much, exploring new directions and new urban topics, constantly trying to build correlations among diverse areas of interest, not pacing things out but letting some posts be intense and others dull kind of reflecting the state of mind at the time…
I still don’t know where I am going with this blogging deal, but I would be grateful to all for comments, honest opinions and suggestions…. and please don’t worry about being too nice!
Posted in Personal
Tags: appreciation, blogging, comments, honest, self criticism, urban, writing