Sometime in August last year, I clicked on Publish for my very first post, a tantalizingly (or so I thought) worded question – “What is The Hungry Boson?” In retrospect, throwing a question about something that no one has heard about into the voids of the internet was totally pointless. But back then I had no experience. I gathered a lot of advice for newbie bloggers and used whatever seemed applicable, which included asking questions as a way to engage readers. “What readers?” I should have asked, before I followed yet another piece-of-wisdom from the net. I cannot recall what I had thought, or whose advise I followed when deciding upon the central topic of my blog. In fact, I visited other blogs, found some that I liked a lot, but scarcely any that tackled the assortment of issues I wanted to talk and read about. This lack of competition should have raised questions, but it did not deter me from following the advice to blog about topics one is passionate about. It made sense, and blogging gurus recommend it as means to draw like-minded readers, remain authentic, and have something to say that might be worthwhile. Bloggers are advised to post on a regular basis. It is often pointed out that writing on topics one cares about helps prevent burning out.
Armed with a plethora of collated advice and brimming with things I wanted to talk about, I started to blog. A year later, it’s time to address the advice and draw conclusions about what has worked for me.
Focusing on the topic. My blog is on “Physics and Fiction”. Skimming through the 44 posts I have so far, I find that they are mostly related to either subject. In physics-themed posts I addressed topics in cosmology, images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and history of physics. Since I completed a novel about a physicist pursuing her dreams, I’ve been on a constant search for similar stories. I found only a few contemporary novels with realistic physics. I blogged about these books at The Falling Sky – contemporary fiction with realistic physics, Science in Fiction, Shadow World – an unusual hero’s journey.
Physics and physicists play little role in fiction, yet female physicists/scientists are almost entirely overlooked (Professors in children’s books). My blog often mentions the existing asymmetry between male and female researchers in physical sciences. I even did a guest post for Tenure, She Wrote about Using fiction to explore realities for women in STEM.
Picturing my blog, I did not intend it to revolve about writing or publishing, even though these topics where on my mind when I started to contemplate self-publishing Initial Conditions. In the process, I discovered new blogs, some of which I still read regularly. The more I found out about self-publishing, the more I embraced the option. Since I wanted the blog to reflect my interests, information I gleaned and concerns I had had filtered into my posts. One of my most popular posts is Self-publishing a mainstream novel – Q&A with Catherine Ryan Howard.
I don’t always stay on these topics. Things that caught my eyes while looking for something else turned into posts. These are usually heavy on photos rather than words (Gargoyles in universities, National Libraries Day in the UK ) and get more likes than my carefully thought musing. Apparently readers of the blog prefer lighthearted, fun stuff over posts about CP violation, or my own favorite – Famous physicists – A to Z.
Other conclusions after 44 posts?
- Write whatever I feel compelled to say, read it, and occasionally dump the whole thing. Sometimes it helps just to pour out the words. Then, by the time I finish reading my musings, I’m ready to put the ugly/petty/annoying stuff out of my mind.
- Post regularly (usually at the end of the week) yet occasionally take a break or a vacation. This lack of diligence probably costs me visibility, but vacation is the time to change my routine, recharge, go to different places and meet people I don’t usually see. Breaks help to keep blogging something I enjoy and want to continue doing.
- Press on Publish if I like what I wrote. A blog post isn’t a novel, nor a scientific paper. It doesn’t require fussing, analyzing, or editing (at least not much). Publishing when one is still enthusiastic about the stuff brings a lot of satisfaction.