Roughly every 9 weeks it’s my turn to contribute to this blog and, if I’m honest, it fills me with dread. I know loads of people who want to share information they have learnt with others, highlight interesting articles, tell the world about their research, yet when I sit here, ready to write, I just get…nothing. So, this time I’ve decided to consider why I find blogging incredibly difficult. After all, understanding the problem means I’m part way to conquering it, right?
I’m not a really a social media user. This is a big admission as I’m responsible for the @thinkaheadsheff twitter account and I ‘tweet’ every day for work purposes, but that mainly involves retweeting information to our followers. I’ve never had a personal Facebook account and I only joined twitter in a personal capacity to increase my friend’s followers when she started a new business and to share a few pictures of my dog. In fact, in a previous job it was virtually a sackable offence to be publicly active on any form of social media, which I’m pretty sure explains my lack of comfort in sharing my thoughts with the world.
I struggle for topics to write about; especially ones that I think will be interesting enough for people to want to continue reading once they have passed the first sentence. While I’m in a reflective mood I might as well confess that I probably don’t leave myself enough time to plan my article which would give me a chance of finding a half-decent topic. This, coupled with the fact that I worry that my writing won’t be up to the standard of other posts on this blog, quickly highlights me as a novice writer; I’ve never had to publish anything during the course of my work and so I lack confidence. But I am an expert at self-sabotage. Everyone is an expert at something!
In the course of writing this post I turned to internet searching (obviously as research tool and in no way as a procrastination tactic) and up popped the article Academic Blogging – 10 Top Tips by Tom Crick and Alan Winfield. They suggest that you need to find your blogging ‘voice’, make good use of social media and only blog if you really want to. That got me thinking; am I just posting articles because it’s a ‘work thing’ or do I actually want to take a big leap and engage with the researcher community?
So, in 9 weeks’ time I will have stepped outside my comfort zone. The topic of my next post will be one that I find interesting; if other people don’t it’s not a disaster. I will have made time to write the post so that I’m satisfied with the final output rather than my current ‘it’ll have to do the deadline passed 20 minutes ago’ approach. I will even find an appropriate image to go alongside the article (be prepared for puppies dressed in onesies – I’ll make it work!). I’m not going to make any promises about using social media to promote my work as I do generally like to remain under the radar. I will, however, try to ensure that Think Ahead engages with the researcher community through twitter rather than just being an information conduit.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!