My blog has reached the 10,000 views mark. It seemed like a good opportunity to think back on the last 8 months. In doing that, I realised how many ways blogging has changed my life. All of them unexpected and some of them surprisingly rewarding.
1. A heightened sense of appreciation for life
A blog needs regular material to keep it alive. But guess what? You don't need to look far for this because life is full of interesting material: fun facts, pretty images and beautiful words. Writing a journal type blog like I do, has made me think more about every book I read, about the songs I hear randomly on the radio or the buildings I walk past on a walk into town. Once you start blogging, you realise that life is full of stories. As a pleasant by-product, it has given me appreciate all the small things in life - be it the weekly farmer's market, a run in the cool evening air or a walk in the English countryside on a trip back home.
2. It's made me less of an introvert
I'm naturally more on the quiet side (here is a great article telling you if you might share some characteristics of an introvert too). I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, but I know that shying away from life can sometimes mean that you miss out. Having a blog has made my voice stronger. It's made small talk easier and even made me a little better at networking. I've already been in situations where my blog has been a conversation starter (for example from friend's of friends), which is a pretty good way of breaking the ice. And a blog is both a potential talking point for a conversation as well as something which thrives on new knowledge. And what better way to gain that than to meet others and hear their stories?
3. It's made me open up to life and share my story
Before I started blogging, I wondered what I could possibly write about that would be interesting to someone else. And what is so special about my life anyway that it is worth blogging about? But then I realised how much I enjoyed reading about the life of an old friend in New York - probably because, let's face it, I will probably never get a chance to live in that amazing city - or about the lives of young mums, quite surprisingly even though I don't have kids. I've never asked myself why I am interested in reading that. I just am. Researchers have looked at the science behind stories that 'go viral' on the internet. Stories that are positively framed and which touch us emotionally are the most likely to be successful. My most successful text on 'How to be German' tickled the humour of many Germans (yes, they do have a sense of humour). Why not share yours?
4. Being creative
I love being a medic. I can't really think of a more challenging and interesting day job which would suit me. But I regret the lack of creativity. Having a blog means constantly thinking of ideas, finding suitable images and writing. It's not always easy turning these ideas into readable text, but that's part of the fun of it. I'm more of an early bird than a night owl, but my blog has kept me up well past my bedtime on quite a few occasions. There is however no better feeling than the one after a text is completed and published.
5. Keeping up with friends and family
I can guarantee that your mother will be the first fan of your blog and your most loyal reader. Mothers simply love to know what you are up to, and this is pretty much the perfect way for them to keep an extra eye on you. But surprisingly, wider family and friends are just as interested. Thinking about it, the only contact I had with blogs for a long time, was the travel blogs of friends who went round the world or who worked in hospitals in Africa or with children in Papua New Guinea. I followed them faithfully. But the posts stopped after they got home. Why should life stop being interesting and worth sharing just because we are no longer away from home?
6. Being an expert
We all walk a different way through life and even when we don't always see it as we go about our daily jobs, we become experts in our field. Having written about some fun facts on snoring, efforts to educate people on the risks of smoking or the curious medical complaints of tuba players and violinists, I'm surprised myself at how many aspects of my day job have interested others.
7. Meeting new people
Having a blog is not it seems a solitary hobby for loners. A big part of blogging is interacting with readers and other bloggers. Building this sort of 'community' takes time, and I can't say that I've achieved it yet. But blogging has brought me to things I wouldn't have imagined doing, such as attending a blogging awards ceremony or finding a common ground with people in other parts of the world through exchanges on Twitter and on my blog.
8. Being passionate about new technology
My grasp of new technology was always pretty basic. Being able to handle Microsoft Office is pretty much enough to get by in the medical world. Indeed, medics seem to lag behind on the technology band wagon. Sure, there are aps to practice reading ECGs or accessing drug dosages at an instance, but twittering from a big medical conference? Not done. Having a blog suddenly gives a new meaning to all things tech - from choosing and running a Wordpress site (with a lot of help from a friend), to debating which mobile phone meets my growing needs, to playing around with more aps to finding a new meaning to social media. I still have a lot to learn, but the big difference now is that I want to learn it.