Tuesday 29 September 2015

The Plight of the Lifestyle Blogger

Come New Year's Day, I will have run this blog for 3 years.

 Since it's conception in the early hours of 2013, this blog has seen endless changes - from being an online diary to be read by none, to becoming an advice blog, to sharing fashion and beauty tips, reviewing restaurants and cafes, serving critical commentaries of the blogging world, and as of lately becoming a travel blog and adventure chronicle.

Through all of this, I've always found myself under the title of 'Lifestyle Blog'. And that in itself presents a unique challenge for the diverse range of creators whose content just kinda ends up under that label for want of a better description. The line between being a personal lifestyle blogger, and a commercial lifestyle blogger.

I believe the difference is nothing to do with money or job title - it lies in the core motive as to why the person conjures those words, which influence the type of content they make. 

A personal lifestyle blogger does so because they have something to say. They define themselves as perhaps a writer over a blogger, and a writer's heart does not bode well unrelinquished. Their work is their story - more chapters than blog posts - offering an insight into the mind and life of another. Readers get to know the person, perhaps even fall in love with them a little as they live life through their eyes. Readers join to satisfy their curiosity. These blogs are an autobiography in installments, a running novel unravelling before our very eyes. The bloggers work reflects in.

A commercial lifestyle blogger does so because they have something to share. Still of course writers, they perhaps define themselves more as journalists over bloggers. They write to offer something, to help others; interviews, tutorials, reviews, advice. Readers flock to their work because they need or want something, and they turn to a person who seems to have the answers. Readers join to satisfy their questions. These blogs are archives of practical, informative knowledge and inspiration. The bloggers work reverberates out.

Off the top of my head I can think of countless incredible and fascinating blogs which fall under either category - all equally as amazing and inspiring, in different ways.

But the problem for a lifestyle blogger - or which has at least plagued me since day one - is trying to work out which side of that line you want to be on. Am I here to entertain, or am I here to help? Am I supposed to be professional, or poetic? Am I offering fiction or fact? What am I doing this for? Who am I doing this for?

I've always known I exist under the former category. My blog is a written account of my life. However seemingly narcissistic, it's always where I've felt most comfortable. And if the recent rediscovery of six years worth of teenage diaries in my room has taught me anything, it's that writing this blog is nothing new. Throughout various mediums and stages of adolescence, in a way, I've always kept this blog. In my first year or so I dabbled in broadening my horizons into the commercial side, but I've always felt like I was sacrificing part of my artistic integrity in doing so, or was simply massive hypocrite. How could I ever hope to offer sound advice to a person when my entire life is one big mess of mistakes and bad ideas?

And now three years in... writing this blog just isn't doing it for me like it used to.

Before, I could write endlessly without any fear of how I'd be perceived, or if my rants were too wordy, or even if nobody would read my thoughts. It was from naivety, but a blissful one. Being a blogger never got in the way of being a writer, and I'm not sure I can say the same now. I feel myself becoming paranoid, unable to articulate myself in an easily-readable, quote-tweetable manner which I feel I'm obliged to do if I want anyone to care. The pressure of professionalism is destroying both my artistry and my confidence to the point in which I must internally scream WHAT'S THE POINT on a daily basis and snap my laptop shut.

But I've come to realise that my unhappiness and dissatisfaction with my work is not necessarily because I'm bound by my category with little room to manoeuvre... But because I'm forcibly trying to bind myself in it. These restrictions I'm finding on myself are purely self-imposed, because I'm too nervous that I'll be betraying this imagined archetype of what I'm supposed to be. For example, one of the most startling things I discovered from reading those teenage diaries, was just how passionate I was about the fashion industry growing up, and how desperately I aspired to be a designer. Yet it's only I that has left little space to ever accommodate something as 'out of character' as a fashion post on my blog, despite me caring quite sincerely.

The endless plight of the lifestyle blogger is that we are wordsmiths, and are uniquely prone to the point in which being a writer, and being a blogger collide. Because like great tectonic plates which cover the earth, they rarely sit well-behaved, side-by-side. 

But if there's one truth of life that I believe is applicable in so many contexts, is that fluidity is the key to everything. And maybe I've spent so long doing the same thing that I have become one of those hardened plates, colliding with new ideas and opportunities to grow because I'm so set in my ways. When really I've been ignoring the fluid molten magma which flows so seemlessly between the two, just beneath the surface. Maybe we don't have to choose one or the other.

And if that's not the most obscure yet curiously apt metaphor you've heard all day, then I'll be damned, haha.

Writing and blogging, technology and creativity, professionalism and passion - none of these need be enemies or antonyms. As is so often the case, happiness, growth, maturity and success comes from a little bit of negotiation, and always allowing yourself room for evolution. 

I guess that's just something I need to remember.