From Academic Writing to Blogging

By Guest Author, Charlene Shannon-McCallum blogs at http://leisurethings.wordpress.com/

I consider myself to be a newbie blogger. I started my blog All Things Leisure in August 2013. I am an academic who does research in the area of recreation and leisure. I would argue that my work reaches a very small and specific audience – other academics in my field and some practitioners.

leisure3Often, I have felt frustrated that valuable, practical information about recreation and leisure was not accessible to the general public. For example, I do research on parents’ influence on children’s leisure, but I was fairly certain that the only parents who were reading my work in academic journals were other academics who also happened to be parents. Sure, I was contributing to a body of knowledge in my field, but that alone has never felt overly satisfying to me. The knowledge I had wasn’t being translated to or shared with those who could use it.

At the same time I was experiencing this frustration, I was following a number of blogs. I  had the chance to experience for myself how blog posts were opportunities to become educated on a variety of topics. I  began to wonder whether blogging about things related to leisure was an opportunity to translate my knowledge related to leisure in a more meaningful way.

leisure5Getting started was difficult. So many decisions to make – what platform to use, what to title the blog, what WordPress theme to select, what widgets to add. The next challenge was finding my blogger “voice”. I was fairly familiar with the “formula” for writing research papers to submit to academic journals, but developing a blog post was completely different. I had no training in or experience with this form of writing.

I also had no plan – no idea how often I would post or what topics would form my posts. I was not sure how blogging would fit in with the other parts of my life – my work life, my family life, and, of course, my leisure life. I decided that perhaps the best thing for me to do was to start and then figure things out as I went along. I figured I’d be in a better position to follow tips on blogging once I had some experience and could relate to and more meaningfully apply the advice.

leisure6And so I started. I was surprised how vulnerable I felt with my first few posts. Finding my voice has been hard and even with 33 posts under my belt, I’m still working on getting comfortable and finding my rhythm. But I have discovered a few things in my first year of blogging.

First, there are lots of things I am interested in thinking and writing about related to leisure. For example, my interest in minimalism and simple living ended up being developed into a post on the relationship between minimalism and leisure. In September when the news was filled with discussion about a pro-rape chant being recited at universities during Frosh week, I was inspired to write a post on the relationship between fear and leisure.

Second, blogging is the most satisfying knowledge sharing experience I have had in my career. In some ways, I would argue it is “leisure” for me. I have so enjoyed each of the topics I written about – even the ones that I struggled to develop the posts for.

Third, I have so much more to learn – SEO, how to be more consistent with my posts, and how to engage more people (e.g., through comments, interest by others in becoming guest bloggers).

leisure2Now that I have things rolling, I feel I am ready to be a bit more intentional. I am reading about post planning and am spending time working out ideas for topics for the next year. I’m reading other blogs with a different purpose – I’m examining how they group posts together and how they make use of guest bloggers. I’m thankful for blogs like OneCoolSite which have helped me move from wanting to blog simply out of a desire to share information to wanting to blog to share relevant information well. My evolution into a blogger will continue.

Visit Charlene’s blog at http://leisurethings.wordpress.com/

Related post: Another Update

10 thoughts on “From Academic Writing to Blogging

  1. Thanks for the post timethief and Charlene. I’m glad to hear that someone else agree’s that it is difficult to get your blog off the ground. But I think the key is just to keep on keeping on

  2. Great post! I too am making the switch from academic (finalising a PhD on international law in my spare time and working as an academic full time) to blogging, and it has been a revelation. So much so that I’ve made the decision to quit law to focus on something more creative just as soon as I have the PhD. I have never enjoyed it, but the last few months of blogging have re-awakened my creativity and enthusiasm for life and I’m not letting them go back to sleep now! Good luck!

  3. Enjoyed reading about your journey. I spent quite a while in academic writing, too – Blogging became a pleasant escape from that careful humorless writing. Great way to shift gears and it’s fun. The warm and helpful community of bloggers was something I never expected.

    Enjoyed your post here (will be hopping over to visit soon).

  4. Thank you for articulating your dilemmas so well. Many of them resonate for me, particularly not having a plan and a completely different voice from that in my professional life. All the best as you continue on this journey.

  5. Hi Charlene, I can totally relate to many aspects of your blogging journey. As someone who write academically and exploring a small niche, I definitely had to find my blogging voice as well. There are also many things on your list of challenges that I still struggle with after 2.5 years. But it’s been a fun ride, and I hope it continues for you!

  6. Wow, that’s a big shift — academic writing to blogging. But on second thought, maybe not. Depends on how “academic” you want your posts to be. But at least with blogging, you needn’t abide by academic constraints if you don’t want to. Watch out, though. It’s habit forming! :)

  7. Hi Charlene,
    Thanks so much for accepting the opportunity to have a guest post published here and to introduce yourself to my other community members.

    I don’t think most of us understand how important play and leisure activities are at any age when it comes to maintaining a healthy life balance, and I hope that changes in the future. I think your blog offers some excellent resources under your Printable Exercises tab. I have explored them and I will return to do more exploration and to read your posts.

    I’m wishing you all the best when it comes to building a blog centered community. Thanks again for honoring my blog with your blogging experience guest post.

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