How I learned to blog
♫♪ I watched the words drip from you and pour from your mouth like a sieve / I’ll end like I did begin, jump rope the stars in a game…
I’m staring at a blank page right now with only the blinking cursor as company by this time of night. Truly I’m in this state all too often, and I feel guilty about it because I always end up pushing it out of my mind until I feel like there’s something remotely interesting for me to write about…and I am guilty of missing writing deadlines because of this, sending in things way later than I should have. I’m very sorry about that to my editors! It’s especially hypocritical of me considering I set deadlines as an editor of the Ampersand, the Honors College newsletter. But when I don’t have any particular inspiration to write, I’m often left staring at the blank document for too long before giving up for the moment and moving to a different assignment.
Blogging is not easy for me, not at all. It’s important to me to separate my private and public thoughts. It’s why I rarely post on social media, and it’s why I’m called quiet when not in the company of close friends. I keep many thoughts to myself. But this makes blogging a challenge because I’m wary of writing personal things through a public forum that can be accessed and read by anyone with an Internet connection.
What brought me to be an I Am UIC blogger then? I’m not sure, really. I think it was the desire to write and the desire to share interesting things I’ve done as a student at UIC. When I first started blogging, I wasn’t sure what to say and I would mull over words. Sometimes I would rush through blogs, even though I knew they would have a permanent place somewhere on the Internet, even if archived. It seemed that I had an exhaustible amount of topics and matters that I was willing to share with the world, and once I ran out, I was never sure what to write about. Sometimes I would end up writing a “list blog” simply because I didn’t know what else to cover. These usually come from ideas that are called “timeless pieces” by the e-board of the Ampersand – writing pieces that are not time sensitive and could be published at any time.
Some of my blog posts takes me an excessive amount of time to write because I’m always trying to make sure the words fit what I want to say. Admittedly, sometimes these posts take me several hours to write and at the end of I have thousands of words…but by then I know I’ve spent too much time on a task that should have taken me no longer than an hour. And while I was proud of the end product, part of me wishes that I could produce something equally scintillating in a smaller amount of time and with actually less forethought…I wanted my blogs to read more colloquially.
And this week? Again, I’m faced with the blinking cursor. So I decided to go meta this time…blogging about how I blog. And how did I really learn how to blog? I think just by reading other blogs and finding inspiration. I stumbled upon the Student Voice section of UIC News just by flipping through links shared on Facebook. I used to follow the old blogs closely, especially Milie Fang, who I met in Society of Future Physicians and still consider a role model. I read the blogs from UIC Radio and got exposed to a lot more new music. One of my best friends, Ray Roman, is actually a blogger for UIC Radio now, and his comedic, somewhat sardonic blogs are always entertaining to read! (He also exclusively links to mashup music!)
When I first applied to blog for UIC News in 2013 (wow, has it really been that long?), I never knew how difficult it would be to come up with something interesting to say every week. I always assumed that I had things to say. And from then to now, almost a hundred blogs later, I am still trying to perfect my blogs, still a little lost on where to begin each week.
To remedy this, I’ve been trying to write in more of a stream-of-consciousness matter rather than constantly editing along the way because I find that’s the easiest way to just get words on the page. Some of my favorite blogs that I follow read like a conversation, just another story that the blogger is trying to tell the reader without the formality of making a specific argument. No overarching message or lesson necessary.
And its helped considerably…look at me now, over 800 words into this blog, and it’s only taken me 45 minutes that consisted of 60% typing relevant words, 20% rewriting, 10% being sidetracked by urgent emails, and 10% of flipping through playlists to find better music to write to…Okay, it’s still not the height of productivity, but it’s an improvement.
And when the summer ends yeah, I’ll be there hiding / And when the sun rises yeah, I’ll stay warm forever… ♪♫♪
(Senseless – Portugal. The Man)
Sarah Lee is a junior studying neuroscience and Russian in the GPPA Medicine program at UIC. She’s still trying to figure out exactly what she wants to do, but some of life goals include running a marathon, exploring Eastern Europe and becoming fluent in Russian. In her free time, she loves running, playing piano and guitar, and reading. A Naperville native, Sarah is a peer mentor in the Courtyard residence hall.