Birthday Post!

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1stbirthdaycakeHelping You Harmonise is 1 year old today! On 26 November 2008 I made my inaugural blog entry, having spent the previous couple of weeks busy uploading my arrangements catalogue before the site went live. Since then, I have posted 88,300 words of blog material – which is more than I wrote for my entire first book, and nearly as much as for my second.

Having been an avid but sporadic reader of other people’s blogs for some years (i.e. I binge-read several months’ worth of posts in an afternoon rather than keeping track of each as they go), I find it interesting to speculate on people’s motivations for blogging. Sometimes there’s a sense of someone doing it because they feel they ought to – as part of a promotional strategy, for instance – and these are the ones I enjoy reading least. They also tend to fizzle out quite quickly. I think it’s very hard to write regularly if the motivation is extrinsic rather than intrinsic.

More often, and more successfully, blogs reflect a passion or a desire.

People have issues they care about, or a message they want to tell the world, or a question they want to answer. And it is this intrinsic motivation that draws the reader in. Even here, though, the blog may start to falter somewhere between six months or three years in. I don’t think in these cases that the passion has died – just that the writer has figured out what they needed to know. The more strongly-themed the blog, the more likely this is to occur. The same happens to book authors, of course – there comes a point where you stop researching and writing and declare the work finished, and nobody accuses you of running out of steam.

For me, blogging has to a signficant extent taken over a part of my life that I refer to as my ‘thinking books’. I’ve kept these intermittently since student days, and continuously now for the last five years, and they’re simply books organised by date in which I write to mull over the things that I currently need to think about. Sometimes this is very practical stuff to do with my day-to-day life (project-planning, goal-setting), sometimes it’s to do with the people in my life (why did that person respond that way in that situation, and what should I do to resolve it?), and sometimes it’s working out what I’m learning from my roles as a musician and/or educator and/or writer. It’s the last category that I share here, you’ll notice.

A lot of the themes I’ve been playing with in Helping You Harmonise first appeared in my thinking books several years ago – whilst others are still appearing now. The difference is that these days, I’ll develop an idea for a paragraph or so, then note to turn it into a blog post rather than going on for two pages in my thinking book.

And the thing that blogging adds to the thinking experience is accountability. In my thinking books, if I start an idea but run out of steam, I can just stop again. In a blog post, you actually have to figure out whether or not the idea really does have legs – and thus whether to develop it properly or abandon it. Even when you don’t get comments, the knowledge that you could get comments keeps you honest as a writer.

So, thank you for being here and thereby helping me think.

The other big thank you I should like to make on this occasion is to my webmaster Jonathan, who has put an extravagant amount of time and care into making the site a good experience both for visitors and for me. I’ve thanked him person, too, of course – in fact I’m quite repetitious on the subject – but since he’s also a regular reader, I thought he’d enjoy a bit of public acclaim too.

You're welcome.

I'm very pleased with the site, and impressed with your 88,000 words of blog in one year. I think there are two or three posts I've not read, and I'm going to rectify that.

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