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3 Lessons On Blogging from My Son… the Artist

Our kitchen table is in a perpetual state of creativity.  L1001438.jpg

Marker pens, sketch books, glue sticks, and paint sets are make their permanent home there because my five-year-old son (X) is a self-declared Artist.

While there are some challenges with living with an Artist… (last night I almost broke my ankle tripping on a glue stick) there are a lot of good things about it too. Not only is there a constant stream of art work to hang on the fridge, I’ve also seen a lot of parallels between the ways he’s developing artistically and how I think bloggers could develop their own craft.

The more you do it, the better you get

Young X is prolific. There’s no other word to describe him.

When I get up at 7am he’s usually hard at work on a project he’s been dreaming up in bed the night before (he literally gets up and draws his dreams).

When I go down to the kitchen for a cup of tea mid morning, he’ll be there drawing or crafting up some new “sculpture” (out of an egg carton, some blue tack, a chocolate box, and his Mum’s earrings).

When I collect him from kindergarten in the afternoon, he’ll leave the room with any number of paintings, pastings, and works of art, while other kids walk out with one at most.

The fruit of his constant practice of his artistry is a remarkable improvement in what he’s producing. While it’s all still very childlike (he is five) we genuinely marvel at his creations—they’re really great! Last week I even found him sitting down with a book about Picasso and trying to emulate one of his famous paintings.

The same is true for blogging (or any form of writing)—the more you practice, the better your writing gets. In fact it’s pretty much the only way to learn. You can study writing techniques all you want, but unless you actually experiment with putting them into practice and work on developing your own style, you’ll never really improve.

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Experiment with new media

X is constantly trying new ways of constructing, drawing, painting, and creating. While drawing with pencils used to be his thing, he’s moved through a variety of “phases” in his artistic development as he’s explored different media.

I still remember the time earlier this year that I suggested he use his pencils only to be told that “I used pencils when I was 4 but I have been maturing. I prefer paint!”

He’s also gone through different phases when it comes to subject matter. Faces were and early phase. Then houses. Then robots. Then Toy Story characters. Then fire. Then rainbows….

Interestingly, his latest phase is something of a fusion (or mashup) of different media and subjects. It’s almost as if he’s tested and tried a variety of techniques and has now got his own little style, taking things he’s learned along the way and putting them together into his own little way.

The same is true for bloggers. I strongly advise bloggers to experiment:

  • Experiment with writing in different styles and voices.
  • Experiment with writing posts of different lengths.
  • Experiment with writing informal and formal posts.
  • Experiment with writing in a more personal and engaging tone, and writing a more academic-style essay post.
  • Experiment with different media—video, audio, written.
  • Experiment with different formats—list posts, interviews, how-to posts, stories.
  • Experiment with different topics.

The list could go on. As you experiment, you’ll find yourself drawn to repeat some and leave others. You’ll also find your readers resonating with some experiments and ignoring (or even reacting against) others. In time, your voice develops.

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Train your mind to think like a blogger

When X is not making art, he’s thinking about his next creation. Quite often we’ll be driving in the car or out for a walk and he’ll have a contemplative look on his face, or he’ll be examining something with real intent. I’ll ask him what he’s thinking about. More often than not, he’ll say something like:

  • “I’m thinking about how to draw that traffic light.”
  • “I’m imagining what that man riding the bike will look like being attacked by a dinosaur so I can paint it.”
  • “I’m working out what color to draw our house in when I get home.”

X is always on the lookout for inspiration for his art work. He’s painting his next painting before he’s even sitting down to do it. He’s looking at life though the eyes of a five-year-old artist—working out how to translate what he sees and experiences into his creations.

Again, there is a lesson to be learned here for bloggers. While I don’t advise letting your whole life be taken over by thinking about blogging, over time you begin to see life through blog-colored glasses. As you experience life, there will be some things that jump out at you that could impact your blogging (or even be written about).

This post is an example of that. As I watched X draw today and began to ponder how he was developing, I began to see the parallels and analogies emerge—but they only came because I guess I’ve got into the habit of looking at life this way.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Tammy Redmon says:

    Love it! Love the experiment – Experiment – experiment! And what I also love is how you ‘draw’ the lines for us to fill in the rest. Perfect illustration for blogging and for so many other things. While there is a place for consistency, there are even more for creativity. If we can only apply this rule of (X) to our teams and to the way we lead. Be thinking of how to put our people in the best position to shine, to be creative, to experiment. Great word today! Thank you Darren and X.

  2. Kari Scare says:

    This all makes such wonderful sense. It’s exactly what I try to do as a writer, but I’ve never understood that it’s what I do until I read your analogy. Also, I am going to try to be more aware of what my kids do that I can use in my writing, especially in ways that help me experiment with something different than my usual. I can get into a rut very easily.

  3. Ben Norman says:

    Always exciting to see that the latest article under Problogger in my feed is written by you Darren, a guarantee for an interesting, well written article. You just wait until those early pictures are worth millions :).

  4. Dwayne says:

    5 years old and already so intuitive. Most 5 year olds are running around and playing games. I think it’s awesome that he is so young and already has a passion for something like that. I’m constantly thinking about new post ideas for my readers and I’m learning how to create them in my head before I sit down to write it. Thanks for sharing something so personal, Darren.

  5. Patrick C. says:

    This post here is inspiring, I am new to blogging and this helps motivate me to sit and take more time to aknowledge my ideas before I post. Thanks for sharing what you do…

  6. Bryan Ring says:

    What an awesome point of view. My kids amaze me everyday, these days you can only learn from them since they’re exposed to many things we’re not.

    It’s great to see we all have something in common, regarding your next blog post. I also own a landscape business, and have plenty of time to think while sitting on a lawn mower of ways to grow or offer more services.

    I don’t if that is exactly the same as your analogy, but it does show we can live for the day while looking to the future. Clearly your son is thinking outside the box, must have a good teacher.
    Thanks Darren

  7. First of all, X is really very cute.

    This is such an inspirational post and there is so much to learn from X; thank you for sharing.

  8. Roberto Ty says:

    Nice correlation Darren. X’s story brings me back to my childhood as well. I can relate. My first awareness of my artistic thought process happened in second grade. My parents were called into school by my teacher. They thought I was in some trouble, having never been called in before. My teacher pulled out a piece of paper from her desk. It was a drawing. My parents were puzzled. Of her students, she said I was the only one to draw an udder on my cow. She was amazed and just was curious why I had thought to add that detail. Of course, my parents really had no clue. All they really knew was that I loved to draw.

  9. Lisa says:

    Love this post and X’s passionate creating! I also have two very prolific artists in my house my two boys 4 & 7 and each in their own way.

    I share a similar point of view. Creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it becomes and the easier it becomes. But it is always good to have a reminder – thanks!

  10. Beautiful post, Darren! There is so much to learn from kids and your X sounds particularly special, I can’t wait to see how he grows up!

  11. Armi Niemi says:

    Practice makes perfect! Thanks for sharing :)

  12. I totally agree on these points! I think they are important and essential for us to be able to have that chance to develop a variety of different types of media and also to remain creative when it is hard to.

  13. zeus says:

    This is great advice and will be looking to do the same on my site as well.

  14. suraj says:

    Great advice, In Same way we should concentrate On blogging. We need dedication toward blog. your post help to inspire in to do.

  15. One most important thing – your son is CONSISTENT in his performance and that is quite important here and for our blog profession as well.

  16. Great Post Darren. I love the comparison made with your son’s art and blogging. Children have a way of making things that can be complex seem so simple. X’s inspirations for his art is a good point for improving my own blogging. I’ll be using his strategy in my upcoming posts.
    Thanks for the post.

  17. That’s a pretty good point – kids are like that. There is a reason why “NEW” things are from kids, they try “new media”.

    Great post.

  18. Daniel says:

    He looks totally absorbed with his painting. Fantastic that he has such focus at a young age.

    I think most adult writers and Bloggers can attain this same degree of focus and passionate commitment(To varying degrees). Though, for us Bloggers, it is much more difficult to maintain that level of focus as the number of life commitments begin to stack up.

  19. I love this post (and the pictures of your son)! You are a very wise parent to foster the artistic aspirations of your child. I especially liked the idea of bloggers experimenting with different media – it got me thinking about different things I could be doing to flex my creativity and bring new insights to readers. Thanks for sharing this post!

  20. That is the difference between an average blogger and a good, successful blogger. You get to understand these things which we average bloggers do not. A very well written article darren and awesome read

  21. I love it!!!! What a great way to relate the two. Experimenting with confidence is something we all need to learn from kids!

  22. David says:

    Nice post, Darren!

    Although I understood the message of your post, I guess I connected more to your description of X’s determination and focus while working on his projects.

    I have two boys of similar ages (3 & 6) and they’re the same when they work on their own projects… Most often involving Lego and half my livingroom floor.

  23. I think it is fantastic that you get motivation and tips on how to be a better blogger from your son. The way you relate the two concepts of blogging to his art is very well done. I specifically like the first point: The more you do it the better you get. I can fully relate to this as a blogger because I have had the same instances occur for me. When I first started blogging my thoughts were scattered but I truly believe they are now much better.

    Great article.

  24. barbara says:

    As an artist first and writer second I must say you have a true budding artist in your house. It’s a gift and he is truly honoring that gift. I love that you encourage him, that’s very important. Great job making the correlation to blogging/ writing. I find the more I do the better I get.
    Thanks for sharing this!
    b

  25. Molly Gordon says:

    Two things in this post resonated most with me: experiment and look at the world through blog-colored glasses.

    As someone who has been writing a newsletter and more recently a blog for 18 years, I think that changing it up (experimenting) is just as important for established bloggers as for new ones. We can get stuck in a groove in which our voices lose their immediacy and freshness. As we evolve as people, our voices and media need to evolve as well. In addition, I experience spells during which I feel less inspired or even disconnected from readers. Experimentation is a great way to shake inspiration loose and re-establish connection.

    As for looking at the world through blog-colored glasses, I want to take a stand for doing this broadly. In other words, don’t rely on other blogs, social media, or the Web to inspire you. Keep your eyes, mind, and heart open as the most mundane events of life unfold. Out of this come some of the richest metaphors and freshest perspectives–like this post.

    Thanks, Darren, for an important wake-up call for experienced as well as new writers.

  26. I find I have to work to keep my mind off blogging and building a business. Many times I remind myself I won’t get these moments with my daughter again and to appreciate every one. And when she is napping then it’s back to blogging :)

  27. pradeepf says:

    Writing often is often one of the reasons for success in blogging.Everytime you read or right you get to learn something.enjoyed reading the article,darren.

  28. Taline says:

    It is truly amazing what our kids can teach us! Nice article Darren :)

  29. Philos says:

    I have found that children can be great teachers. The problem is that they (the young teachers) are often never taken seriously by ‘grown-ups’ because:

    1. They are just kids
    2. Parents assume they have taught their kids everything the child knows
    3. They never force their teachings on you

    Anyway I love the experiments and know for sure that people can learn a lot of from kids.

    Happy blogging Darren.

  30. Bougie Girl says:

    X is an inspiration to us all! Thanks for posting this.

  31. Dale Aceron says:

    Inspiring! In my time of wondering if I should keep pressing on to blog, this is perfect!
    Thanks Young X!

    I pray you find success in your artistic abilities

  32. Carlos says:

    Great post Darren. I can remember always deconstruction any toys to see their innards as a child, and here I sit today about to graduate as an engineer after years as mechanic. I work on my writing a lot, but this post makes me think I should focus on my thought patterns in order to generate better ideas more often.