Today is a milestone in my blogging adventure: I will deviate from the topic ‘Japan’ and dedicate a post to the topic of blogging itself. The reason? I was invited by Buri-chan from San’in Monogatari to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour. The San’in Monogatari blog is a nice mix of traditional Japanese culture (e.g. folk tales, tea ceremony), anecdotes about life in Japan and information about the San’in region. What makes San’in Monogatari extra special is the addition of cute manga drawings, done by the author Buri-chan.
While I was a bit hesitant to deviate from my topic of choice, the writing process is something that I find so interesting that I decided to give the Writing Process Blog Tour a go. So here goes:
What am I working on?
Currently my only project is this blog, The Japans. I try to give people an idea of what it was like for me to live in Japan. I focus on the little differences and single out things that might seem plain at first sight but are actually quite interesting. Although it has been two years now since I left Japan, I still have plenty of inspiration for posts to come. I found life in Japan to be endlessly fascinating and I hope that I can keep sharing my fascination through this blog.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think my focus on daily life, while at the same time keeping things informative (rather than a personal journal), is something that I haven’t seen very often. I try to steer clear of stories about ‘weird Japan’ or strange subcultures. I also avoid writing travel stories or posts focusing on tourist information, since there are already so many bloggers who do that, and do it well.
Why do I write what I do?
When I was researching information about Japan during my many years as a Japan fanatic, before having lived in Japan, I really felt the need for a blog that focused more on the ‘plain’ aspects of life in Japan. So when I got the chance to spend a year in Japan, I decided to start a blog doing just that. I try to write articles that I would have enjoyed reading myself when I first got interested in Japan. I also wanted to create a platform with information about Toyota City, to help future expats that are building a new life in Toyota City (admittedly that part still needs some work). And of course I just enjoy the writing in itself, and it’s a great way to get in touch with people from all over the world.
How does my writing process work?
Usually I start thinking about a post a few days before I write it. Ideas pop in and out of my head at different times during the day. By the time I start writing, I have a pretty good idea of the point that I want to bring across. Sometimes I already have the first few lines made up in my head and go from there. If I don’t have any inspiration before hand, I flick through my photographs or notebook from the time I spent in Japan and use that as a starting point. The structure of the post usually develops while writing. I reread everything several times and change quite a bit, both in wording and structure, before publishing.
I have a few guidelines that I follow when writing:
- Write for your audience, not for yourself. I always try to imagine if I would be interested to read my own post, had someone else written it.
- Ask yourself what someone needs to know in order to understand the point you are making. Information should be presented in the clearest and most accessible way possible.
- I try to limit myself to one idea or topic per post.
- Less is more. Is everything I am saying essential to the point I am making? If it’s not essential, it has to go. I also try to limit the length of my posts.
- Always include a picture.
- I try to write with a sense of humour and an open mind.
- Quality over quantity. I prefer to blog less frequently but really polish my posts and only publish things that I am 100% happy with.
- Every once in a while, I remind myself of the original concept of my blog. As time goes by, it is easy to gradually deviate from the original idea. But I believe that sticking to a well outlined concept is beneficial both to the audience (they know what they are getting) and the blogger (helps to stay focused and inspired).
Upcoming Blog on the Writing Process Blog Tour:
Nippaku is a blog by 20-year old Belgian student Ann-Sofie, currently in her third year of Japanese Studies at the University of Leuven. She started her blog around two years ago, because she wanted to research different aspects of Japan a bit more in-depth. She also wanted to broaden her knowledge about Japan by reading other blogs. Up untill now, writing has been a lot of fun for her. Next year she is planning to study in Japan, so she hopes she can share her experiences through her blog. I really enjoy her blog because of the quality of the information and the more unusual topics. Her academic approach to blogging about Japan is a nice addition to the current Japan blogs that I know.