Hello and welcome to Mom Blogger October on the Times of Amma. As regular readers know, the Times Of Amma community is all about inspiring Moms and building them up as they work on being themselves and Mothers. And so, this month is dedicated to featuring Moms who are working on being themselves and mothers, while expressing themselves through their blogs.
Today, we feature Shailaja Vishwanath, a parent blogger and fiction writer by passion and an editor by profession. Her work has been featured/published on The Huffington Post, Blog Her, Yeah Write, Wordpress Discover, White SwanFoundation, Women's Web, WritersMelon and Blog Adda. She shares life lessons on parenting on her blog Diary of a Doting Mom, which is all about the journey she undertakes with her daughter, Gy.
She began writing in August 2007 and finds writing both therapeutic and fascinating. She used to blog sporadically until July 2013 when she wrote about a week-long yelling less challenge that she chronicled on her blog. Since then, there has been no looking back. Shailaja also writes flash fiction and creative non-fiction along with tips for blogging and social media. Her short stories, poetry and other writing can be found at her blog, The Moving Quill.
She counts parenting, reading, writing and social networking among her top passions. Currently she is working on her untitled memoir on her personal battle with depression and bipolar disorder.
What was it that prompted you to become a blogger?
This was easy. It was the birth of my daughter in 2006. When she was growing up, reaching her milestones, my mom suggested I keep an online log of it all since it may help other friends and family members in the future. My husband suggested I start a blog. That's how it all begain in August 2007.
Which has been your most memorable post to date and why?
This is like asking a mom to choose her favourite child! But, I suppose it would have to be this letter that I wrote to my daughter.
What has the most memorable comment on your blog been so far?
You're asking me to pick from over 3000 comments! Without seeming trite, I'd like to say that I treasure every comment that people have left on my blog. To know that someone took the trouble to write a kind word, lend an invisible hug makes the whole blogging exercise worthwhile. I particularly love it when readers appreciate the simplicity in my writing. I strive for that and am touched when that happens.
Have you ever been trolled? How did you handle it?
I have been trolled for a number of reasons: by strange men on my physical appearance online and by people who were unkind enough to call me an attention-seeker when I opened up about my depression and bipolar disorder or about my chemical pregnancy. I was devastated for a bit and almost considered going offline. If it weren't for the support of my blogging community and for the many readers who stood up for me, I may have done it too. Today I liberally use the 'Block' button on social media if people get too personal or negative. Life's too short to spend arguing with people who don't know me at all.
Have you ever started to write a post and then abandoned it? Why?
Once or twice. There are times I really want to speak up on one aspect of parenting/ over-parenting. But I am a bit wary of the way social media tends to descend obsessively on those who make mistakes. So I wait and write after I have thought the subject through. That usually helps me craft the post better.
Do you stick to a regular posting schedule or do you post whenever inspiration strikes? Do you have a writing routine?
Interestingly, I do have a blogging routine. I run two blogs and the readership can be quite diverse between them, although I have people who subscribe to both blogs. So I blog on Mondays/Sundays on one blog and on Thursdays/Fridays on my parenting blog. The only reason I do this is because I find that structure helps me. I can plan my blogging and social media calendar better.
Writing, on the other hand, happens on instinct. I get ideas for blog posts everywhere- while walking, cooking, taking a shower, reading a book, arguing with my daughter. What I do is I jot down notes wherever I am and save them in drafts. I then sit and write them out at leisure.
Do you find it hard to get your voice heard in the crowded blogosphere?
It's not really worried me much because I have a very supportive blogging community. I also run a blogging group and they are all amazing writers and bloggers who come together like a family when it comes to being there for me. My family and friends on Twitter and Facebook also help a great deal when it comes to having my voice heard.
Many say that blogging is dead thanks to other micro-blogging avenues like Twitter, Snapchat and others. As the owner of a traditional blog, how would you respond to that?
I doubt that it will ever really die. Long form content will always have takers much like traditional books will always have readers despite the proliferation of e-books and audio books. Focusing on quality content is more important, in my opinion, as well as a smart marketing strategy in the online space.
Do you see your blog as a stepping stone to something else? Do you see yourself wearing the tag of 'blogger' five years down the line?
For me, the parenting blog is and always will be a self-contained unit. I blog because I enjoy it immensely. Anything else that comes from it- sponsored posts or opportunities or social media connections- have always been bonuses, never the end goal.
I never thought I would see myself blogging beyond the first year so I'm going to be adventurous and say 'YES', Blogging is a hat I will proudly wear 5 or 10 or 15 years later as well.
What tips do you have for other Indian Mom bloggers?
Tips, oh my gosh! I would honestly just say 'find your niche and follow your heart'. Do what you love doing and the rest will fall into place automatically.
You can follow Shailaja's Blog here
If you are an Indian Mom who blogs, get in touch with us here or via the Times Of Amma Facebook page, to be listed on the Times Of Amma Indian Mom Blogger Database - 2016.
You can also follow us on Instagram.