A moment ago I did something that’s become habitual for me: I took the pitcher of reclaimed water off my kitchen counter, out the back door, and used it to nourish the semi-evergreen plants that live in my backyard and need watering year-round.

the perpetual pitcher

Reclaimed water?

It’s the best term I can think of for the water recycling project I began after attending a cooking presentation at someone’s house over a year ago. The hostess made just a tiny comment about how when you drain water, like off of pasta, you could save it for watering plants.

Honestly, she didn’t even say it that directly; it was just an aside, really. But somehow the idea stuck in my head. I began thinking of all the water I waste, pouring it down the drain when my plants, whether outside or inside, would probably love it. And shortly thereafter I elected a certain pitcher to live on my counter forever more and catch whatever water could be reused.

As I offered it to the bamboo behind my patio today, I got to thinking about the passing-along of ideas and how randomly it often happens. We just happen to be somewhere, happen to be with someone, when something is said or done that sticks with us and changes us somehow.

The beauty of blogging is that it removes the random factor. It allows those ideas a place to exist and be found.

This weekend my intermediate students are writing their first blog posts, wondering what to say. What can they tell the world on this historic occasion of their debut post? What’s the point, anyway?

I’m suddenly thinking that my pitcher of reclaimed water is the point: sharing ideas someone else might not think of on their own but that could alter their life — not dramatically, but in the small ways that feel like a difference.

For me on this blog, it’s about sharing ideas for reading, writing, and teaching, obviously. I think of how lost I once felt as a writer, totally unsure of how to tackle drafting and revising on the 300–400-page level. As I gleaned ideas from other writers — such as printing the manuscript out, putting it in a three-ring binder, slapping it full of post-it notes, scribbling revision thoughts all over the pages — I grew more and more confident in my own abilities.

At first the sharing/gleaning of those ideas was limited to infrequent writing conferences, but once I began blogging and reading other writers’ blogs, tweeting and reading other writers’ tweets, I discovered that social media creates a world-wide never-ending writing conference full of incredible advice.

tips from food bloggers gave me the secret I needed for moist & soft whole-wheat banana bread

The same goes for reading, where I used to get stuck wondering what to read next until I hooked up with other readers on the internet.

The same goes for nutrition, where I used to have no idea how to transition into healthier cooking until traditional-food bloggers gave me their tips.

It might be a personal experience, a recipe, a review, a unique perspective on some current issue — there are so many things to blog about. But I think what it comes down to is that when you put those thoughts into writing on a blog, even as little asides, someone else might latch onto them and put them to use.

A student of mine last semester asked me why I blog when it must take up so much time. Other non-blogging writer friends have asked me why I bother with it before I’m even published.

For me, it’s because I love to share ideas and because I’m indebted to all the people who have shared with me. My life is a conglomeration of all the little tidbits I’ve picked up here and there. Those tidbits have turned me into a writer, a reader, a recycler of water, a baker of sourdough breads, and countless other good things that make my life more fulfilling.

Maybe something I mention will ring true for someone else and help them the way it’s helped me.

What about you? Why do you read or write blog posts? What ideas have you gleaned that have changed you?

Leave a comment!

8 thoughts on “Why Blog? The Altruism of Giving Ideas a Home

  1. Firstly, I really enjoyed this post! I love learning the reasons why other people blog, and your explanation is so… human! I also enjoyed the fact that you made your students blog – I think it’s a great way to get students to think about writing online.

    Before I started blogging, I was sure that there was a “standard” form or style that all bloggers must stick to if they are to be considered successful bloggers. Perhaps this is because many of the “how to successfully blog” instructions to be found include directions to “post about things in which you are expert or might be useful to others.” Even reading blogs to try and figure out what blogging is can be difficult – there are many different ways in which “expert” blogs are published.

    I explain this because after a while I decided that I wasn’t going to follow the advice of the how-to blogs and just use my blog to write whatever I wanted, come hell or highwater. I don’t care if I am successful as a blogger – I only want to write what is on my mind! Blogging should be organic thoughfulness and creativity, not a radio manual. I would rather be a happy, unsuccessful writer than an unhappy successful one.



    1. What a great comment! Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts. I want to pass them on to my students too, because I think you’re exactly right. Blogging should be organic. Sometimes when I try to force myself to write a certain post it fails, and so I’ve learned to keep thinking until I hit on an idea that feels right.


  2. I love how you said your life is a “conglomeration of all the little tidbits I’ve picked up here and there,” because that’s exactly how I feel. And I always thought I was cheating somehow, by picking up things from other places rather than doing it all myself. I loved the entire post, but that part was just my favorite. 🙂 ohh and so was the part about recycling water.


    1. No way! It’s definitely not cheating. It’s like that saying about how it’s smart to learn from your own experience but it’s even wiser to learn from others’ experiences rather than trying to figure everything out on your own. 🙂


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