Professional development through blogging. Or: Reflecting on self-reflection…

A recent talk I attended, which specifically addressed the transition from student to professional translator, helped me answer many questions I had about progression in my own career. When I really thought about it, it raised as many questions as it answered – always a promising sign, in my books. For example, at first I was excited about applying what I had learnt to my ideas on blogging. But as I read a bit more around the subject, I started to wonder about the real value of blogging in the process of professional self-reflection. After all, just how honest can you really be when you are writing for an audience, especially one made up of peers and colleagues?

There’s no doubt that thinking about my readership affects what and how I write my blog. In fact, it was fear of this imagined readership that made me blog anonymously when I first started out, and which even now cripples me as I grapple with the idea of posting something which is less than perfectly polished (that would be most of my posts then!).

But I’ve also learnt that having a real “live” readership motivates me and makes me more disciplined in a way that writing to a private journal never would. Perhaps it’s the exhibitionist in me 🙂 I also like being held accountable for what I write. Here at home, I am King of the Castle and it’s all too easy to form grand ideas and sweeping opinions on all I survey from my lofty perch. It does me no harm at all to be confronted with the idea of having to defend my opinions to real people, and ones I admire and who are potentially far more knowledgeable than I am, too.

It’s true that all this introduces a certain degree of self-censorship to my postings, and therefore too, my reflection process. But I feel that’s precisely what I need, as someone who works alone and with such a high degree of autonomy for most of the day. In fact, I feel that this healthy dose of reality (via the virtual) introduces an element of truth that might not otherwise break through for me in a private journal.

Of course, self-reflection is all very well, but you have to do something with this body of reflection too of course. I can’t bring myself to properly review my archives just yet, but I’ll be blogging one year in February so it’s in the back of my mind that I’ll do some kind of review then. I’ll be interested to see whether the blog’s actual development reflects my perception of how it has evolved, and whether it brings any hitherto unnoticed issues to my attention (no comments about my grammar or punctuation, please… my blog is not quite an exercise in perfect writing!)

It was clear from Janet’s talk that the transition from student to professional is not automatic, but rather a process of negotiating a jungle. Any stage of career transition deserves an equally careful and considered approach, and I’ll be bearing this in mind as I negotiate my current phase of career change.

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