It's hard to believe that six months ago today, I decided to start a Bookstagram.
Six months ago, I went back into the second account I had created and decided to take it seriously. And I will forever be glad that I did that.
There are so many things to talk about when it comes to Bookstagram. More and more over these past couple of months, I've been on the journey of finding my own style, how I want to interact with other people, and the things I want to post. Somehow, I've made it this long with only missing a post or two, which continues to surprise me. But what has really been amazing is how much this has encouraged me in so many other ways.
Here are some of the things that have stood out to me over time.
finding my theme
Evolutions of themes are hard. I've seen people change them according to the seasons, which I applaud because I could never do that. Sticking to what I've created is hard enough, I can't imagine finding and doing something new every three months. What I'm working on is really figuring out what I like and sticking to it. At the moment, I'm still trying a ton of new things, but I think I'm getting closer and closer to finding the thing that actually sticks for more than just a few weeks.
I started out with a very blue-toned theme. I've always loved cooler and darker tones, no matter what kind of photos they are. It feels very much like me. And it also worked because of the lighting situation in my old room. Where I took photos really lent itself to the darker blue colors and allowed me to start within my comfort zone.
The more time went on, the more I struggled to maintain that color scheme. Moving into a new apartment meant a whole new set-up, new lighting, and new ideas for how to take my photos. Trying to maintain my old theme became harder and harder as I subtly moved into something different. So I do have to thank my roommate, Jemi, for sitting me down one day and questioning what I was going for. She taught me more about photo editing and pushed me to try something that was different but still worked.
One of the things I've appreciated the most is the community on Bookstagram. I've found people I really enjoy interacting with, and while I wouldn't say I'm necessarily friends with all of them, there has been mutual engagement.
Two constant friends I've had since starting this journey are Marissa and Maggie. Having been friends for a few years and watched her make the transition to being a Bookstragram account, I turned to Marissa for advice when I thought about starting mine. She gave me a lot to think about and was a constant source of encouragement when I started out. Honestly, I don't think I would have ultimately made the leap to start my account if it hadn't been for all our previous conversations.
Maggie has been a friend in so many ways, particularly when it comes to reading and writing. It's been so much fun to see her become more of a Bookstagram account too. We have very different styles of photography and content, but I always feel like I learn something just from seeing how she composes or stages a photo.
It's a big inspiration to see what other people do with their accounts and feeds. I'm constantly in awe of how creative people are with their photos. There are so many things I want to try more of because I see what everyone else is doing. Sometimes, it makes me sad that I don't decide to post more than once a day.
photography & creativity
I've never had a creative eye when it comes to photos or art or anything like that. Writing has always been my creative outlet, and when it wasn't that, dance usually did the trick. But having taken several classes in college that focused on photography and videography, I'm glad that I have a place to practice that.
In so many ways, I've pushed myself to try new things and get better at something I've always thought was cool. And by no means does that mean I'm actually good at it. I'd consider myself decent at best. It's still a struggle for me to play around with staging and taking photos from different angles, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it.
Having to think so differently in order to change up my photos and do something so much more visual has been a great challenge. I envy the people who have a natural eye for pictures and wish I wasn't always so hard on myself to be like other people. There are some photos I'm incredibly proud of, and those are the ones I look back on when I need a bit of motivation.
finding new books
Of course, I can't be in a community for book lovers without adding to my TBR pile. I've added over a hundred books to my wishlist since being on Bookstagram, and I have lots of photos of books I'm interested in.
Having all these recommendations coming from hundreds of people was really educational and helpful when the community began lifting up books from marginalized authors. I've found so many books from POC authors that I would never have heard of if it weren't for the people I follow. They're constantly recommending books that I want to get to - books that will make me think and learn.
Yes, I know I already have a lot of unread books on my shelves. That's not going to stop me from supporting marginalized authors though. Being an aspiring author myself and a woman of color, I'm aware of how hard it is to make it in the publishing world as a POC who writes POC main characters. Having a constant source of information about wonderful new books also helps me discover stories I might never have picked up before. There are several books out of my comfort zone that I eventually want to get my hands on, and I know there's a good chance I'll enjoy them.
Of all the things to be grateful for in the time I've spent in this community, it's been really embracing my love of books and writing. Throughout this month, I've been giving little updates about my NaNoWriMo progress in each caption. It gives me a place to share things I don't feel as comfortable sharing on my personal account, and it allows me to separate my feeds into the things I really care about.
Having the separation is something I've grown to appreciate more and more. When I want to see things from my IRL friends, I spend time on my personal account. When all I want to do is look at books, I spend time on my personal account. I spend less time worrying that I missed a post because it got buried among the hundreds of people I follow. And I don't feel like I'm bothering people on my personal account with daily posts that they don't care about. The ones who want to see my book content have happily followed my Bookstagram, and the ones who don't are spared my repetitive talks about how great V.E. Schwab is and how she can do no wrong in my eyes.
And the last thing I'm grateful for in this 6 month journey is that it's gotten me back into YouTube. Having had a channel that I started in high school and neglected pretty much all throughout college, I've very recently gotten back into filming videos and sharing more of my writing. It's been incredibly fun during the month of NaNoWriMo, and I don't think I would have started back up if it weren't for how much I've grown to love and appreciate the book and writing community.
If you'd like to follow me and see the bookish and writing content I post about on a daily basis, you can find me on Instagram @char.readsnwrites. It's also linked at the bottom bar under this post for easier access.