I’ve been temporarily sidetracked from chronicling my action packed (?) vacation to Maine by several things. I will continue with The Maid Goes to Maine series, but there is something else that’s on my mind right now that I wanted to write about.
Yesterday was a milestone for me. I keep a little five-year “Q & A a Day” journal where I answer a daily question. It’s a fun little exercise and interesting to see what has changed (or not changed) from year to year.
When I opened it before bed to answer the day’s question, I saw that beneath last year’s answer I had written “Started WordPress Blogging 101.” I actually created my WordPress blog on October 2, 2012 after taking an introductory class at the local community college. Then it languished untouched for nearly three years. In the meantime, I received emails from WordPress.com and something kept me from unsubscribing.
Last year an email announcing the Blogging 101 class arrived and for once it was offered at a time of year that was convenient for me. It sounds really corny, but I had no idea how it would change my life.
Taking the class finally pushed me to write down my stories and thoughts – something I had professed to want to do for so long. But the anniversary (or blogoversary) is bittersweet. Yes, I am writing, but I have a long way to go to reach the goals I have set for myself. I try to look at how far I’ve come, but it is simply in my nature to be my own worst critic.
In the past year, I have struggled with this whole blogging thing. I have published a mere 40 blog posts (41 counting this one). This is not where I’d hoped I’d be by now. So, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of a pity party, here are four creativity enemies I battle on a regular basis:
- Procrastination – Try as I might, I can’t get myself into a writing routine. I read about writers who declare that they need to write as much as they need to breathe. I am not one of those people. Once I get going, I’m fine, but I will find a million excuses not to sit down and just do it. Oops! – a dentist appointment in the morning – guess I won’t have time to write today. Let me just throw those clothes in the wash – then I’ll sit down and write something. Oh darn – I was going to write first thing this morning, but if I don’t get out for my walk early, it will be way too hot later. I could start writing, but I’ll need to start dinner in 45 minutes, so I’ll just wait until I have a bigger block of time.
Believe me – as I write these excuses, I know how lame they sound. I am an otherwise disciplined person. I make the bed every day. I take my makeup off every night. I floss before bed. Why can’t I be this meticulous with my writing? Now that we’re learning that flossing may not be as important as once thought, maybe I can devote that time to my blog!
- Perfectionism – It has been said that perfectionism manifests itself as procrastination in many people. This is very true in my case. It takes me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to write a blog post. If you read anything about writing techniques, you’re familiar with the suggestion that you should just get everything down and worry about editing and rewriting later. I have tried and simply cannot do it. I edit and rework a piece as I go. Always have. Probably always will. My writing process would make a snail look like an Usain Bolt.
- Self-Doubt – I have ideas for posts and before I can sit down to start writing I’ve talked myself out of it. That mean girl voice inside my head tells me that no one would want to read about that. The lack of self-confidence isn’t in my writing skills, but in the value (or perceived value) of what I have to say. Too often I look outward for approval or praise, measuring success by the number of views, likes, and comments, rather than being happy that I told my story in a way that pleases me.
- Occasions both happy and sad –Things happen that affect us deeply. But events that for some people become fodder for their writing, tend to completely derail mine. In the past year, my stepdaughter got married. It was a wonderful, joyful occasion that I wouldn’t trade for anything. But it bumped me completely out of my routines and comfort zone for months on end. The event itself as well as the planning and associated parties and celebrations was yet another excuse to neglect my writing.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was the death of both of my parents late last year. During that time, I seriously considered giving up my “silly” little blog for good. Instead of needing to write to process or cope with experiences as many writers do, I retreat and succumb to inertia. I wanted to address my serious thoughts, but couldn’t figure out how to fit them in with my previous writing topics which seemed so lighthearted and frivolous.
So, now that I’m actually sitting here writing, what am I getting at? I guess I just needed to define my struggles and put them out there. I think some of my fellow bloggers may be able to relate. Maybe some of you may even have some words of wisdom for me. If that’s the case – I am all ears!
I’m also looking at this post as a bit of a fresh start – an attempt to “cleanse my palate” so to speak. I have been at this for a year and I have struggled. But I have also learned a few things.
- Your blog doesn’t have to fit a mold – One thing that kept me away from blogging for those first few years was the thought that I had to choose what my blog would be. My indecisiveness had me stalled. I came to the realization that it could be anything I damn well wanted it to be! As I learned from reading other bloggers, it can be a mishmash of memoir, short stories, travelogues, poetry, jokes, recipes, photography – you name it. It can be funny and serious. There are no blog police and there is no right or wrong way to do this. Let me repeat: THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO DO THIS!
- You can “meet” really cool people – This was the most unexpected delight of the Blogging 101 experience, and of blogging in general! The assignments encouraged us to visit and follow other students’ blogs. I found people from all over the globe whose writing inspires me. I’ve come across people that I know would become dear friends if I could spend time with them in person. They seem to “get” me and my sometimes warped sense of humor. Their encouragement and help has made me keep going. In the beginning I only let a handful of friends know about my blog. It took me nine months to find the courage to announce it publicly to people in my life. The support of my fellow bloggers is what eventually gave me that courage. I don’t want to name names, as I’m sure to forget someone important, but a huge “thank you” to those of you who take the time to read and comment on my ramblings. Never underestimate what a kind, encouraging word can mean to someone who has shared their writing with you.
As of today, I have 107 followers! According to my stats page, my blog has been viewed by people from 31 different countries! This is a drop in the bucket for some bloggers, but for me it is beyond belief!
- You are the only audience you should worry about – This is one I have to keep learning over and over. As exciting as it is to get a like or a comment on one of my posts, I need to keep doing it for me. I’ve sometimes caught myself lamenting the fact that a follower I admire has stopped commenting on (and probably reading) my stuff – as if my Junior High School crush has quit stopping by my locker between classes. At times like that I give myself a mental shake and point out that if writing the post made me happy, I shouldn’t care if anyone else likes it.
If you read this and you can relate, I’m glad.
If you read it and think it’s a bunch of self-indulgent crap, you may be right. But guess what? I don’t care. To steal a sentiment from Leslie Gore, It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to!
And finally, I’m sure there are some who won’t see this because they didn’t make it to the end of this exceptionally lengthy post. That’s fine. I’m going to keep trying. Not every post is going to be a hit. But sometimes, sometimes, I will strike a chord with someone. Maybe I’ll make them smile – that has to be enough.