The Contemplative Blogger, or, Notes for the New Year

Cat uses a laptop
I’m contemplating what you meant when you said “mouse.”

Normally when a new year rolls around, I’m more than happy to let go of the old one. But this year, 2014, is (and will be) something different. Off the Internet, 2013 was not a great year for me – I definitely hit more valleys than peaks over its twelve months. But on the Internet, it was a banner year. Not only did I successfully manage to continue my own blog, but I also, somehow, garnered a (hopefully) long-lasting stint with GFN, and I helped launch and regularly contributed to United We Game. With this in mind, I’ve spent an abnormal amount of time over the past week or so reflecting upon my 2013 blogging adventures. I really can’t put into words the affect blogging has had on my psyche.  It’s become a “thing” that I simply must “do.” Blogging has permanently settled into that portion of my brain that tells me to do chores, pay bills, make coffee, clean up after the cat, etc. Except that it’s fun, enjoyable, and exciting; and it simply must be done no matter what.

But I haven’t just been waxing philosophic over what it means to me “to blog.” (Good lord, would that be a b-o-r-i-n-g post.) I’ve been considering all the things I’ve learned from blogging, from the blogging community, and from the Internet over the past year. I think I’ve become a little more open, a little less tucked away in my own private corner wondering if it’s okay to share this or talk about that. I think I know better what it is I want from blogging and how best to fuel its fire within. I love the blogging community now more than ever, how willing it is to go with the flow, and how much cheer and support it contains. So here are a few notions that kept me going last year and will help propel my efforts this year (and the next, and maybe the next!)

And I'm not getting off this till you read through EVERYTHING!
And I’m not getting off this till you read through the whole post. The WHOLE post, dammit!

The schedule, it is king.
Last year, I placed my personal blog on a weekly schedule. I also have weekly posting schedules with United We Game and GFN. Without these schedules, I’d never be able to keep up with blogging. And that sounds a little counter-intuitive, I know, because, blogging should happen “in the moment,” when inspiration strikes, when one’s fancies are aroused, right? Well yes…and no. I don’t know about you, but my spur-of-the-moment blogs tend to start out as tsunamis (as opposed to streams) of thoughts, and they always need tons of editing. So honestly, most of the time, it usually takes me at least a couple days to turn a moment of inspiration into a readable post. My blogging schedule allows me to indulge my on-the-fly thoughts, even if they need to be saved for a later day. So if a great blog idea pops into my head immediately after a publish a post, I know that I have another week to formulate it into a fully developed article. If I have 10 great ideas, then, as long as I write them down in the moment, it takes a load off knowing that I probably have 10 weeks worth of blogging covered. The writing, that’s the easy part…

But the writing, blog writing, it’s not like other writing.
As a product of your run-of-the-mill public school system, I was raised on the five paragraph essay: one paragraph introduction, three paragraph body, one paragraph conclusion. This later evolved into works on a grander scale, but the notion remained the same – state your idea, prove your idea, conclude your idea. But blog writing…oh ho, it is such a different beast. Bloggers can write in whatever styles they choose, and hell, they can even make up their own styles! Like writing in single sentences? Then blog! Like writing in massive paragraphs with no punctuation? Then blog! Like writing in text as florid as a Shakespearean play? Then blog! The sky’s the limit! There plenty of talk about finding one’s “voice” in blogging, and it really does take time to figure out just what that is. One of the things I love about writing for different blogs is that it allows me to experiment with different voices. And playing with different kinds of writing is both fun and freeing. As for my “voice”…well, it seems to change depending on the topic. And I don’t mind change…

But change is scary, addicting, and (in the end) good.
Like most people, I’m a little averse to change.  I mean, I like it well enough…mostly, when it serves a purpose or the greater good. And I like to think that I’m always up for a break in the routine (uh…despite the whole scheduling thing…really).  But when I was first approached to collaborate online just prior to the start of 2013, I really didn’t know if it was the right way to go. I had been blogging on my own for some time, and I was pretty happy being responsible for nobody but myself. Was I ready to become beholden to a group of nice strangers? It was a difficult choice that turned out for the better (otherwise, I’d probably still be tucked away in that private corner…), but not one that came without sacrifices. With personal free time at a premium and certain personal rules already set in place, I faced plenty of stress trying to meet deadlines, making sure I stayed in touch with people as best I could, wondering if what I was doing was good enough. But then, after the scary change occurred, it was like I couldn’t get enough change. Like, suddenly, everything had to change — my writing, blogging projects, the look of my blog, my schedule (both blogging and personal) — and things got a little out of control. A sizable life-shift in December kind of resettled everything. And after taking a necessary break and looking out over my vast blogging world, I see that everything, it is good.

So just you wait 2014! I’ve got plans…big plans…well, reasonably-sized plans to make it a great year for blogging! If you’re a blogger, what online (or offline) experiences have affected your work, or what lessons do you carry forward?

Nap now? Yes, please.
Nap now? Yes, please.

————

Like what you’ve just read? Cary posts to Geek Force Network every Friday; and you can also find more words that she put together in paragraphs at Recollections of Play and United We Game.

 

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4 thoughts on “The Contemplative Blogger, or, Notes for the New Year”

  1. Time has definitely been more of an issue for me in the past several months. It’s really hard to juggle writing for your own blog and contributing to two other ones. I try to keep stock of any ideas I might want to write about and store it away until I feel like I want to write about the topic or have the time to really flesh it out. These days, I kind of wing it. I try to write posts I want to have up for the week a few days in advance. At least once I finish a general outline of what I want to say, I can go back to it on the day I plan to post it and just do straight editing before clicking publish. I find it saves me more time and makes blogging easier for me. 🙂

    1. Writing stuff in advance is really the way to go! Because even if you only start out with a few sentence or a paragraph, you can build upon it over a few days. But doing outlines first is a great idea — I imagine working that way does save you from a lot of stress! Like I said, the writing is not so much the problem as is forming cogent and understandable ideas from the start.

  2. I agree with this post and am glad you’ve found a great rhythm. I am still attempting to establish mine. I’ve tried scheduling, but if I am not excited to write, then I am not going to write. My current approach is to write when the moment is there, then clean those articles up when I am ready to post. I take time off here and there to recharge, and currently I have a backlog of things to both publish and write.

    It’s working so far!

    1. I like nothing better than seeing a bunch of drafts in my queue. I never pass up an opportunity to write in bulk; but I agree that it can be difficult to do so when the motivation’s not there. However, it sounds like you’re on your way to habitual blogging! Routines are great, but they do take awhile to establish, and they can never, ever been written in stone. (Cause where’s the fun in that?)

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