All week, I had been itching to get my hands on my iPad and get back to my blog. I knew that when school started, the time I could devote to blogging would definitely go down. But after a long, busy week, I was excited for Friday night so I could get to business (I don’t know if that is lame or not. I am excited about blogging – on a Friday night? I see what my life has devolved to.)
So, at 3:15 on the button, I was out. I secretly moved a few flourescent yellow parking cones so I could sneak my car out before the buses, ran a few errands, hit Panera on the way home for take-out (definitely not cooking on a Friday night)- and I was on my way to what I had been waiting for all week.
Priority number one, even before eating (which, if you know me, is a huge deal), was getting out of those horribly confining dress-clothes and putting on a sweatshirt and yoga pants. Dinner on the couch, iPad right next to me – I had been looking forward to this all week. I was all set to go.
Except I didn’t. I mean, I tried. I just couldn’t pull it together last night. There was nothing.
I tried to look through Pinterest for inspiration. I read other blogs. I flicked through Yahoo news. I just couldn’t get my mind and body to cooperate. I already committed that if I couldn’t write something worthwhile or something I was proud of, I wouldn’t put up a post.
So, last night, there was just a big, black hole where a blog post should have been.
And this morning, at 5am (of course, on the day I don’t have to get up at 5am), I woke up thinking about this (Really? Up at 5 on a Saturday thinking about blogs? Who does this?)
I guess we all face these hurdles from time to time. We get on a roll, the page views and stats are up, ideas are firing left and right. And then, we hit a wall. A dry spot. A writing wilderness.
Here are a few of the hurdles that I face the most:
*Real life: It’s funny that real life could be considered a hurdle to blogging because, more often than not, blogging is a hurdle to real life! I can easily get lost in cyber-world and neglect the real, physical world around me – whether that is my husband, my schoolwork, my housework, paying bills, spending time with God, exercising – whatever. But when it comes down to it, real life has to come first. And sometimes, finding the time to blog in the ‘real world’ is hard.
*Fatigue: Sometimes, I am just too tired. And that is the bottom line. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Sometimes I’ve used up all my words for the day teaching, and there are no leftovers for blogging (and who really wants leftovers anyway?). It just happens. We can’t always force our minds and bodies to cooperate. For me, tired, forced posts = crappy posts.
*Lack of inspiration/quality material: There are times when I really just feel like I have nothing interesting to write about. Does anyone really want to read about what I did at school today, what I cooked for dinner, or everything on my to-do list? Sometimes, even Pinterest can’t inspire me (It’s shocking. I know).
On those days, I think it is better to wait it out. I don’t think it’s good to wait too long…it is hard to get that lost momentum back, but I don’t really think it is wise to post fluff. I’m not saying every post has to be deep, profound or serious; I think a great post can be random, trivial, brief, or pithy. Not every post has to be a masterpiece; we can still be ‘real.’
I’m just saying, in my opinion, I don’t think we should post just to post. I really believe our readers come to expect a certain quality of writing from us, and we shouldn’t compromise that. And on some level, every blogger, even if they are writing for themselves, should be aware that there is an audience (otherwise, we would all just keep a private journal or notebook). The audience shouldn’t dictate what we write – I think we need to be true to ourselves first – but, we should realize they are there.
*Lack of creativity: Sometimes I am really inspired and fired up about an idea- but in and of itself, it has a mundane feel to it. Maybe something really exciting happened in my classroom today or I had an amazing reunion with old friends. It is inspiring to me, but it might be boring for someone else to read. Like, if I came across the same topic on my blog reader, I might scroll on past it. So, sometimes, we are lacking a creative spin to our really good idea. We might need to play with that idea a little to see how we can present it in a more creative, interesting way.
*Still processing: An idea might be really good, but it might not be be ‘ready.’ It is still brewing. I have a bunch of posts in my ‘draft’ folder. Some might make it to the blog eventually, some might not. But for whatever reason, they just weren’t ready to be put out there. It might be something I’m still processing or gathering my thoughts about.
*Too raw/personal/private: There might be things I want to blog about, but it just isn’t the right time to put it out there. Or maybe it is just not really ever appropriate to put out there. It can be hard to navigate through all that – what to share, what not to share, when to share. And then sometimes, even though it is silly, I can feel a little inauthentic in the posts I do present because, in a little real-life dramatic irony, I know something that my readers don’t know (Not that I think anyone is really paying attention that closely!) But still, that is an internal struggle I have, and it can be hard to work that out and still feel like I’m being genuine.
*The comparison game: We can read blogs of writers that we really admire and immediately dig ourselves into a ditch: I’m not that_____________ (witty, profound, clever, creative, practical, controversial – you fill in the blank). But I don’t know if there is anything that sucks life from our writing more quickly than comparison. And in all areas of life, not just blogging, it murders any optimism or joy we feel about ourselves and our lives. Comparison is a huge buzz-kill. And a colossal waste of time. We are all different, unique, and our own persons – why are we trying to replicate someone else?
There are more hurdles I’m sure, but these are the ones that annoyingly woke me up this morning. And what is more, on some level, this post might even be highly impractical because, notice, the title is not ‘OVERCOMING Hurdles in Blogging;’ I’m just pointing out the problems without giving solutions. You can thank me later. 😉
But here is where I think this might help: once the problem is pin-pointed, a solution is easier to come by. And honestly, this is important to me. As this is my 5th attempt at blogging, clearly I hit obstacles, and I didn’t overcome them. For me, to be able to identify these pitfalls, I can then be pro-active to come up with a plan to work through them rather than scrap the whole endeavor, which I did in the past.
And while we all know we do write for an audience, the blogger has to be true to himself first. The writing, the tone, the material has to be authentic, has to resonate from within first; it has to be free of the gimmicky feel just to gain an audience, hits or comments.
For me, while I am aware of an audience, I don’t try to cater to them, per se. Followers may come and go; no one, as far as I know, has committed to reading my blog forever. So, it can’t be all about them; they will change. I think of my audience when I write, but more than that, I want to have a blog post that I personally approve of and am proud of, even if no one else liked it. One that I feel good about posting.
Again, I’m not saying that every post has to be perfect or can’t be real or raw; I just want to have my own stamp of approval on it.
So sometimes, it take a little time to work through these hurdles, to try to tap into that authentic voice that rings true. We all write and blog for different reasons. I think we need to know what those reasons are for us personally and stay true to them.
Blogging isn’t easy. We all know it take time, commitment, thought, effort, and something of pulling our insides out and putting them to ‘paper.’ But I think our hurdles can be overcome when we go back to the beginning – why we started blogging in the first place. And every blogger has to answer that question for himself.
[Photo Credit: Cambodia4kidsorg]