***SPOILER ALERT – this post is incredibly long***
There’s a huge amount of writing I never do, yet it’s an actual thing. It’s happening all the time in my head, when I’m walking places, when I’m waiting for someone to arrive for a meeting, when I’m cooking or doing the laundry. It’s an incredible volume of work; so much so that if it were on a single topic, it would rival War and Peace on word count. But… none of this gets to leave my head.
As with a lot of people, my best wannabe-writing takes place when I’m involved in other tasks and all inspiration vanishes the moment I sit down. Except it doesn’t. What’s really happening is that I very rarely sit down to actually write all those things that come to mind when I’m otherwise engaged. I decided to think about this for a while and I actually got some answers… who would have thought?
It turns out the reason is two-fold; I have this perception that I can’t take time to write when there’s so much else I need to be doing AND I think blogging requires all this thinking and usefulness of content and preparation and editorial calendars and whatnot that I can't just sit down and do it, surely. Simple and somehow not simple.
The first reason is a perception thing and something we’ve been working on in the mindfulness sessions. We spend so much time on the things we think we should be doing that we become less productive and forget to nourish ourselves which then leads to even less productivity and so it goes. It really is all about that simple concept of spending time to save time, like planning or… being happy. Mindfulness has really helped me see clearly that whilst I may not need to meditate for 30 minutes everyday, I definitely need to take time out to do the things that make me happy, because they make me happy. That's an actual acceptable reason, you know? I could go on and on about what being happy and feeling nourished means, but we all know the positive impact it has on everything else you’re trying to achieve, so… actively working on being happy? It’s a necessity, not something to do to fill the free time – there never is the free time! Problem solved.
The second one is a tad bit more special. A few months back I gave writing in general and blogging in particular a fair bit of thought. I read stuff on writing, on writing more, on writing every day, on blogging, on blogging every day, on what blogs have become and what it all means these days. Whilst it was great to read all of it – I enjoy reading, what can I say? – not all of it was useful and in fact, some of it was quite unhelpful, especially when it comes to blogging.
The writing aspect is pretty much all to do with finding time, which I’m solving. Blogging, however, is a different ball game. For me, the blogging I relate to and what I want to do, is a story of words and photography, perhaps not directly related but always in a relationship of their own. I enjoy that; it makes me happy.
One of the useful things I did read about blogging had me look at blogs I love and dissect that love – what is it that works for me in those blogs?
I read a lot of blogs (more than I will admit to), but I always think of the same handful when the talk is on blog love! A few things make these blogs stand out, when I really think about it, and only two that are common to all of them.
WELL WRITTEN. All my favourites are incredibly well written. They’re spot on grammatically and they tell a story in an engaging way. I would define them as natural born storytellers, in love with words and a way to use them effectively.
PERSONAL STORY. All my favourites tell a personal story, even if that’s not all they tell. It’s good to connect. It’s good to read about people you relate to, catch up on what they’re doing much like when you go for tea and cake with a friend. Except they’re not your friend. But who cares? You feel they are (and they could be!), you wish them well and you like to know what they’re up to. This is pretty much it; a (distant non) friend who tells you their story in a beautiful way, because they write well and (in 80% of the cases) have good photography. I could stop here, because this is pretty much it, but I wanted to dig deeper if I were to really know what made me come back to these ones.
EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHY. A couple of my favourites have excellent imagery. Powerful photos that capture their day in a wonderful way. Unedited photography, for the most part. This possibly relates to the personal story, it’s real and beautiful and that really works for me. More than really staged photos of a meal you ended up eating very cold, or not all, that was the amount of staging.
FUNNY. A couple of my other favourites have a number of very funny posts. Incredibly well written posts that are so funny I may cry laughing! In fact, so funny I’m laughing right now. Blimey, that’s blogging success.
WE HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON. I share something with all of these people, even if it’s not always obvious. It can be sewing, knitting, a wish for awesome paper diaries, running, sarcasm or vocabulary dexterity. Something. We have something in common and that’s cool.
Clearly, I know what makes my boat rock as a reader, so why am I not doing what I want to do and what works for me both as a blogger and a reader? Well, I believe it's that little thing called pressure. Self-imposed pressure, mind you.
I wanted to have all of the above, which makes each post pretty darn impossible…! And on top of that, I also wanted to make the most of all the reading I'd done and deliver well-thought through content, which I'd spent hours researching and added value to my readers existence. Whatever that really means to the three readers of this blog, dear friends who may not give two pennies about a paper diary review but enjoy reading my words for the sake of it.
A lot of what I read on blogging was written for people looking into monetising their blog or building/supporting a business through blogging. I'm not those people. And then it hit me.
I'm a Portuguese emigrant at that strange dichotomy of loving two countries as home, with a fluffy cat and far too many creative outlets. That's me. And to me, editorial calendars are not relevant nor useful nor, in fact, helpful. As isn't the need to be useful. Is it good to think what I write can be helpful to others? Yep. Do I wish for that to happen? Yes, of course. But sometimes, blogging is just blogging and not 'content development'. Some days, blogging is just me, with a cup of tea (or a G&T), going through little photographic snippets of my life and weaving those moments into words that come out without me knowing exactly how. And then Olivia sits on my lap and all gets put on hold for another half hour. Or more.
This post now has 1250 (and counting) words and all I really wanted to say is that we've reached the middle of the year (in case any of you missed it, I certainly didn't see it coming), June is set to be one of my busiest months yet, both personally and professionally, and as such I've decided to blog everyday. As you do. Because it's easy when you have nothing else to do, really, so I need to find out if I can do it when it's a choice, not a time filler. We're game :)