A Recipe for Not-Blogging Stew
Photo Source: Ella Olsson
I know, I know…the inconsistency of my blog posting is killing you. One day I show up, promising to write more and be more a “professional” blogger and almost a year later — I’m finding it hard to eek out one blog post a month.
Okay, admittedly…I don’t think anyone (except me) REALLY spends their time thinking about my blog posting schedule. I am fairly certain that people have better things to think about. Like this. Or this. Or this. Or for f*$!’s sake…this.
But on the off chance that even one of you is thinking, “What gives, Ditty? I thought you loved blogging. Why have you been MIA as of late?”…You are in luck! Today we address the elephant.
(Are you still following? The elephant = me not blogging regularly)
Like I tell my Psychology students on a regular basis, there is rarely ONE explanation for any ONE behavior. More often than not, a behavior is explained as the result of an intricate interaction of a variety of factors. I like to think of it like a big stew. Comprised of many ingredients; none alone could produce the final product. But when you mix them all together, in varying amounts, they create the perfect recipe for fill-in-the-blank behavior to occur (i.e. depression, happiness, not blogging on a regular basis).
For me, the recipe for my Why-I-Am-Not-Blogging Stew goes something like this:
2 teaspoons of feeling uninspired to write
¼ cup of dedicating free time to other hobbies
a sprinkling of underwhelming photographs to accompany my blog posts
¾ cup of technological inadequacy.
1/4 cup feeling sorry for myself
1 cup of social comparison
A healthy spoonful of indecision
2 cups of limited free time
3 generous cups of fear and self-doubt
Voilà! There you have it! A yummy, delicious Why-I-Am-Not-Blogging Stew.
Except, actually it is NOT delicious. It sucks. I love blogging. I miss it. Like a dear friend that has moved to the other side of the world, I long for the time we used to spend together. I have things I want to tell it. I need to vent. I need to laugh (at myself, mostly). I need a place for all of my thoughts to land.
So in an effort to bring blogging back into my life, I am going to try and mix up the recipe.
Did you know you can do that? Did you know you don’t HAVE to cook your life-predicament stew using the recipe card you have been dealt! It is empowering to realize, while you might not have control over all the ingredients that comprise your current situation, you usually have SOME control over SOME things. And even a slight alteration to your recipe will invariably produce a different result. Hopefully, it will even produce a tastier version. Maybe it will even produce a chocolate-chip cookie. And who, might I ask, doesn’t want a chocolate-chip cookie?
So bear with me, while I break down my “old” recipe for not blogging and brainstorm my plans for switching it up. And by all means, if you find yourself seeking/needing a change from your current life-predicament stew…join me!
Lack of Inspiration to Write
I actually don’t make much of this. I think I lack inspiration to write, only because I haven’t been doing it. It is weird how that works. It is like exercise. The less you do it, the less inspired you are to get to the gym. But once you start, the inspiration comes back. The key is consistency.
Action Item: Try to write more frequently. Even if no one will ever see it. Just write something down every day.
Dedicating free time to other hobbies
Speaking of exercise, I have been trying to do a bit more of that these days. Trying to fit exercise in as well as writing has proven to be challenging. There are only so many hours in a day. But oddly, I don’t think I am willing to make a change on this one. Exercise is the single most important thing I can do for my mental health. I don’t necessarily love it but I feel SO much better about just about everything if I do it. I actually think exercising regularly is the thing that has inspired me to get back on the blogging horse. It is a miracle drug, I tell you. If you find yourself feeling a little down…seriously, just go for a 40-minute walk. I promise you…you will feel better.
Action Item: Keep exercising. Be consistent. Don’t be lazy and quit.
Underwhelming Photographs to Accompany my Blog Posts
Blogs are visual. Part of the reason I love reading them is due to the pretty photos that accompany the content. Well…in order to insert said pretty photos into a blog post, you need to have such pictures. So often, I have the words that I want to share and the story I want to tell but I lack the pretty photographic accessories. Without the pretty, my posts feel a little naked. Sometimes this, alone, prevents me from posting something.
Action Item: Care less. Do what you can. Remember who you are writing for (you!). Forgive yourself for being an average photographer but actively pursue activities that will help you improve.
Blogging is pretty darn technical. Can you say, coding? SEO? Plugins? Really seemingly simple things (like wanting a certain spacing between each paragraph or problem solving why a photograph insists on appearing vertically instead of horizontally) can be mind-numbingly tedious to figure out. At least for me. Around every corner, there is a new glitchy-tech problem to solve. And let me just tell you, these are problems are solved in tech-speak. A language that I simply do not speak. To put it simply, I get frustrated when I want my blog to look and function differently than it does but I have no idea how to make it happen.
Action Items: I might just hire this one out. The money invested in having someone custom build me a well-functioning site is probably worth the countless frustrated hours I would spend fiddling with widgets and whatnot.
Feeling Sorry for Myself
I hate to even admit this outloud, but sometimes I feel sorry for myself that I live in China. I know, I know. That sounds so spoiled. I know. When this mindset gets the better of me it is generally because I am thinking about all of the things I don’t have access to – Target, a home that I own (and can, therefore, make real changes to), fast Internet, Home Depot, cute holiday decor. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Sometimes, I feel like everything is just harder here. Because, in many ways, it is. Language barriers, cultural differences…these things are REAL, people! But, whatevs. I have someone who cleans my house and cooks for me….so it is not THAT hard. And I need to get over myself.
Action Items: Read the news. Get perspective. Also, you have access to CHINA! What an awesome opportunity! Don’t squander your time here. Most importantly, count your blessings. Every. Day.
I think the feeling sorry for myself is directly linked to the very normal behavior of engaging in social comparison. I read a blog. It is awesome. I think, “My blog is not nearly as good as theirs.” Insert depression and feelings of wanting to quit. I KNOW this is just my ego talking. I know it is just trying to protect me from the embarrassment of failure. And I also know better than to listen to it. But, damn…sometimes the ego is just so convincing. I really have to battle it on a daily (hourly?) basis. But battle it I will…because living by its insanely stifling rules is suffocating.
Action Items: Accept where you are. Appreciate the journey. Tell your ego to calm the f$@* down. There are worse things in life than failure. Like regret.
Limited Free Time
This is a biggie. Life is busy. Having a full-time, full-on job coupled with raising 2 wee ones leaves very little time left over for…well…anything else. When I do finally get a minute, often I find I just want to curl up under a blanket and do absolutely nothing. This busy-ness is just a reality right now and not one I can do very much about. What I can do is make conscious choices to use what little free time I have in a way that will maximize joy.
Action Items: Replace the time-sucks, like Facebook and mindless Internet scrolling, with wise words from wise women. Basically, put your phone down and read.
On that note, a big question I have been asking myself lately is just how do I want to spend my free time. Here is the thing, I want to invest my time…not just pass it frivolously. I want to do things that propel me forward. Things that make me happier, serve a purpose and/or make me more inspired. But is blogging that thing? I’m not sure. Maybe I should be creating a business or writing a book or learning Chinese? But, here is the kicker, instead of doing any of these things, I just sit around and think about which one I should do. Seriously. So unproductive.
Action Items: Just take action. Who cares what you do. Just do something. Anything.
Fear and Self-doubt
This one is the REAL doozie. When I sit down and get real honest with myself I know that one of the primary reasons I have been hesitant to blog lately is because it is scary and I am full of self-doubt. Putting myself out there on the Internet is…well…totally frightening. I have to gear up for it. Every. Time. And while I am always proud of myself for pressing ‘publish’ in spite of these fears, it doesn’t stop me from feeling scared to death about doing it all over again. I don’t know if there is anything I can do to make this fear go away completely. I have a feeling it is here to stay. What I want instead is to try and develop the confidence and conviction to press on anyways. I’m working on it but it is definitely not my natural default setting.
Action Items: Just have fun. Your blog doesn’t have to be professional or of noteworthy journalistic quality. It does not need to save the world or feed your family. You just have to enjoy doing it. Everything else is sprinkles. In the words of Tina Fey, “Do your thing and don’t care if they like it”.
There you have it, folks; my Why-I’m-Not-Blogging Stew. Now you know. I don’t want to make any grand promises (Too. Much. Pressure.) but hopefully you will see a resurgence in this here blog over the next few weeks.
If you don’t…I’m probably either: drowning under a stack of papers to mark, picking playdoh out of the carpet, rearranging a bookshelf for the millionth time or living in fear of judgment.
Feel free to call me out on that last one.