It is October. You know what that means...PSL drinking, plaid scarf wearing, colorful leaf spotting, all of the cozy fall things all of the time. Unless you live in Texas in which case the only way to participate in the annual Falliday extravaganza is to fly 2000 miles away. But that is another post for another day. Today, the only thing October means to me is that we said goodbye to September which means time for a monthly review.
Early on in this last month, I outlined a list of goals to work on this year. However, in September, the blog was really the major player. So I thought it would be good to address my blog constituents, much like the president after his inaugural first 100 days, with what I have accomplished based on what I promised during my campaign. Except, I decided to give myself 42 days to measure success. I’m ambitious like that. And also, I am not allowing any time for rebuttal from the party on the other side of the aisle (would that be my children?) This is my blog so I get to make the rules.
The plan on the calendar was to give this new regular-ish blog challenge a review after giving it my all for one month. And then I was going to reward myself with a week vacation. I did not get around to writing that review. And then a week off turned into two. Sometimes, much like that extra glass of wine, or piece of pie, or episode of (insert favorite binge-worthy tv series you are currently obsessed with), you just need a little bit more. In this case, I needed a little more time. My honest initial reaction to this? I want to apologize, to make excuses, to get paralyzed and stare at a blank computer screen and editorial calendar and panic.
But I don’t. Instead, I am pushed out the door by a very supportive spouse leaving behind two kids with full stomachs and sleepy eyes who for the next three hours do not need their mother. At least not in the state she is in now. Because beneath the exhaustion and frustration are layers (everybody loves a parfait) of ideas, questions, insights, stories. And above all what I told myself when I started this journey (If the bachelorettes can abuse that word I can too) was just start. Wake up. Grab a coffee, in this case a fancy latte art topped mug of deliciousness that is a PSL at local coffee shop. And Shine.
So how did my blog shine this last month, in my humble opinion of course? There are two strengths that standout to me and two areas I want to continue to work on. Here is how I see the State of the Blog…
+ Editorial Calendar…step one to the key to success. This was a concept that felt way over my head. Professional journalists use editorial calendars. Hobby bloggers like myself are not worthy of such an organizational tool, right? But I tried it instead. And I am forever grateful for that. As mentioned, I wanted to take my writing seriously. Not because I want others to take me seriously (sorry "others" I'm just trying hard to not worry about your opinions). Instead, I wanted to take my creative habits seriously. And to do this, I needed a plan. It was the missing link between casually blogging of the past to a new regular habit for creativity. I wrote out all the blog topics I wanted to cover this month and I laid them out on my calendar with removal post it notes so it was easy to move around. This way I could distribute content across a month and cover a variety of topics. It meant that as I looked at my weekly calendar I knew ahead of time what posts I needed to photograph that week or what posts needed a little extra time to work on than a quick check in. This was a total and complete game changer. If I learned nothing else I learned I want to forever keep up this habit.
+ Be flexible…which seems counter-intuitive to what I just mentioned about. However, another big part of this process for me is to give myself grace when life happens. Because it does and it will. Forever Amen. The beauty of creativity is to enjoy the process. And I need to know that when a pipe explodes, when a computer crashes, when a fever spikes, it is ok to just say enough. This month I learned to either change the day’s content to just a quick reality check in or just simply not write. I am grateful that I kept at the process for as long as I did. I am grateful that I wrote at least SOMETHING when I did not have the energy to write anything else. But I am also grateful that I took a break when it seemed time. Even if that meant ignoring a whole week of original writing ideas. Because, as mentioned a thousand times before, tomorrow morning is another day. Try again then. Or the next day, or the day after that. I am back to writing after only a short break bursting with words to share so I must be doing something right.
Areas of Growth
+ Be simple...something I am putting on my goals for next month, although I just laid out my editorial calendar and it is not looking very simple! Oops. Anyway, because I once took such long breaks in between my writing, I was usually filled with so many words to put on a page (or computer screen) that a blog post seemed to turn into an epic memoir. All of the thoughts. All of the pictures. All of the emotions. All of the clever jokes. All of it. Writing is cathartic to me. I don’t want to damper this. But I would like to learn to be simple. I want to learn that a picture and few words, no matter how minimal it may seem at first, might just actually be just the right post for someone at that time. I am hoping that this process of regular writing will allow me to see the simple posts among the epic ones.
+ Find a rhythm…I wrote this down in my goals and then immediately followed with the question “Does that exist?” A routine, a schedule, a rhythm, it’s the elusive unicorn in the world of motherhood. Must put kids on a schedule but kids are always changing their schedules so be ready! It’s exhausting. Still, I crave it, and as mentioned with the editorial calendar, having a rhythm with this blog I think will help content flow more regularly. Beyond just using a calendar, I want to find the best times for writing, for picture editing, for posting. I want to learn how to utilize scheduled postings. I want to get ahead of myself so I am not scrambling the night before to squeeze something in. Also, as a rhythm develops, I want a routine of regular blog series so both myself and readers know what to expect from me. Again, a goal I will be working on month to month. Stay tuned, and share ideas if you have some.
So a month in to this new gig I hired myself for, and how do I feel about it? Awesome. I have felt more proud of myself, more confident in my gifts, more grateful for my day to day than I have in awhile. A read a quote sometime this month and it spoke completely to how I feel about blogging. “Perhaps some day’s unpredictability and variety overshadow the responsibility of motherhood. You can hardly imagine what you do in a day that stays done. That is one reason to get involved in a hobby or project or class. In such things, you can see and feel progress or permanence. Unlike the laundry or the dishes or the cooking, they stay done.” The moment I push publish on this post, and every one before and every one to follow, I feel progress. No one can undue that post. (Accept maybe the broken laptop battery that destroyed two hours of blog writing. But we won’t talk about that.) I see progress every time I write, every time I create something. It is little but it feels huge in my day to day.
This blog is still a learning process for me, as all great ventures are. But I encourage you to follow me as I go along. I hope (fingers cross emoji) to greet you every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 6AM central time zone with a new post, epic, simple, or otherwise. You can wait for me to share on social media, or you can just jump write in. Thanks for listening, and goodnight!