In a recent review of my blog statistics, I was delighted that so many nice people took time out of their busy day to check out my “About” page. Then I shrieked with fright at the realization that I was so busy building my content that I had not updated that page since I first started blogging in the fall of 2013. It was time to have another look.
When I read it over, it wasn’t too bad. A little wordy, a few long paragraphs, it wasn’t horrible but it needed a little work. At the same time, I realized that my writing style for blogging had already evolved in just a couple of years.
In doing so, a walk down memory lane emerged, much like those retrospective episodes of “The Golden Girls” that took place around the kitchen table over late night cheesecake…
Wow! I have been writing this blog for almost two and a half years. How much has changed in that time.
Blogging – Then
“Picture it, Ottawa, October 2013, an aspiring young writer takes the plunge into the world of blogging. He isn’t quite sure about his blogging voice, his point of view as a writer or even what to write about in a blog. All he knows is that he wants to write more than life itself.”
I was not entirely a novice at it as I was already the author of a web site back from 2000 to 2002. It was my space for posting funny stories and observations, before blogging had really taken off. But still, the same apprehensions emerged: Where do I start? What do I write about?
The obvious answer was to write about writing: Why am I writing? Who inspired me? How did I know I wanted to become a writer? Then came the tough part: writing those first few posts and then making it a new habit.
I was very fortunate in that I could convert a space in my house into a makeshift studio and move in my beloved writing desk, a comfy chair, a cabinet and office supplies galore. Once I added a little soft music, the right room temperature and the glow of a few candles, the room and the mood were perfect for chasing my dream.
But still, initially, it was hard! As much as I thought my writing reflexes were sharp from the thousands of pieces of corporate correspondence I had written over the course of my career, writing creatively must invoke a different process in the brain for telling stories from the heart, soul and imagination. Sometimes I would just sit there and sigh as I waited for the ideas to come along.
It took dedicated blocks of time and an active effort to clear my mind to feel grounded, centered and to just let the words flow. At times, I felt like a medium trying to channel a spirit, in letting that little voice start talking to me… or conversely, for me to start listening to the voice that may have always been there.
With a little discipline in forcing myself to sit down and write, and the consistency in delivering one blog per week, the entire process got easier little by little. The reflexes for creative writing needed to be exercised and built up slowly, just like a muscle.
Blogging – Now
When I look back, I chuckle when I think back to how my writing environment was so important and how easily distracted I would get. But it was important to go through that period in my journey as a writer.
Today, I could be in front of the television, with the phone ringing, my cat singing an aria and the dryer tumbling lost coins and I can still jot down words, ideas and sentences on my iPad.
Paying attention to my writing energy at different times of the day and applying those lessons became key to fine-tuning my routine. I would even say this was more important than my physical surroundings for writing.
When I perform the right activity when the energy is right, it really doesn’t matter where I am.
My best time for formulating new content (up to the point of a completed first draft) is in the morning. My best time for editing is afternoon or evening. Jotting ideas, thoughts, short phrases, outlines on my iPad, my iPhone or on scraps of paper I can do anywhere, anytime.
As a result, I try to avoid performing blog maintenance or working on social media in my peak writing time in the morning. Similarly, I try to avoid writing new content in the evenings, especially after a hard day’s work at my day job, when the creative ideas just do not flow quite as well… the perfect time for reading and retweeting some of my favourite bloggers.
Put all the pieces together and if I take my scraps of ideas collected over time, dedicate my Saturday and Sunday mornings to writing first drafts, and perform the editing in the afternoon or evening, I can knock these out of the park one after the other (thus resolving my issue last October described in “The Graveyard of Blog Posts”).
Now, when 5 minutes pops up magically as “found time”, I know where that 5 minutes is best spent and most productive whether it is writing, editing or connecting with writing colleagues and readers.
Just like anything, figuring out this ebb and flow was a process of trial and error. It took several steps back, introspection and observing when things flowed well and when things did not. It also required listening to what the writer’s voice was telling me at given points throughout the day and trying to find the common thread.
Once I figured out the natural ebb and flow of my writing process and when to harness the different energies required to accomplish it, in between the must-dos and realities of life, I was able to strike a better balance while still successfully feeding the writing beast inside.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,