6 Apr 2012
Summary: Here are the three lessons that helped me overcome the second month blogging blues. I’ll outline the steps and provide personal examples.
Blogging is like switching to a healthy lifestyle.
When I was 16, I gained 20 pounds in under 6 months. It has taken me 10 years to lose the weight and to make the complete switch to a healthy lifestyle. The start of the blogging experience and its continuation are very similar to making the commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Some days are exciting, others are exhausting, but you know that you will be happier in the end.
I found the first month of blogging like the start of a workout program: you’re enthusiastic, eager, and you start seeing the results. When I first got into working out, I exercised for 3 hours a day, 3 to 4 times a week. Before long, the time pressures begin to set in. The exercising takes up so much time from other parts of your life that you rationalize the good in skipping a workout or two. Before you know it, you have skipped several sessions in a row.
This is like the second month of blogging. There were a lot of skipped writing sessions. After taking a week off from writing, I felt that I could not produce anything worthwhile.
Note to friends and lovers: wannabe writers on their journey to being actual writers can be so insecure and needy at times.
The joy of reading and admiration for writers have been big parts of my life, from learning English as an immigrant child, to being a bookish and painfully shy teenager to today, as a nerdy adult. I hold writers at such high esteem, I do not feel worthy of calling myself one. Under the same title as Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami and Kurt Vonnegut? No way, I’m much more comfortable calling myself a wannabe. Andrew lovingly reminds me that as long as I’m writing on a consistent basis, I’m no longer a wannabe but simply, a writer.
Here are the lessons that helped in finding motivation to write on a consistent basis.
1. Understand the Who, What, and Why.
Why does your blog exist?
You need to take some time and define and redefine these three critical elements. You’ll feel a big rush of motivation once you’ve thought about it!
Linh’s Kitchen answers:
Who: people that love different kinds of food and are trying to cook more at home.
What: a food blog for cooking inspiration and international recipes.
Why: I love food and cooking and I want to share recipes for great home cooked meals. In addition, through writing about these things I love, I hope to become a better writer.
Read Pushing Social’s – How to Climb Out of Your Blogging Slump for more inspiration. After a week of writer’s block, I started writing immediately after reading Standford’s article.
2. “WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS SO OVER!” You’ll need to defend it with your whole heart or find something new.
Recently, there was an article at New York Magazine that included a throwaway comment about food blogs and how, “they really had their moment in the early aughts.” The food blog community exploded in discussion about the perceived state of food blogs at the moment. My favourite discussion was found at Amateur Gourmet: “Are Food Blogs Over?”
How would you respond to the argument about your blog topic being passé?
I was very discouraged at first, feeling that I had absolutely nothing to contribute to an oversaturated market. The important thing is to always remember that powerful why that got you going on that first day. I talk about food and cooking with the same affection I have for good friends; if I was to write about any subject, this would be it. If nothing else, this blog will be a memory bank of the food I have enjoyed with the great people in my life.
I love this quote from Vonnegut on finding a subject:
“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” – Kurt Vonnegut
3. Seek inspiration and read everything.
Identify sources of inspiration
Once you start writing, your mind goes berserk in a good way and creativity starts flowing through your body, threatening to overflow. However, there are also dark days, when your mind is as barren as the dead grass in wintertime. During these dark days, my perception of the beloved weekend changes. Instead of languid mornings, reading on the sun drenched couch beside a loved one, the excitement of writing and a promise of nap in the air, the weekend feels like a dark vortex of high expectations and looming failure.
Here are some sources of inspirations that have helped me find motivation and reclaim the sunny weekends on the couch.
Frank Ocean – Dust
You tell yourself to keep writing all the time. To have it sang to you is really something.
Use Twitter as an inspirational source
- Advice to Writers – a great source for inspirational quotes from a large array of writers.
- Copywriting - great articles about blogging and the nature of online marketing. Always intriguing.
- Follow your favourite authors!
- Follow people who make you laugh. Simon Pegg and Joe Hill always make me smile with their wit and unabashed nerdiness.
- Here’s a list of the people I’m following.
I love Moorcock’s first rule for writers:
“Read everything you can lay hands on.” – Michael Moorcock
His other writing rules were so inspirational, I looked up the Lester Dent master plot formula and felt compelled to write an action adventure story. Although I have never had intentions of writing short stories, I started jotting down ideas for one.
Whether you new to blogging or are a seasoned blogger, whatever you do, KEEP WRITING. Also, remember to have fun. You’re writing about the chosen subject matter because you love it and want to share it with people. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Relax and enjoy this time and space that you have set aside for yourself.
Which one of these motivational tips you will use?
I’ll leave you with Harlan Ellison’s advice for new writers.
“Get a day job, make your money from that, and write to please yourself. And don’t be a whore. Don’t be a whore! Everybody works for the dollar. You work for the dollar, I work for the dollar. Everybody works for the Man… Spend 90 percent of your day not looking into a screen and spend it on yourself, living life, making friends, actually talking to people, doing things. Ten percent of your day, give to the Man. Ninety for you, ten for the Man. Otherwise, you’re nothing but a whore.”