Tag Archives: blogging

3 Things Learned from Second Month of Blogging

Blogging blues

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

Overcoming blogging blues

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

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.

What now?

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.”

 

5 Things Learned from First Month of Blogging

Lessons from first month of blogging

1. You will feel like a talentless, worthless hack but it will pass.

The first time I received edits about a blog article from a friend, I almost fainted. I was so overcome with insecurity that I couldn’t even bring myself to open the email. I felt like it was a ticking time bomb, ready to demolish any ambitions I had as a blogger.

I was wrong. The feedback was kind yet honest and fair. My tenses needed a bit of work but otherwise, the article was a good start.

Lesson: It’s okay to feel insecure at times but don’t let it get the best of you. I’ve written articles that have not been great and sometimes, barely salvageable. The important part is to just keep writing. Sharing your written words gets less scary over time.

2. You will need support, especially in the early stages.

In the early stages, if you’re like me, you might fall back into insecurity and anxiety. I’ve been very fortunate to have people in my life that support this blogging side project. Like a car stuck in the snow, you may need the help of some good friends to push from time to time, but after awhile, you will become self sufficient and able to get out of the rough spots yourself.

Lesson: Surround yourself with supportive people, but also understand there’s a limit to their love and your potential narcissism.

3.You will have less time.

I found that I had less time to work out, to go out with friends, and ironically, less time to cook. Monday and Wednesday nights, along with as much time as I can squeeze in on the weekends, are where the bulk of my writing is done.

Lesson: Treat blogging as a part time job you’ve taken up in the evenings. Set your schedule and try your best to stick to it.

4.You will need to edit, edit, edit and rewrite.

Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” He was right. For example, look at the “Healthy” Instant Noodle post before and after rewriting

Draft 1: Healthy instant noodles? No way. That would be like believing oven baked chicken wings are healthy. Baked or fried, that’s still crispy, fatty skin that you’re eating. You can, however, change instant noodles into a more well rounded meal by including vegetables for nutrients and a protein source, such as fried eggs, to keep you full longer.

Editor’s comment: the mention of chicken wings suggest you’ll write more about them in the paragraph.

Draft 2: Healthy instant noodles? It sounds impossible, given a package of noodles provides not much more than a bunch of empty carbs, and some fat. However, adding a dose of fresh vegetables and a protein source such as a fried egg will turn this junk food dish into something much more well rounded.

Lesson: Try to get your work edited by someone you trust before posting it online. I love this quote about rewrites from Stephen King, found in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

5. You will need to ask yourself two key questions.

(1) Would I do this for free?

(2) Would I want to do be doing this 5 years from now?

Answer 1: Yes! I can imagine myself retired and writing and sharing recipes with my grandchildren and the public.

Answer 2: Yes. I think some things about the blog may change or evolve over time, but I can see myself writing about food and cooking for at least that long into the foreseeable future, if not longer.

Lesson: Without passion, it’s going to be harder to persevere when your blog starts taking up more time than you anticipated.

Here is the summary of posts for Linh’s Kitchen’s first month online.

Mofuku steakFeatured above: Momofuku steak lettue wraps.

This quote from Marget Atwood’s The Blind Assassin: A Novel keeps me going as I begin this blogging experience:

“I’m not as swift as I was. My fingers are stiff and clumsy, the pen wavers and rambles, it takes me a long time to form the words. And yet I persist, hunched over as if sewing by moonlight.”

For the bloggers out there, what have learned through your own trials and tribulations?

For the readers, what are you seeking in food blogs? Recipes? Inspiration? Maybe you just like looking at food photography. I’d love to hear from you!