Right now, I am sitting on twenty four (24) good (in my opinion) post ideas (and about 60+ of what I consider average ones). I know what to make, I know how (well, for the most part) and I know what to show.
days weeks now, after my little one goes to bed, I sit on the computer, just to get up a little later having written absolutely nothing and having watched yet another 35 videos of cute animals. I go outside in the middle of the night, have a smoke (yes, I smoke; yes, I should quit; let’s move on though) trying to strengthen my resolution and then go back inside, sit semi-determined in front of the computer and…watch even more cute animal videos. And some with cute kids. And a handful about science. And then somehow, I end up in one with a Kardashian in it, by which time I realize I should really give up and get some sleep.
Does it happen to you? Because if it does, we should talk!
The train wreck
Every time I had to take a break from blog writing for whatever reason (a journey abroad, an illness, a dead computer), it proved an insurmountable effort to write again. Losing the writing momentum in blogging is a problem many encounter and several successful bloggers have given their solution: keep writing. Not to mention the well known company that shared the tip with the whole world: just do it.
They are SO right and while I know that and deeply understand the mechanism of momentum, yet, it isn’t working. Not for me. Seems so silly, doesn’t it? I know the solution and it still is-not-working.
It’s a train wreck.
Why does it happen?
1. Great Expectations
This is THE biggest problem in my opinion. It happens in blogging as much as it happens in life. Great expectations almost always lead to disappointments or overextending oneself.
The amazing blog post that nobody read? Disappointment. The beautiful back yard that realistically needs about a million dollars to happen? Over-extending oneself, finances and most usually also ends in disappointment. The pretty DIY that was well liked but didn’t make the blogger who wrote it a household name overnight? Not disappointing but not up to the great expectations either.
2. Excuses & Drawbacks
Oh I have a nice, fat list of excuses. I will share the top 4 just to help you with your next stalemate (because there is no reason to have unimaginative stalemates – let’s spice it a bit and exchange excuses). Here are some mental hurdles I often employ:
- – I do not have *x* prop to take the perfect picture. And I can make a DIY spaceship but – darn it – I just can’t come up with that “perfect” prop I saw somewhere to take the perfect photo. I will just not post about my DIY spaceship. There!
Honest to God, I do that to myself, all the time.
- – Oh man…I should have posted on Monday (but was preoccupied because my kid was sick) and it’s Wednesday already. Let’s not post anything for the next…weeks while I contemplate the repercussions of the lost Monday post.
I do that a lot too and evidently doesn’t get me anywhere.
- – My photos are so-so. I know I would take better shots IF I had a fancy camera/tripod/etc. Well, now, I have a pocket camera, a fancy-ish DSLR (with tripod and remote and bells and whistles) AND a very fancy cell phone camera (that in all truthfulness does take pretty stunning pics like this one shot from a moving car).
But in reality? The fancy equipment can only go so far. And I will tell you this, what matters is composition. Let me put that in caps: COMPOSITION. Having a camera that you can manipulate the depth of field and all that jazz, does make a difference but if your composition is lacking, boom; bad photo. If you haven’t exercised your eye for composition, good equipment can give you – at most – a really crisp, in focus and well lit bad photo.
- Not enough time
That, guys, can be legit. Really. Took me quite a while to come to terms with this but yes: some people just really and truly, do not have enough time.
We live in a culture that tries to make time for everything: kids, work, marriage, journeys, college, religion, gardening and building, cooking (pro-level nevertheless), yoga, running, hobbies. You name it and humans will try to squeeze it in their time schedules. Yes, we can fit a LOT of things and activities in our schedules but I am trying to fit everything and it just doesn’t work like that.
Yes, there are a lot of people that can do a truck load of things. I thought I was one of them but I realized I am not and guess what? I am feeling much better now and assigned my time better (for the most part), doing just the things which I find that truly matter and fit in my 24 hours of the day.
When I look at a working mom that has 2-3-4 young children, YES she does run out of time. How can she not? Why shouldn’t she? She’s probably still a super mom with more on her plate than I do with my one child but she still doesn’t have enough time to do that elusive “all”.
3. Successful Bloggers Have It Easier
Some times I get a little more serious than usual and put some adult and sincere thought to it. Those times, I think to myself: “Think you are all alone? That bigger bloggers don’t get into blogging stalemates? Open your eyes, they mention it all the time!”.
Indeed they do. Many big and successful bloggers post or discuss how they overcome their own stalemates, their “blogger’s block” and even share their solutions.
The successful bloggers have to live up to…themselves. There is nothing harder than that (at least in blogging). They have to be constantly as perfect as their very best post – it’s like asking a world record owner runner to constantly run at their world record speed. It’s impossible to have such a performance all the time. They have to constantly share world shattering blog posts (unlike this one – though I still laugh when I read it) to the caliber that is expected of them.
And they, unlike me, really DO have deadlines.
Now I think about it, I am not so sure I want to be a super successful blogger. The stress would be unbearable.
Ok…alright…who am I kidding? Of course I want to be a super successful blogger. I’ll deal with that stress when time comes and like Scarlet O’Hara I might leave the worry for the next day.
That’s great but where is the SOLUTION?
Well, I am working on it but I have a few – seemingly – good ideas. Sometimes I talk with a dear blogger friend of mine that quit and I try to get her back in blogging by sharing encouraging ideas and deeply thought suggestions like the ones that will follow.
I realized though, that as much as it looks that I am telling you or my blogger friend to do those things, the truth is I am writing all these for…me. So, they get absorbed by me, realized and acted upon.
If my writing style seems a bit like coming from a bossy old teacher, from times when teachers waved long wood sticks, it is because I am indeed figuratively brandishing that stick to myself.
If this post helps any of you in some ways, I will be real happy about it. Deep down though, I hope it helps me too.
Here go my 2 cents on how to overcome blogging stalemate:
A. Stop, just STOP having great expectations (especially ones that depend on other people).
It is ok to have great plans and ideas. In fact, I find it imperative to have big, huge ideas and dreams. Expectations on the other hand should be kept in check. Success often comes as a surprise rather than as the result of expectation.
Stopping myself from valuing a creation, post, or way of life, based on how many other people will like it as much as I do. My imaginary DIY spaceship (made exclusively by 2 x 4s of course) may be liked by no one. Public acceptance should never detract from the value of creating something. (Unless it is something horribly dangerous, in which case I should really pay attention what the public says about my spaceship.)
Do consider any advice and feedback given. Just don’t judge your blog, art, creation based on how viral it went or not.
B. Plan ahead.
Write and add posts in my posting calendar way ahead of time. I did that a few times in the past and OH BOY, DOES IT WORK! Best blogging weeks of my blogging life. No stress. All the time in the world to socialize with other bloggers, to create new and helpful content (tutorial on how to install a new construction window? Check!), to enjoy all the aspects of blogging. I use WordPress Editorial Calendar (a free plug-in) and it’s a blogger-life saver.
I had a few setbacks that messed my schedule like my laptop kicking the bucket along with most files but what really messed me up in keeping up with my scheduled posts was that, the time I couldn’t access my files, was spent in the downward spiral of fretting. Which brings us to C.
C. Stop the worry
Just stop! Post didn’t go out at the right time/day? It is ok. I am telling you it is ok and if you think about it, you will agree.
Photos not turning as great as you hoped? Try to learn how to take better photos but don’t over exert yourself. There are free stock photos online if you are feeling really overwhelmed.
Wanna know something really cool about the photos you take and post on your blog? They are “never seen before” photos! No one else has those photos, that style, those flower shots or that kitchen cart makeover. They are UNIQUE.
ps. If you are a super successful blogger and you didn’t post on time, sorry friend but you don’t get the luxury of not worrying. Sorry ’bout that, you can’t really afford to slack.
D. Stop wasting time on social channels
Uhhh yeah, just stop. Do not go on facebook, on instagram, or any other social media you enjoy. And for crying out loud, just stay far away from anything with videos of cute animals! It will only go downhill from there.
“But, but, social media are essential in today’s blogging”. Yes, they are. Won’t do you much good though if you are on them all day and haven’t had the time – or focus – to write a post in weeks.
Give time to yourself to think, to make, to write. Then share it with the world and connect with other bloggers. They need to see something from you too, you know. They like you but haven’t read anything from you in ages. It is like an one-sided friendship where they keep sharing (projects) and you don’t.
First post. Then go social.
E. Ignore the internet altogether
If you don’t have posts ready to go up, wasting time over the internet is not going to get you anywhere. The latest news? More cute animals? Style icon’s most recent divorce? Oh, and what about your favorite blogger’s new post? Uh oh, 3 am already? I guess I will make my super DIY wooden crates another day…
Besides wasting valuable time, there is also the problem of comparison. Reading posts from the other amazing bloggers out there, might give you ideas but can also plant the seed of doubt: can I write something as good? Can I make something as pretty? Will I ever make a post like this?
(How to) Stop the comparisons
This is the one solution I have down to the T. For real!
Every time I read beautiful blog posts, filled with magazine worthy photographs and written in a language well deserving a literature Nobel prize, I get the same awe and while contemplating writing a super long e-mail to exclaim my admiration, self doubt starts creeping in.
Comparison starts and it has nothing to do with envy. It’s admiration for how good they are but at the same time the worry and/or realization that my skills are no where near theirs. Many times I worry I will never do blogging as well as they do it. When that happens, I have a trick to keep me from feeling so bad that I’d rather quit.
I go after their archives. And I go way, wayyyy back, when they started. I read the first posts they ever wrote. And I gain some of my mojo back (usually all of it). Galore of blurry and messy photos. Their first posts are often, small snippets of what they ate that day or how they scored paint samples for cheap.
Or ramblings where their signature writing style hadn’t emerged yet.
Now, keep in mind that some bloggers go back and edit or even fully remove those “ugly” first posts. But if you find super successful bloggers that still keep their archives intact, go read their very first posts!
I guarantee you will feel less bad about your posts. You might even feel darn proud of them.
But, since I know the solution, I’ve thought about it, I read about it, it culminated, why oh why do I still get stalemates? The solution is really “just keep doing it and get over your self imposed obstacles”. It’s so simple. What’s wrong with me?!
I think the solution while so obvious and simple, is kinda underwhelming. Or is it just me that thinks so? My brain goes like: “Come on! Gimme some earth shuttering, super wow moto to live my blogging life by! This solution is plain boring! I won’t even bother.”
“Hmm”, I thought when I realized that my brain, really felt the advice “keep writing” just doesn’t sound exhilarating enough.
Let me tell you a bit about brains
All science aside (nice start when I am about to talk about brains…), there is a little thing usually called “the subconscious” and while we haven’t physically charted it, it does things. To be more accurate, it makes YOU and ME, do things. And can be manipulated. The subconscious is sometimes described as a savage or as a child because it doesn’t care for elaborate sentences and reasoning. It is instinctual and likes very clear and minimal signs. It also favors images over words. The subconscious is what works first, when you see a STOP sign.
The subconscious doesn’t like to think and it is highly impressionable. Elaborate reasoning is shunned. Heavily adorned images don’t work either. The message has to be simple.
Why do I care and why should you?
Well, the subconscious can kick our butt straight out of procrastination and stalemates with no effort.
Wait what? No effort?
Yes, that’s right.
Then why doesn’t it (kick my butt out of idle gear)?
Exactly because it is an impressionable child. The solution isn’t fancy enough. The problem is far fancier and yummy. All those emotions of failure, or inadequacy, stress, worry – to name but a few. Think of all the hormone rush and chemical compounds flood caused by those emotions. The solution of “keep on keeping on” just isn’t fabulous enough to get the subconscious’ attention.
It’s like asking a party animal whether they’d prefer a quiet night of reading in bed vs a night in Vegas where they’ll eat delicious, no calories pizzas, dance all night, fall in love AND win big on the casino (or a fully paid vacation on a stunning Greek island for that matter).
The calm feeling of getting something successfully done, is not as thrilling. Satisfaction alone, won’t do the trick. It certainly is nice but, simply not as exciting as the multitude of negative feelings we experience when we procrastinate or fall in stalemates.
And that, perhaps, is what’s causing the falling back, the loss of momentum, even after you completed a very satisfactory easy and actually practical DIY. We need to make “staying on track” seem far more fabulous to our little savage, the subconscious.
I theorize – somewhat wildly – that if the subconscious found consistency as exhilarating as it finds procrastination, a lot of blogger’s block would be gone and – for that matter – even school assignments would be completed on time.
Food for thought.
If you read so far down, thank you for listening to me (and I applaud your perseverance!). I truly hope you got something helpful out of it.
Do you ever get in a stalemate, be it life, studies, blogging or anything else? Have you thought of what is causing it?
ps. If you have a good way to fight stalemates, be a pal and share. I will most likely need your tip next time I get stuck again. And if you can, make it fabulous and fancy for my party loving subconscious.