It’s a sure sign that the party is over and school is back in when by 8:30 a.m. on a Monday morning I have showered; dressed; brushed my teeth; put on make-up, or at least some of it; done two loads of laundry; completed carpool; gone to the grocery store (because I actually know what I am making for dinner); made my bed; unloaded the dishwasher; had two cups of coffee; have had two separate, full-length, adult conversations; and am sitting down to write my SECOND blog post of the day. This won’t post online for a few days, but just know I was thinking about you during my coffee buzz.
As a side note though, I just walked past a mirror and realized that while yes I did actually put on lipstick this morning before going to the grocery store, I didn’t do it well…as in it wasn’t all ‘in the lines’ so to speak. Apparently I either did it in my sleep or without my glasses on. So I apologize to anyone I may have frightened while in the Harris Teeter. I sort of looked like Heath Ledger’s The Joker in The Dark Knight…only I did shower. The other bothersome thing about this lipstick-gone-wrong episode is that at least one of my children saw me that way BEFORE I entered the store. I think I know what we will be talking about over dinner tonight…
So this post is sort of a continuation of what it means to me to have written 70 posts, although now it is officially 71. I was thinking about things I have learned. I no illusions that I am an expert a mere nine months into this blogging journey, these are just things that have blessed me and given me a sense of freedom.
- It’s ok not to know exactly what you are doing when you start. It only took me an hour to set up the blog (thank you Word Press!), but it took me another month to learn how to appropriately add links to my posts. Adding photos took even longer. Yes I could have asked others who know more than I do (and I did some of that), but in the beginning it took all the courage I could muster just to press Publish for each post. So for a while I just focused on getting words down and clicking Publish. And that was enough. There are still a lot of techie things I would like to learn, so I am taking them one thing at a time. The most important thing for me is actually the content, even though that may not always be apparent, so that’s where I tend to put my energy.
- You don’t have to do it exactly like everyone else. There are many folks out there who willingly share their expertise on how to blog and I enjoy reading their ideas. Sometimes I try on their ideas and if they fit I use them. If they are just not me then I drop them like a hot potato. If you follow all the how-to’s and formula approaches to blogging (and there are many out there) then your work will look just like theirs. That’s fine if that’s your goal, but I am not sure it’s mine. I realize that certain ‘rules’ apply in terms of achieving social media success, but for me this is more art and less science; it’s more about expression than displaying work product. I know that’s a little Pollyanna-ish, but that’s where I am.
- It’s perfectly ok to try out different writing styles and voices. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what you are comfortable with and what you like. I have enjoyed this trying-on process. There’s freedom in knowing every piece doesn’t have to ‘sound’ the same. For instance, I am the same woman who has written about tube tops and Speedos and Bible study and theology and deer in her back yard. I have at times worried it may come off as schizophrenic, but what can I say? I am some amalgamation of Steel Magnolias meets C. S. Lewis meets Stevie Nicks meets Kay Arthur meets Lord of the Rings meets The Middle (Is that the opposite of not being June Cleaver?). It’s bound to come out in my writing.
- Every time you sit down to write you don’t have to produce something for public consumption. It’s ok to play with words. It’s ok just to write. It’s ok to have fun and enjoy writing for its own sake.
- Sometimes you just have to let it go. The truth is my ’need’ to manage your opinion of me makes me want to edit everything to perfection. But my desire for connection on a level deeper than grammar and punctuation makes me click Publish many times before I feel like I am finished. Communicating the message, expressing my heart, and connecting with the reader is a higher goal than someone thinking I am a Grammar & Spelling Ninja. Personally, I think perfection and connection are mutually exclusive. It’s virtually impossible to do both and ever actually get your ideas out there for discussion – at least in the blogging format.
- It’s ok to work on more than one thing at a time. Initially I felt like I had to finish everything I started before I started something else. If I set one thing aside to work on a new idea, it felt like adultery. But then I heard someone mention that they have over 200 unfinished posts in their Drafts folder that they periodically pull out, polish and publish. It was a light bulb moment. Now I too have a Drafts folder. She is my friend. She holds ideas for me that aren’t quite complete or didn’t develop the way I wanted. And at the right time when the idea starts to gel, I can go back and finish it or totally rework it. I don’t know if I will ever use everything in the Drafts folder, but I like keeping my options open.
- It’s ok if people don’t like your work. Again, I am sure others might not struggle with this, but it’s hard when someone calls your baby ugly. But it really is perfectly acceptable for other to disagree with you, or not understand your point or even get angry with you. While I hate conflict and I don’t like being perceived as rude, sometimes we need to be provoked by another persons thoughts or opinions in order to cause us to look at ideas with fresh eyes and a new perspective. If you can express yourself without trying to simply convince people to like your work, it is very possible you can help them see from a different perspective. You can help shape your culture within your sphere of influence. I am sure even now water sport enthusiasts everywhere are rethinking their position on Speedos (major SARCASM)!
I know it’s weird to stop after number seven, but I could probably go on ad nauseam because the truth is a year ago this blog thing was just an idea without a name. It was a hope without an expression. So every single thing I have done has been a lesson learned. And every day that I hop on here and string words together, well, I am just grateful the internet is free and I don’t have to pass any certification exams to join the party.