Daily #100: Daily #100

Well, I reached 100 posts! Yeah, I didn’t do it perfectly (as I just forgot a post the other day), and I took a break for my holiday, but regardless, I’ve written almost solidly for 100 days. 500 words a day at least. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • It’s bloody hard. I thought that 500 words would be a relative doddle, but after about a week and a half of it, my topic bank ran dry. Suddenly, I had to think up topics on the spot. Often, there wasn’t a topic at all – I just discussed my day. This leads me onto the next point:
  • Not everything will be good. If you’re writing every single day, with the goal being just to commit to writing, most of what you come up with will not be very entertaining at all. For me, that was part of it – I wanted to be comfortable with putting out mediocre content, to be come okay with putting out mediocre writing in general. Ever heard the phrase “kill your darlings”? If you struggle with perfectionism, throwing out ‘junk’ is one of the best ways of pushing past it. It stops you from being precious about the words you put on the page.
  • Be prepared for those days. The days when you can’t write a post, whether it be for lack of time or lack of being bothered. If usually write in the evenings as I do, think ahead if you’re going to be going out. Be ready to whip up a post on the fly if you have to, and if you’re more prepared than I am, have a few posts on standby for just such an occasion. If you’re really feeling professional, maybe even write your posts a couple of days in advance.
  • It’s okay no matter what your blog is for. A lot of blogging communities online focus on two things: finding your niche, and making money. It’s all about analytics, sessions, and SEO. But it’s okay if your blog is not about that. Sure, if you want to make money, niche-based content blogging is the way to go – but you’re allowed to do it for the enjoyment, for the creativity, if you want to. Don’t feel like you have to conform to pressure to put out a certain type of content.
  • I’m not sure whether I want to do this long term. I’m not saying I’m about to quit, but I can’t see myself creating this much content centered around myself indefinitely. At some point, I’m going to switch to concentrating on just my creative writing projects. Sometimes this commitment can seem like a barrier to getting more progressive work done.

As I said, I’m not saying I’m going to quit, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue the daily series for much longer. I might minimise the post length to just a diary-style post instead, it just post when I have something specific to say.

100 days is a long time. It’s led to 31,000+ words written (and I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve written more words than that on my novel draft in the same amount of time). I’ve talked about things that matter to me, and things that don’t matter to anyone but me. I feel like I’ve achieved my goal of proving I can commit to writing – commit to anything, and I look forward to continuing however I choose to.

Daily #92: Support main

I play support in pretty much every game that has a support class. In MMOs I’m the cleric or paladin, bravely protecting my teammates from harm, or sorting them out after or during a tough fight.

In shooters I’m the field medic, begrudgingly crawling to downed teammates and getting them back in the game. In turn-based games I’m the one flinging out stat boosters and AoE healing.

I’m also the prime target. The one that needs to be taken out first. The easy pickings. Assigned to assassins and overzealous front-liners, I’m the most important – despite dealing barely any damage.

What’s so addictive about playing support? It’s getting a sincere thanks from a teammate after clutching their health bar and dragging it back up, kicking and screaming. It’s spending half the game being incredibly good at running away. It’s weighing up who’s worth saving, and whom you have to let die. It’s being able to contribute in a meaningful way, and not in the typical way.

As someone whose mechanical point-and-shoot aiming isn’t the best, support lets me make a real impact on a game’s outcome. My prowess lies in knowing my teammates, rather than knowing the enemy. My game-sense is on point, and being the one who’s usually on the receiving end, I can sense when the enemy is about to launch a big attack. I can also sense when my teammates will need me for a decisive push.

But what’s the payoff? The frustration of not being able to shake that assassin, because you lack the firepower. The futile efforts to get your teammates to support you back – since, that’s not their job, right? It’s playing against not just the enemy team, but your own team – a team that never checks where you are, or whether you’re even alive or not, but expects you to heal them anyway.

“GG, bad heals.”

Seen far too often. Despite their abysmal K/D, and lack of understanding of what an objective is, they died that one time – so it’s the support’s fault. Never mind that said support was helping the team push on the other side of the map, and had no time to get to a flanker. GG, bad heals.

Support is a scapegoat. It’s difficult to gauge the tank’s impact, unless they’re playing very poorly. Although they might be out of position, if they’re absorbing damage, they’re doing their job. But if their health bar isn’t going up, or if someone dies too many times, it’s not their fault – it’s the support’s. The support should have been there. They shouldn’t have died in the first place; they should have been revived once they did. An easy target for the enemy team. An easy target for blame.

Despite that, I can’t tear myself away. For the moments when a relieved tank spams a thanks emote in the chat after a tough fight. For the moment when a revived DPS player goes on to wipe the enemy team and win the game. Providing just the right stat boost to get my team through a tough choke. Although not all of these are even noticed, I know they happened, and I know I did a good job.

Daily #86: Comfort zone

I’ll be honest: there are many different things that this title could refer to. I’m someone with many comfort zones, and I like to stay firmly inside them wherever I can. Despite that, I’ve breached the walls of many of my comfort zones in the last six months: I started posting my writing online, and actively inviting people to read it, which is a new thing for me. I committed to working on and completing one project – I’m still working on it, but I’m further than I’ve ever been before.

And as I discussed in my blog about self-confidence earlier this week, I’ve also been posting pictures of myself on Instagram. If Doctor Who himself had appeared to me a couple of years ago and told me I’d be doing that now, I would have laughed in his face.

While I like my comfort zones, those changes have been all under my own steam for the most part. The reason I’m discussing it today is because I’m going to need to go out of my comfort zone by force, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

My boss’s boss has asked me to organise a small project regarding some content articles. I’m essentially meant to work with some internal stakeholders, find out what’s needed, then research and select an agency to fulfil the needs of the project. For context, I’m just meant to be a content writer, not a manager.

While it doesn’t sound too complicated – and it’s not, at the heart of it – these things are well out of my comfort zone. Speaking to new people isn’t something I’m keen on, and I have to do that both within and outside my company. I’ve never scouted for agencies, so that’s new to me too. I also have to at least appear to know what I’m doing!

Fortunately, my boss’s boss is amazing, and she seems to understand that the task is intimidating for me. I’m welcome to ask for any help I might need as I go along, and she’ll be able to support me.

Of course, going outside of your comfort zone is good thing, as long as it’s not dangerous. It’s like you’re armed with a paintbrush. As you venture outside your painted ring, you can run over and paint a bigger loop around the new task you’ve conquered – and thus your comfort zone expands. The more you perform that task, the more sure and solid the lines become, and it becomes a familiar part of your routine. You become more able to complete that kind of task.

I had an issue with using the telephone before I started my previous job – and by issue, I mean a phobia. Unfortunately, my previous job required me to make contact with customers by telephone fairly often, so I had to push hard through the walls of my comfort zone to make the first call. But once I’d made that call, the rest got easier, and suddenly, it wasn’t such a big deal for me. While I still don’t enjoy using the phone, I’m capable of making a call now.

I’m going out now, so I’ll have to end with a question – what took you out of your comfort zone recently?

Daily #83: Self-confidence

I, like many other people, struggle and have struggled with my self-confidence. I don’t think there are many people out there that haven’t thought they’re not good enough at one point or another.

It’s a fickle thing, I’ve found. One moment, you’re ready to face anything. You’re happy with how you are, what you look like, and what you’re going to do. Then something happens. You see yourself reflected at a weird angle, or you simply remember something that you did ‘wrong’ a couple of months ago. And your carefully constructed castle of confidence comes crashing down.

I have no answers. I’m not writing a self-help blog – mainly because my own self-help consists of lucky breaks and what seems like some kind of benevolent gremlin waving a magic wand at my self-esteem. I only recount my experiences, as you might have noticed.

Anyway, I’m visiting this topic because recently, my self-esteem has surged like Tesla’s stocks. For some reason, I feel a lot better about myself on a daily basis, and have recently started posting pictures of myself on Instagram.

I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but prior to that I had seven profile pictures on Facebook in the six years I’ve used it; only five of them contain my face and two of them were from the last three months (when I started to feel better about myself). So posting four pictures of myself in three days – on a public website, no less – is unheard of. (You can follow me with the buttons below!)

I had to think for a while about what stopped me before. The main reason is due to school. I didn’t like high school much, primarily for the social aspect. Back then, posting pictures of yourself online made you ‘vain’ (especially as a girl), and considering I was decidedly uncool, there was no way I could muster up the courage to put myself out there like that. Even once school ended, I was still reluctant to put images of myself online – just in case ‘someone’ from school saw them.

Finally, I think I’ve managed to get over that hurdle. I don’t care what the people from school think – I’m happy being me. If someone I used to sit in the same classroom as finds my Instagram account and thinks I’m embarrassing myself by showing off my cat-ear headphones, I couldn’t care less.

However, it does come with a certain amount of ‘mental maintenance’ as I like to call it. When I say that, I mean that sometimes I almost have to argue with myself to make sure I believe what I just said. Things like:

  • Reminding myself that I do look beautiful when I look in the mirror.
  • Keeping my mind in check when it starts to imagine what other people think of me.
  • Holding my head high when I decide to wear something a bit more unusual.
  • Taking photographs of myself even when I don’t really want to.
  • Looking at those photographs like I look at photographs of other pretty girls. Not picking up on the little things.

There are plenty more, but I can’t always pick them out as I do them automatically. It’s about convincing myself to keep my mind in check, so I can continue to be me.

Soon, I think I’ll write some posts about my journey with social anxiety, because I think it could perhaps help some people.


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Daily #75: Genre-agnostic

Today I’m going to discuss why I don’t have a tagline at the top of my blog stating: “This is a blog about _____”.

If you take a minute to look through my posts, you’ll find that there is no real theme. Of course, there are things I discuss more than others, such as my writing goals. However, I’ve got posts covering everything from my bearded dragon to flash fiction. It’s been a deliberate decision of mine to not define my blog by a single genre or type. There are a few reasons for this:

The first is that I knew I was going to be writing every single day. Therefore, I wanted to put as few limits on what I wrote as possible, to maximise my avenues of creativity and not make it too difficult for me to get the words down each day. When I first started this blog, 500 words a day was unheard of for me so I made sure I wouldn’t struggle for content or topics. Now it’s become a habit, I still appreciate the ease with which I can think up a post as I have other things on my plate. It allows me to be flexible.

The second reason is because my aim was not to market myself to people. I had plenty of ideas for a blog I could run that would be tailored to an audience, including one about vegetarian food, for example. However, when it got down to it, I realised that I didn’t want to sacrifice being able to write about whatever I wanted for the sake of gaining more followers more quickly. While I value and cherish the views and followers I do get (thank you all), I feel this is mainly because I know that anybody who follows me does it because they like the perspective I write from, rather than the content I write about.

This might also be partly because my day job involves maximising a technical blog’s content to get it to reach as many people as possible – through topic choice, language, and SEO-optimisation. For my personal blog, I wanted to be able to escape the marketing world and create what I wanted.

The third reason is simply because I don’t know what to write about. I enjoy having the freedom of picking a new topic each day, whether that’s a rambling rant about driving, or a thought out movie review of something I’ve just seen and am excited about. I’m able to share flash fiction I’ve written, or just muse about my personal motivations – and since I’m not tied down to a specific genre, none of the posts feel out of place or ‘wrong’ in this setting. In avoiding the urge to build an audience, I’ve made my own little corner of content which I enjoy making, and my readers enjoy regardless of what I’m waffling on about.

I think that just about sums it up. While I insist I’m not marketing myself, check out my Twitter and Instagram! I just post/like/retweet things I find interesting in any area.

Daily #74: Thirty thousand

Today, I’m going to start off by inserting two pictures. Here is the first:

As you can see, it’s a screenshot of a Google Document showing thirty thousand words. It happens to contain the first draft of my novel. And here is the second image:

This is a screenshot from the ‘Insights’ page of the WordPress admin panel. It shows the total number of words written on this blog.

Therefore, considering that number is fewer than 500 words away from thirty thousand, and that I write 500 words a day on this blog, once I publish this post, I will have reached 30,000 words on both my novel draft and this blog on the same day. Talk about a coincidence.

I’ve written about hitting milestones quite often on this blog, as both of these activities are things I’ve never done before. But as I add to these numbers, I can feel myself both improving my writing skills, and increasing my confidence. Before I started these projects, I considered myself a writer although I’d never finished anything longer than a short story. I’d never spent more than a couple hours a week working on my writing, and it had never really been one of my hobbies.

Since I began these two projects, I’ve finally been able to call myself a writer and not feel that niggling doubt every time. I spend at least an hour working on this blog, my draft, or both each day, and more often than not it shoots past that. I’m part of an amazing, supportive and constructive community, and feel at home discussing the work of myself and others. I have an active interest in improving, rather than assuming I’m fine as I am. In school, I think they called this a ‘growth mindset’.

One of the other things I’ve learned is that I can’t wait for a time when I ‘feel like’ writing. I always let that get in my way in the past, but now I’ve had to write as a job, I know that I must write regardless of how I feel. Moreover, I’m perfectly capable of writing well enough despite not being ‘in the mood’.

However, it hasn’t felt like as much of a slog as I thought it would. I actively want to write more. The first thought I had when I checked the latest word count on my draft is just that I wanted to add even more, despite writing 3,000 words today. I’m excited about getting back to it tomorrow, which I most certainly will. I’m aware that it won’t be like this throughout the whole draft, but I’m enjoying it for now.

And of course, I’m don’t intend to stop. My word target for my novel draft is around 80,000 words, or until the story is completed. And as for this blog, I don’t intend to stop in the near future – it’ll be a continuous project, no matter what else I’m up to. I’ll be going away soon with limited access to the internet, so I’m working on pre-writing some of the posts for that week. I refuse to miss a day!

I’m proud of my progress so far, but right now, I’m glad to give my hands a break. Until tomorrow.