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.

(Not so) Daily #98: Unplanned intermission

Well, it was bound to happen at some point – I forgot to blog yesterday. I didn’t really have a good reason for it – I had a good few hours where I just lazed around in bed. In the afternoon, we went shopping for a dress, which I then wore for an evening out.

Although I was fairly busy, I’m not going to use that as an excuse. Nor am I going to beat myself up for it (well maybe a little). It happens, and though I’m disappointed, I’m just going to carry on as I was. There’s nothing that can be done about it, because as much as I’d like to, I can’t turn back time.

In this instance, the impact on myself is quite low. But that stance of “can’t change it now” is something that has taken me a long time to learn, and been hugely beneficial to me. I was always (and still am sometimes) someone who held onto things for a long time. If I embarrassed myself, I’d never forget it, and the negative emotions associated with it would never leave me. Now, while I don’t think anybody really forgets those embarrassing or negative moments, I refuse to allow them to keep a grip on my emotions for any longer than they should.

It’s a struggle, for sure. My mum showed me a tactic which helps me to get over something in my mind – I ‘draw a line’ with my hand in front of me, then I step over it. While that isn’t a magic trick, I’ve trained myself to let go of things once I’ve stepped over the line.

The key to using this technique is to know when to draw the line. If you try and do it too early, it’s too difficult to make yourself get over the event, and the line drawing just doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work, you’ll not be able to use it effectively in the future. In my opinion, to use the line, you need to wait to draw it. Fully process the event, reason with it, work out what you’re going to do next, then draw the line. As you make your step, you have to force yourself to let go of the negative emotions around the event, and look forward.

If they start to spring back up, you push them away, behind the line. It’s sheer force of will, but once you’ve successfully achieved it a few times, you can achieve it again. The line becomes an increasingly stronger barrier, until you’re able to quite easily put things behind you.

Anyway, my missed blog is behind the line. There’s nothing I can do. All I can do is continue to write more blog posts from now on.

In other news, Friday was payday, and I got the first bonus from my new job! It’s really good to have some extra cash floating around – even though HMRC seem to have messed my tax up yet again, so I’ll need to call them tomorrow to get it sorted out.

Daily #93: Conscious decision

Firstly, my phone displayed the post I did yesterday as posted four days ago. I didn’t realise this – I definitely published it yesterday. It posted the date as the 10th as that’s when I started drafting it.

Secondly, I’m writing this on my phone for reasons I’m about to explain, so apologies in advance for any errors or nonsense.

So, a few days ago when I talked about my imminent holiday, I said I was going to be writing and scheduling enough posts to fill the gap. Alas, the best laid plans and all that – due to general life business, I’ve not had the time to ‘pre-write’ ten posts. Therefore, unless I can write a post and publish it while I’m away, there won’t be any posts over my holiday.

While it’s not my ideal outcome, I’ve made a conscious decision to allow myself not to fret about keeping this blog going throughout my holiday. I’m anticipating there will be some amount of downtime anyway, wherein I’ll be working on my novel draft. And if there’s something specific to blog about, I will make a post whenever I can.

However, due to circumstances like the Wi-Fi being highly unreliable on the cruise, I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to find the time. So if there isn’t a daily post for a couple of days, that’s why.

I think this will affect me the most – there aren’t a huge amount of people who read my posts every single day, as they’re not really that interesting. As I’ve said before, this is mostly an exercise for myself in commitment, which I think I’ve done a good job at so far.

I intend for normal service to resume the day I get back – and I’ll hopefully have plenty to talk about when that happens, too.

In other news, I finally finished proofing my friend’s novel today. While I was happy to do it and found it interesting, I’m glad that there’s one long-term task removed from my regular list of to-dos. Overall, I’m glad I did it – it was good practice for when I line-edit my own novel draft, and in observing my friend’s writing style, I found things I both liked and didn’t like. Both will prove useful to me during my novel edits.

Anyway, I’m writing this on my phone because it’s been non-stop for the past few days. We’ve been packing up, doing last-minute clothes orders and shopping trips, and generally rushing about trying to get everything sorted. Fortunately, I think we’re pretty much there now, with two suitcases and two rucksacks all packed. Now all that’s left to do is get both of us to the airport in the morning before our flight leaves. I’m sure we’ll manage!

If, by any chance, anyone misses this blog while I’m gone, I’d suggest checking out my Instagram which I’ll link below. I’ll be putting regular updates up on my story, and making posts when I can. I think it’s about time I went on a proper holiday.

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.

Daily #3: In a bit

Is this even a writing blog if I don’t mention the word procrastination?

I think everyone knows what that word means now. It became the word of choice in the early 2010s, when being a ‘creator’ and making a name for oneself was all the rage. Countless YouTube videos of “How I procrastinate”, “Why you procrastinate” and subsequently, “How to stop procrastinating” spring to mind. The irony of the latter isn’t lost on me.

As everyone began subscribing to the idea that going to work each day and working on nothing else was not how to become fulfilled, recognised, and rich, the focus shifted to becoming ‘self-made’. That obsession has only grown over time. In internet culture, it rose alongside professional YouTubers and even more recently, ‘influencers’.

With that realisation, the general population began to try being creators and working for themselves. And they came to another realisation – that doing all that is hard work, and a lot of it receives no reward.

Everyone has ‘suffered’ from procrastination at some point. Bring it up in conversation, and you’ll be met with a chorus of “me too”s and “all the time”s. However, procrastination falls into that dark pit of what I’d refer to as ‘labelled weaknesses’.

Citing procrastination as the reason why one doesn’t achieve something is an easy way out. “Why did you take so long on this project?” “Sorry, I was procrastinating.” It becomes an excuse that, at its core, doesn’t actually represent anything other than “I wasn’t doing it.”

That might sound harsh, but I am of course speaking from experience. There are very few people (if any) on this planet who haven’t procrastinated in some form. I do it constantly – even today, I put off writing this blog – not because I didn’t want to; I simply put other things ahead of it.

In blaming procrastination for delaying or failing to complete a task, we personify it. It becomes an entity which stands in the corner of the room, along with an “Out for Lunch” sign left by its friend, motivation (whom I will address in another blog). We can point a finger at it and say “it’s their fault”. And in doing that, we fail to take responsibility for our own actions.

Even in saying I ‘struggle’ with procrastination, I shift the blame. In this case, I’m treating it like some kind of disorder that’s been forced upon me – which it isn’t. For me, that phrase translates to “I struggle to complete tasks which require effort.”

This isn’t an advice blog. I’m not going to sit here and tell anybody how to ‘beat’ or ‘overcome’ procrastination (more examples of why giving it a name feels false). The main reason for that is that I don’t see it as a tangible thing that can be overcome. Sometimes, I’ll complete a task with no issue. Other times, I’ll complete a task, but it will feel difficult – it might take me longer than I thought, or I’ll wait to start it. And sometimes, I might try and start it, but won’t complete it. Or won’t start it at all.

If this happens to you, you’re to blame – sorry. That shouldn’t be taken as a criticism, as whether an anonymous blogger thinks you’re lazy or not isn’t your concern. Your concern is whether your procrastination is preventing you from achieving what you want to achieve, in the time you’ve given yourself to achieve it.

Generally, if a task has a deadline, most people will complete the task at some point – even if that is right at the last minute. The issue with pursuing creative or business endeavours is that there is no deadline – if you don’t do it at all, nobody really cares… except you. At that point, one has to decide whether they care enough. That’s the hardest part.

Daily #2: How and what

A writing style is something that I feel I have yet to nail down. For me, it’s an ambiguous ‘thing’ which I can’t change, but nor can I stick to a particular style. I’m not sure if this is true for other writers; is style self-cultivated or assigned by the audience?

From my own experience, it’s difficult to objectively judge one’s own style – mine seems to change completely depending on what I’m writing, and how I feel as I do it. If I’m feeling quite energetic and revitalised, I tend to write with more poise and sophistication (which I hope I’m achieving here). If I’m fatigued with writing for the day, or simply tired overall, I start to write more casually – as if I were talking to a friend.

Of course, writing marketing copy differs in style to creative prose. However, I don’t feel like I’m consistent within either field. This is a distinct advantage when I’m being asked for different content in my work every day – an informative blog post here, an enthusiastic upsell email there – but when I try and write multiple different stories, or even different parts of the same story, I struggle. My use of language and ability to effectively word sentences appears to fluctuate by the hour.

I’m therefore going to try and stick to this blog’s ‘style’ for the forseeable future and see how difficult that proves to be.

I’d also like to discuss what I actually want this blog to be. As I now write in my job (which I am very thankful for, by the way), I thought it would be prudent of me to keep working on my own material to avoid becoming resentful of the hobby.

I’m wary of limiting myself to one genre, topic or category. There are many aspects to my life and thoughts, and I don’t intend to stifle any of them due to the idea I should focus on just one thing. As I want to keep these posts fairly short, what I put down here will likely be something that’s currently on my mind, or a topic I’d like to discuss – but it might also be a review of a show I’m watching, or even some creative work.

While this might run at cross purposes with building an audience, I don’t see this blog as something that I intend to ‘market’ at all – hence the lack of images, eye-catching titles and riveting topics. I write all day with marketing in mind; I don’t want to have to watch my words or tailor to my audience here. If I do acquire an audience, I would hope they are simply interested in what I have to say, rather than their views having been engineered by my content.

That means these posts might get quite personal – there are lots of things going on in my head which I’d like to get down on paper (so to speak). So for anybody who wants to come on this journey with me; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.