It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged regularly. Over a year for sure. And the thing is I miss it terribly. I have almost this entire time, though I admit there were a few months where I was feeling pretty disillusioned with the whole concept. But in general, I’ve wanted to come back, I just didn’t feel like I could.
I started my first blog when I was a freshman in college, and I did it because I wanted a place to share my words. I wanted somewhere I could talk about writing and books and all the nerdy things I love that only people of the internet ever seem to understand. And when I first started, there wasn’t much of a “blogging community” yet, so to speak. It was still a pretty new concept. Eventually I discovered and started interacting with other bloggers, mostly through Twitter, and it was amazing. But with the rise of the blogging community came all these ideas about how to do blogging “right.” And that’s where things started getting…confusing for me.
I was doing pretty okay for myself on my first blog. I had a small, but solid following. I was meeting other writers and chatting them up in the comments. It was awesome. But then I started wanting to blog about more than just writing and books. And by then people had started throwing around the word “niche,” mainly that you had to have one if you wanted to build a successful blog.
I bounced around alot after that. I started blogging about what I saw other people blogging about, because they seemed to be doing really well and I wanted to too. I’d have a bursts of productivity where I was blogging consistently, and then I’d just get bored. By the time I realized I was no longer blogging for me, I was staring down the barrel of my final year in uni. I’d kind of found my way back to blogging about things that I loved, but now I was getting ready to graduate. I felt like I needed to use my blog to help me “break out” into the pop culture writing world, and I was running out of time to do it.
This is when I started finding professional bloggers sharing their expertise on how to become a big-time blogger. And I dove in. I started getting focused on SEO, on how I could write articles that were useful and had something specific to offer my readers, on never posting if I didn’t have a perfectly shareable graphic. Blogging became about the numbers and achieving a vague career goal. Just like that, I’d strayed away once again from the whole reason I decided to start blogging in the first place. And then I got a job, thanks in large part to skills I’d gained through blogging, but not one that has anything to do with the aspects of blogging that I actually fell in love with to begin with. I’m still there a year later. It pays the bills and my co-workers are great, but I don’t enjoy it. It’s just a paycheck. And it has been very demoralizing lately to realize I worked my ass off studying things I loved for 5 years just to end up doing something I hate. When I realized how much it was draining me, I started thinking about what I *do* want to do again, and what steps I could take to get myself moving towards my dreams again.
That sounds fantastic, right? To want to start pro-actively focusing on your goals. For most people it probably would be. But for me, it has turned out to have devastating side-effects. Here’s something you need to understand about me: I have a generalized anxiety disorder. People with GAD often (thought not always) have a few specific things that trigger their anxiety–it might be their finances, specific social contexts, food. For me, the biggest trigger is time, specifically the fear that I’m wasting it. I am almost always acutely aware of what time it is, of how much time I lose every day, every week, every month that is completely beyond my control, and of how much I want to do and how little time I have to actually accomplish any of it. If that sounds demoralizing and exhausting, it’s because it is. And what all that means is, when I start wanting to dedicate myself to achieving a certain set of goals, I start becoming *even more* obsessive and anxious over how I spend my time. I often lose entire days because I can’t decide what would be the best use of my time and I’m terrified of spending it on the wrong thing and I end up wasting the whole day panicking over the possibility of wasting the whole day. Cruel irony, I know.
All this is to say is that I’ve completely lost my ability to do the things I love solely because I love them. I’ve gotten into the habit of thinking about blogging, writing, and even reading as a means to and end. It’s awful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s feeding my already thriving depressive tendencies, and if I don’t correct course soon it is going to kill me.
Obviously, it’s time for a change. I need to get back to the heart of the things I love to learn to find the joy in them again. And part of that is coming back to blogging, but this time I’m going back to blogging for me. I’m going to (try) to stop stressing over whether or not I have perfect photos or if anyone is going to care about what I choose to write about. I have nothing but respect for the bloggers who work that way, but I cannot be one of them. I need to blog for me, or I can’t blog at all.
This also means learning to read and write just for the hell of it again, just because it’s who I am and what I do. I’ve gotten so caught up in wanting to write my book because of the possibility of getting it published and of it helping to get me back on track towards where I want to be instead of where I am. Which is why I still haven’t written the damn thing. I’m going to write this book because it is the story of my heart. Because one of the protagonists has been speaking to me for nearly a decade. Because I love it and I want to tell it. And for now, that is all that matters. I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, armed with an outline I’m still working out, and I am going to write a terrible first draft. And it is going to be my biggest accomplishment since graduating. That was my primary goal for 2017–to have a super shitty first draft written by the end of the year. I’m cutting it close, but I can still make it. I will still make it.
I don’t know exactly what the future has in store for me or for this blog. And for now, I think that’s for the best. If you’ve actually read this entire rambly mess, I thank you for bearing with me. I hope you’ll consider sticking around to see where I end up.
Also just as a fun fact: I wrote this entire post while cycling on my brand-new bike desk, and it is pretty fucking fantastic.