When I first started my blog, I got a lot of advice. Some I paid attention to, some not. One of the pieces of advice I ignored was “post every day.” I didn't see that as realistic and although I always have stuff to say, I had – and still have – that quality over quantity mindset. I'd rather spend my time writing something I'm proud to share that is “just right” versus posting every day because someone named Lisa from a 2014 blogging group said that was the thing to do. I ignored Lisa's advice on most things and I soundly believe I'm better for it. So it makes perfect sense that I raised my virtual hand for a 30-day writing challenge for the month of June, which is one of my busiest months of the year.
But, I did. I'm not sure why I responded to a friend's offer to join what is probably my 349th Facebook group for writers and bloggers to take part in a 30-day writing challenge. I guess it falls into the category of things I thought would be a good idea at the time. You know…like bangs, Lularoe, and bringing a kitten home from a winery. I look terrible in bangs. Lularoe speaks for itself because seriously? What good can come of vagina patterned leggings? I'm going to save the kitten/winery story for another day because 30-day writing challenge. Running out of material is a small concern.
So, this is day six. I managed to put up five consecutive blog posts despite being on the road between my home in Texas and Missouri. By the way, Missouri in the summer – in particular the Mark Twain National Forest – is amazing.
I am notorious for starting things I don't finish, so I'm posting about my writing challenge not because I can't figure out what else to write about today but for a little bit of accountability. And also maybe to explain why I'm adopting a content creation method I've always been opposed to. And no, I didn't decide Lisa from my 2014 blogging group was right all of a sudden. It's this:
I feel like I've lost a little bit of myself.
I started blogging in 2014. I wanted to document my family's adoption stories that I expected to become a book. I had every intention of writing the adoption book back then. The go-to adoption resource that social workers would recommend to hopeful adoptive parents. Spoiler alert: that hasn't happened and probably won't ever. I am okay with that.
But, back to blogging. I didn't really get what blogs were about back then. I didn't know blogging could be a business or bring an income. I saw it as a way to build an audience that would buy the books I'd one day write. I think someone told me that a publisher would be more interested in what I had to say if I came with a built-in audience of people who already enjoyed what I had to say. Maybe that still rings true. I'm not sure.
I could write a book if I wanted to. Several books. I have a lot to say. Maybe one day I will write them.
But I don't want to. I have zero interest in writing a book right now. Zippity zilch.
I don't doubt my abilities or my marketability. I have absolute confidence that I could do it and be successful. As my blog and freelancing career grew from 2014 until now, I just stopped wanting to write a book, so I haven't. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and be inspired to go in a different direction. Maybe someone will read this and give me the kick in the pants that will make me want to write a book.
So anyway. For now, no book. There's still that 30-day writing challenge and we're only on day six.
For the last two or so years, I've been writing based on what Google thinks I should write about. I won't go into a lot of tech speak on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but my blog has thrived because people find me on Google based on certain things they are searching for. I know what those things are and I create more content pieces around those things. I strive to stay current on certain topics so I can hold my audience and keep favor with the Google Gods. It's not a bad deal at all. My blog has ads running (hopefully they aren't detracting from my content) and that helps keep the lights on. I didn't envision being in this place but this place is good.
But. There's a but.
I've been writing based on what editors assign me. I've taken on sponsored work with brands and destinations that align with my blog. Those things also help pay the bills. I'm proud of the business I've built and what it has meant to my family. I am excited to be growing and to have goals and to be more organized than I've ever been before (which is still on the semi-disorganized side, but I'm making progress.) I've done very little with this blog that I have regrets about, although I do suffer from FOMO and chide myself on what I could have done better, different, faster or smarter on the regular. I could write two separate blog posts about those things…and I might, because 30-day writing challenge.
But, I feel like I've lost a little of myself in the process. I don't very often sit down and write what's on my heart or my mind, just because. If I do write something purely because I want to get it out there, I think about the timing of when I share it. I consider what each post is going to look like in front of or behind something else I just published or plan to publish. Is it going to make sense to my readers? Is it seasonally appropriate? Relevant? Do I have time to sit down and do keyword research, write eye-catching alt text, curate and edit photos AND make not one but two 600×900 (or whatever size Pinterest wants it to be this week) and still get everything on my to-do list done?
The answer is usually no. I usually end up scribbling down my good ideas to write about in my notebook and promising myself I'll circle back when the have-to's are done. It almost never happens. Not never, but seldom enough to worry me.
Don't get me wrong. I'm always me…my writing voice is true and genuine no matter what I'm writing about. At the end of the day, I feel good about what and how I've written, no matter what I'm writing about. The thing is, I'm pushing the things I want to write about for me to the back burner. I tell myself things like “someday” and “when I have more time” and then move on. I don't exactly forget about this ever-growing list of topics and snippets of would-be stories. I just don't give them the place they should have in the pecking order of all the things I have on my plate.
This 30-day writing challenge is for me. If someone else reads these words (hang on, people…there are still 24 of these left to go) and takes something good from them, that's awesome. Gravy. Icing. Whatever. Knowing something I wrote informed, entertained, or moved someone else is a feeling like no other. But, if I don't write for me sometimes, I risk losing the piece of me that started this all.
You'll still see some travel posts and some adoption posts because I'm hoping this challenge will help me get off my butt and finish some of the things sitting in my drafts that fall in the category of “typical for this blog” content. You also might see something that's a departure from the things you usually see here, like that 2014 post that hasn't seen the light of day about what's in my purse. You might not care but I might still decide to publish it. Or, I might tell the story of how a trip to a winery in the Texas Hill Country resulted in me bringing a cat home. Maybe. I'm not sure if the internet is ready for that one.
If you take anything away from this, take this:
That one thing that makes you feel like you? Take care of it. Flex it. Make time for it, no matter what. For me, that's what this 30-day writing challenge is all about but I think you could apply the message to anything that means something to you.