Starting Again, Again

So it’s time again for my recurring attempt to relaunch this blog. I do this at least once nearly every year. Often I try in November, to piggyback on Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), so I can utilize some of the tools and camaraderie of that program. I also sometimes get reinspired after a vacation, when I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on what is important to me.

What went wrong the last few times?

Obviously I failed the last few times I tried, whether in Nanowrimo or as a result of a rejuvenating vacation. Each time, I think of something new to try so it will be different this time. Last time I wanted to restart, after my summer vacation in Maine, I decided I would set a goal of publishing four posts a month, three shortish ones and one longer one that might take outside research. I hoped I could write and post short ones quickly, and work on the longer one throughout the month, and by the end of the month would have posted something every week. Well, I started off with a topic that I thought would be short but turned into a long and deep research topic. Whoops!

Cycle of shame

By the time I had gotten deep in the research, weeks had gone by, then months. Now, when I first started this blog back in Blogger days, I wanted to keep my posts current and punctual, so whatever I was writing about would still be happening in the natural world for anybody who wanted to go see it for themselves. Since that was how I started, I’ve always assumed it was how I should continue. But when I’m struggling to post at all, that idea trapped me in a problematic cycle. I’d take too long to write, then by the time I had finished even a first draft, the bird had already migrated, or the flower was no longer blooming. So I didn’t bother posting despite all my work, and eventually started on another topic. After a few rounds of this, I would feel just massively embarrassed, I’d even avoid writing altogether so I didn’t have to face my own guilt and shame. That would end up with me not even thinking about this blog for months until eventually either I had lots of unstructured time to think (like on vacation) or November approached and I started hearing about Nanowrimo plans.

Time is fleeting

So. THIS time I’m going to try to release the expectation of being current. I’m just going to write about whatever, whenever. If it was interesting enough to me in the first place, it will stay interesting with the photos I post. And after all, the internet is pretty much timeless. I grew up writing with the expectation of print publication, so you did have to be really tied to a time of year, or else write in advance to publish when the event came around again.

That means I’m going to start working backward on the photos on my phone, of things that interested me and intrigued me. I do think my idea of several shorter pieces plus an occasional longer piece is a good one. I’m also trying another trick– writing drafts directly in my blog editor. So I don’t have a psychological barrier that makes it feel longer and more onerous to go from draft to published. At least, that’s my hope! lol

Out of time, out of place

In fact, I’m probably going to end up writing about things I can’t even experience any more– I’m about to move closer to where I work, so anything that was linked to my previous home will be not only out of date but out of place, in a way. That’s ok though. I can find ways not to have to follow up on whether something is still there. It was just a moment that was interesting, and I can connect it to other moments. There’s no requirement that it must still be accessible to me irl. I hope this time it works out and I get a regular blog schedule going again! (Did I ever really stick to a schedule? I’m not sure I ever did even in my Blogger days. But I posted more often than I do now. I guess that’s my goal, to keep posting.)

Pick a picture first

One other trick I hope will speed the path from drafting to publishing, is to start with the photo, rather than start with words. That is, to find the photo I want to write about first, and have it in front of me (or in another window on my computer) while I write. Another thing that used to tie me up would be trying to find perfect photos to illustrate what I had just written about. That could take forever sometimes. And then I’d have to watermark them before publishing, to boot. I usually did have photos of the thing already when I wrote, but I didn’t yet know which one I wanted to use. Maybe turning my order of operations around can help– once I have the text polished I can basically hit publish right away.

Dealing with guilt and shame

Since the last time I was able to keep this blog going for long, I’ve gotten a much-needed divorce (hooray!). I’ve also become polyamorous. Along the way, I learned a lot about what to do with negative feelings. I used to try to not have the feelings at all. I would avoid the triggers (such as not blogging because I felt guilty about it), or would try to repress the negative feelings and blame myself for even having them, in a horrible cycle. I’ve learned now that it’s actually ok and normal to experience negative feelings like guilt or jealousy. What matters is what I do with them.

For example, if I feel jealous/envious about another partner, stuffing those feelings down and trying not to have them at all only leads to worse feelings and resentment. Ugh. Instead I’ve learned first to just sit with the jealousy, accept its existence as totally normal. When I do that, I can go deeper under the emotion and figure out what I’m really feeling at the moment– am I lonely? Do I wish I was getting/experiencing something different from my partner? Do I feel like I’m missing out on something? Do I feel unworthy or less pretty/trusted/loved than somebody else? There are so many things that could be underlying the envy/jealousy– for me at least, it’s never the primary emotion. It’s always caused by something else.

Once I find the root cause, I can address that– call a friend and ask for compliments and/or company, for example; or start making plans to go out another time; or reach out to someone who needs help and give them support, so I feel wanted and needed. Whatever suits my need at the moment. And if that doesn’t fully resolve the emotion, I TALK to my partner(s) about it. The first time I tried this, I was feeling envious of my partner’s spouse because she got to spend every night with him, while I went home alone after our dates. He reassured me when I told him how I felt, we agreed to have occasional overnights at my place, and I really felt heard and cared about. What a concept!

To sum up, I’m going to:

  • Let go of trying to be current– write about anything, anytime, anywhere.
  • Aim for several short pieces, and just a few longer pieces now & then.
  • Write directly in the WordPress editor, not in a separate program that needs to be cut and pasted.
  • Start with the photo and write from that, not the other way around.
  • Let go of the guilt and shame if I miss a post or two.

Let’s go Nanowrimo!

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