“Wait, is it Friday already? I need to write a blog post!”
This is not an uncommon thought for me, especially lately. My schedule’s gotten pretty busy, and each week seems to fly by. Before I know it, Friday sneaks up on me, and like a deer in the headlights, I stare wide-eyed at my computer screen, thinking: “What the hell am I going to write about?!”
So, we’re going to get pretty meta this week, folks. Today, I’m blogging about … well, blogging.
Thoughts on Blogging
The timing is actually perfect for this reflection. I just renewed my domain name for this blog, which means that it’s been almost a year since I’ve started it!
And I do consider creating and maintaining this blog one of my biggest accomplishments during this sabbatical. Sure, my primary purpose for the blog was to keep my family and friends updated on my journey, as well as hold me accountable to actually follow through on my career exploration plans.
But, as I wrote about in one of my previous posts, blogging in and of itself has also been one of those many creative pursuits that I always meant to start for years but never did. So, even though I have weeks where I have major writer’s block, and despite the fact that I eventually had to scale back on the frequency of my posts, I’m still really proud that I’ve stuck with this.
And most importantly, I’m not burned out on the project. I think the key has been allowing the blog to be whatever I wanted it to be and not what I thought my audience (hey, that’s you!) expected it to be. That means I’ve been able to talk about taking coding classes one week and organizing my apartment the next.
So, What Do I Write About?!
Ok, I will admit that my approach to writing this blog would never fly if I was, say, a content manager at a big company. A professional blogger would likely have a long list of content ideas and a content calendar scheduled weeks or months in advance.
But I haven’t seen that blogging paycheck come through yet, so I’m just going to do this my own way! (she shouted defiantly into the void of her living room, shaking her fist to the heavens as her cats looked on with disinterest)
Ok, so here’s my typical, completely unprofessional (but remember, unpaid) process for getting together each week’s blog post:
1. Start with planned posts
Every now and then, I actually do have a planned topic for the week! In these cases, I’ve been thinking about the topic throughout the week and may have even started drafting the post days before. For example, I’m coming up on the one-year mark of my sabbatical, and (SPOILER ALERT) I plan on having a whole series of posts with an update on my career exploration and my plans for the future. I’ll probably start sketching out my ideas and even drafting some of the copy a week or two in advance.
2. Look at major developments
Have I tried something or am I about to embark on something completely new related to my career exploration? Did I wrap up a big project in relation to my sabbatical? Did I have a major revelation about one of the careers on my list? This obviously makes for good fodder for my blog posts. However, lately, because my exploration has been a bit more drawn out and slow, I haven’t had as many of these types of content ideas.
3. Review past blogs
I almost always look back at what I’ve written about in previous weeks. Sometimes, this reveals some hole or opportunity for topics. Other times, I’ll have an idea for a blog post, only to realize that I’ve already written something similar. But usually that allows me to morph the original idea and have some fresh take on the topic.
4. Reflect on my feelings
Yeah, we’re getting pretty hippie-dippie with this one. But some of my favorite blog posts (not to mention the easiest to write and ones that I feel are most true to my voice) have been the ones where I am talking about my emotions at the time. I think back about my very first blog post where I explained the drain that was taxing me or my blog post on loneliness where I expressed the utter isolation I was suffering through at the time. Sure, I was being raw and vulnerable, which can be scary. But it was also a very cathartic and therapeutic exercise.
5. Look for outside inspiration
When all else fails, I’ll scour the internet for ideas. Inspiring TED Talks on finding what you’re passionate about. Tips on changing careers. Exercises on finding the right path for you. Examples of people who have taken a similar sabbatical. It’s sometimes nice to bring in an outside perspective.
6. Be OK with a short post
Like I said earlier, the key to maintaining this blog and not burning out on it has been refusing to box it in or put too many parameters around it. That means some weeks, when I really don’t have the mental or emotional energy to draft something long and thoughtful, I’ll at least write something short, just to get something out. So whether it be a week of major personal drama when the best I could do was share a poem that had helped me get through it or the week I returned from my babymoon, exhausted, and just shared a TED Talk video, I was satisfied that I at least got something published.
And just like that, a blog post is born!