Uncategorized

Adapting

Let me start by stating the obvious: 2020 has not panned out the way I expected it to.

Yes, I know. Understatement.

At the beginning of the year, I was groggily adjusting to life with a newborn, starting to plan my return to full-time work, and wasting no time returning to theater. 

I was in rehearsals for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, playing a bucket-list role, Maggie. And later that summer I was going to be taking on the role of Isabella in Measure for Measure. This was promising to be a big year in theater for me, with huge creative growth.

And then, we all know what happened.

Mid-march, a week before Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was slated to open, California’s shelter-in-place order came in. As the weeks went by, and the order continued to extend, it became clear that the production wasn’t going to open anytime soon.

Even more weeks passed, and I got the official notice — the summer Shakespeare season was being pushed to (hopefully) 2021.

And just like that, my year of reaching new artistic heights vanished.

Or so I thought.

Theater in the Time of Coronavirus

At the beginning of Shelter in Place, I joined throngs of theater people desperately trying to find any substitute for the stage and rehearsal room.

I filled my evenings with Zoom play and other script readings. I even got to read Isabella — admittedly not quite as satisfying speaking to a computer screen, reminding my scene partner to unmute himself.

I wouldn’t say these readings did much to help improve my acting skills. Rather, I saw them as a way to stay connected and prevent “getting rusty.”

Then came a voiceover gig for a mobile game, and more recently, voiceover work for an animated video series. I also took part in a radio play of sorts, performed via Zoom.

These projects allowed me to really focus on my voice and fine-tuning that instrument.

And then came Much Ado About Nothing. I was doing Shakespeare this year, afterall! And in another bucket-list role, no less — Beatrice.

We ended up doing the production pretty much as a film, which really allowed me to work on my film acting skills. I also performed in a Zoom production of Dracula; while live, the closeness of the camera and microphone also had me tap more into film acting techniques, rather than stage acting ones.

While theater acting has to be big to a certain extent (especially outdoor theater), film acting allows you to practice subtly. 

And for the past few months, I’ve role-played as part of a Dungeons and Dragons game live-streamed on Twitch. This has allowed me to really work on character development (I wrote a 5-page backstory) and improv.

And, of course, I haven’t only focused on acting. As I detailed in my previous blog post, I also wrote for a 48 Hour Film Project competition, and won the Best Writing award! And, of course,  I launched my YouTube channel, gaining valuable skills in video production and editing.

All in all, I’ve probably worked on more creative projects (and more diversity in projects) this year than I have in any year past!

I can definitively say that I’ve achieved that creative growth after all.

The key was accepting projects for what they were. Not trying to make them be substitutes for live theater shows, expecting the same experiences or to gain the same skills. But rather, appreciating the opportunity to develop different skills.

These new experiences — many of which, I might not have explored if the pandemic didn’t happen — and the new skills I gained from them, have ultimately given me a more well-rounded acting tool-set leaving me more poised than ever to excel on stage, when live theater returns.

Uncategorized

Writing Lessons

What do you do when you’re tasked with creating a politics-themed short film, in 48 hours — oh and because of COVID restrictions, there can only be one actor on set?

Write about debating office supplies, of course!

This was the scene, last month, when I participated in another 48-hour film project competition. Once again, I joined as head writer for my team, challenged with writing the script in one evening.

And I will say — this was some of the fastest writing I’ve done!

It’s always daunting going into this competition. What if I can think of any good ideas? What if I run into major writer’s block? What if my dialogue all sounds cliche and derivative? In other words, the imposter syndrome is in full force.

But without fail, the ideas come. The words flow. And the dialogue brings a smile to my face. 

After writing for three of these competitions, there are definitely some tricks that make the writing process easier. And these can apply to any writing project — or in some cases, any non-writing project.

Prepare what you can ahead of time

In case you’ve missed my past blogs about the competition, the 48-hour film project charges teams with creating a 4-7 minute film in … you guessed it — 48 hours. The night that the competition kicks off, each team randomly receives two film genres, and their final submission must be one of those two genres. There is also a required character, prop and line of dialogue that has to be included in the film.

While teams don’t receive their requirements until the competition commences, there’s a lot of pre-planning that can happen. From a writing standpoint, you can understand the limitations and resources.

For our team, we knew that given the restrictions around COVID, we would only be able to film at the director’s home and would only have one actor to work with in person. However, we did have access to other actors who could do voiceover, so early on, we thought a story with a person and an inanimate object might work well.

And while we wouldn’t receive our genres until the first night of the competition, we did know all the possible genres we could receive. So I was able to do some early thinking on possible concepts for each genre.

Split up the project into stages

Friday night of the competition we received our genres — Politics and Mystery.

With only one evening, the instinct can be to start writing as soon as possible. But I knew from past competitions, that breaking the process down into stages would ultimately make the entire process run a lot more smoothly.

Here was the flow of our process:

  • Brainstorm ideas for each genre
  • Review all ideas and choose the winner
  • Sketch out the basic story line
  • Identify traits of each character
  • Split up the story among each writer for individual drafts
  • Combine dialogue
  • Edit
  • Edit again
  • Edit some more
  • And did I mention edit?

It seems like a lot of steps. But by breaking down the project into smaller stages, we were able to focus on each task and prevented ourselves from getting too overwhelmed.

Know when to work as a group vs. individually

For this year’s competition, I worked with two other writers. And while there’s benefit to having more points of view and ideas, if you tried to make every single decision by committee, nothing would get done.

So, we started out by separating and doing an individual brainstorm of story ideas for each genre. I know that may seem a little counterintuitive — shouldn’t the brainstorm phase be where people work as a team? Well, by starting with an individual brainstorm, we were able to generate 3 times the amount of ideas in the same span of time. Plus, with a group brainstorm, sometimes less experienced or less confident people may hold back their ideas.

From there, we toggled between individual work and group work. 

We came together as a team to review ideas, choose our winning story idea and do an initial discussion about the basic story and characters. 

Office supplies having a debate about which one was the BEST office supply.

Then we separated to do an individual brainstorm on character traits.

Ballpoint pens are the standard and traditional. Staplers are about unity and bringing things together.

From there, we regrouped to finalize the characters and stories and split up the story into acts. With individual writing assignments, we then broke to draft our respective sections. After that, we came together again to combine our scripts.

By switching between working together and working separately, not only were we able to take advantage of which phase benefitted from group vs. individual work, we were also able to avoid (or at least delay) mental fatigue.

And in addition to gauging when to work as a team and when to write individually, as head writer, I had to know when to ultimately take the reins and complete the project on my own. Once we combined our scripts, it made sense for one person to edit, refine and get it over the finish line to make sure the final product had a consistent voice.

Nothing is precious

I had a co-worker give this advice to me once: “Nothing is precious.”

What she meant was that sometimes we need to give up on or majorly change an idea or piece of work, if it doesn’t end up working for the project.

And this happened multiple times during this writing project. Great lines of dialogue we had to cut out due to time. Funny characters we gave the axe to because they didn’t fit within the story.

By keeping an eye on the ultimate goal — in our case, an engaging story that fit within 4-7 minutes — we knew when something had to be cut.


In the end, we came up with a funny, yet poignant script, that we were all quite happy with…

… and so were the judges — we won Best Writing! And Best Film! And a slew of other awards!

Check it out:

Uncategorized

More Learnings from Interviewing

As an actor, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is that “when you walk into the audition room, you aren’t just auditioning for a role, you’re auditioning for the director.”

This is really speaking to the fact that sometimes there are factors outside of your control that will prevent you from landing the part. The director is going for a certain look. The director already has another actor in mind. The director wants the character to tap dance (in a non-musical), and you’re a beginner, at best (yes, this has actually happened to me).

But just because you don’t get the role, doesn’t mean you didn’t make an impression on the director, who may keep you in mind for a future project. And it doesn’t mean you didn’t gain valuable learnings from the audition — areas you’re particularly strong in and opportunities to improve your skills for the next audition.

And the same can be said for job interviews.

I recently had an interview for a content manager role. And while it didn’t turn into an offer, I still got some valuable lessons that will help me in my future interviews.

“What are you hoping to grow into or gain from this role?”

This was an interesting question to get, and to be honest, in the moment, I didn’t have a great answer.

I’ve spent a lot of time refining my narrative about my career history, this sabbatical and why I’m looking to pursue content-related roles. But I haven’t put much thought into what my path looks like once I do land a content marketing/management role. 

Part of that is just unfamiliarity with the typical path in that specific field. In which case, I just got a new homework assignment — learn more about these types of roles, people who do this type of work, and what a typical career in content marketing and management looks like. 

Learning: Be prepared to talk about where you’ve been, but also where you want to go.

“Tell me about a time when you made content decisions based on results analysis.”

Ok, ok. This question was obviously very specific to this particular role, but almost any interviewee can expect to be asked to give an example of a project related to the role.

And I was wholly unprepared. Rookie mistake.

Now, I was prepared with examples and anecdotes about managing content production projects. And to be fair, the job description did focus on that type of work. However, I should have paid attention to the job responsibilities and requirements that were further down the list, and have work examples ready for those.

Learning: Be prepared to speak to every single bullet point in the job description.

“Do you have direct experience working on SEO projects?”

Ah yes, this was the question I was afraid I was going to get.

Again, this specific question was related to the role I was interviewing for, but it reminded me of a common thing that can happen when applying to and interviewing for a job: there may be a duty included in the job description, and it’s sometimes difficult to determine how big a part it plays in the role.

For this role, it was search engine optimization. The job description mentioned doing keyword research to help identity potential content topics. And under experience, they asked for some familiar with search engine optimization best practices. However, they also mentioned that the content manager would work cross-functionally with SEO, which led me to believe there was a team that really specialized in the nitty-gritty of SEO — particularly technical SEO — and that as the content manager I would just need to be familiar enough to best implement their recommendations.

And I did take some online courses ahead of the interview to brush up on the most up-to-date best practices and techniques.

But during the interview, it became clear that the hiring manager was looking for someone with more direct, hands-on SEO experience.

And perhaps, there’s not much else I could have done. It’s not like I could suddenly just take on and complete an SEO project.

But knowing that this could possibly be a question, I could have had a better-prepared answer, proving that while I didn’t have examples of SEO projects I’ve worked on directly, my combination of knowledge and related experience would allow me to get up to speed on the type of work quickly.

Learning: Even if you think a particular duty or skill is just a small part of a role, prepare for it anyway!


While I didn’t move forward with that particular role, I did get the feedback that the hiring manager really enjoyed speaking with me and that they’d be in touch if any future opportunities became available.

Again — you’re not just auditioning (or interviewing!) for the role, you’re auditioning for the director.

Uncategorized

Treading Water

Photo by Oliver Sjöström from Pexels

For the last couple of posts, I’ve talked about trying to carve out time to focus on some major goals. One of those goals — which seems particularly valuable while we continue to shelter in place — is to accomplish a deep clean, organization and purge of our apartment. 

I set upon tackling this goal by doing what I would do with any project — I created my to-do list of tasks and milestones that would get me to my ultimate goal. For this residential endeavor, it meant going room by room and breaking down the work into small, manageable chores.

Vacuum the rug. Dust the TV stand. Scrub the shower. Mop the kitchen floors.

From here, it’s as simple as going through the to-do list and checking off my tasks, right?

With any work project, that’s what I would do. But here’s the thing with a project like this: I check off an item, but before I can make it through the entire list, I’ll have to go back and do that task again.

This is an apartment that is lived in and used after all. Even more so now. I can’t just vacuum the rug once and be done with it forever. I vacuum the rug, do some other tasks, vacuum the rug again, do some other tasks again while also trying to find time to tackle some new to-dos.

It’s an interesting cycle. It’s not as simple as moving through a to-do list one by one — greeting a task, working on it and then bidding it adieu to meet a new task. Instead, I find myself undertaking item after item, only to then add them to a growing list of maintenance tasks; all while trying to still take on new to-dos with my shrinking availability.

And this seems like a perfect analogy for my whole life right now. I feel like I have a long list of things I want to explore and try, but a roster of commitments to maintain that leave me with less and less time to take on new projects.

Treading water gets you nowhere. And treading water too long leaves you little energy to swim forward and reach the shore.

So, that’s how I’m feeling at the moment. I don’t know if I have the answer on how to fix it. For now, I just have to try to keep the shore in my sights and my head above water.

Uncategorized

SMART Goals

Last week, feeling overwhelmingly busy yet underwhelming productive, I tasked myself with taking a step back; reflecting on my priorities; and carving out more time to work on some major goals.

Confirming my goals

As part of this re-prioritization exercise, I wanted to revisit my top goals to confirm these were still the areas I wanted to work on. After all, was there a reason I had not devoted much energy to any of them?

My original goals were:

  • Get my home clean and organized
  • Lose weight and get in shape
  • Generate income from acting
  • Generate income from podcasting

I ultimately decided to change that last goal to: Generate income from content creation. I will likely focus on YouTube, blogging and Instagram as my outlets for this new goal rather than podcasting.

SMART criteria

As I shift more of my focus to these big goals, I want to put them through the SMART test. According to Wikipedia, SMART is an acronym, “giving criteria to guide in the setting of objectives”. It stands for:

  • Specific: goals are well-defined & focused.
  • Measurable: you are able to provide evidence of progress.
  • Attainable: you can reasonably accomplish the goal.
  • Relevant: goals align with your values and long-term objectives.
  • Time-bound: goals have a realistic, yet ambitious, deadline.

Specific & Measure

These two criteria often go hand-in-hand. The process of narrowing your goal and outlining the specifics often involves putting numbers around what you want to achieve. 

These criteria were easiest to apply to my weight loss goal — I simply identified a target weight I want to achieve.

For my home goal, I specified that I want to be able to walk into every room where all the surfaces are clean (dusted, swept, vacuumed, etc.), every item has its own place, and each object is wanted or needed (though, it doesn’t necessarily need to spark joy!).

Now, my two career-based goals were a little harder to define. What exactly do I mean by “generate income”? 

Technically, I already have and regularly do make money from acting … albeit not that much. So what is different and/or new that I want to accomplish in this arena? Well, let’s say I want to make at least minimum wage from the gig (sadly, none of my theater gigs come anywhere close to this). I have gotten gigs here and there that meet that criteria, so I don’t think securing one gig is enough to feel like I’ve accomplished this goal. Instead, I’ve set a goal of doing at least 10 acting gigs where the stipend/rate/pay compared to the hours that go into it equal at least minimum wage. I figure by the time I achieve 10 gigs, I will have a lot of learnings that will allow me to set my next goal in this area.

As for generating income from content creation, I’ve never done that before. So, I feel like my goal can be a little smaller (though no less hard to achieve since I’m just a beginner in this area). I will consider this goal achieved when I have made any ad revenue or secured at least one sponsorship.

Attainable

My weight loss and home organization goals are definitely attainable … because I’ve achieved them before.

The career-based goals are a little less certain. Both are areas where a lot is out of my control. No matter how well I do at an audition, at the end of the day, I just might not be what the director is looking for. I can launch a YouTube channel/blog/etc but there’s no guarantee that people will watch/read/etc.

I do think the acting and content creation goals are ultimately attainable, but it’s hard to know what time-frame to set.

Relevant

As these are all personal goals, it’s pretty clear they are relevant. But in general, this is a good criterion to ensure that you are pursuing goals that really matter to you and not because you feel like others expect them of you or because your peers are working toward similar goals.

Time-bound

This is the area I’m still working on for all of my goals. I think before I can set a clear end date for each goal, I need to outline the milestones and tasks that will lead up to my ultimate goals. Once I do that I can more easily put timelines around everything and set target dates. I think my career-based goals will have longer time-frames than my other two goals.

Uncategorized

Support the Black Community

I am pausing my blog series on starting a YouTube channel because there’s something more important to talk about right now.

The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have sparked outrage and protests across the country … and the world. 

The sad thing: we all know this isn’t new, and they aren’t the only ones. Why the hell is this still happening?

Inaction.

Inaction from our leaders. And for a lot of us, inaction from ourselves.

So, let’s act. I’ve compiled some of the resources that have been circulating social media. This work is not my own; I’ve merely put them together. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have come across more, please post in the comments.

Take immediate action

Demand Justice & Change

Donate

Protest

Educate

Consolidated Resources

Reading Lists

Be an Ally

Support Black Businesses

Make it a Long-term Mission

After the media coverage and protests have died down, it will be easy to fall back into inaction. But if history has taught us anything, this is a long-term fight, and we need to keep the momentum going.

We won’t necessarily always do or say the right thing. This is a time for learning, re-educating and listening with humility.

Content Creator, Uncategorized, Video Producer

Starting a YouTube Channel, Part 4: Working in the YouTube Platform

In this blog series on starting a YouTube channel, I’ve reviewed:

In this week’s post, I’ll go over the process of creating a YouTube account, setting up the channel and working within the YouTube Studio to upload videos and get them ready to publish.

Creating a YouTube account

Creating a YouTube account is relatively simple; you just need to enter some basic contacts information and a name for your channel.

However, choosing your channel’s name is where you need to do some early thinking about the branding for your channel. Ideally, you’ll want a name that gives viewers a sense of what your channel is about.

For me, I knew that the core videos (at least at first) would focus on Hawaiian grammar lessons. So, I initially considered straightforward names like:

  • Learn Hawaiian
  • Hawaiian Language

However, I wanted room to expand the scope of my channel to cover Hawaiian culture, history, art, music etc. as well as my own personal connections and stories. So, I didn’t want a name that limited my channel to just language-focused videos.

I also thought about how learning the Hawaiian language was really a personal quest for me to connect more with my culture. So, I brainstormed names like:

  • My Hawaiian Journey
  • Discovering Hawai’i

But I thought, these names could easily be mistaken for travel-related channels.

I ultimately settled on Ke Aloha no Hawai‘i, which means “love for Hawai‘i”. For me, this phrase really covered the scope of what my videos might feature and described my motivations behind learning the language. Also, for people who don’t understand enough of the language yet to know the translation, they would still easily recognize the words “Aloha” and “Hawai‘i”.

Setting up the channel

The biggest things you want to focus on when first setting up your YouTube channel is:

  • Channel icon (profile picture): shows up not only on your channel page but is also the icon that shows up next to any comments you make.
  • Channel art (page banner): the first thing visitors see when they visit your channel.
  • Channel description (About section): allows you to tell visitors and potential subscribers what to expect from your YouTube channel.

I kept the artwork simple with clear branding for my channel name. I looked up the size specifications and other recommendations that would allow the artwork to look good on both desktop and mobile.

Other parts of the channel set-up that are good to think about, especially once you have videos uploaded:

  • Featured content: Toward the top of your channel’s page, you can feature a video or playlist and differentiate the content for new visitors vs. returning subscribers. For new visitors, YouTube recommends a channel trailer; I have not yet made one, so I feature my first grammar lesson. For returning subscribers, I feature my latest video.
  • Sections: As people scroll down the home tab of your channel, they can see featured collections of videos. I created sections for my various playlists: Learn Hawaiian, Hawaiian Grammar, and Vlogs.
  • Playlists: It’s a good idea to organize your videos into playlists, especially once you have a lot of uploads. There is a whole tab section on your channel for playlists. This will help visitors to your page find the content that is most relevant to their interests.

Uploading and Publishing Videos

Videos are uploaded and published through the YouTube Studio. Be prepared to wait a while for videos to upload. My grammar lesson videos are about 10-12 minutes and anywhere from 1-2 GB, and their upload times in YouTube Studio can be about 30-45 minutes.

Title & Description

Videos need a title and description, and this is where you want to be strategic about SEO. Use keywords that your intended audience would likely use in their search. Make the beginning of your description clear and to the point. You can also include relevant links.

For the descriptions of my grammar videos, I start with a brief summary of the lesson. Under that, I include links to the earlier grammar lessons. After that, I include links to other Hawaiian language learning resources. And then I include links to the Ke Aloha no Hawai‘i social media pages.

Cards & End Screens

You can link to other videos or playlists from your channel, throughout your video (cards) and at the end (end screen).

If I reference a past lesson, I include a card that pops up during that part of the video and links to the past video I mentioned.

And for my end screen (clickable overlays that can appear at the end of your video for up to 20 seconds), I feature a subscribe button and my Hawaiian Grammar playlist.

Publishing

I publish new Hawaiian grammar videos every Monday. I try to get everything uploaded and set up on Sunday. Then, I just schedule my videos to publish the next morning. That way, even my East Coast subscribers can find a new video first thing in the morning.


And that’s it! Next week, I’ll go over engaging with your community and promoting your channel.

Reflections, Uncategorized

Starting My Search

Well, after weeks of looking at jobs and ruminating on what I’d want to pursue, I finally broke the ice and applied to a couple of full-time jobs. I realized I had been paralyzed by the uncertainty of which path I’d most enjoy. But then I reminded myself that just because I apply for a job doesn’t mean I ultimately have to take it. 

So, I’ve decided to cast my net wide and apply to any job that interests me — whether it be in my previous field or something new. And it’s been fascinating to reflect on the roles I’ve gravitated towards.

Finding something new in my old field

When it comes to opportunities related to my previous marketing career, I’m not pursuing the exact same type roles I was in before; I’m still set on that work not being the right fit for me at this time. But I have found myself drawn to more communications-focused roles. In particular, I seem interested in:

  • Creative writing: In my last job at Facebook, I had to do a lot of writing; however, it was business and technical writing, which I found pretty boring. In searching for new opportunities, I have been interested in roles that revolve around more creative writing  — whether that be writing social media copy for a fun brand with an interesting voice or creating scripts and storylines for mobile games.
  • Creative operations: I enjoy finding order in things. I enjoy creating plans and seeing them through. I actually have a lot of project management experience through my previous jobs, and it was always so satisfying checking off that to-do list and seeing everything fall into place. Even now, a lot of my work as a podcast producer involves organizing the team and managing logistics. So, I have found myself drawn toward roles that revolve around managing creative operations; in fact, one of the roles I applied to this past week centered around managing the logistics of the company social media channels.
  • In-person communication: When I worked at the advertising agency, my favorite parts of my job were presenting at conferences and having in-person meetings with clients. I have been interested in communications roles that center around these types of face-to-face communications — preparing presentations for events and prepping speakers. While in-person events are obviously not happening at the moment, a lot of these are at least translating to virtual events.

Pursuing new fields

I also plan to explore opportunities in new industries; I mean, that’s been the focus on my whole sabbatical. But it’s been revelatory to see what types of roles and fields I am actually motivated enough to go through the effort of preparing applications for:

  • Podcasting: I have mentioned time and time again in this blog that podcasting has been a surprising new interest for me. It was not something I set out to pursue at the beginning of my sabbatical, but it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences during this exploration and one that has probably helped me grow the most. I find that I really appreciate the medium and see such potential in the artform. In fact, I find it such an interesting space that I’m willing to start from the ground up just to get my foot in the door. Indeed, one of the other roles I applied to this past week was an entry level position, doing work I’m over-qualified for, but in the podcasting space.
  • Livestreaming: I had already been interested in livestreaming as a medium but this ‘shelter-in-place’ situation has magnified just how powerful livestreaming can be to engage and connect people. We did a livestream event for the podcast, and I really enjoyed it. There is a role for a livestream producer — helping pitch, plan and moderate livestream events — that I plan on applying to.

Reflections and Next Steps

I see certain patterns and shared elements across the roles that I’m interested in, both in my previous field and new industries:

  • Creative content
  • Production and project management
  • Engaging audiences

Being able to surface these factors will help me in my job search, as I can search for opportunities (regardless of industry) that center around these duties.

The process will be slow — it’s been a while since I’ve applied for jobs, and my resumes need a lot of updating. But I’m trying not to pressure myself; it’s ok if I just apply to one or two jobs a week. I want to take my time, being thoughtful and deliberate. Slow and steady wins the race.

Uncategorized

What’s Your Story?

My friend Vera recently gifted me “Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice”, which is a companion piece to Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming. The journal includes many prompts that really push you to do some self-reflection.

Well, I cracked open the journal and immediately found myself stuck at the first prompt:

What’s your story and how have you learned to embrace it?

My mind raced. What is my story? How — or when — would I start? How would it end? Is there even an ending yet? I feel like I’m still in the middle of my story and the ending is still very much a mystery to me. Hell, I don’t even know what to expect from the next chapter!

It’s an interesting question because it made me realize that we really get to write our own story. And I’m not talking about the future and making choices that affect our journey. I’m talking about looking back at the whole of our life and weaving together the bits that we choose in order to create the tale of us.

Our story is not a complete documentation of our life. Our story is a curated history. We choose what to tell and what not to tell.

Do I only tell the good parts? Well, if you’ve read my blog, you know I wouldn’t do that. But what do I focus on? Is there a main theme? How long is this story?

I’m still not sure how I’ll answer this prompt. I’m sure there will be many drafts. But my goal is to reflect on it this week and try to get something down on paper.

So stayed tuned. Maybe I’ll have a tale for you next week.

Uncategorized

A Blog Post … About Blogging

“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!