Over these last few weeks as I’ve forced myself to slow down, I’ve followed tradition and used the new year to evaluate a few things about my life. 2012 was a bonkers year. Totally, totally, bonkers. And completely out of balance. I worked so hard I can’t quite believe it, writing a novel, outlining a craft book, building several websites, launching Foxy Like A Crafter, launching my Youtube channel, and making appearances all over the place talking about politics and religion. Plus coping with my new diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder, and going on fertility drugs. It was too much. Way way way too much.
Part of all that was fueled by opportunities that I desperately wanted to seize, some of it was being caught up in an election year zeitgeist, and some of it was my own relentless, pulsing need to work work work. After Christmas I was so exhausted that for the first time in all my ten years of blogging, I actually thought about packing it all in. I had spent the year doing all of the current “best practices” of blogging, and none of them were worth it. Instead they sucked all the joy right out of blogging for me. Being worried about click rate, or being pinterest optimized, or having every post be worthy of stand alone content made me have to work so hard it wasn’t fun, and get away from what I think I’m actually good at.
Right now it feels like everyone is a lifestyle blogger. And the cranky old grandma blogger in me wants to talk about the good ol days when everything was personal, and some people would put on a show, but everybody thought those people were lame, and we all reveled in the anarchy of the internet where we could put up whatever we wanted and do things our own way. Now it feels like everyone is more concerned with branding than with discovery. With doing things the “best” way than doing things their own way. Everybody wants to be the next lifestyle brand instead of actually sharing the facts of the actual lives.
More and more I’m seeing bloggers try to be a one woman magazine, following the model of Martha Stewart or Better Homes and Gardens, complete with round up after round up. Which can be OK, curating is a worthwhile talent if it’s really curating and not just gathering. If anyone can find what you’ve included in your round up with a simple google search, I think it’s worth asking how much you’re contributing. Forcing this model on yourself when it doesn’t come naturally dilutes your individuality, muddies what you actually have to offer that is unique and engaging, until eventually other people come on board to help lift the load and it’s really not about one person’s voice anymore.
I started blogging because I wanted to be a writer. And after all these years I have finally succeeded in writing an actual book. Who knows if anyone will ever read it, but that can’t be the point. The point is that in these years of blogging, I have discovered my writing voice. I have opportunities in front of me I never imagined, I have accomplishments I was too terrified to contemplate, and none of that has come from the times I tried to quiet my own inner voice and blog the way the experts said I should blog. So I’m not going to bother with that anymore.
I’ve decided that I have to take a step back from a couple of things, re-prioritize a few more, and remember why I do all this in the first place. I believe that these days the only way to make a living blogging is to get lucky. And since I can’t exactly force that, I’m going to get back to what I’ve always loved about blogging, and that is sharing the pure unvarnished truth of a life in progress. I am a writer, but I’m also an artist and a cook and a crafter, so all of those things come along with an honest portrayal of myself. I don’t know that things will look that different to you readers. But internally, I’m letting go of all the advice, I’m not going to worry about having a perfectly polished end product every time, I’m not going to feel guilty about missing a day, and I’m going to go back to doing this for me. And for us. Because I believe that whenever people are authentic, it allows other people the opportunity to do the same.