My poor blog. It’s been nearly two months since I updated you, thus breaking the most important rule in blogging that all those successful bloggers shout from the rooftops– er, blogtops? UPDATE YOUR BLOG REGULARLY. YOU ARE NOTHING WITHOUT REGULAR CONTENT. AT LEAST UPDATE WEEKLY, FOOL.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. To stay relevant, a blog has to have some life to it, which can only happen when the person behind the blog gets over his or her issues of self-doubt and sits down to write.
But the past two months haven’t been kind to the writer in me, and because a blog is a place for honesty, I’ll tell you why (and offer some ideas for how you can shake off your own self-doubt.)
I graduated with my MFA in mid-January. It was a whirlwind few days, between readings and seminars and the ceremony itself, having depressing conversations about what any of us would do with our lives outside of the program. Immediately following graduation, I headed up north to go skiing with my husband’s family, where I lounged around the entire time (hey– I just finished grad school. I wasn’t about to strap on skis!)
I always ride the post-residency high after a week at Lesley University, but once I got home, I came down with a week-long flu thing that kicked. my. sorry. butt. Then my Ulcerative Colitis got worse, and I hardly could leave the house. And honestly? After that? I wasn’t feeling like doing anything. I was up all night with stomach problems, and spent my days utterly exhausted and drained. Plus, it kept snowing; every week we got a huge storm. The white crap kept piling up, I was feeling really lost without a submission deadline for school, and I didn’t have the freelance work coming in that I was hoping for. It seemed pointless to update a writing blog when, well… I couldn’t bring myself to write.
What does this have to do with you? Maybe you’re in a funk, too. It wouldn’t surprise me, since most everyone I’ve talked to lately has been feeling blue and frustrated, at least a little bit. I blame it on the weather, the cold and snow up here in the northeast trapping us inside and absolutely sucking the life out of everyone. Even though the past few weeks have been calm weather-wise, it’s still too cold to sit outside with a book, or go for a long walk (short walks are fine, unless my dog stops to sniff every single spot that another dog has peed on. Which she does. Frequently.)
I’ve discovered a few tricks that have helped me push past this stretch of self-doubt, lack of motivation, and general blue-ness. Maybe they’ll help you, too, whether it’s writer’s block or a case of the I-don’t-wanna-do-anything’s:
- See people. On a regular basis, the only person I was seeing was my husband. And even more frequently than him, I was hanging out with the dog (that’s what I get for working from home.) Aside from a few visits with family and some text messages with friends, I really wasn’t interacting with other human beings. Namely, friends. More namely, fellow writers/people who understand the funk. Go out and see people. Make a coffee date with a friend. Breathe some different air and see some new scenery. Talk about the things you want to do but can’t find the motivation to start. Hear someone else say you can do it, and know they’re not full of crap. It’s refreshing and rejuvenating.
- Take small steps. Updating my blog would have been a small step towards reclaiming my writing, but I wasn’t sure how to dive back in. So, I took other small steps: I kept up my weekly Patch columns, worked on a forthcoming blog project with LendingTree.com (very excited to reveal the details on that one!), started reading a bunch of fantastic short story collections (and I’m planning to do some reviews, so keep your eyes open for those), started helping a friend with copy for her graphic design site, formed an online book club, and signed up for an 8-week course on breaking into magazine writing. Small steps towards a larger goal help make the goal feel attainable. Plus, when you take action even in a minor way, you’ll feel like you’re moving forward rather than sitting stagnant, which is part of the problem with being in a funk. You feel like you’re paused, everything around you feels blah, every thought you have gets shot down by your internal self-doubter. But take a few small steps towards what you want, and you can begin to shake the funk.
- Find a new interest. Get a hobby, kid. This is the kind of advice I’d expect to hear from a punky babysitter when a child complains about being bored. But really, sometimes you need to shake things up in order to rediscover your passion. Writing is where my heart is happiest, but for a couple of months, writing wasn’t making me very happy. During this time, I happened upon a few personal style blogs which blew me away. Girls my age, with a budget probably similar to mine, were discovering their unique style and exuding happiness in their blogs. I wanted that. Meanwhile, I was wearing yoga pants, a boring sweater, and two pairs of socks every day. Seriously? That’s not who I am. I’m not a blah girl! But I was reflecting my blah feelings in my blah clothing. Blah! So I started doing more reading, found more blogs, combed through their old posts, and realized I had a genuine interest in not really fashion, but style. Personal style. I’m not big into trends or high fashion or labels. I’m a happy camper at Target and Payless, and will hold onto a piece of clothing for years if it’s comfortable and cute. That’s part of my personal style. Suddenly I cared about defining my style. And caring about something new made me care about writing again (funny how sparking one passion ignites another, huh?). To find your way back to what you love, first find something new to love. It can be anything: reading, hiking, volunteering, whatever. Once you find that spark, it’ll help you crawl out of a funk and will probably lead to lots of great new things for you to love.
- Other things that may help: walking (seriously, especially when the sun is out and it’s not bitterly cold), retail therapy (not in excess, but moderation. I bought a pair of rain boots when I was feeling glum and it helped quite a bit because it got me thinking about spring and April showers and May flowers, which took the focus off this depressing winter), redecorate (or, at the very least, spruce up a room in your house with new pillows or curtains), clean (a little early spring cleaning never hurt anyone, but it does make you feel less frazzled when your living space is clean and uncluttered), yoga, biking, laughing.
So my blog is back, and I’ve got a new one coming soon. Wait– new two! This space will still be for the writing life and all the things related to that: freelancing, social media, books, the random Lady Gaga post and how she relates to writing (she does, I swear.) But, my recent discovery of personal style has prompted a new blog about just that: finding personal style in all aspects of life, from clothing to your home to your relationships and even your career. What does it mean to have style? I’ll explore that question as I figure it out in my own life and pull inspiration from other people who seem to be rocking it like there’s no tomorrow. The other blog is the one with LendingTree I mentioned earlier, all about the home buying process and the ups and downs we went through searching for our house. I can’t wait to share them both with you, so as soon as they’re up I’ll post information.
Thanks for reading, and I promise to never be this lazy with my blog again… at least until next winter