Signing Up Strong, and the Quiet Exit

A distant exit, up a flight of stairs

Photo by Carlos Martinez on Unsplash

When I signed up as a participant in Blaugust, it was on a whim. I have never blogged before, and signed up just two days before the event began, with neither hosting nor any post ideas. So, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

But I took the leap anyway, and was absolutely sure that I could publish an article every day in August. I’m trying to spend more time taking action and less time ruminating, my default mode. This seemed the perfect cure.

Leaping is one thing, but the follow up is more challenging in several ways, mostly psychological. Immediately, I sensed I’d gotten myself into more than I could handle, and after missing days 4 through 7 due to other obligations, I considered calling it quits. I’d already ‘failed’ in a sense, since I was going for a perfect streak.

But, I turned out a couple of additional posts throughout the next week before falling silent again around mid-month.

The Turning Point

The pivot for my posting consistency was a tiny glimmer of ‘success’ as measured in page views. I’d gotten a link from MassivelyOP and had a small influx of traffic — a notable amount for a brand-new blog from an unknown author, but otherwise pretty unremarkable. But, I kind of freaked out.

You see, I hate drawing attention to myself. Yes, I realize this is an awkward characteristic for an aspiring blogger. Even with this small trickle of traffic, I worried my anonymity would vanish, that expectations, obligations (eek!) would follow.

Of course, this is nonsense. I can identify it as nonsense, yet it stopped me anyway.

Do My Guildies Even Remember Me?

The pattern of strong start, slow decline is one that I also recognize in my gaming habits, in guild (or kin, etc.) membership, particularly. I’ll start out enthusiastic, chatting, grouping, signing up for raids. After a while, I start to be seen as a reliable, core member of the team. And, at this point, with the first sign of ‘success’ in the guild, I respond by vanishing, with no explanation.

I realize that people vanish from guilds all the time, often without obvious cause. Perhaps they’ve become swamped at work or realized they needed to spend more time with their partner or children. Maybe they’re tired of the game, or the subscription wasn’t within their budget anymore. I know that guild leaders (and other members) spend very little time contemplating the absence of the average member.

But, personally, disappearing is the worst response I can make, because coming back from an extended absence is really fraught. In a guild, I’ll feel like I need to be able to explain everything and then demonstrate my commitment by doubling down on playtime and providing aid to the guild. Just the prospect of doing this can be rather daunting, especially when I’m already a bit drained. Sometimes, in hiding from my guild, I’ll take an unintended break from a game I was really excited about. Ridiculous, I know.

Proving yourself

With blogging, after an absence, you can get bogged down by the idea that your next article had better be the best thing you’ve ever written. Anything less won’t justify the delay. So, more time elapses and the ‘debt’ mounts. I enjoyed and, even as a new blogger, could relate to Belghast’s post Permission to Suck, where he describes this conundrum:

If you look through my blog there are massive several month long lapses in content… I used to get to the point where I would feel like, each time I made one of these lapses that I would need an extremely epic post to start back up again.

Since this is all new, I also feel I need to prove to myself that I am able to continue on. But I’m now saddled by the knowledge that I’ve ‘failed’ before and will likely ‘fail’ again — a far cry from the easy (dishonest) overconfidence of Blaugust, Day 1.

The sun rising over a field, car window in the foreground

Photo by Benjamin Shanks on Unsplash

 

 

The Starting Block

So, here I am, looking for a fresh beginning, somewhat burdened by the days of missed posts. It’s easier to continue on by re-framing it all as a fresh start, just as it’s easier to start back into a game after a break by re-rolling. Eventually, I hope to find some consistency in writing, just as I’ve made my way back to various guild after disappearing.

It won’t be the same, since I won’t be able to trick myself into thinking I’ll be the best, most consistent blogger ever, just as I’ll never be the best, most dedicated guildie ever. But by shedding the self-deception, I hope I can move forward with happier, more realistic expectations for myself.

I’m (back to) participating in Blaughust: Reborn, a month-long celebration of blogging in August, 2018. Read more, or even participate by checking out Belghast’s announcement on Tales of the Aggronaut.

 

11 thoughts on “Signing Up Strong, and the Quiet Exit

  1. Blaugust is a bit of a double-edged sword, every time. It’s fantastic for getting people to start or return to blogging and it always turns up some top-notch new blogs but it also crushes the spirit of a few and sends others into a tailspin. Anyone who even signs up deserves an award in my book.

    I know just what you mean about the guild thing, too. There’s being a regular member and then there’s being recognized for being a regular member. That point where, when you log in, people just don’t say “Hi”, they say “Hi, what are you doing?” and you know they’re either going to ask you to help with something or they’re hoping you’re going to suggest something they can join in with. Or maybe that’s just me.

    Anyway, I was enjoying your posts before you stopped and I’m glad you’ve started again. Happy to read whatever you come up with, whenever you come up with it 🙂

    • abbi

      Thanks for the kind words! I think the low-pressure approach to Blaugust this time around can help participants feel better about missing days, even if they still have to struggle with managing their own expectations for their writing.

      And, yes, I think you expressed my idea about the parallel with guild membership better than I was able to do — that’s it precisely. I’m trying to get better about both these days 😀

  2. Personally, I don’t think any of these feelings are silly. 🙂

    I joined Blaugust in a kind of whim too, since my blog has been silent for months and this seemed like a good excuse to start posting again. But as the number of people that signed up started to grow I panicked thinking of all the people who would possibly read my content and what they would think of it.

    Thankfully I have good friends who helped me calm down a little. 🙂

    Seems like you are calming down and finding a way to deal with your own fears too. 🙂

    • abbi

      Good to hear there are others confronting similar thoughts, even among more experienced bloggers. It looks like you’ve met your goal of 5 posts in August already — congratulations on that! 😀 I’ve realized it is important to know what a reasonable goal is, and pace yourself — in gaming, blogging, and just generally. I’m glad to be learning where that point is through this month’s challenge.

        • Crap! I hit the “Post Comment” button by accident. Sorry about that. 😡

          Anyway, what I meant to say was: Thanks! I am getting a bit more ambitious now and might try to get to 15 posts. Dunno if that will be doable given my tendencies to ramble but I am going to try anyway! XD

          You also did more than 5 posts this month, yes? So I say you already beat one challenge for this Blaugust. 🙂

          • abbi

            Yes — I think we are both Blaugust successes! I’m looking forward to checking out your upcoming posts, too — good luck with the updated goal 😀

  3. This is blog is a great read, so I hope you manage to keep it!

    I have no expectations, so you needn’t worry about not meeting them. 🙂

    A lot of us have been around long enough to see people come and go, and then come back, and go again, and come back again….

    Most of us are cool with it, and just glad to see people when they do reappear.

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