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.
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 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.