Rethinking My Blog Themes

I’m playing around with themes for the blog. I have been unhappy with the old layout for some time, but haven’t had any inspiration about what I wanted instead.

I expect things will change around here several times before I settle on something new.

The purple picture is a photograph of water I manipulated using techniques Samira Emelie taught me. Samira is one of the stars of my Mixel community. She makes rich, textured images by layering transparencies. Often, each transparency is a different series of manipulations of a single image. Layering the transparencies creates a sense of depth.

This theme is Mystique. I like a lot of the default elements, but not all of them. I’m still thinking. For now, here is this change.

Reflections on Daily Blogging

Well, I did it. Every day in March, something new appeared on this blog. It has been a fascinating experiment and I thank everybody who came along for the ride or found me in the middle of it. And, this is the end. Time now to reflect on the past month and make some decisions about how I want to proceed from here.

What have I learned?

  • My Muse is a busy woman.  Writing every day has made me pay closer attention to my sources of inspiration. And she has made me a font overflowing with ideas.
  • Writing for an audience every day is invigorating for me.
  • Breaking thematically related ideas into a series is better than trying to link them all into one complex post.
  • I get a thrill seeing my blog traffic numbers go up – and they have gone up hugely.
  • I get deep personal satisfaction from conversation with commenters.
  • It is not in my nature to write short, simple posts.
  • People read my work. And are moved by it. And seek it out.
  • Writing for this blog every day forces me to spend too much time blogging and not enough of my writing time on my fiction.
  • I have seen some patterns of topics and headline styles that seem to correlate with higher traffic.
  • Combining daily writing for myself and blogging every day has led me to writing about deeper and more personal issues.

What Now?

  • No more blogging on the weekends. My weekend writing time all goes back to my novel.
  • I do plan to write A-Z improvisational poems about InterPlay for A More Playful Life. However, I am hereby giving myself permission to spread the posting of such poems over 2-3 months. I will be done before the kids are out of school for the summer.
  • In April, I plan to post to this blog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We will see how that goes.

I want to thank the folks who put together NaBloPoMo for the inspiration.

For now, I am off to enjoy the rest of my weekend without blogging.

Cheers,

Kate

Mid-Month Reflections on Daily Blogging

Having been engaged in the NaBloPoMo daily blogging challenge for a week and a half, I have noticed a few things. Noticing facts and patterns about our own lives and life experiences and claiming them is a central practice in InterPlay, my grounding system of deep play.

The InterPlay wisdom that I bring to bear on my reflections includes:

  • Notice, Notice, Notice: This is simply a direction to be aware of what is happening in and around your mind and body.
  • Inner Authority: Only you know the truth of your own experience. You are the only one in your body and only you are aware of how that body shapes your perspective. Claim the authority of your inner awareness.

Here are some things that I have noticed:

  1. I like the ritual of daily posting. It is easier to keep the momentum of generating post ideas and writing reasonably fast when I do it daily than it was posting weekly.
  2. I don’t have time to write a post a day and put pictures in all of them. I miss the pictures.
  3. I am stunned watching the statistics of traffic to my blog. Only one previous day in 2012 saw more traffic than my slowest day last week. I do not understand the source for the increased traffic. The numbers do not merely reflect the same group of people reading more frequently. More people have reached my website. This is thrilling, but the not understanding makes me anxious as well.
  4. Headlines matter. Simple headlines that describe the challenge I am contemplating get more traffic. This saddens me; I love poetic titles, and the evidence is that the web does not.
  5. I have fallen into a theme: blogging about blogging. I feel conflicted about this. I like the way the posts relate to each other, and the way that my thinking is developing, but I fear that interrelated posts will put off people who visit my homepage for the first time, making them feel like they are diving into a conversation already underway.
  6. I cannot continue waking early in the morning to write without getting to bed earlier.
  7. Not only do I love writing early in the morning, but I love waking up knowing what I will be working on.
  8. Responding thoughtfully to comments takes time.
  9. I am tired. The daily blogging commitment is a contributing factor.
  10. I am not finding time in the day both to blog and to work on my novel.

Overall, I find myself feeling good about the process and the product, but concerned about the time commitment. I need to make progress on my novel. I have several deadlines that I am not progressing towards fast enough. I am going to notice what comes up for me as I finish out the month. I am curious to see whether my experience changes as the month continues.

I expect that this experience will push me to make some changes to my blogging practices in April, but I don’t know what those changes will be yet beyond being confident that I will not be blogging a full 7 days a week.

These are my reflections from my experience. I am curious to know what your experience is as a reader of my blog. I have so many questions.

  • Have you been reading all of the daily posts?
  • Is one post a day overwhelming?
  • What changes have you noticed in what I am writing about?
  • Is the quality of my writing changing?
  • Do you miss the photographs?
  • Is it annoying that I am ending more of my posts by asking direct questions of you?

I would love to read any thoughts you have.

Blogging for Self-Discovery

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”
― Gustave Flaubert

After I finished writing yesterday’s post, inspired by the question of whether I wanted more commentors or more readers, this Gustave Flaubert quote crossed my path. Not for the first time, I realized that I blog to discover what I believe.

I used to think people who wrote journals must use them in some way to clarify for themselves what they believe. And maybe they do. I have never found that I know what to do with a private journal other than dump all my mental tape loops onto paper in the hope of finding a way out of circular thinking.

But blogging is different.

Why?

Because blogging is public.

The process of transforming an initial impulse to write about a topic into a blog post requires me to clarify my thoughts. My internal prompt is often a gut feeling or an emotional response to something. Emotions are not skilled with words. To translate a physical emotional response into a form an audience can read, I need to use words. Recruiting my internal editor as a collaborator, I can craft writing that came from my heart but is sensible to my mind. As I edit, I clarify the ideas for myself and my readers at the same time. Blogging about my questions allows me to bring theory and experience together, letting my heart and mind work together to show me what they have taught me.

Once I have published a post, comments often lead me to further reflection. Comments can point out flaws in my argument, exceptions I hadn’t considered, alternate approaches, or related ideas. I have been known to change my mind or refine my understanding in response to insightful comments.

I learn the most from the comments that make me defensive. Because the web is a permanent public forum, responding from the depths of negative emotion can be dangerous, leading to regrettable words on the page that can’t be disowned. Taking the time to formulate a response that gets past the initial emotion forces me to confront the source of the emotion, leading to greater self-awareness.

In order for blogging to be a deep tool for self-discovery, I write about the things that confuse me, the places I am growing, the things that matter to me. This blog has become focused on perennial interests of mine: art, creativity, play, and meaning-making. Of all the art and creative play I engage in, my writing is the media in which I feel I have the furthest to grow, so writing is the primary art I blog about. If I ever reach a point where I am satisfied with my writing, I am sure there will be a new creative endeavour that I struggle with, and I will probably write about that. But for now, writing is the sweet spot, the growing edge, the place of potential.

Do you write to find out what you believe? If so, do you find it more effective to write for your eyes only or publicly?

Everything Moves

Boxes as far as the eye can see.

It’s moving day, the perfect day to reflect on all the things in my writing life that are in motion now.

  • I am now a contributing writer for An Intense Life. The blog’s vision is to discuss giftedness from many angles and aspects.
  • I won Charlotte Rains Dixon’s Valentine’s Day drawing for a journal (that I can always use) and a critique of 25 pages of manuscript. This is a much-needed kick in the pants as I have dragged on my revisions during the move. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
  • Thanks to nudging from Sharon Overend, I have joined a novel-writing class, as much to force me to build a better writing schedule as to help me take my work in progress to the next level.
  • My husband and I have agreed on a change to our routine that will allow me an additional 5-7 hours of writing a week. Yay!
  • On the back burner, but still simmering, are plans to use the Blogging from A-Z challenge in April to launch my website of resources for recovering serious people.

It is all go, and all in the right direction. I am looking forward to being mostly unpacked and settling in to my new routines.

One cat has already settled in. Actually, he has been in the garden for a week. The live cats are hiding in the new basement wondering what happened and where they are.