What I’ve learned in six months of blogging for myself

When I hit publish for the first time on April 18, I didn’t know if this blog was just a phase or if the concept was original or interesting enough to sustain. I didn’t even tell my mom about it until I was several posts in.

Six months of writing my own stuff is a low key milestone for me, and it’s fun to reflect on how my ideas for this blog have evolved so far. A couple things I’ve learned:

I should’ve started this years ago

I like writing, but not for myself. I need a prompt or assignment to give me a reason to write or a problem to solve. For all its purported merits, I can’t/won’t journal because I’m terrified of my innermost thoughts being used against me in court. But I’m constantly stewing, and I need a creative outlet to process the things that fascinate me but aren’t always interesting to people in my life. Writers are neurotic types, and I just need to make something.

Not long after launching I came across this personal essay in Bon Appetit, where writer Amanda Shapiro shared how learning to cope with insomnia helped her overcome the paralyzing fear to create. I couldn’t relate more:

I’d become a linear person, someone who looked toward the next task and the next, and I thought that’s what adulthood was until insomnia came along and carved out a separate place.

For me it was nights spent alone while Stephen was working, trying to cram in several hours worth of shows that he would never watch with me. Disappearing into stories of human drama with terrible gravity and weight distracted me from my worst nagging fear about my own adult life: Is this all there is?

Even when I felt guilty about my hours spent on the couch, the carelessness was the point. A tiny fuck it that I can muster even when I feel powerless and trapped on the 9-to-5 treadmill that we all seem content to call life.

Binging murder shows felt like rebellion until it felt necessary, normal. Eventually I allowed myself to start taking notes and forming ideas, pausing shows to jot down thoughts and then looking up to realize I’d been pecking at my phone for two hours. Like Shapiro, I found that, “Something interesting happens when you’re making art with the same carelessness as watching television: It becomes less fraught, less terrifying. Sometimes it feels great, and other times it’s boring, but quality stops being the point.”

I needed to hear this from another writer because the reason I felt so compelled to start this blog was to make myself write something, anything at all. My fear of writing something that might suck finally succumbed to my stronger fear that I would never write anything at all.

There are no rules

It’s so freeing to create my own systems, rituals and concepts within my blog, but I’m not married to them. Over the past months I put all kinds of weird expectations on myself to write posts in certain ways: longer vs. shorter, one-offs vs. series, roundups vs. specific takes on one topic, as if someone will grade me. I’ve spent so many years writing for others’ approval that I forget I’m in charge of my own voice.

Besides, this whole endeavor supposed to be fun. If I feel bored or stuck, I’m always free to change things up.

Self-accountability

When I’m obligated to others by a deadline, a promise or any other commitment, I follow through. When I tell myself I’ll do something…not so much. I’m continually giving myself deadline extensions and full pardons for not doing what I told myself I would. I crave guidelines in most areas of life, but I don’t like rules and restrictions placed on fun. It took me awhile to find a rhythm of writing and posting once a week-ish. This month was the first time I wrote down some semblance of an editorial calendar, something I do constantly for clients and encourage for other marketers, but it felt too serious to do for my own blog. But after looking through my heaps of unfinished drafts and reflecting on their lost timeliness, I felt ready to advance my own operation in this small way.

“Free” is hella limiting

Since I get to fiddle with clients’ WordPress sites all the time, I take for granted how many themes, features, plugins and widget-stuff they have access to because they’re paying for a business plan. It’s not a steep price for a business, but it’s a little much for me. I struggled to justify upgrading from a free account to a personal plan to get a custom domain name, which meant spending $50 on a hobby.

Really, I balked because I was investing in myself as a writer, and the next step would be asking others to do the same.

Turns out the personal plan is still pretty limiting. Without investing $300 for a business plan, I can’t do much more with the website than what I have now. I’d like to make the leap soon, but it’s one of those self-accountability issues.

If you’re reading this, thank you!

I’ve been really shy about sharing my blog, especially with people who know me. But I’ve taken the plunge and gotten more comfortable dropping links in murderino groups, and I’m so thankful for those who actually clicked through. Even if you got here by accident, thanks for checking me out!

In the next six months, I hope to connect with more and more likeminded murderinos and crime fiction fans. If you have a recommendation or just thoughts you want to share, I’d love to hear from you.

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