It’s been three months since my last post. More than three months, if I’m being honest. I had to stop. It wasn’t a conscious decision at first. When I realized three weeks had gone by and I hadn’t posted, my first reaction was embarrassment. Here I had started a shiny new blog in which I was going expound upon my various projects and pets and readings and writings and I had just… stopped. My next reaction was the sort of self-flagellation that inevitably results in intense writer’s block.
Why aren’t you writing, Melissa? You have at least five ideas for new posts all wandering around aimlessly in your head! Just pick one. One! That’s all you need for now. Write up a short little post so people know that you haven’t given up on the idea entirely and then you’re done! Why can’t you do it?
It reminds me a bit of the many times I tried journaling. I was a horrible journaler. Journalist? Journaling individual person? I would do it every day or two for a few weeks with the most careful and gorgeous penmanship I had at my disposal with all the insights and thoughts and ideas I was sure I wouldn’t be ashamed of when they were eventually published years after my death as a famous author.
Yes. That was my motivation. You can imagine how awful and impersonal the journal was, too. So, after a couple of weeks, I started writing every few days, then maybe once a week. The entries started getting snarkier as I made fun of my own inability to keep up with it. Finally, I just stopped.
I had to remind myself one day that the journaling was for me. Not for anyone else. Not even if they were discovered someday after I was dead and famous. They were still for me. And I had to find a way that worked for me. So I started doing yearly journal entries. Mind you, I couldn’t even manage that for a couple of years, but I did an entry every single year of undergrad and all three years of grad school. Every year, I would read back through all my entries and marvel at how much had changed, what predictions had or had not come true, how many of my hopes and fears and insecurities had unfolded into experiences. That was the only way I have ever kept a journal that mattered to me.
And so I have been thinking about this blog for the last couple of weeks. I writing in it stresses me out, I don’t want to do it. If I’m doing it for other people and not also for myself, I don’t want to do it. If it doesn’t excite me, interest me, make my fingers fly madly across the keyboard faster than I can think, I don’t want to do it.
So how do I want to do it?
What can I do in a life so frazzled, frenetic, insanely busy I can hardly stop to breathe, let alone write?
Okay, my brain said in response to my frantic demand, what can we do? We can do fives. Lists of five things. Five is half of ten. Five is hardly more than a couple. Five, you can do.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to do posts that talk about things in fives. We’ll see how it goes. But the point is, this is for me first. It’s for everyone else second. And that’s how it needs to be for me to write at all. I’m selfish that way.
And so, to start off strong, I’m going to do that right now.
5 Reasons I Stopped Blogging:
I stopped blogging in June. It seems like the summer should have been when I could blog the most. I wasn’t teaching. I was only working online. My days were blank expanses before me. So what happened? I’ve discovered that blank, unstructured days are my enemy. If I don’t make a schedule for myself, the day is lost. And sometimes, even if I do, the lack of accountability to anyone else means that I just ignore the schedule and “save it for tomorrow” and the day gets swallowed into a black hole of knitting and Netflix and I don’t even know what else. Summer have always been hard for me because not being busy seems to turn me into a strange slothy potato-y couch being.
I don’t know if this is perfectly normal behavior or not, but I often paralyze myself with frustration at my own inabilities. Just as I did with my attempts at journaling, until I found a solution that worked for me, I can be harsh to the point of cruelty towards myself if I don’t think I’m measuring up to the standards I should meet in any given area (You should see me when I’m making macarons. It’s scary). My college students had to take a personality test last week and I always like to review my own personality (ISFJ) for the discussion. It is apparently a common trait in ISFJ’s to be extremely hard on themselves and it’s not a particularly helpful trait when it results in me being trapped in a cycle of indolence inspired by self-loathing inspired by indolence.
When it comes to migraines, I know I am doing so much better now than I have been, but even through this summer, I often did not get through a day without head pain of some sort, and my instinct to protect my head by doing as little as I can, in order to save it for when I need to do what I must do, sometimes results in my not doing anything at all. I got through college and grad school (twice over) by being extremely disciplined with my time and limiting extracurriculars in favor of necessary work, but since “blog” is stuck in the “extracurriculars” file in my brains, it tends to get put aside on a bad day.
4. New Obligations
I added a third teaching job to my schedule this year. It seemed like a great idea at the time. It still is a great idea because I love doing it. It has added variety to my week and it has forced me to confront my deep-seated dislike of Algebra and learn to appreciate it so that I can effectively teach it. After my one and only math class in college, I was so sure I would never need it again. God is laughing and laughing and laughing…
I also have started trying to promote my cake business for real. “Business” has been in heavy quotation marks for the last year and a half because I’ve barely even tried. A marketing/business person, I am not. I just like to bake. But now I’ve done some serious promotional work and people are interested, and dates are being set for weddings next year, and it might turn into something much more real. What this means is I have three jobs and a business I’m trying to get off the ground. It’s easy to toss things like learning a new language, editing a book, or writing a blog to the side “for now.” But how long does “for now” last?
5. Technology Hates Me
I actually started working on this post two weeks ago. I kid you not. My blog just didn’t want me to post it. Maybe it had abandonment issues, although I will swear that part of the reason I haven’t been posting is because every time I come back to it, something is internally broken and I can’t figure out what. My instinctive reaction to any technological fiasco (and there have been many) is usually to run and hide. Now that I have a husband who is actually technologically savvy (and will, for love of his wife, deign to even use a Mac to help me solve my problems), I should be getting things fixed sooner.
I just didn’t ask him for help. I ran. I hid. Technology scares me.
Yes, I should have thought about this before I started a blog.
This is a list of reasons why I’ve stopped. But here I am writing a post and I think I have figured out (or my husband and I have figured out) how to post it. So I haven’t stopped. I’ve started. Why? Because I miss it. Because ideas for posts flit through my head on an almost daily basis only to be lost before I have a chance to write them down. Because I’m not a student anymore and I need reasons to keep writing. Because no matter how many jobs or businesses or obligations I take on myself, I still need to pursue the little things that I enjoy for myself.
The yearly journal was a successful compromise. Maybe my lists of fives will be another. I guess we’ll see what happens next.