To be, or not to be, a writer. That is the question. I’m a member of a local bloggers group. During one meeting, we had a mutual friend present his blogging exercise to the assembled bloggers and wannabe bloggers where you generate titles and subjects for 64 blog posts. If you blog daily, you’ve got a title for a little more than a year’s worth of blog posts. The exercise itself takes about 45 minutes and it’s timed. No dilly dallying. Get to work.
I completed the exercise during that meeting. Great! I had 64 titles. I don’t remember where I put them. So, a few months later I did the exercise again at home. Awesome! I have 64 titles. I don’t remember where I put those either. Are you sensing a pattern here?
We all start out with the best of intentions and somehow, we get sidetracked. Is it self-sabotage, procrastination, laziness? Is it life interrupting? Or are we afraid of failure? If you don’t start something you can’t fail at it, right? Friends and family cheering you on?
Not all of us have a great support system; a deep bench. Sure, we have friends, but those friends may not always tell you the truth. Instead they’ll say encouraging things because, after all, they’re your friends and they don’t want to hurt your feelings; they want to be supportive. Are they helping you though?
Think back to your dating years. It would have been so nice, and dare I say it, refreshing, if the person who was dumping you, and most of us have been dumped at least once in our lives, told you the truth. Instead they didn’t call. They figured you’d get the message. Eventually. We could have all moved on much quicker had they called and said, “sorry, but I’m not that into you”.
Why do people blog? Who was the first legitimate blogger? Who coined the term blog? You can probably find the answers to these questions, and more I dare say, in Wikipedia. I believe some people blog to educate others. Some people blog because they have a passion that they want to share. I know some bloggers who’ve been writing since they were kids. Dear Diary. They have to write just like they have to breath. It’s like a religion.
I started a few diaries during my childhood and then a few journals as an adult. Emphasis on the word – started. It never became a daily activity for me. I put my thoughts down on paper, usually in times of crisis (minor) or stress (major). Once the clouds passed, the dust collected on the rest of those unused blank pages. I have a journal entry from my 20s that I wrote after I read the obituary of one my high school’s security guards that I had really liked. I felt the need to write.
I know people who have volumes of journals, all full. They’ve devised their own version of the Dewey Decimal system to keep track of all of them. It can be not only fun, but horrifying to read what your younger self had to say all those many years ago.
I have letters though. Letters that I wrote to my parents from college. My mother saved them all and gave them back to me years later. I didn’t know whether to thank her or curse her. I thanked her. I haven’t read any of them in years. In fact, I haven’t thought of reading them in years until just now, as I write this. I have letters from my two high school boyfriends who (don’t tell them) I was in a serious relationship with AT THE SAME TIME. Please don’t judge me. I was young.
I also have the love letters that my dad sent my mom from the European theater during World War II, and I’m not talking about a West End theater. I’m putting them into book form. If for no one else than myself. It’s amazing to read what your dad wrote when he was just 32 years old. You never think of your parents at the age, because you never knew them then (e.g., before you were born). I started this project about 5 years ago typing in one letter at a time. Needless to say, it’s still a work in progress. That effort lasted a few weeks. I’m not the fastest typist and my dad didn’t have the most legible handwriting. Fast forward to last year when I obtained voice recording software. You talk, it types.
I started the project again. That went on for a few months. I still have tons of letters to input. My dad was a prolific writer, as many lonely GIs were/are during any war. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to bring back my mom’s letters but I got a lot of stories from him about that when I was growing up. He’s been gone a long time now but I still have many of those wonderful memories, of what I call family lore.
Why is that project on hold? Is it self-sabotage, procrastination, laziness? Is it life interrupting? Am I afraid of failure? None of the above. Other projects have been put on the front burner and the book, on one of the back burners.
Projects in our lives always seem to get shuffled around. Like the smoke alarm in my hallway that needs to be replaced. I have the device. I’ve had it for months. But I need to shut off the power in the hall to install it. I was going to do it when the weather was cooler, when I didn’t need air conditioning. Oops. Now it’s summer. Gonna have to wait a few more months until it cools down again. Don’t worry. I have about 8 other smoke alarms in the house, and in good working order I might add with recently changed batteries.
But here’s the thing. The front burner projects are not getting the attention that they need and deserve. They’re losing focus. It’s not their fault, it’s mine. It’s actually not my fault either. I’m just not motivated. I’m in, what they call in baseball terms, a slump. Skip ahead if you don’t want to read the following baseball metaphors.
I take batting practice. I show up on time for the game. I shag groundballs between innings to keep my arm warm. But I can’t get a hit. I’m not talking about a business hit, or financial hit, or entrepreneurial hit. I’m talking about a life hit. A psychic hit or is it psyche? Something that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.
It can be harder for those of us who have little to no family left. Whose friends are busy with their own lives and families and are supportive albeit not necessarily as truthful as you would like them to be. Or the ones that are happy to vent to you about all the crap going on in their lives but don’t ask you about the crap going on in your life. Or if they do, they’re not really listening. That’s why many people go to therapists – at least they’re paid to listen. But is it really the same as having a close-knit support system? How did society get here? You know, the society that looks at their phone all the time but hates to talk on it? To another person? Maybe a friend?
That’s one of the reasons why I write. To be able to say the things I would like someone to listen to. It’s my way of “paying the therapist”. I also tell this stuff to my dogs because they love me unconditionally. At least as long as they get fed and get to sleep on the bed. I even have a sleep shirt that says “she who sleeps with dogs”.
At the end of every blog post, or podcast, or webinar, or sales pitch, etc. you’re supposed to have a “call to action”. Here’s the call to action I’m giving you. It’s a gift. Really it is. Maybe not for you but for someone you care about, or love. Put you phone down, and stop and ask them what’s going on in their life. And then actually listen. You don’t necessarily have to respond or say anything. Just listen. And let them know that because they’re important to you and your life, you’re listening. And hearing. Don’t offer your own experiences with things that are similar in your life. Just listen. There will be rewards for you in that activity also.