I recently found myself journalling. It’s something I did consistently for almost a decade.
I stopped keeping a regular journal because it no longer served the purpose in my life that it did when I first started. These days I journal maybe once or twice a month. Sometimes just to let out frustration or get some thoughts out about whatever is on my mind.
Sometimes I think that this site is like my journal because I’m writing about my life and my experiences. But the biggest differences with this blog and my journal are how much effort I put in and my end goal.
My journal isn’t something I put effort into (in the sense that it’s more of a brain dump and not written for an audience) and it has no end goal other than serving as a release.
This blog on the other hand is a real passion project and from around 6 months in I started making plans for the future.
I was recently asked about whether I write for myself or for readers.
It’s something I think about every now and then but it was interesting to be asked.
On one hand I write for myself because I love it but on the other hand I write for my readers too.
I’m thoughtful about what I share and my intention is to always add value in some way.
I don’t expect anyone to read every single post I write but for the posts you do read I’d like it to feel like time well spent.
Whether it’s 100 words on friendship, career development or overcoming fear, I do my best to add some kind of takeaway.
If I aksed someone for advice on how to make this site better, I have a pretty good idea of what they would say.
The first thing is that I should use pictures to accompany my posts as a way to draw in readers.
The second is that I should promote my content on social media to put my stuff out there to a wider audience, not just fellow WordPress users.
To some the way I have chosen to run this site might mean that I am doing it wrong but in the 18 months since I started, I’m really pleased with what I have created.
The goal for me is to never reach the most amount of people or have the biggest audience. Those things won’t make me a better a writer or make me more committed to posting everyday.
When it comes to using pictures, if I have to post an image to get someone to read just over 100 words (the length of most of my posts) then that’s not the kind of reader I want. When it comes to social media although I have an Instagram account for this site my main focus will always be the daily blog posts and right now the extra effort it would take to promote on Instagram isn’t worth it.
And so sometimes you have to realise that what might be right for others is wrong for you and what is wrong for others might be exactly what you need to be doing.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting on how what I write about has changed.
Firstly, I’ve found that a lot of my posts have been about the pandemic whether it is about working from home or the way our day to day lives have changed. Secondly, there is much less playfulness in the way I write because everything going on in the world is quite serious.
Overall I’ve been quite current, writing about things happening now. But at the same time I also want my posts to be evergreen so that they’ll still be useful to the person reading them 6 months from now.
However, the posts I’ve written about this pandemic are something I’ll probably be glad to look back on as a reflection on this current time. To know not necessarily how I was feeling but instead what I thought mattered at the time. That’s what I’ve been writing about.
Prior to mid-march 2020 my writing time consisted of my journey to and from work, my lunch break and in the evenings after dinner. I’d do my best to plan ahead and have my posts scheduled for 7.30am each morning.
But once lockdown started my day to day life changed significantly. I was no longer travelling to and from work each day, my work and home life were blended.
Over the past couple of months I’ve stopped planning ahead, almost never schedule posts in advance and I’m no longer posting in the morning. Instead I write and post on my blog in the evenings as my day is winding down. I’m still posting the same amount but I actually find that it’s a lot easier.
It’s much simpler and less time consuming which means I have more time for everything else that i enjoy.
As much as you might want to focus on other stuff, it will always be worth putting some time into branding. It’s important to think about how things look to an outside eye and understand if you’re able to deliver your intended message.
I’ve always wanted The Daily Gemm (TDG) to be a space with writing and simplicity at the forefront and that’s what I focused on when I started posting to the Instagram account a few months ago. However, I’ve realised that although the simplicity element works well on the blog, it doesn’t translate the same way on Instagram. I realised that I might need to do start doing things differently.
After giving it things more thought and thinking about the grand scheme and my future plans and aspirations, I came to the conclusion that I wanted the TDG Instagram account to represent my long-term plans as a brand, rather than just to represent this blog.
And so over the past week or so I’ve been coming up with ideas for how I could do things differently in a way that works for me.
One the first things that came to mind was more visual content and more colour. Currently the TDG feed is full of quotes from my blog posts in black and white. But it turns out the ‘just words, no pictures’ philosophy that I have for this site doesn’t fit for Instagram.
On one hand my grand plans for Instagram have come crashing down but on the other hand it taught me a lot. I’ve now gone back to the drawing board and spent time planning and creating things that I’m looking forward to sharing.
A big part of creativity is being vulnerable.
When the work you’re producing is not at the level you’re content with it may be because of one of 2 reasons.
The first is that you’re working in a medium that you’re so used to that you need to dig deeper in order to produce something with an element of vulnerability.
The second is that you’re working in a new, less familiar medium and you haven’t reached that level of comfort where you’re able to be vulnerable with what you create.
As someone who writes a daily blog, has journalled for over a decade, has had various lifestyle blogs over the past 8 years and also writes poetry, I’m quite familiar with expressing vulnerability through my words.
However, I’ve recently been working on taking and styling photos which is something new for me.
I’m still finding my way with taking photots which is why it often feels difficult. But instead of pushing myself to create something interesting, I find myself holding back.
It’s easier just to do something simple instead of putting myself into my work. That takes vulnerability.
There are levels to creativity.
I beleive that I’m able to convey vulnerability through my writing. But as I work with other mediums I find that I’m much less free-flowing. My work is rigid and sometimes uninteresting.
It’s not neccisarily bad but in the creative process I don’t feel like I’m experimenting or pushing the boundary
The reality of some ideas, projects and plans is that they are only great in theory.
When some things get brought to life they crumble and fall.
Sometimes it’s because we get carried away by the excitement of something new that we overlook or under estimate the time, effort, commitment, dedication and hard work that it takes to bring something to life.
Having a daily blog might sound great in theory but if you haven’t considered that you’ll need to find time to write, have something to say each day, plan ahead etc. The you might not be pleased with the outcome.
If something is great in theory it either means it doesn’t need to be brought to life or you need to take care when you do. It might not always be easy but it’s possible to produce something great.
Shortcuts might be enticing but you can’t escape doing the work.
Write more than a post a day
You’ll have days when its easier to write so take advantage. I’ve had days where I’ve written a weeks worth of posts which is a stark contrast to the days where writing a single post feels as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree.
Dedicate a set time in your day to write
If you make it part of your routine it’ll find it’s way into your subconscious and then you’re set. My writing time is the journey to and from work. It’s around 90 minutes daily and I find it easier to use that time than make time before or after work to write. Granted I can and often do write at other times in the day but never as consistent as I do on my journey to and from work.
Don’t aim for perfection
You have to put more importance on having something to publish instead of it being perfect. I often refer to this blog as a writing practice because that’s what it is a place for me to practice writing. It isn’t a place for me to be perfect. I understand that perfection is a falsehood. Focusing on trying to make every piece perfect is a waste of time when you can just write something better tomorrow.
That’s all you need to successfully daily blog. There’s no trick to it. Sure, it might he hard to come up with ideas sometimes but the more you do it the easier it gets.