Them's The Breaks

I haven't posted in a couple days. Things got busy and I've wondered about other kinds of writing I want to do. Posting daily takes work — though I don't want to oversell it since I can gin up a post in half an hour — and there are times it leaves me without the energy to write something longer. And then there are the streaks and the break.

Streaks sometimes work. They keep me going when I want to quit. A long streak gets me over my inertia.

But streaks can get in my way and become more important than the thing I'm really trying to do. That was how daily blogging had begun to feel. I was churning out mediocre posts that weren't making me happy and got in the way of other writing. I took a break so I might come back with a better idea of how to proceed.

I've kept my Morning Pages streak. People confuse the blog with those. There are posts that come from the morning's pages, but not often. Morning Pages are less about writing than about daily practice like meditation or prayer. I find balance through them. Without them the last five years of my job would have been unbearable. Morning Pages teach me who I am. That streak is easy to maintain. Every time I consider breaking it, I reconsider and keep going. The daily-ness feels necessary and good. It doesn't get in the way.

I'll try to keep publishing a newsletter each week. It's a great way to keep up with people, understand audience, and have fun.

Here are my guiding questions for streaks:

  • Is it making me happy?
  • Is it making me a better person?
  • Is it making me a better writer?
  • Would a break improve things?

It has been a good break. I'm back today, happy, better, and ready to see what happens next.

Those questions are a good guide to most anything. Go figure.

Blogs, Generally

I'm five hours away from home, groggy from a terrible cold and medicine I've taken to get me through. I have a cup of decaf for my throat which was so sore that swallowing woke me at four and wouldn't let me get back to sleep. I'm far from home, up early, and laid low by this cold, but have done my three Morning Pages and know the day will get better.

Yesterday, in Cait Flanders' newsletter, was this passage about blogs:

I've been craving stories. Journeys to follow. Even just the "boring" (NOT BORING) updates we used to share on blogs. Like what are you thinking about right now? What have you been curious enough to actually learn more about? And where are the BEGINNERS!? Where are the people who are raising their hands and saying "I have no idea what I'm doing, but here's what I'm attempting and my progress so far"? I miss those days. Blogging was actually fun, back then.

I get that. Almost all the blogs and newsletters I read are very focused and the writer is an expert (if not the expert) on that idea. This is how one builds a platform (ugh) and a following (ugh), through specific focus such as on living frugally, being much more Zen, or retiring early to name a few I have been reading. These are good for now, but I wonder if, like subscribing to Runners World, that focus wears thin. I could only subscribe to that rag for eight months before the same damn run your fastest 5K! article would make me puke.

My interests are general and so I enjoy Austin Kleon's and Alan Jacobs' writings which focus on the lives of their writers. Thoreau was focused on his living near Walden, but really it's a memoir of living. I like memoir. I like blogs that feel like listening to a friend. My friend is a photographer, but that's only a slice of what we discuss. Then there are Genesis, turntables, our shared history, the Thousand Islands, parents and wives, geology, writing, books, friends, and whatever else we think of.

Go back to the magazine comparison. I like The New Yorker and The New York Times, and I love The Sun because they talk about most everything. There are themes and a feel to each, but they range all over. That's what I like and so, this far anyway, that's what I write.

I have my own recurring themes: Morning Pages, reading, teaching, schools, running, and so on, but there isn't just one thing the blog is about.

I'm unlikely to build much of a following or platform that way, but then again, who's to say? I think of the blog like Morning Pages and I'm on the last few lines of page one of three, about to flip over to a clean, blank page two. It's early in the morning. I have only the slightest idea what I will say on pages two and no idea how the thing will end. It's a journey, an exploration, a way of learning. I'm a beginner. I'm by no means the expert, though I'm feeling more confident in my expertise about a few things and maybe they will become the focal points.

I should go. The coffee and medicine have eased some of the pain in my throat. I've done Morning Pages (about how to do Morning Pages away from home) and written this post. It's time to see what else the day has to offer and what I might want to think about next. This is just the beginning.