I’m an Auntie Again!

Hello Dear Readers! I wanted to stop in really quick and let you know that this blog and my newsletter will be on a little break this week. My baby brother has gone and grown up and become a father to a beautiful baby girl.

Between being present for a very long labor and trying to spend some time with the newborn, I haven’t, and won’t, have time for writing. So, I will have to put things on hold. No worries, though, I promise to be back to regularly scheduled programming first thing Monday morning.

I do hope you all have a good week and until next time :)

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What to Do About Those Old Embarrassing Posts?

I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming. I assure you I feel very stupid about this. You see, I have become a slightly better blogger than I used to be and I have realized that my earlier posts are filled with spelling, grammar, and glaring newbie mistakes. I cringe whenever I read them now and I am trying to figure out what to do about them.

I should’ve planned for this but no one warned me. No one told me what to do with those crappy first efforts. No one gave me advice on where to put them. Now they are piling up, rotting, and stinking up the back rooms of my beautiful blog.

I guess it’s good other bloggers failed to mention this little detail. If they had told me that one day I’d get better and one day I’d feel the need to erase the old ugliness from the public eye I might never have started. I would have seen no point in writing those posts if I knew I would only grow to hate them.

I am afraid that I have wasted some good ideas, some really good topics, because I wrote them before I knew how. I had no idea what I was doing and now I have to figure out what to do. The way I see it there are three options.

1. I could delete them completely and rewrite them as future posts.

This seems the be the most obvious solution but it doesn’t feel genuine. It feels like I am pretending that I was a good writer all along. I think having those crappy posts here means everyone can see that I tried and I improved. They feel real. I know I have gone to other blogs where it seems like the blogger came out of the gate a good writer from the beginning. I wondered how this was possible and I doubted myself because I wasn’t as good at first.

I figure they must have purged the earlier work but I figure if I leave mine other people who are starting out won’t feel as inadequate as I did.

I also think keeping them around is good for me. It will remind me that progress is possible, even if it seems slow. I’ll appreciate them on the days when I feel frustrated. I’ll be reminded that I have come so far.

2. I could edit the old post and leave it where it is.

This option feels a lot like the last one except I won’t be pretending that the post is new. The problem with this is it still erases my poor beginnings, and anyway, the edits might never be seen. The old post would still be buried below months and months of newer work and I doubt many people go back very far through my posts.

This option also leaves me with no evidence of my own improvements. Every once in awhile I do like to look back, even if it is embarrassing, and see where I have come from. The old posts would read like the new ones. I imagine I would also feel like a liar. I’d feel like a fraud.

3. I could rewrite the post, but leave the old one where it is.

So the old posts would still be there to haunt me but I would at least be able to say I gave it another go. I think this would be the best show of my improvements. I could leave a note at the bottom of each to let readers know that they are not crazy, I did write this before, but I wanted to make it better. This would be the best continuation and would leave my timeline of writing progress intact, and it would be honest.

I think this is the route I will go so be warned that there will be repeat posts. I’ll start with the oldest posts firsts so that the time between the new and old will be father apart. I hope readers will appreciate that I won’t repeat the same writing so close together. I’d appreciate if could get feedback on the improvements. Let me know what was better, or if anything was worse.

Over time even these newer posts will become the old stinking efforts and I may rewrite them too. I may always be in a cycle of trying new things, then trying old things again. This is the way it goes though. We must always be improving and we must always remind ourselves of where we came from.

This keeps us humble.

This keeps us motivated.

Lessons I’ve Learned After One Year of Blogging

I have been blogging for a little over a year now and I thought it was about time to do some reflecting and take in some of the lessons I have learned the hard way.

Blogging is Fun, Until it Isn’t

I am always trying to get better at this blogging thing but I wish I could just be good at it now! I read other blogs where the posts all follow a central theme and everyone learns something and I wish my posts were like that. I wish I could inspire and engage with my readers better. I wish I had more readers and I wish I got more views and comments. I know these things take time and practice but that’s so hard! Sometimes it feels like work.

I have found that instead of comparing myself to others I should focus on finding my own way. When I was trying to emulate the bigger bloggers I feel like I forgot why I was here. I forgot what it was I wanted to say here. So now I write what I want when I want and I am grateful for every person who reads and comments. I may not have 10,000 visits a day but the few I have mean the world. They actually care.

You Must Write Everyday

Even if you don’t end up posting what you write you should at least try to put a post together everyday. Blogging is a habit, and so is not blogging. When it gets tough and you slack off you will get lazy and not want to write even when you do have the time. You will make excuses to make yourself feel better about it but after awhile you will just feel like you are failing. Don’t let that happen.

Life gets in the way though doesn’t it? There are times when you just can’t write a full post but you can take a few minutes to jot down an idea here and there, or at least start a post for when you can return. If you do nothing you will lose your ability to think creatively. When life calms down and you try to write again you will find that in your absence someone has erected a brick wall between you and you writing mojo.

Then you catch the dreaded writer’s block!

I learned that mobile apps are great for jotting quick ideas and writing a bit when the planets align and you get a free moment. They say you should write something like 750 words a day but they don’t say you have to do it all at once. I write whenever I can. I write on my lunch break, I write while I’m in line at Starbucks, I write while I’m supposed to be working on spreadsheets at my day job, hell, I write on the toilet. I write whenever I can and whenever an idea strikes.

Keep a Notebook on You At All Times!

I had heard this tip from other writers and bloggers but I didn’t understand why I should write in a notebook by hand when I have a perfectly good (and quite expensive) cellphone I can type on? That is until I read a few articles about the benefits of going old school. This one from Mental Floss mentions that writing by hand helps with learning, prevents distraction, keeps your brain sharp, and makes you a better writer!

I bought a three pack of pocket notebooks from Target a while back and I use them for when I’m not ready to start writing full sentences or paragraphs. When I might have overheard a conversation that inspired me or read an article that makes me question something and I need to capture it before my squish brain forgets it. I jot down the thought and when I get some time put more than a few words together I peek at my notebook and start writing a post.

I also found an old Moleskine notebook laying around the house and I plan to start old school journaling in the evenings. I want to be able to fill up a ton of notebooks with my day to day feelings I can look back on years into the future. Might even be able to pull a few blogging ideas from them too :)

Appreciate Your Readers

When someone takes the time out to actually read something you wrote and comment you should always think of that as an opportunity to engage in discussion and convert a reader to a fan. People are more likely to follow you and return to your blog time and time again if the feel welcome and important. That’s what I have heard anyway.

In practice I am very bad at this one. I often don’t reply to comments until days later when it is too late to have the conversation anymore. I am working on using the WordPress app more and it’s a convenient way to reply while on the go. I plan to get better at this and I apologize for not making the time before :(

Check and Double Check Everything Before You Hit Publish

You have typed up a post, you feel good about it and you are in a hurry so you hit the button, then you realize you forgot to check your spelling, you didn’t add tags, and you didn’t customize the sharing options. Now your post is out there on the internet and it looks like crap. You try to do some damage control. You delete it from you social networks, you edit it, you spell check it, and you update it, but still you worry, did someone see it?

I now have a check list I have to go through before I can hit publish. First I have to read it back to myself. I make sure it sounds right and I didn’t make any mistakes that spell check won’t catch. Then I use WordPress’ built in Proof reading tool. It catches a few examples of poor writing I may not have noticed. Next I check my tags and categories. I make sure to keep them simple, three or four tags and one or two categories, that’s it.

I recommend writing the step down so you don’t skip any steps.

And finally, Read as Much as You Can!

Reading is the key to good writing. You have to read people who are better than you in order to learn how to be better. You have to see what other people do in order to know what you can do. Reading is also a great way to gather a ton of inspiration for your own posts.

Every morning I read other blog and news articles. I use Feedly to gather it all into one place and I subscribe to many different types of blogs. I have categories for News, Lifestyle, Education, Productivity, Writing, Art, and more. I like to try mixing and matching things that work for different types of blogs and see what will work for me. I am also going to try writing post about my thoughts on things other people write about, or write response pieces.

I am beginning to read real books again too! I read fiction novels, I read science stuff, I read essay collections, I even read books about writing. I have started getting more comfortable with taking notes and highlighting in the books so my brain will take in the ideas and inspiration better. This is how you get better, by really paying attention to what others are doing and applying it to what you do.

None of this is new. These are tips that other blogs all over the internet have written about many times over but I have learned them from experience and we all know, experience is the best teacher. I have a lot more to learn, hell, I’m still learning these lessons too but I am learning. I hope you can learn a bit from my experience too.

Image via https://flic.kr/p/apaNvh

100 Followers! Thank You!

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Today I hit my first goal of 100 followers! I know it isn’t much but it’s more than I thought I would get so I am proud, and happy, and also very grateful. I appreciate everyone of you coming to my blog and taking the time to read and comment. I haven’t been able to return the favor for each of you but I will take the time this week to check out all of your blogs as well.

Reaching 100 followers has also made me think more about what I plan to do with this blog. I went ahead and purchased the domain zenandpi.com and I plan to do my best to post everyday. I still don’t have much of a focus except to learn to write better. I want to write about everything and as time goes on I might find I like to write about some things more than others and the focus will narrow. Everything I have read has told me to choose a niche but I can’t choose one when I don’t know much about writing at all. So I guess I will be pretty random for awhile, I hope that’s ok.

Thank you all again for choosing to follow me, I hope I don’t disappoint. As always I welcome your comments and critiques. I love hearing from you all, even if it’s just to say hi.

Just a Quick Note…

I have just discovered Bloglovin and I am hooked! I like that I can follow blogs from different platforms and there are so many on there! I don’t really need yet another app to follow more people but I really like this one so I’m going to give it a shot. So if you want you can follow me over there and if your blog is also on Bloglovin leave a link in the comments and I’ll check it out.