lamiki

on life, ambitions, and dreams

Flower

What I Learned: When Creativity Flows, Don’t Turn Off the Faucet

      It’s November 30th and I soon as I hit “publish” I will have posted at least one blog post each day for the month of November as part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). Holly [expletive], Batman! If you been here with me all the way, I thank you. If you’re just tuning in, you can read all of the posts starting here.

      So now that I’ve kicked out 30+ posts, what have I learned from all of this?

      How to be committed to my writing & my blog

      Even after creating a content calendar to keep myself on track, writing 7-days a week is hard. Pretty much every day night I sat down, cranked out the post, and published it all in one sitting. This is not a sustainable process. As with any kind of content production and publishing model, heed the advice—plan ahead and have a couple of posts written well in advance of publication (for example, this post was started on Sunday, even though I’m editing the post and it’s quickly approaching 11:59pm Pacific time on November 30th).

      Stick to the damn editorial calendar. There’s a reason why you spent time planning and outlining posts in the beginning, don’t make that a wasted effort. Unless you’re extremely lucky, the muse will not strike every day for 30-days straight without a break; she or he is a person too and creativity has a limit.

      Life happens and sometimes you need to be offline, not attached to the computer. There were evenings when I was not in the mood to write or had other things going on, but when it doubt, I threw something up and actually surprised myself by the feedback and results.

      Keep writing, you will surprise yourself with what you create and who’s reading it.

      Throughout the month I received some great comments on my blog, in private and public messages on Twitter and Facebook, and even offline in person about what I’ve been writing about. And there were a few times when I stepped back and had a moment when I realized that people are actually reading my blog.

      When the flow is going, don’t turn off the faucet

      For me, the prime time of day to write is around 9 or 10pm after my day has wound down. That’s not the problem, the midnight deadline was and the fact that I was sitting down to write epic blog posts on topics that I have a lot to say about and therefore take more than two-to-three hours to write, edit, format, find a photo, and publish.

      So I reviewed my NaBloPoMo goal and reassessed my blog posting strategy: when in doubt, keep it short and sweet; the epic blog posts can come in December.

      Luckily, I traveled to New Jersey mid-way through the month and my NaBloPoMo buddy let me keep the Pacific timestamp on my posts. This has helped as after working during the day and spending time with family, I can curl up on the couch and pump out 250-500 words of absolute brilliance and hit publish (for the most part) before my deadline. Deadlines and writing buddies keep you accountable.

      What it means to be a writer

      More than discovering what time of day I blog the best at, I became a blogger. Now, when writing a blog, I know exactly when a post is done and I’ve crossed the magic line into writing a secondary post. This format, blogging, is to create words and communicate ideas in a consumable format. I’m not writing a novel here, so stay on topic, get it out, share it with the world.

      In between writing, I started thinking like a writer and everything I came in contact with turned into an inspiration for a post. I started thinking about who I was going to see, what conversations we could have, and anything else that could give me perspective on thoughts already rolling around inside of my head. That’s the beauty about being someone who creates content—everyone that you come in contact with and every experience you can be an inspiration, a muse, whether you realize it or not.

      Many people don’t know that I’ve been a closet writer since before I knew what a paragraph was. I have countless spiral bound notebooks lining shelves in my office that are filled with stories I wrote during recess instead of playing foursquare. Yes, I was that kid. By high school, the stories emerged from fiction into observations painted in poetry and prose, anything to get the thoughts out of my head. Most of these will never see an audience.

      Even though I’ve never publicly-identified a writer, it’s someone I’ve always been. I’ve called myself word girl, that’s not a secret. But a writer? Never. There’s a ton of stigma around calling oneself a writer, it’s a label and a title that you shouldn’t give yourself but should earn it by creating and allowing your results to show who you are.

      The stigma comes from myself, I know that. And after this past month, I’m ready to let that identity out.

      How to meet the goal and let the goal meet me

      The challenge with blogging and sharing any kind of content online is you have to strike a balance between writing what you want to write, what you need to write, and writing content that gets feedback, results, and invokes a conversation. I struggled with that in the beginning when wondering what topics to write, but when I looked back on the goal I set for myself on November 1st and I was very clear about why I was doing this:

      • I have this glorious, beautiful blog that deserves some contextual love.
      • I have a lot to say, and I haven’t been saying it.
      • Some big things have happened this year and more incredible things are happening before it finishes; I don’t want to let those go unnoticed.
      • And most importantly, I’m doing this for me.

      My goal for this month is to become a blogging machine and stop letting that little voice in the back of my head get its way when it says, “you shouldn’t post that…”

      That’s the key to blogging, writing, and doing anything in life—set a goal for yourself, write it down, and consider it as the anchor to keep you accountable until you achieve it. Make it specific and time-sensitive so you can check your progress as you go and tweak your tactics if you’re not tracking towards it. And always learn along the way.

      Okay, what’s next in the adventures of lamiki?

      I’m going to keep writing. Blogging every day has become a habit, and like working out for 40-days, I’m apprehensive about scaling back, though I will not be blogging 7-days a week. That model proved early on that it’s not sustainable. I know from looking at my traffic which days return the most hits and attention, something of which I want to play with to really figure out what the magic formula is for my blog (something that’s different for every domain).

      The great news is blogging this past month has earned me some attention, a result of which will be shared with you later this week. I’m also going to figure out exactly what my mission is with this blog. So far it’s been to find my voice and claim my piece of Internet real estate. I’ve done that, so what’s version 2 look like?

      December is the close of 2010 and the beginning of how to kick ass in 2011. It’s also the start of #reverb10, a blog project launched by the brilliant Gwen Bell, Cali Harris, and Kaileen Elise, to “reflect on this year and manifest what’s next.” I’m going to play, though I plan to reverb only once per week, maybe two if you’re lucky.

      Just like dessert and every acceptance speech at the Oscars, I’m saving the best for last. I am deeply appreciative of my NaBloPoMo writing buddy, Anthony Stevens, who helped encourage me throughout the month and provide really honest feedback on each and every post. Not to mention he kicked out some stellar posts him self.

      And my rock, my John, who was patient when I was up-late writing and stepped in as my muse on more than one occasion—I am eternally grateful for you, my love, everything that you are and everything that you do.

      Photo Credit: Mike Wood Photography

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      • http://twitter.com/thumbinmyway Shannon

        FANTASTIC. For a newbie like me, this is great advice. rnrnI am lliterally flying by the seat of my pants, and posting (almost) daily – but know all too well the well will run dry or will have days when I just C-A-N-N-O-T do it. And know all too well that my post topics are ALL OVER THE MAP.rnrnAs idealistic as I may be to do a post a day, at least I only committed to 2-3 per week in my 4-0 before 40 page, so I cut myself some slack in advance. rnrnHowever, that being said, I feel as if my well is overflowing and I have so much to say in so little time. I need to sit back and make an editorial calendar, b/c my site is on the verge of being just a vomit spray of crap I’ve kept inside for 7 years. And who wants to follow that?rnrnSo, thanks again for the advice and feedback- much appreciated! rnrnxo, Shannon

        • http://lamiki.com/ Laura Kimball

          An editorial calendar would be good, though since you’re doing #reverb10, you may not need it (yet) as the ladies at reverb will be feeding you prompts for content each day. Your challenge will be finding out when you write the best and how to make that a habit in your daily life. nnTo keep your ideas organized, start writing them down. I literally wrote them on sticky notes and attached them to a calendar, moving them around as needed. Some people keep blog ideas in a Word or Excel document with extra cells for notes and links if the idea spawns from another article or blog. It have a paper journal where I try to track ideas like this. nnYour comment about how you’re afraid of your blog becoming “just a vomit spray” is totally what I’m nervous about, too. But, hey, sometimes you just gotta hit publish!

          • http://twitter.com/thumbinmyway Shannon

            You are awesome, thank you for the support! We seem to be a lot alike. I am glad we connected. rnrnps- I have sticky notes, journals, notebooks, lists, word docs – EVERYWHERE. I may look unorganized to an outsider, but it’s all there and I know just where to tap into it when needed. :) rnrnOh, and your comment about just hitting “publish” – do you know how many times I’ve sat there for minutes, hours – reading, debating and finally just going for it? Obviously, some are harder than others. But I’ve learned that most I need to just suck it up and take a chance.

      • http://www.pushingsocial.com Stanford @ PushingSocial

        I really enjoyed this post. I’ve been flirting with a daily blog posting schedule for a few months. I’m afraid of two things…
        1) My post quality will falter
        2) My audience will unsubscribe from my update email list in droves because they don’t want to be bombarded daily.
        I can live with #2, but not 1. Any advice?

        • http://lamiki.com/ Laura Kimball

          Hi Stanford,

          Great questions and concerns – the best advice I can give about #1 is to set goals out for why you want to increase how frequently you’re posting and commit to trying it out for a set amount of time (I recommend at least a month).

          Give your writing goal the same respect as you would any other strategic goal – make it specific and measurable. As I mentioned, I announced my goal in my first post and referenced that post multiple times throughout the month. It helped me remember 1) why I was doing this in the first place, and 2) when I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job, it gave me something to reference to keep myself on track.

          Start with that and try it out. Also, get rid of the word “fail” when trying to post every day on your blog. If you’re learning, that’s not failure.

          Hope that helps!

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