A few days ago, I celebrated five years here on WordPress as a blogger! It’s a milestone that took me by surprise and filled me with an array of emotions, most of them quite positive and humbling. It also made me contemplative on my time spent here and how I may have changed as a creative individual; takeaways that have helped me improve my personal life as well as my authorial one. This led to a chat with Madame Gabs, as these sorts of musings usually do, and it made me recognise that even though I have learned so much from the act of blogging, there are a few things left that I would like to improve upon.
Today, I thought it would be neat to share with y’all three things that I have learned from blogging that I cherish the most, along with three things that I would like to improve as I continue on this content creating journey. My purpose for this is to reflect in more detail so that I can remain humble and keep evolving and growing, but also as a sort of guide or resource to other aspiring bloggers who may be searching for experiences to relate to or potential advice to help them get going and/or keep going.
Things I’ve Learned:
#1: Discovering Discipline Amid Conflicting Mental Conditions
I have OCD and ADHD, which can create some super contradictory feelings. With my ADHD, I like being a bit impulsive and going where my moods and attention span dictate. The variety and unpredictability also helps with my creativity in various ways. However, with my OCD, I feel compelled to stick to a familiar and regimented routine; having things in order and avoiding chaos as much as I can, which is a direct conflict to the ADHD.
Blogging has helped me to find common ground between both of these things. Over the years, through much trial-and-error, I have learned that having a tentative schedule is what works best. I go ahead and map out all of the ideas that I have for articles I want to write into a digital calendar, and I try to set it up so that it’s balanced throughout the weeks. However, I also have a side panel where I shall jot down more ideas as they arrive in my brain. These side ideas are easily switched out in place of others on the actual calendars during episodes of extreme ADHD. By not setting my entire schedule in stone, I don’t feel trapped, like there is breathing space for a splash of impulsiveness. However, the physical and visual aspect of filling out the calendar satisfies the orderly, productive parts of my OCD.
Since I have an agenda to help guide me in setting up blog posts, it’s also aided me to instinctively acclimate to a structured workday. Since I read and review manuscripts, as well as assist authors and publishers with review requests, I have to be strictly conscious of deadlines to ensure that I don’t muck things up for them. In between completing these projects and requests, I write blog posts full-time. In order to keep everything cohesively organised, I dedicate a set amount of time per day to each task and rotate through them until they are all finished, which is how I end up working twelve to sixteen hour days (on average). I don’t go by the actual time (i.e.: 10am to 12pm), rather I merely go by minutes and hours. This way I’m not forced into the confines of day and night, only chunks of time elapsed (e.g.: five or six hours of sleeping, half hour for lunch, one hour for reading, two hours for editing, etc.). This is also probably why I never know what bleeding day it is, oops.
As you can see from that slightly hodgepodge explanation, even though I have such intensely arranged days, there’s still room for impulsiveness and space for accommodating my ADHD. So, while being disciplined in the face of two conditions that can polarise each other, blogging has helped me discover and nurture a mutuality between them.
#2: Respecting Unexpected Small Breaks
I try to share an article at least once a day, sometimes even twice a day. Personally, it gives me a significantly endearing vibe of productiveness. During the turbulent unpredictability of my personal life at the moment, this has been a glorious welcome. Feeling like an invalid is absolutely bollucks, so when I can avoid it, I jump at the chance! Because I am such a consistent weekly blogger (even if I miss a day or two out of the week), when unexpected crap does rise up to obscure my ability to update the blogspace, I don’t fret over it anymore.
When I look at my stats from the months where I have shared content regularly throughout each week, I notice that during the weeks where BiblioNyan is silent, my stats don’t falter nearly as much as I expect them to. On an average day when I share two posts, I get approximately 120-150 views.. Single-post days rack me up about 100. I’m sure there are folx out there who outnumber me quite vastly, but for me, these numbers are exciting and I’m comfortable with it. There is a steady increase with certain subjects versus others (controversial anime reviews and mental health subject matter gets me more hits versus book reviews and Asian cinema content), which is to be expected when you’re running a multi-topic platform of small to average size.
Even so, during the weeks where I’m unable to share anything, because I have such a fresh backlog of new content cycling out all the time, the silence gives those posts time to grow and gather more visits, likes, comments, etc. This, in turn, helps sustain and maintain my blog’s traffic. The only time this is an issue is if I’m gone for longer than two weeks. Ten to fourteen days seems to be the floating limit before the stats take a noticeable dip, more so if the silence occurs with no announcement. In situations where my absence is announced head of time, then that decrease is quite a bit lighter.
The whole point of me explaining all this is to say that I no longer stress and worry myself to death about my blog’s stats when unexpected things in life come up and shove blogging onto the back burners. Instead, I trust my blog, followers, and readers enough to accept that it shall survive. It will be okay. This allows me to focus my energies on whatever Doom and Gloom has popped up that needs my attention.
In many ways, this actually has helped me with my mental health because it has taught me (and continues to teach me because this lesson is a toughy) not to worry about the shite that I can’t control. Life will happen and it won’t stop happening just because I’m not ready for it to. The greatest thing I can do is prepare to the best of my ability (e.g.: maintain weekly consistency on my blog) that way when I do get slapped, I can respond and handle it all better.
#3: Burnouts Happen & It Shouldn’t Be Feared
Burnouts are a natural part of any endeavour. When something is done for so long, no matter how balanced someone is with it, or how much they try to avoid it, eventually they will feel burned the fuck out. Sometimes it only lasts for a day or so, maybe even less if they’re super lucky. Other times, it can pitch a tent and hang around for far longer. The key is to not get frustrated or to force oneself to keep doing things during said burnout, especially if it’s the thing that caused said burnout to begin with.
When I experienced my first burnout, I kicked myself in the arse so bloody much. My thoughts became negative and toxic. I felt that I had failed as a blogger and content creator because I was just so sick and tired of looking at the thing that I created my blog for (i.e.: reading). It took me a long time to finagle my way out of that swamp. That was when I started brainstorming the possibility of adding new types of content that went beyond books, but I understand that not everybody will want to branch beyond their niche offerings and that is perfectly cool too.
It’s important to accept burnouts when they sprout up. It’s a sign from the brain and the body, telling the working human to calm down, to take a chill pill (yes, it’s still the 90s in my mind) and to embrace the space that it’s craving. Stepping away can actually help to rejuvenate the creative muscles. For example, when you’re playing a video game and you get stuck on a seemingly impossible puzzle, the nerd-rage emotions rise, and your veins are on fire because you just can’t figure it out to save your life. You yell and curse and turn everything off and walk away. Whenever you come back to it, the solution almost instantly comes to mind and you solve everything without a hitch or glitch. All you needed was some space to breathe and collect your calm. Blog burnouts are the same exact thing, but hopefully without all the cursing and raging. Happy cursing, however, is always approved though.
After five years of doing this gig, whenever I start to feel an impending burnout, I re-arrange my blog schedule to avoid the things my mind needs space from. If I need a break from blogging entirely, then I will write up a five-minute mini-post talking about something extremely simple, like what I’m reading over the weekend, or fanhumaning over the animation style for a particular anime title (just a couple examples), then I will schedule them out for a couple days, and walk away. This way, I’m still posting things, but I’m not busting my grey matter muscles. Other times, I’ll just take the whole damned day and do nothing. If it happens on a weekend, then I take the whole ass weekend to be a vacation potato. Because I’ve gotten such a good handle on them now and can almost pre-empt them, they don’t last nearly as long anymore, which is quite awesome. It’s like my squishy brain and squishy flesh are thanking me for caring.
Things I Want to Improve
#1: Being an Active Commenter
I suck at commenting on blogs, and not the fun way that involves popsicles (that came out far more inappropriately than I originally imagined, yikes). My social anxiety, even in an online environment, is total horseshite. It overwhelms me and I begin to second guess the things that I want to say. My awkward English and occasionally weird structuring of sentences probably doesn’t help with that anxiety either. Then there’s the whole tendency to prattle on and on that gets in the way too. But here’s the thing. If I want people to comment on my posts, then I need to start showing them the same respect.
There is no worse feeling as a content creator when you work so hard to put out something so you can engage with others, to have conversations, even if it’s just some fan-gleeing over a character or other thing, and then to never get any comments. It can be heart-breaking and so devastating. It’s just such an awful feeling, like maybe my stuff is just so bad people don’t have anything to say. People who get like ten to twenty comments on their posts always leave me in incredible awe. Bro/Sis/Mate, how do you do it?
So, that’s one thing I definitely want to improve on, to comment on more posts. I’ll be honest, it’s not solely to get more comments on my stuff. While that is a factor, it’s frankly a very tiny one. Commenting is another form of supporting the blog and creator, another way of helping to give their stats a positive boost that will help them get more attention and improve analytics. I love supporting other content creators and this is such an easy and effortless way to do it, social anxiety notwithstanding of course.
#2: Post Daily
Okay, this is going to be more of a blogger goal than something to improve on overall, but I’d love to have a perfect month where I post something every single day, even if it’s just one post. It’s an achievement that I have been eyeing since last year, but thus far have yet to unlock it.
While I am a strong believer in taking mental health days, I also would love the sense of accomplishment that would arrive with blogging every single day. It would help me overcome plenty of mental and self-doubt hurdles that I currently have about myself, particularly as a workaholic, and I just want it so badly. To me, if I can manage this small feat, this tiny aspiration (in the grand scheme of all the shit I’ve got going on) of a perfect month of blogging, then there’s nothing that I can’t do in life. I know it sounds silly, but it’s a silliness that is important to me. It’s real and authentic and I want to make it happen. Plus, if I can do it, then I will know that I can create and run month-long blogging events without trouble, which would be super dope.
#3: Structure My Anime/Drama Watching
This is probably the thing that I need to work on the most. I tend to start watching something, have thoughts on that title, and then to do a write-up of a first impressions outlining those thoughts. But then after that, it’s like my ADHD goes on a riot and I end up shelving the title for months, at which point it’s pretty forgotten about, both by me and my fellow readers. For a cat alien that loves structure and order, my watching habits are anything but and it’s pretty frustrating and infuriating (all at myself).
One of the main ways that I want to improve this is to complete a title—anime or Asian drama—and have a review up within two weeks at most (for most 12-ish episode serials) from the day I shared a First Impressions musings. If the series is bigger, such as Persona 4: The Animation with 25-episodes, or Eureka Seven which is a 50-episode beast, then I can give myself an extra week or two. If the series surpasses 100 episodes, then I may have to do a tad more technical planning to sort it out. In those instances, I think it would be neat to conduct mini-reviews of the arcs within a series, if possible.
Some anime watching chums have discussed how they watch multiple shows, but only see two to three episodes of the series a day rather than binging it, and that’s what helps them to consistently tackle their watchlist or back logs. I’ve been trying this method for the last five or six days, and they were right! It’s much easier to watch in small doses and switching between many serials in tiny bite-size interactions helps keep my brain from getting restless and antsy. So, this may be the key element in making improvements here specifically.
By adding regularity to my watching, I can think of a few different ways that BiblioNyan shall improve as a review platform, and also different ways that I can benefit both as a content creator and in real life with some of my other pursuits and interests.
Thank you so much for sitting through this monstrous post. I sincerely hope that there was something here to help you out if you’ve been struggling with some elements of blogging. Or if you’re wanting to craft a blog space of your own, but are on the fence, maybe my prattling can give you a proper nudge in the right direction. My best piece of advice to you is to try it. The worst thing that happens is that you discover it’s not your cuppa chai, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If anything, it’ll aide you in moving on to the next interest you’ve got up your sleeves or under your noses. 😉
Cheers to you all and insha’Allah, BiblioNyan shall see another five years of successful shenanigans!