Three months strong

Here we are: the last Friday in March. Which means we are one quarter of the way through 2021 – and I don’t know about you, but that feels WILD to me.

So much has happened in 2021 so far: my sister got engaged, I had COVID, I landed a part-time job, I got into my first car accident, I landed another part-time job, the same aforementioned sister asked me to be a bridesmaid (yes, that is a milestone in itself), I went through the full life cycle of a fight with my best friend, I started working with a career coach, and…

I have successfully published one blog post per week since January 1.

That is a really big f-ing deal for me.

For those of you who might not have been following my writing since this blog’s inception, here’s a quick recap on the history of Kate the Writer:

I started this blog in February 2020, with the intention of using it as a public platform to help promote myself as a professional writer. I was moving to NYC, planning to start a career in theatre as a writer and performer, and I wanted to start a blog as a means of sharing my writing with the world. I had no idea exactly what to write about, though, so I left the prompt open-ended and used it primarily as a life-update, “where-is-Kate-at?” sort of website. I figured I would at least try to start it and write something, and then uncover my style and purpose through trial and error.

At first, I was doing pretty well posting a couple times a month, writing about whatever felt relevant to me at the time.

But then COVID hit, and my depression came out to play, which sucked me dry of any inspiration and drive to write. I posted with decreasing frequency, until I was writing only once every two or three months. And I didn’t even feel satisfied with those posts.

I felt so angry with myself for letting my blog go almost as soon as it began; I tried to push myself to write, but the inspiration didn’t seem to be returning. That just trapped me in a vicious cycle of berating myself for not maintaining my blog, pushing myself to write something (anything!), feeling uninspired whilst attempting to write said ‘something’, deciding it was too hard and stressful to keep going, and finally, putting it on the back burner once more. Only to start the cycle all over again by berating myself for not writing as a result.

I finally got tired of that cycle, and decided to recommit to my writing once and for all.

At the end of December 2020, just before the new year, I decided I would publish one blog post per week for the entirety of 2021. And I committed to that, in writing, on January 1. I announced that I would be publishing a new post every Friday of the entire year, on a topic relevant to whatever I was going through that week and felt like writing about; I viewed it as sort of a public diary.

Would anyone read it? I didn’t know.

Would it be relevant to my overall life goals and mission? Sort of…if I spun it the right way in my mind.

Would it help me professionally? Probably not.

But I decided that none of that really mattered; I couldn’t call myself a writer if I wasn’t writing, and I certainly couldn’t sit around, waiting for divine inspiration to strike so I could jump from A to Z in one fell swoop.

I had to just…start. Without the pressure to get my blog ‘right’, or the fear of what people would think of me, or the anxiety about whether what I was doing would actually be helpful, to myself or others.

I just did it.

And did it, I have certainly done. (I know that’s a syntactical nightmare, but I’m attached to it so it’s staying.)

Since that fateful Friday, I have published a total of twelve (now thirteen!) blog posts, all on various topics related to my own emotional exploration. As it stands right now, this blog is an outlet for me to process and express different feelings and reactions I have to different circumstances in my life. It’s not a how-to guide on dealing with emotions, nor is it an explanatory resource on different emotions and how they manifest. This blog, at least thus far in 2021, isn’t even really for anyone else – it’s merely a collection of well-written diary entries that I have chosen to publish online.

And also, don’t get me wrong at all when I say my blog isn’t ‘for’ anyone else – I mean that in the sense that I’m not writing ‘for’ a particular audience, or with any kind of audience in mind. I’m just writing for me. I am, however, truly grateful for all of you that have subscribed and continue to read my work! It warms my heart knowing you’re all out there supporting me and reading stories about me, hanging right there with me while I make discoveries about myself through these posts.

But beyond that, you all have helped me achieve something that has been a lifelong challenge for me, which the past year has particularly spotlighted:

You – my audience, my readers – have helped me find the internal motivation to develop a creative structure for myself, and stick to it.

… … …

To have maintained my commitment to write and publish a blog post every Friday for three months now is no small feat for me.

For over a year, I tried to find the motivation within myself to write for my blog. And I struggled – hard. I continued giving into my depression and my exhaustion and my frustration. And there was nothing inherently wrong with that – mental health comes first – but I was dissatisfied and disappointed with myself because I couldn’t figure out how to stay motivated on this project. I wanted to write, but it always felt too hard. So I didn’t.

This has been a source of constant frustration for me, and the biggest point of self-criticism. I hated how much I couldn’t seem to commit to my own idea, and I felt like a failure. Other artists seem to be able to create something out of nothing; why couldn’t I?

It wasn’t until a recent conversation with my new career coach that I discovered that this is actually just part of how I work – I’m not someone who can easily sit down and build something using nothing but myself and my own devices.

I thrive in structure and external accountability. Give me the general parameters of what you’re looking for, and then just let me at it; I’ll go above and beyond your expectations to create a product, or system, or whatever tangible outcome it is you’re looking for, that I know will have an immediate impact on you.

But creating something such as a personal blog (or writing an original play, which has been another endeavor of mine) is a process that has no structure, no parameters or goals, outside of those which *I* create for it. And the bulk of that creation process has to happen by myself, with the responsibility resting solely on my shoulders to get it done. On top of that, I have no idea if what I’m doing is impacting anyone – I don’t necessarily get immediate feedback on my work to let me know if I’m on the right track or not.

In essence, the creation of a blog is a solo process, and has to be founded nearly entirely on an internal reliance and feedback system. This is extremely hard for me as a collaborative, connection-oriented, results-driven person.

It’s not that I *can’t* do things by myself, for nothing but the sake of myself and creation, but I don’t thrive that way. It’s much easier for me to succeed at my goals and feel generally successful in a structured, team environment that provides me with immediate feedback and well-defined opportunities to learn and grow.

… … …

On the whole, I believe that life is too short to spend miserably attempting to make my weaknesses not weaknesses. We all have strengths for a reason, and studies such as the StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Tom Rath, 2007) have shown that people are happier, healthier and more fulfilled when they spend their lives working within their personal strengths, rather than battling their weaknesses.

With that being said, I do think it is important to be aware of our own limitations and utilize flexibility and creativity in managing those weaknesses when we find ourselves face to face with them. Not to mention the importance of doing things that scare us and/or make us feel uncomfortable from time to time.

Starting and maintaining this blog has been a yearlong exercise in staring my weaknesses in the face and figuring out how to adapt. I have confronted fear and discomfort over and over again, and in the midst of that, I have discovered things about myself that I never would have learned otherwise. I have found a deeper confidence in myself as I have gritted my teeth and clawed my way through the journey that has been this blog.

… … …

So why am I bothering with this blog at all, knowing what I know now about myself? Why am I continuing to push myself against my natural creative inclinations to do something so outside of my working strengths? There were certainly much easier, more comfortable, and probably more efficient ways for me to be creative and practice my art throughout the past year than fighting tooth and nail with myself in this endeavor.

But life is neither easy, nor comfortable or efficient, so in many ways, what is this blog but a representation of life itself?

Life is full of challenges, unexpected plot twists, and opportunities that present us with choices.

I could have made any number of choices over the past year that would have involved walking away from this blog. But I didn’t. I stuck with it. I continued to make the choice to keep at it. Sometimes I chose to keep doing what I was doing; other times, I chose to try to switch it up. More often than not, I fell on my creative face – so I made the choice to stand back up and try again, hoping and believing that eventually, I would find my balance and hit my stride.

Three months ago, I made the choice to commit to posting weekly; today, I’m still standing, face intact. Head held high.

And for the first time since I started this blog, I feel utterly proud.

… … …

Hey, thanks for reading! It means so much to me! If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my blog to stay up-to-date on my latest posts, especially since I do not share them on social media. And if you really enjoyed it, you could consider sharing my blog with someone you think would like it, too. And if you really REALLY enjoyed it (aw, shucks! *blushes*) and know of any writing or other creative opportunities, please feel free to send me a message and pass them along! It is my dream to ultimately work full time as a writer, so any support you can offer means the world to me.

Photo credit: Ray Hennessy from Unsplash