This is a themed post for the WordCount Blogathon.
If I started blogging today, I would stick to following my passion. Doing so requires a counterbalancing quality: discipline.
As a budding creative person in my early 30s, I valued beauty, freedom, compassion and expression. Conversely, I dismissed routines, conformity, rules, constraints, obsession and heirarchy. Everyone benefits from play and exploration. One of my favourite fictional characters, Miss Frizzle on The Magic School Bus, said: “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!” So we should.
In hindsight many paths I followed had more to do with whims than any deep-seated desire. However, some positive understanding about self-discipline finally came from Carol Lloyd’s remarkable book, Creating a Life Worth Living: A course in career design for artists, innovators, and others aspiring to a creative life. She interviewed numerous artists and pointed out the structures of routine on which successful undertakings grow:
Ideally, these daily routines and weekly activities represent the optimal way of using your time and appreciating your life. Your routine includes when you choose to work a day job, when you do your art, and when you play. A good creative schedule takes advantage of your most creative hours of the day and diminishes the negative voices that interrupt your thoughts.
Later I encountered this insight from writer David Campbell: “Discipline is remembering what you want.” It was a revelation.
Lloyd mentions three aspects of creativity: work, art and play. Discipline helps keep these chicks all in place, rather than butting their siblings out of the nest. When starting a new blog, you must decide which role it will fill. Is your blog meant to earn income directly or advance your career? Does it present a polished creative work intended to stand on its own? Or is it a forum in which to network with people and play with ideas? The answers will be very different for a teacher offering online courses, a book author, a performance artist or a photographer.
For many writers like myself, a blog fulfills a combination of purposes. Something so important to your life requires planning and dedication. Here are some tips for finding and “remembering what you want.” This is not an exhaustive list of steps to set up a blog, but some exercises to clarify your intentions.
- Excavate your passions, goals and purposes. This requires time. Carol Lloyd’s book Creating a Life Worth Living is a great tool. Take a course in career planning, hire a life coach, journal daily for a few weeks, or brainstorm with some supportive friends or acquaintances.
- Once all your ideas are on the table, identify your main purpose. Do you wish to sell a product, learn about a new subject, build an audience, network and exchange ideas, or create something that stands on its own merits?
- What is the theme? Choose subject matter with a unique spin to set your blog apart from the rest. Writing a title and tagline for the blog may help condense the focus.
- Work out a visual design that supports your purpose and reflects the subject.
Make notes about these ideas and keep them safe for easy reference as you design and build your blog. Use them as a refresher when the way becomes foggy. Do not let the whims and urgencies of life steer you off course for long. Of course, we all have things to learn. Sometimes priorities change. When a project finishes, the blog may take a new direction. Amend the plan as necessary. Just be sure to identify the things that matter most, and keep them always clearly in view.
Today’s post was pre-written because I am running the 24-hour Baillie Birdathon to raise funds for bird conservation. Please read why I am participating, and visit my fundraising page if you would like to sponsor me.