Tag Archives: reflection

What I Learned From Blogging Every Day in April | BEDA Day 30

30 days, 30 posts. I actually freakin’ did it.

I started this project out as a way to get myself writing again, knowing full well that I would probably quit halfway through, as I have with almost every challenge I’ve started over the last few years. I thought that even if I made it halfway through, 15 posts in as many days is still quite a feat. 6,000+ words in two weeks is nothing to shake a stick at, unless you’re doing NaNoWriMo.

And yet, even on the days where I felt zapped of all creative energy, I wrote. I knew a 100 word post about my weekend was better than no post at all. I got the words down on the virtual page and sent those words out into the world. Sometimes I got 2 hits a day, sometimes I got hundreds. The traffic didn’t really matter to me. As long as I could cross “write a post” off my to-do list for the day, I was happy.

So what have I learned over the past 30 days? A few things, actually.

I can always find something to say.

I’ve always struggled with self-confidence (who hasn’t?), especially when it comes to meeting new people. I tend to hang back in conversations or not introduce myself to people, thinking I have nothing interesting to say. If anything, this project has shown me that I can always find something to add to the conversation. My thoughts are valuable and worth sharing. Even if I have some trouble translating what’s in my brain into conversational English, I’ll eventually figure it out. This is all easier said than done, but I’m working on it. It all takes practice, and I think BEDA was a great exercise.

I don’t always have to fit into a niche.

Everything I’ve read about “the business of blogging” encourages writers to stick to a genre of content and not stray too much, lest they lose precious eyeballs. That definitely works if you want to build your blog into something huge, but when it comes down to it, I’m writing for me. It’s easy for me to stick to travel content when I’m only posting a few times a month, but that gets a bit mundane when I have to post something every day. And when it comes down to it, I’m not a travel expert. I’ve traveled a lot, and it’s one of my favorite things to do, but I still don’t really know how to pack a carry-on. I’m allowed to write about the gender wage gap or tiny houses if I want. When it comes to this site, I’m my own boss. And that’s incredibly freeing.

I need structure.

Generally speaking, my writing output has gone way downhill since I graduated from college. When I was in school, I had deadlines every week and professors to hold me accountable for them. Now, when I want to write a new script, I have no one to answer to but myself. Being your own boss can be great, but I’m a pretty lax manager when it comes to deadlines. With this project, I knew I had to get something out every day, and if I didn’t, my inability to follow through would live on the internet forever. When I go back and watch videos from my failed VEDA attempts, I get pretty embarrassed. I didn’t want to feel that way again. Maybe letting my inner critic drive this project wasn’t the healthiest move, but it helped me get it done. For once I wanted to whole-ass something and throw myself into a creative project as much as I could with a full-time job. And that’s exactly what I did.

As for the future of this blog, I don’t really know what’s in store. I’m going to keep posting at least twice a month, but right now I want to focus on other writing projects. I dusted off an abandoned pilot script a few weeks ago and would like to at least finish a draft of that. Going back to the theme of structure, I’m also hoping to et back in the classroom this summer and start some new projects.

I think I’m coming out of this project with a better sense of who I am as writer and as a person. Sitting down to write every day forces you to reflect and spend some time in your own brain. Sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it’s terrifying, but it’s always worth it.

Of course I have to thank you all for reading and supporting me through this project. Whether you left a comment, favorited one of my Tweets, or said something to me in person, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only person reading these words. I hope you’ll all stick around for…whatever I have in store for the future.

BEDA 2016 completed. Someone buy me a drink.

Thoughts on Validation, Social Media, and Essena O’Neil

I struggled with this post. When every website and their mother (on Facebook) are covering a story, jumping on the bandwagon feels like clickbaiting. I had a lot of feelings about the whole thing that I wanted to share, but I didn’t want to sound like a jerk. Ultimately, I don’t know what this girl’s going through. But I had something to say. And y’all wanted to hear it, apparently.

Essena O’Neil is a content creator, primarily on Instagram, who you probably had never heard of before her video and new website went viral on Monday. I hadn’t, as her audience skews younger and I’m more of a casual user of Instagram (Instagrammer? IDK, I’m old). A few days ago, Essena decided to quit social media and move all her content to a new site, letsbegamechangers.com. For years, she sought validation through likes and followers. Her posts were perfectly curated to show her “living her best life” when she was really struggling. She posted pictures in dresses for thousands of dollars that never made her feel quite right.

I’ve spent most of my life comparing myself to my peers. In middle school, I thought the girls who looked great in Soffee shorts and played multiple sports and were actually able to straighten their hair had perfect lives. I felt inadequate in high school because I knew I’d never get into an Ivy League school. Even now I compare myself to people with better jobs, apartments, and more frequent flier miles. Instagram was invented after I graduated from high school and started to figure myself out. I can’t even imagine going through most of my childhood with the giant magnifying glass of social media.

There’s a huge lack of guidance on social media available to teens. Platforms grow and change so quickly that it’s difficult for even huge corporations to create best practices. People tend to take very polarizing stances on social media, particularly when it comes to young users. It’s a fun way for people to keep in touch with each other and share their lives with the world, yet we’re quick to damn it. It’s hard to find rational opinions in a sea of voices.

Essena’s Instagram account now reads “Social Media Is Not Real Life.” This is inarguably true. What you see of someone’s life on YouTube or Instagram or wherever is a curation of their life, the best parts of themselves. When you don’t see someone outside of a little box on a little screen, it’s hard to imagine them complexly. This isn’t that far removed from middle school me imagining the perfect lives of the girls in the Soffee shorts. I didn’t see them at home. I didn’t know what they were going through. I couldn’t imagine them crying on the floor because they felt like they looked hideous in every piece of clothing they owned. In this case, I think that Essena is doing something special for her young audience.

When you’re a content creator, you constantly have to reevaluate your goals. What am I trying to say with this blog post? Will this video help someone? Why am I sharing this photo? I will often catch myself considering a post that I know will get lots of traffic, but ultimately serves no purpose. Clearly, that’s why I felt weird about this very post. I felt like I needed to get my feelings on the virtual page, though, despite my lack of eloquence. It meant something to me.

Emma Gannon put it pretty damn well with this quote from her Medium article:

Social media is not to blame here. It’s up to us not to treat it like a game. Treating it like a numbers game will only end in tears. Chasing clicks will leave us hollow. Creating meaningful content that people enjoy will make the difference. Social media can be fantastic if we keep it fucking real.

I don’t think teenagers are dumb. They astonish me with the things they create and the influence they wield. But when you’re at an age where social validation is such a huge part of your existence, chasing clicks seems natural. Will it lead to brand deals/recognition/whatever the teens want these days? Sure, but it might feel icky after a while.

Make things for yourself. The views might follow, they might not. Just do what feels right.

Here are some people who had some more eloquent thoughts on this than I did:

Rosianna: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5Q-_2BHSYc

Lucy: https://twitter.com/meowitslucy/status/661710497520230400