Back to Blogging Basics: Just Write!

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Discovering THE BIG QUESTION about why we blog, how to reset, start at the very beginning, and JUST WRITE.

blogging laptopThe Beginning

In 2007, when I started this blog, it wasn’t a food blog. It wasn’t under the gingerandscotch domain but under my nickname. It wasn’t on WordPress but on Blogger. I chose the cheapest web hosting available (I’m still with them). My main intent at that time was to share my experience of being an expat – moving from New York to Dubai. I had so much to share.

I didn’t share 99.9% of it.

But everyday I would think, “Oh! That would make for a great blog post!” or “I can’t wait to write about that on my blog” and I would take lots of photos with the intent of using them on a blog post. My hard drive was so full of photos I had to buy a 2 Tb external drive (which is nearly full again so I’m in the market for another external drive).

I was doing a blog audit last night where I went through old posts and deleted some totally outdated or irrelevant ones (I mean, come on, who wants to read about blackouts or when President Bush visited Dubai?), you know, to make the blog “EVERGREEN,” that buzz word that’s going around these days, when I noticed that I had nearly 300 published posts, but also 150 drafts in WordPress and another 100 drafts in my Evernote iPhone app. That’s 300 published thoughts/recipes versus 250 unpublished ideas!

So it’s not that I’m lacking in content. Big Sigh.

So what was lacking?

The Big Question

That’s THE BIG QUESTION I have been asking myself every day for man years.

By November 2008, about a year after I arrived in Dubai and started blogging, I went from posting once or twice a week to barely eeking out one post a month and then I went for long stretches (months!) without publishing a single post.

In April 2009, I had a partial answer to THE BIG QUESTION: I was lacking motivation. I was lacking passion. My blog was suffering because I lost the motivation to write because I didn’t have something I was passionate enough about to share.

A New Beginning

At that time, I was asked to join a local food blogging community in Dubai. “What!?” I thought, “There’s a community of food bloggers?! Awesome!”

And something sparked in me. Everyone who knew me knew that I could not shut up about food. Where to eat, What to eat, What I was going to eat for dinner that night or the next night, Why I hated so-and-so restaurant. Why I loved so-and-so restaurant. And so on.

In May 2011, nearly 4 years after I started blogging, I rebranded my expat blog and launched Ginger and Scotch to be primarily a food blog – my About Page said: “a food-centric blog on life in Dubai.”

From that point forward, I was gung ho about blogging because I had found a FOCUS, a motivator: Food.

At least until I became pregnant with my second child but that’s another long story (which I wrote about in a post entitled: When a Food Blogger Can’t Food Blog and Once Upon a Food Blogging Time).

I completely lost my motivation to blog for 2013, 2014 and most of 2015.

2016 Will Be My Year

And now we come to May 2016. Four years after I rebranded this blog.

2016 will be my year to reestablish my blog and to rediscover blogging again. I am giving myself until the end of this year to get the blog to where I want it to be. There is so much to do and so much to relearn. Things like:

  • SEO
  • Creating long and hidden Pinterest images
  • How to work with brands
  • How to manage ads on my site
  • How to take nice photos again

And there are so many hurdles to overcome:

  • Time management
  • Online jealousy
  • Not being too hard on myself
  • Blog burnout
Start (Again) at the Very Beginning

And I am struggling once again with THE BIG QUESTION. What motivates me? Why do I blog in the first place?

And sometimes you have to channel Maria von Trapp and “Start at the very beginning.”

Instead of learning to sing (I need to learn that too), I am learning to blog again. Learn to enjoy blogging again. Learn how to not make blogging feel like a chore. Learn to just write. I think I need to start there before anywhere else.

So this begins my Back to Blogging Series. Where I learn to start at the very beginning. A blog begins with sharing via words. So that is today’s exercise: To just write. To just put my thoughts down on “paper” and publish. No edits. No deleting the gazillion times I start a sentence with the word “so”. Just write.

Now it’s your turn.

This has become quite a lengthy post so maybe I can turn the the attention over to you?

  1. Can you tell me if you’ve struggled with THE BIG QUESTION of why do you blog?
  2. Can you tell me if you’ve once felt gung ho about blogging but then left your blog dormant for a long stretch?
  3. Can you tell me if you’ve managed to break out of your blogger’s block and share how you did it?
  4. And if you haven’t broken out of your blogger’s block: Can you start from the very beginning? Give yourself a jump start?

Feel free to leave a comment below or send me a a private message.

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  1. You just described how I was with my running routine. I would have fits of starts and stops until I decided to challenge myself with running a marathon where training nearly every day was mandatory.

    I have tried blog challenges but couldn’t stick with them. I think because they didn’t really tap into why I was blogging in the first place. Or maybe I just haven’t found the right challenge.

  2. It sounds like you have a lot you want to share with the world which prompted you to start different blogs based on the different interests you have/had at different times of your life. Right now your focus is being a mommy and that’s your main motivator to write and share. There is definitely tons of material there, I’m sure!

  3. I feel so similar right now! I decided just this week to get back on the scene and just WRITE. Write anything! (I hadn’t written in a year) Love the refreshing honesty. Can’t wait for the upcoming posts!

  4. It’s funny how I’ve only been blogging for all of 4 months but can relate to every word you have put down here. You know what – I’m going to keep this as a ready reckoner for all the times when I feel blah!

    1. I think the important thing is that we are not too hard on ourselves. So many times I’ve started writing a post, only to second guess myself that no one will want to read it. I need to keep telling myself that this blog is for me first and foremost. As a creative outlet for myself.

  5. Yes! I can totally relate, been blogging for just over a year and the blog has had a few month-long breaks. I think being part of a blogging community can help with motivation, at least that’s what my future plan is, since I don’t have any blogging buddies right now. But as in other things, (exercise, relationships, etc.) it always seems to be a key element.

  6. I think all bloggers go through the crazy rides of the thrill of excitement and the lack of inspiration on a regular basis. I have been blogging for 10 years and in that time have run several different blogs. Started some. Sold some. Completely deleted others. I think your point of ‘just write’ is pretty spot putting one foot in front of the other…just write 🙂

  7. I love your honesty! Know we all suffer from these issues. Speaking them out loud is the first step to addressing them, right? Best of luck with your new perspective!

  8. I just recently went through some medical stuff that limited my blogging. I really questioned if I want to go back to it because it is time consuming. But ultimately, I realized it is kind of therapy for me and I needed it. I just don’t know how often I will blog but I do know I am going to keep it and keep it up. I have also decided that I am just going to focus on writing about what I enjoy not what I think my readers want to read. I know if I write about what I love I will be happy, and that is why I started blogging.

  9. I started my site almost right after moving back to california after my internship (just after grad school). The idea was to create a hub of content from all different topics for women. It would be a hybrid of a blog and a magazine. For the most it’s stayed true that but has definitely gotten a facelift here and there throughout the year. And this year has been the biggest facelift both in design and feel. I love it. But I’m honest, I too find myself having so many topics and great article ideas but finding the time to juggle my full time job and Modern Chic is hard, especially as I’m the editor on the site. Weekends are great for me to take photography for the site, to edit and prep for the week ahead. So definitely prep work is a must.

  10. So, I’m just going to write this as it comes. I think your post is very inspiring. I am currently in between my phase of why am I blogging and getting excited about a post. Last year, when I shifted to Dubai, blogging took a backseat. Trying to settle down to a new life was quite harrowing. Plus I had a creative block. I was cooking (my blog is more recipe based than review centric) but nothing excited me. I wasn’t trying out anything new. And nothing seemed inspirational. To top it, I missed talking about food with people who had common interests like back in Mumbai. Neither have I been tasting new things. Moreover, of late I have also been wondering why I am blogging. It’s been a creative vent but also a platform for something bigger which I am not able to achieve. Probably that’s the other reason for my limbo phase. I guess I will have to wait it out till then I shall continue to take inspiration from your ‘back to blogging basics’. Thanks Sandy!

    1. Shanti – I so relate to everything you described. Sometimes I think I have manic-depressive blogger syndrome. Some times I get so excited over a topic that I can’t wait to stop the car to write my thoughts down. Other days, I feel so blah about everything I’ve put down on paper or nothing comes to mind at all when I put my fingers over the keyboard. I’m still working on how to be a more consistent writer and at the moment, I find that exercising really helps – it not only strengthens the body, but also the mind.

  11. I ask this all the time. And like you I have a mountain of unpublished stuff and not enough hours in the day. I don’t lack motivation and blog because I enjoy it but it is a lot of work and commitment. Sometimes the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! I think there is a lot of noise in terms of comments about blogging and received wisdom of all the things bloggers are supposed to do now. This can get totally overwhelming. I love learning new things and getting into the nitty gritty but also try to take a step back. If you do everything that everyone else is doing what sets you apart? Plus it is impossible to do it all – full time bloggers having a VA is de rigeur. A new blog will appear occasionally that blows everything out of the water and, guess what, it’s usually breaking all the rules and ‘must do to have a successful blog’ mores. I’ve been blogging for over 6 years and the focus of my blog has changed – it reflects my life … and that’s changed a lot too… plus the blogging universe is different. I love the new energy and direction that your blog is taking. You have a honest and very thorough way of tackling a subject… it’s refreshing and very readable. Keep doing what you do.

    1. Do you remember earlier this year when I mentioned that I had used the WP editorial calendar to schedule out every single draft post of mine? That it would mean I had to blog 3 times a week to clear the drafts folder by the end of year? Yeah well, they are scheduled but only 2 posts were published. I was too ambitious and unrealistic. Unrealistic in that I was scheduling like I was on auto-pilot.

      Like you, I had to take step back. I had to ask myself some hard questions about what I wanted to accomplish with my blog and with myself. I feel that I’m slowly coming to the answer, I get fleeting glimpses of it but then it’s gone. It’s like a self-discovery but I seem to be moving at a slower than snail’s pace.

      1. I’m going through a similar process of evaluation. Maybe we should meet up and help each other! I think being objective about your own blog is the hardest thing.

  12. Great post! I started blogging in June 2009, so my seventh anniversary is coming up soon. I did not have down time and manage to publish one post every four days for the most part of these years. If I have a trip coming up, I write in advance and schedule. One thing that has been bothering me, though – for five years my page views were steadily going up but it seems I reached a plateaux. And I am surprised by how much this is affecting my energy to blog – I had this self speech that went more or less like “I blog for myself”, “I am not in blogging for the audience” – and all of a sudden I don’t follow my own advice and feel disappointed by the reduction in page views. Is it going to affect me to the point of quitting food blogging? I don’t think so, but I’ve been wrong before 😉

    1. It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers isn’t it? I find myself down that route each time I jump-started the blog again. Why do we let numbers validate who we are and how we feel? Is it the type A in us that wants to not just succeed but also to excel at everything we touch?

      I don’t have the answers to any of my own questions…yet…but I do know that the only way for me to, for lack of a better term, survive, is to just block everything and everyone out, assume I’m never going to succeed, and then write and publish content as if no one but me is reading. Pessimistic? Yes, but it’s worth a shot if it means that I’ll stop worrying about what others think and focus on just the writing or at least he habit of making myself write.

      1. Agree with you, it is a nice thought to stop worrying and focus on what we love to do for the love of it and nothing else… 😉

  13. A very honest post Sandy, and though I have not been in the blogging world for as long as you, the BIG question has definitely been asked. What really helped me with my writers block was just taking some time off, a week to not feeling pressured into hitting publish, and just enjoying reading other people’s posts for a change. I can totally relate to the online jealousy too! haha! oh how that one can be a real bummer!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. I do something similar with my workout routine. Every 4 weeks, I give myself one week off to relax and recuperate. I find that it helps me come back stronger and prevents burnout.

      I should do something similar with blogging – work hard a few days a week and then designate certain days where I don’t think about the blog nor access any form of social media.