Part One: Oh, it all makes sense now
You know how sometimes you’re just sitting around, minding your own business, trying to decide between an ice block or a chocolate ice cream type dessert when a memory comes out of nowhere and hits you in the face? Just a random memory, but the more you think about it, the more it gains significance? This happened to me and it helps to explain why I ducked out of blogging for so long.
When I was a child my grandfather acquired a free duffel bag from the pub. I have no idea how. I assume they were just giving them out to the pissed and jovial. Maybe they put the meat packs in them to really raise the stakes in the raffle. Maybe Grandad won it in the bi-annual jello shot and banana eating festival, but I doubt it. The actual acquisition of the bag is either one of those things I didn’t care to know or didn’t care to remember. The point is, he got this duffel bag and he had a need in his life for such a bag.
Turns out my grandfather was a pioneer of the reusable-bag-at-the-grocery-store movement. He didn’t have a car so he’d walk between his flat and the supermarket with his groceries in the duffel bag. The multiple plastic carrier bag look just wasn’t working out for him.
Why the hell am I telling you this? I’m getting there, I promise you. There have only been three paragraphs of bag chat, you’ll make it through a few more.
The bag was free because it was a promotional item. It was bright yellow with the DB Breweries logo emblazoned along the side. You guys know how this works; the company makes the promo item with their logo as the main feature and gives them out far and wide for free in the hopes that people will use them and a) be constantly reminded of their product and b) constantly remind the people around them of their product.
While my grandfather was totally on board the duffel bag train, he was not willing to offer his services as a billboard as a payment in kind for the aforementioned duffel bag. However, once he had the duffel bag in his possession he could subvert the course of this stealth promotional campaign. He painted it black. Like, with actual paint. He took the bright yellow polyester bag and painted it all over with regular old black paint.
Apparently they’re not lying when they say that black don’t crack, coz this looked reasonably good. Well, in my memory’s eye it does. There’s every chance my mother will read this and ring me to demand a printed correction. Well sod it, I believed it was an original black bag for years.
Ok, Ok, I can hear you all working yourselves up into a hyperventilating fit. Seven paragraphs of bag chat, Frankie! What is the sodding point? Basically, my grandfather didn’t believe one freebie duffel bag was apt payment for what would have amounted to many years of roadside advertising as he ambled between home and the supermarket. He had no interest in trying to influence anyone’s beer drinking decisions in transit.
Given the DNA I share with this man, you can see why the word “influencer” makes me cringe. Advertorial blogging was never going to work out for me, now was it? Well, even after I quit writing a commercial diary logging my every move, meal and mascara purchase it still felt like I was on the blogger treadmill.
Part two: My soul still feels plagued
Let me explain: You’re supposed to have this ‘blog schedule’ – blogging once a week, twice a week, five days a week or more! – and if you don’t follow this self imposed decree to the letter the dreaded blogger guilt seeps in. Your schedule never stops; not for holidays, sickness, mental breakdown or alien abduction. If you’re going offline for any reason you better have your guest bloggers booked in, or else your blog will obviously die taking your soul with it. And it’s not just the actual blogging; once you finish one post you need to be promoting it, adding to your “story”, updating your feed, as well as simultaneously planning and photographing the next month’s worth of content. The treadmill never stops; you’re forever running just trying to keep up.
I couldn’t figure out how the guilt was getting to me. I’d decided to only write posts that made me happy but I’d still married myself to this never-ending roster. This put my whole site at risk of becoming a conveyor belt of mediocre bollocks if I succeeded and of me becoming the patron saint of blogger guilt when I failed to stick to the schedule. Obviously the latter happened, make me a stained glass window.
I’ve got countless ideas for posts, series of posts, wacky videos and comics. But with the never ending calendar of guilt I didn’t feel like I had the time to put all I have into turning a hint of inspiration into one stellar post, so instead I’d cough up a bunch of average ones. The really good ideas sat in drafts for months – years– in favour of the ones that can be thrown together over a harried hour before running out the door.
Other creative projects don’t work this way. Some things are put together as a series, or on a seasonal basis. I noticed that many of my favourite podcasts would do 2-3 months a year of solid content, then use the rest of the year to create their next “season”. This sits better with me than the “we’re going to do this every week until one of us dies” approach.
As I was sick of feeling like a total Swifty on the treadmill, falling flat on my face like the GIF up there, I hopped off. I let the blog take a back seat and I wrote a play. I actually did it. Now, let’s be real, my play isn’t finished in the sense that it needs a bitchload of polishing and dialogue tweaking. It needs the glitter treatment. But I’ve written 3 drafts and I’ve finally nailed down the plot, the characters, the scenes, the acts. The structure and essence of the play is done.
You know what? While I was writing it I actually felt like I was doing something. I’m actually happier with this unfinished play that no one has even read yet than I’ve ever been previously with weeks of five-day-a-week blog posting. I’ve taken some time away from the play to clear my head, but I’ll be back at it shortly to finish it properly. I have absolutely no idea what I’m gonna do with it after that and that’s fine too. I’m happy. There’s no guilt, no expectation and no treadmill whirring in the background sapping my joy.
I still haven’t figured out my new approach to the blog schedule. Mostly because the traditional schedule is actually quite a sensible thing. Constant, timetabled posting is great for SEO. It’s great for your readers to know when to visit you and it’s good for self discipline. But it’s not good for the kind of content I actually want to make, which I’ve come to realise isn’t just blog content.
Let’s just say, I’m gonna keep making blog posts because I have a list as long as your boyfriend’s dick of posts I wanna write. (Not the guy everyone knows about, the secret guy you keep on the side. The one with the really long dick). But if I disappear for a month here and there it’s probably because I’m working on another project. I’ve got videos to shoot, stories to tell and drawings to draw.
For now, I’m back to being a blogger. Just don’t call me an “influencer”.