Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Nothing - And Rather A Lot...


About three months ago, I announced a "time-out" for my various blogging endeavours [this site, as well as After Midnight, Challenging The Thunder, and Coming Out Of The Candy Store]. Part of that declaration was due to personal issues that are still in the process of playing themselves out. But part of it was, pure and simple, burnout. I was beat, out of ideas, recovering from the less-than-successful "Can-Am Celebration" [which, at the end of the day, I didn't even take part in officially. I am grateful to those of you who did, though]; I had stopped giving the proverbial "rat's ass" about any of it. I needed a rest.

So I stopped [to quote my Muse Of Choice, Dorothy Parker: "It's only an old wives' tale that you have to taper off"]. I jumped back in, very briefly, to comment on the Entrecard shuffle in mid-July [you knew I couldn't resist that topic, didn't you?], but spent most of the next 90 days neither blogging, or reading blog posts. Oh, I'd see the odd item in the news, or think about a matter of writing or design, that tempted me to the keys. But nothing held together long enough to turn into an actual post. Lesson One: It happens. People who get paid for this sort of thing run dry periodically.


Interestingly, I found I was still selling the odd EC ad. Lesson Two: Ec'ers will sometimes "buy in bulk", purchasing space in as many low-priced blogs as they can afford. Even those which clearly state they're on sabbatical. Makes you wonder if they think anybody actually reads the blogs, instead of just "harvesting" cards [of course, this has been an on-going problem at EC, one that I don't think has been solved yet]. I'd make some comment here about how visitors should at least look over the current entry when visiting a site, but it didn't work in the past, so...

Desperate to get my creative juices flowing again, I turned to the "father of the essay", Michel de Montaine. Sorry. Seemed like an original thinker and all [though he did use a great deal of Classic literature to make his points], but just didn't inspire me. Lesson Three: the Muse tickles on her schedule, not yours. Nothing wrong with looking for inspiration wherever you wish, but understand that the Creative Moment comes when it comes, not when you would have it. There are people who suggest writing at least fifteen minutes per day, or at least to try and write something daily. If that works for you, great. I would think, though, that some days' output will be better than others. Only the mediocre are truly "at their best" each day...

Thinking that perhaps I needed to update my references, I plunged head-first into Facebook
[no matter how hard I try, I just can't make myself "follow on Twitter "] There is a school of thought that Twitter and Facebook are "blogging's next wave". I guess, but, with a few exceptions, most of the blogs I've ever seen are hardly getting warmed up by the time they reach 160 characters. Lesson Four: "trendy" doesn't always equal "usable". Use the form that best suits your needs.

But, for what it's worth, the biggest lesson was the one that the whole process taught: Lesson Five: Sometimes you need to walk away from the things you enjoy to realize how much you enjoy them. None of this is profound, or worthy of being engraved in stone, of course. But all of it worth thinking about. It's good to be back...
Update: since I wrote this, Daily Blog Tips featured a guest post on writer's block, one of the reasons I went on vacation. Check it out for yourself here. "DBT", by the bye, is a frequently excellent sources for bloggers at all levels [although a lot of it is monitization. Not that there's anything wrong with that]; subscribe...MR


-Mike Riley

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