“A dream doesn’t become doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work”
~ Colin Powell
Today moved slower than a sloth. I eagerly waited for the end of the day, raced to catch the bus home, sprinted up the stairs to my apartment, booted up my laptop and created a new document. Fresh off the thrill of launching my blog, ideas sped walked back and forth like commuters at Grand Central Terminal. Words ready to find a home on a new blog post. The momentum revved up and here I am!
Yet, I was here before. In my last post, I mentioned The Bashful Butterfly is my third attempt at blogging. Both times, I began afresh, surrounded by the expectation of a flourishing writing portfolio. I began as a twenty-something Millennial woman navigating post graduate life. I was ready and I was a dreamer. The combination was enough, right?
After two or three posts my progress halted. Disappointment snuck through my ego when I didn’t receive the views or comments I hoped for. I expected to go “viral” or thousands of reshares for one post. I didn’t create a writing schedule. I figured if I “felt like it” I’d post. The momentum faded and so did my passion for writing. I stopped writing for years (sans the yearly “New Year’s Resolution” list). I stopped (or never started) putting in the effort or building my writer’s portfolio. I wanted the fruit without the labor.
With all creative pursuits, time, patience, and consistency are key. When we have a gift God has blessed us with, he entrust us to nurture the gift. Back in the book of Genesis, the Word says “ The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15)
What does the verse have to do with writing? Well, a blog is like a garden. I have to work and take care of it. Key word: Work. I’m not a gardener, but I can guess gardens take time to care for. There’s seeding, putting down fertilizer, watering, checking, and waiting. Yes, the fragrance of a fresh new writing project is tantalizing. However, if I want to progress as a writer, well, I have to write. I have to toil in the garden, pull weeds (aka pesky sentence fragments, dangling modifiers, and run on sentences) and wait patiently for the buds to blossom.
So I came up with three practicals for a novice writer/blogger.
- Maintain Consistency
When I started my new blog, I wanted to establish a consistent writing schedule. In the past, I would write when “inspiration sparked”. Well, sometimes inspiration takes a holiday on the beach and you’re left with your own grind to help you through your writing. I decided on a bi-monthly writing schedule (posting twice a month, just like a payday!) and post between Thursday and Sunday (Thursdays have been the reigning champ so far). When I’m consistent with posting, my readers know when to expect the next post and I hold myself accountable to a deadline.
- Ask for feedback
I teach 9th grade English and our school culture values feedback. As long as they are respectful, I encourage my students to think critically about the work of their peers and provide concrete next steps for growth. I am blessed to have writers who I admire and who are experienced in their craft. Asking for feedback on your grammar, content, word choices, or sentence structure helps you see your work through a different perspective.
- Apply the feedback
Oftentimes, I’ll ask for feedback on a project, smile, say “thanks” and then toss the feedback into the crevices of my brain. Or I’ll get defensive, scoff and think “well, they just don’t understand my creative genius”. If people take the time to read over my work, pick out what needs to be improved or expanded, then their time means they are invested in my development as a writer. My job as a student of the craft is to listen and apply the feedback given.
Bonus: Enjoy the process
With every endeavor the process will be a combination of joy, frustration, excitement, hair pulling, crying and saying “I got this!”. I thank God for the gift of words and the power words have to encourage! Will I get frustrated? Probably. Will I procrastinate? Most definitely. Will I always have perfect prose? Absolutely not! But I’m writing. And I love it!
I want to thank all of you who took the time to read my first blog post! I am glad to let you into my zany world!
The Bashful Butterfly