As a self-proclaimed writer since age eight, I’m no stranger to writer’s block. After changing my course of study from Chemistry to English and Creative Writing, I quickly realized all I had done was trade in two years of difficult equations (all of which had a defined answer) for two years of a different type of equation, one which has no defined answer whatsoever: Writer + Medium = ?
I went through numerous bouts of writer’s block in my two glorious years as an English and Creative Writing major, yet whenever I did, I was surrounded by my respected peers (all fellow writers) and revered professors (all writing geniuses, at least in my book – pun intended). Writer’s block plagued us all at one time or another throughout the semester, and we were all there for each other when the words weren’t.
Fast forward three years, and here I am. Once a writer, always a writer. Just about a year ago I made another trade: I traded a string of jobs – the good, the bad, and the ugly – for a full time career as a writer. In that time I’ve quickly realized that being a freelancer and blogger is very different than being a writing student. Full disclosure: being a freelancer and blogger is one of the most isolating things I’ve ever done. Sure, I talk to clients over email, phone, Skype, and Google+ Hangouts almost every day. Sure I interact with other bloggers over social media and try to attend blogging events as much as I can. But on most days, it’s just me, my computer, and my words.
Sadly, despite the fact I’m in my mid twenties and on the cusp of a generation that’s nearly 100% digital, I still prefer to write – yes write with pencil and paper – in a notebook. When writer’s block starts creeping up, my pencil and notebook is typically the first place I turn. My eight year old self kicks in, and my ideas free flow more organically from brain to hand to pencil to page.
When that doesn’t work, I start pounding through all the old standbys: read, draw, color, walk away, take a walk. And when all else fails I just don’t write. Now, let’s back up a minute “I just don’t write” is a bit of a hyperbole. I write everyday – somewhere, somehow – that’s my job. But the writer in me – not the freelancer, not the blogger, the writer – can’t “just write” for the sake of writing. I remember a Pilates session I had a while back where my instructor and longtime friend Denise Posnak of MyBOD Wellness (shameless plug) shared that she and another client had been talking about the Nike slogan “Just Do It.” Long story short, they determined this slogan is really sending the wrong message – do we all want to go through our lives “just doing” things? So we proceeded through our Pilates session not “just doing” the exercises but doing them with intention. Intent. This is the element that begins and defines a true piece of writing.
I still haven’t discovered the cure to finding intent when all seems lost, but I think discovering that intention is the foundation for any piece of writing is a good start. You may have noticed I haven’t been posting with the same frequency as of late. You also may have guessed that a severe case of writer’s block is what inspired this post. Writing is a strange art. I have an arsenal of post ideas scribbled in notebooks, archived in notes on my phone, saved on my bookmarks bar, but without that defined intent, the ideas fall flat.
Every good writer knows the process ebbs and flows. Writer’s block will pass. The ability to define intention will be restored. The good news is the coming weeks have a lot in store. I’ll be taking a short vacation from the blog early in July for a work trip and a friend’s wedding, which should bring a refreshed and renewed perspective. I also have several exciting collaborative posts in the works, so bear with me through this writer’s block and stay tuned! Happy Monday, readers!
I spent this past weekend in Milwaukee and attended a little blogging conference for Midwest bloggers. At the the first ever Blogger Bazaar Milwaukee I connected with fellow bloggers from Chicago, Minneapolis, Madison, and of course Milwaukee. One of the bloggers, Maya of Charmingly Styled, has launched a campaign today called #RealBloggerBeauty. Maya developed the idea for the project last winter at Moda Magazine’s University of Wisconsin Fashion Week Blogger Panel. As one of the featured bloggers on the panel, Maya was posed the question, “How would you use your influence [with your readers] to do something that supports a cause that’s important to you?” Her response was that “[she] would want to do something opposing the perfectionism that bloggers (and everyone) is striving to achieve by sharing personal and perfectly imperfect experiences.” Ultimately, what Maya is doing with the #RealBloggerBeauty campaign is starting a conversation among bloggers, women, and everyone about perfectionism and digital personas.
This conversation is very near and dear to my heart. Our generation, Generation Y, is the first generation to be faced with the challenge of creating a digital persona. Now, grappling with typical challenges like bullying and body image are no longer limited to our private journals. They are part of a public forum on the Internet and in social media. I feel both blessed and cursed to be a part of this generation. My job as a freelancer would look very different if the Internet and social media did not exist. ARTicles of Clothing Blog would not exist. In a way we are blessed with a medium that allows us to expose and discuss important topics instantly with anyone around the world. It’s really amazing when you actually think about the power of the Internet. But with great power comes great responsibility. As the first generation to embrace these digital platforms, we have been given the great responsibility to carve and shape them.
“No one’s life is always full of ‘Instagram-worthy’ moments, and it’s time to embrace the messes, insecurities, and struggles of life together.” – Maya, Charmingly Styled
What if the Internet and social media were places to truly showcase our authentic selves and connect with people? I believe this was the original intention behind the Internet and social media – to connect people in different cities, states, and countries who may never have had the opportunity to connect before. It’s unfortunate that a medium meant to connect has in some ways done the opposite and isolated us from being true to ourselves and making genuine connections. Do we have the power to change the trajectory of social media? My answer is yes.
In January, I urged you to set a goal to FEEL GOOD and LOOK GOOD in 2014 by making small changes to your everyday life to produce big results. Shifting the trajectory of social media is a lofty goal, so today, I’m starting with one small step by participating in and promoting the #RealBloggerBeauty campaign. My #RealBloggerBeauty moment is illustrated above through these images of myself over the past eight years.
The first two images depict me in the summer right after my high school graduation and in the fall of my freshman year of college. I gained about 20lbs my senior year of high school, the same year Facebook was launched worldwide. I may or may not have “looked good” at this time, but I certainly didn’t feel good. Yet, I slapped on a fake smile, and tried to create a persona that looked good and felt good on social media. The third image is me at my 21st birthday. I had devoted the summer before my 21st birthday to truly feeling good and looking good. I ended a toxic relationship, lost some weight, and chopped off my hair. I think this third image and the three that follow illustrate me genuinely feeling good and looking good. You probably recognize the final image from a photo shoot I did for ARTicles of Clothing Blog. For a long time I have defined myself as a writer. This is the primary reason starting a blog appealed to me. I’ve never viewed myself as a model or the face of a brand. The simple fact that I executed this photo shoot and showcased the images on a public platform for all the internet to see demonstrates how far I’ve come with my own digital persona over the past eight years.
No matter who you are – a blogger, a woman, everyone – I urge you to join in on the #RealBloggerBeauty campaign and promote the creation of genuine digital personas and connections.