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4 Things I've Learned About Writing and Creativity
In Honor of My 10 Year (Plus 1) Blogging Anniversary
Next week will be my 11th blogging anniversary (March 20th!). If I was on top of things I would have done something really fun for my 10 year anniversary, but it passed by before I even realized how many years it had been.
But this year, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my writing journey and share some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
My writing path doesn’t actually start with me, but my mom. For a few years growing up, my mom used to write columns for our local paper, highlighting local schools and students, and I remember her typing away and thought it was the coolest thing ever.
I think my first stab at writing was actually fiction when, as a kid, I started a story/comic book about a fantastical sea creature whose main enemy was a barracuda. Why a barracuda? I have no idea, maybe I had watched a documentary and had some side eye for barracudas. But sadly that literary masterpiece is lost forever, never to be told again.
It wasn’t until college that writing became a bigger part of my life. For about three minutes of college I was a biology major, but that quickly ended when I learned that degree would require lots of chemistry and math courses. So I choose journalism. College was also the first time I realized that writing came more naturally to me and I enjoyed helping friends with their papers (a sign of editing things to come!). I wrote for the university paper as a staff writer and then my senior year, I became the Sports Editor (the first female one the school had too!).
Be jealous of my amazing column name (Laps Low Down). And shoutout to my mom for keeping all my college newspapers so I could share these gems with the world 21 years later.
After college I wanted to get into sports photography (although I loved writing, I enjoyed taking the photos), but newspapers back then only had unpaid and/or freelance opportunities (which you submitted and hoped they accepted your photos and then would pay you) and as someone who had just graduated from a private university with loans upon loans, that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
While working a full time job after college, I would do small freelance writing jobs and I also started doing wedding photography. I sorta kinda blogged during those days and once I moved to Texas, I started a personal blog for a short time too. I don’t count those years as part of my anniversary because I wasn’t that serious about it.
Then came 2012. I officially stopped doing wedding photography and since I wanted to continue writing, I thought a blog about books would be fun. So Books and Beverages was officially born.
As you can see I started off with a *such* strong first post. And is anyone shocked this was my second post?
As my book blog grew, I also started another blog (She Laughs with Dignity) to focus on non book related posts. I was also working full time, so my days were busy busy, but I truly enjoyed it. After I got my position at Penguin Random House in 2016, my blogging changed quite a bit. I was posting much less, I eventually merged the two blogs, and changed my blog name. Shoutout to all the people who have stuck with me and all my changes along the way!
Now I have this Substack and my Inklings Substack and I’m really happy with where my focus has landed. Towards the end of all my other blogs, I knew it was time when my excitement waned and it felt more like a chore. I have so many ideas for each and writing the posts is fun and exciting again. I’ve even been able to write a handful of articles for other publications.
I wanted to share this short-ish writing journey with you as encouragement. I’ve learned a few things from this lifelong path. Whatever your creative pursuit is, I hope these four lessons encourage you:
You can completely refocus what you want to write on. I most definitely have. Some were for a season (like book reviews), some were trial and error (I started countless “series” on my She Laughs With Dignity blog only to write two posts). Life, passion, and time can all shift what you want to do. There are helpful ways to transition, but don’t fear it either. You might lose readers (I have and that’s totally okay!), but it’s more important that you are enjoying what you’re writing on (especially if it’s a hobby!).
Don’t discount the writing jobs (or whatever your field) you take that aren’t your favorite. Every type of writing I did shaped the writer I am today. Even the small jobs after college like newsletters and interviews for my church denomination headquarters gave me professional experience I could add to a resume. And with each completed job I grew in my confidence that I was still very much building as a recent college graduate in my early 20s. Blogging about weddings when I was a wedding photographer helped me to keep writing.
You don’t have to share everything you write. Today, it’s all about content creation, content creation, content creation. I’ve fallen into this trap numerous times. But don’t feel like you always have to share what you write. There have been articles that I really loved, but only wrote for myself to help me process something I was going through or because I wanted to get some writing time in.
Take a break. When my book blog was at its height, I was blogging daily (M-F). I look back now and think HOW?! When I got my new job and moved to Colorado, I realized I didn’t have the same time, energy, or desire (it helped that my now full time job was all about books) and so I slowly started blogging less. I finished my commitments (of blog reviews) and then stopped for a while. There wasn’t an announcement or anything fancy like that, but it was what I needed at the time, so I did. Having that space and time was refreshing and gave me the space to think about next steps and what I wanted my writing to look like moving forward.
Whatever journey you’re on (could be the arts, could be a completely different field, could be something you hope to keep a hobby), I hope it fills you up, inspires you, and that you can use it to encourage others.
What has your writing (or other creative works!) looked like? What are something you have learned? I’d love to hear from you!