Blogging Saved Me. Literally.
I created my old blog Lyric Fire when I was out of work. It helped to have a place to write and record my feelings and also to escape my reality. I wrote about 5-6 posts per month and was very active in quite a few blogging communities where I shared my work and also followed other bloggers.
I learned that bloggers whom you visit will return the favor. It was thrilling to go from zero followers to a few hundred in a few months and then to build up a following across my social channels into the thousands.
Being that I wasn’t working, I had the time to build a list of blogs that I liked. I read them religiously and also commented and shared my thoughts on their posts. It was cathartic. Almost like therapy. When you are used to working in the corporate world and traveling for work, you get used to being around other people. Being planted at home changes that and you can begin to feel isolated. Interacting with other bloggers from across the globe was a welcome distraction from the unreturned phone calls to job recruiters and multiple emails telling me that I wasn’t chosen for yet another position that I knew I was qualified for. It also served as a way of building my digital community, but at the time I wasn’t thinking about it that way. I just knew I loved having my own space to write and connect with other scribes.
Life Can Alter Your Daily Routine
Oh what sweet pleasure it would have been to just stop looking for work and blog and write full-time. If you don’t have a flush savings account or generous spouse or significant other willing to hold you down while you get back on your feet, reality can set in sooner than you think. While I was doing all of this blogging, I was still working my butt off to find full-time work. Heck, any kind of work would have been welcome, but other than a few short-term projects, the well was pretty dry in that regard.
Living on your own in New York City, one of the most expensive places to reside can be challenging even when you’re working, but trying to pay this rent on an unemployment check and a smile was not the move. Pretty soon the savings I had amassed from a good contractor gig with a publishing company had dissipated and my unemployment checks also lapsed. Soon thereafter blogging was not a priority anymore. I was about to be evicted. After many soul-sucking trips to housing court, I was.
I landed on the couch of a great friend who put me up, but I didn’t feel right blogging then. I tried to use every waking moment to finding employment so I could move. I was stressed out and depressed even though I was VERY thankful to not be on the street. When you lose an apartment that you had since college it can mess with you psychologically.
The Biggest Loss of All
After a few months I was able to move, but I lost my biological mother just a few months later. A sudden and shocking death of a loved one you did not get to spend much time with on top of a lot of other loss is pretty heart crushing. I did some writing, but it was hard to wake up in the morning much less than committing to writing on my blog every day.
After a period of healing and not blogging regularly for about a year and a half, I longed to return to my sanctuary. I did start blogging again, but gone were my regular visitors. A lot of my posts were met with crickets and rightfully so. I had dropped away from the community that had nourished me when I needed it the most.
Getting Back On Track
I had wanted to revamp my blog for a while and I decided that it was the perfect time after being in one blog space for six years. My first step was to move to a new CMS so I packed my bags and moved from Typepad to WordPress. Starting fresh in new blogging digs can help to relight your writing lamp, just like getting a new haircut can snap you out of social hibernation after a break-up. You want to show off your new site and court new suitors (followers)!
In this case you also want to win your old loves back. It won’t happen right away. You’ll need to create great content like you did before and also return to your old stomping grounds and pay your old blogging pals a visit. Not because you want them to comment on your posts, but because you truly missed them. If time is a factor, choose one day a week, perhaps on a Sunday to read through some blog sites that you missed.
Face it, some of your pals may be over you. It’s okay. You can also use this time to make new blogging buddies. Contribute to their conversations and posts authentically and you will find yourself rebuilding your community in no time.
Life isn’t predictable and anything can happen at any time. I didn’t mention my losses as a way to excuse the fact that I took too long of a break from my blog, but to say they were the reason. I’m not sure if I would have done it differently, but now that I’m on the other side I can think of a few things I could have done to stay more connected.
As a person who likes to maintain control I don’t readily share my challenges when they are happening. I tend to give a wrap up later on. I could have shared what I was going through earlier and ask that my followers keep me in mind and that I would be taking a break. That way they wouldn’t think that I was abandoning them, but just taking time to attend to my personal needs.
As far as contributing content, as writers we often get spurts where we write a lot. All posts need not be shared at the time of creation. Some can be stored and scheduled for later. When you get busy or need to take a break are perfect times to take some posts out of the freezer and serve them up.
Having people you admire write guest posts for your blog or site can also fill in the gap when you’re otherwise occupied.
I don’t anticipate having to take such a long break from blogging again, but I may have to revisit this post in the future as a reminder of ways to stay connected even through difficult times.
Have any of you gone through something similar? How did you revive your personal writing community? Share your stories!
© 2015, TamekaMullins. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.