18 December 2013, 10:43
Everyone around me keeps telling me to blog but I really just don't want to. I never want to blog again that's how over it I am.— Hayley Hughes (@fashionhayley) December 3, 2013
On Twitter the other day, I saw an O.G. blogger — Fashion Hayley — tweet the above. I was surprised, because Hayley has had her domain for longer than I have, and her blog is a great resource for finding out about crazy, colourful, original new designers. In fact, when Kat, Shauna and I went to Melbourne, I used Hayley’s blog to make a list of shops we wanted to hit!
I responded to her, and as I wrote, I realised that I had a lot more to say on the topic. So here goes.
At one of our Blogcademy classes in Melbourne, we kicked off day two with a guided meditation led by a student. During the meditation, we were given time to see our blogs as an energetic body, and we were able to ask it questions and listen for answers.
I know that sounds kooky… And to be fair, I had my doubts as to whether anything meaningful would come out of it. But it turned out to be immensely illuminating.
My blog had a message for me. In these exact words, it told me: Treat it like play.
This immediately made sense to me.
The things that once gave you a thrill sometimes seem to dry up overnight. The magic doesn’t just stick around forever, it can disappear in a cloud of vapour in any area of your life. How many women have woken up one day, looked over at their husband, and thought, ‘God, I can’t do this anymore’? How many people go to work every day feeling dead inside?
Magic, mystery, fun and passion don’t just hang about. They are a byproduct of the effort you put into life.
I started blogging, unofficially, in 1997, and I’ve had galadarling.com for seven years. Personal blogging — which is what I used to do — and blogging for a living are two very different beasts. But over this 16 year period, the most vital thing I’ve discovered is that you have to do it for the fun of it.
Over the last seven years, I’ve been struck down with writer’s block several times. Sometimes I can go a couple of weeks feeling utterly uninspired. The only common thread between those moments is that they seem to happen when it feels like all the fun has been sucked out of blogging.
When I get overly scheduled, start to feel obligated with sponsored posts, or am looking at other people’s blogs too often, that siphons the joy out of blogging for me. Often, the best way to bust through the blocks is to do what feels most fun or silly in the moment, as opposed to following your editorial calendar, doing what is expected, or sticking to your routine.
As much as all popular bloggers have their recipe, routine and normal posts, the thing that is most enjoyable — at least to me — is throwing stuff at the wall to see what will stick. Often it’s something weird or bizarre. For example, a few months ago, I derived an immense amount of pleasure from launching a ridiculous and short-lived column called Oh, Marilyn! It literally consisted of photos of Marilyn Manson juxtaposed with some of my favourite things he’s ever said in interviews past.
Think back to when you first started blogging. I bet that if you dig back in your archives, despite the many cringe-worthy moments, you will see flashes of genius and glimmers of brilliant creativity. It’s when you’re first starting that you’re thinking with no limits, because anything is possible.
When I get all reminiscent about it, and recall my Livejournal (or even scribble.nu) roots, I remember that in the late ’90s and early ’00s, writing online was just a big experiment in what made me laugh or smile.
When I start to feel like I “have” to write about this or that, I feel creatively stifled. It’s in those moments that I delight in turning left when people are expecting me to go right.
I’m not alone in feeling that way, either. A few weeks ago, I read Coreyography, Corey Feldman’s autobiography (which I really enjoyed). Within the pages, he shares the following conversation with Michael Jackson.
At some point, conversation shifted to a discussion of his upcoming sixteen-month, fifteen-country world tour, which would launch the following summer. “After the tour, I’m done,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m changing everything. I’m going to have a whole new look. No more glove. No more hat.”
“What do you mean no more glove?” I asked. “You can’t get rid of the glove!”
“I have to, Corey. I can’t keep doing the same thing forever. You have to keep changing and evolving. That’s the magic of what we do. You can’t be predictable. The second your fans think they know what they can expect from you, you become uninteresting. You have to keep moving forward.”
It’s all too easy to keep plugging away with the same old columns, the same old features, the same old bullshit, just because it’s simple. You already know what the column is about, so creating the actual content to fill the space is relatively trivial. This is a great tactic when you’re first starting, but you have to diversify! Sometimes I think if I see another blog post about Pinterest favourites I’m going to scream!
We all get lazy at some point. It’s natural, it’s normal. We start to take shortcuts. We stop innovating. We think, ‘Well, I’ve been posting my outfits for years… I guess I should keep it up.’ But the truth is that if you’re bored by it, your readers are too.
Even if you’re not bored to tears, you should keep switching it up. Continue to challenge yourself! Keep pushing! Never be in “maintenance mode”. Always continue to strive, do better, go bigger.
I have been making a fairly conscious and consistent effort to step away from “fashion blogging” over the last few years. It just doesn’t interest me anymore. Do I love clothes and writing about style? Yes, absolutely! But do I love going to fashion week and posting photos of my outfits? Not really. The bloom is well and truly off that rose.
At first when I started to step away from fashion blogging, I was very nervous about it. It had been my niche for so long, and I wasn’t exactly sure where I fit in online. But I stayed the course. Nothing could be worse than going to another fashion week, I told myself, so I would keep doing what felt right!
I kept plugging away, and I found myself becoming involved with a new group of people, like Gabby Bernstein, Jonathan Fields, Danielle LaPorte, and Kris Carr. I really admired these people, and they were sharing information that I found truly meaningful.
Meeting women like Gabby has enriched my life far beyond what I could have imagined. It has helped me to expand my vision of what I can do, and helped me focus on how I can really help others. Most crucially, we would never have come into one another’s orbit if I had just kept blogging my outfits!
A blog isn’t just a blog: it is a chronicle of your life, and just like your soul, it is constantly evolving. If blogging is getting boring and it’s starting to feel uncomfortable or constricting, maybe the subject matter doesn’t fit you anymore… And that is perfectly okay.
Think of your blogging the way you think of your art, your cooking, your parenting, or your style. These things are always changing, improving on themselves, getting incrementally better. Your blog should do the same.
Resist stagnation; embrace fun! Be silly. Blogging is not that serious. It’s this kind of thinking that gets you in trouble in the first place!
Photos by Miles Aldridge.