Dealing With Imposter Syndrome As A Writer

What is a writer? This is what pops up when you Google it:

Three definitions for “writer” via Google

Are you a writer?

According to the dictionary, if you haven’t published anything, don’t write for work, or aren’t known for writing in a specific way, you’re not a writer.

But that’s not true!

If you regularly write stories, poetry, essays, or anything else for fun, or write in a journal, you’re a writer. There isn’t a specific task you must complete to be considered a writer. There’s no “write” of passage.

If you write, you’re a writer.

It took me forever to believe that.

I didn’t feel like I could call myself a writer for the longest time. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I wrote stories for fun, but I didn’t call myself a writer. I certainly couldn’t call myself a writer in college because I never wrote for fun and spent a lot of time questioning if I even liked writing while I obtained my degree in English. (Dramatic, I know.) When I got my first freelance writing job in March 2020, it took me a couple of weeks to realize that I was “officially” a writer.

This is imposter syndrome.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is when you can’t give yourself the credit you deserve because you feel like you’re faking it or doing it wrong. It’s not something you can be officially diagnosed with, but many people experience these feelings.

If you’re a writer with imposter syndrome, you might find writing challenging when you can’t even recognize your own talent. Perhaps you think that every paragraph or stanza is utter garbage, and your piece gets worse with every page. Maybe you deny yourself the title of Writer because you don’t have anything to show for yourself. Maybe you have awards, certificates, and degrees, but you still feel like you haven’t earned any of the praise you receive.

Imposter syndrome rears its ugly head in many ways.

My imposter syndrome looks like this:

  • I don’t like to tell people I’m a writer because then they’d ask me about what I’m writing, and I don’t have anything good enough to show them yet.
  • I don’t have a book published yet, so how can I be a writer? I’m a blogger, at best.
  • So many writers are better than me.
  • It’s difficult to write for more than thirty minutes at a time without distractions. Writers can write effortlessly.
  • I don’t read often enough which affects my ability to be a writer. If I don’t read, I’m not a writer.
  • I always have to look up definitions and I tend to spell a lot of words wrong. What kind of writer struggles like this?

It’s all silly, right?

I know I don’t need a bookshelf full of my work, be capable of focusing for six hours straight, or have perfect grammar to be a writer. Yet, I often worry about things like that.

Imposter syndrome can also cause you to work harder just to feel like you earned the title you already have. If you’re on the payroll as a Writer, Blogger, or Editor, or perhaps someone who manages these roles, you may find yourself working twice as hard just to feel like you deserve that title.

What To Do About Imposter Syndrome

Overcoming imposter syndrome will require a lot of work on your part because it will require you to change your mindset and thought patterns. Here are some things you can try if you don’t know where to start.

Look At The Facts

Those who tend to feel imposter syndrome are likely so overwhelmed by feelings that they overlook logic.

Analyze your life. What makes you a writer? Do you write poetry, fiction, or personal essays? Do you earn money for what you write? Do you volunteer your writing skills?

I’ll say it again: If you write, you’re a writer.

Perhaps you’re hesitant to call yourself a writer because there are Writers who get paid to write for a living. Don’t confuse the noun with the proper noun. You can be a writer without being a Writer. The only difference is that corporate gave you that capital W!

Talk About It

I don’t like to talk about how I feel, but I start to feel better when I finally do. Whether you turn to a family member, friend, Twitter mutual, or a therapist, talking about it will likely make you feel better.

If you’re not much of a talker, try writing it down in a journal first. Taking the time to sit with your thoughts and put them on the page might benefit you, too. Once you’ve faced your feelings, you might be able to talk about them with someone else.

Show Off Your Work

This one will contradict how you’re feeling, and that’s the point. If you don’t show people your work because “it’s not good enough,” that’s more of a reason to show it off! You think it’s not good enough, but how will you know if you’re right or wrong if you don’t receive any feedback? You may be pleasantly surprised once you let others see what you’re capable of.

Here are simple ways to show off your work:

  • Let a friend or family member read what you wrote recently
  • Start publishing posts on a blog
  • Trade stories or poems with a writer friend
  • Ask someone to critique your work
  • Post a sample of your work on social media

If you haven’t convinced yourself that you’re a writer, you might benefit from hearing others saying it. Letting others into this part of your life is difficult, but it’s worth doing.

I don’t let anyone see the novel I’m writing, and I spend far too long making sure my blog posts are near perfection before I publish them. I know firsthand that this suggestion is difficult, but that’s why I’m suggesting it!

Connect With Other Writers

Grow your circle of writing buddies and have them look at your work from time to time, whether it’s for critique or just a simple, “what do you think?” Writers can give you more helpful insight than your non-writer friends can. You’ll get more honest feedback if you’re in a writing group. The people you know typically spare your feelings, so it’s good to let people you’re not as close with see your work.

If you’re short on writing acquaintances, join groups, follow writers on social media, or follow writers’ blogs.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop Writing

Everyone deals with self-doubt at some point. The best thing you can do to overcome it by yourself is to keep writing. Imposter syndrome may convince you to give up, but that’s the last thing you should do!

Even if you can’t bring yourself to let others see your work, write every day. If you can’t convince yourself you’re good at what you do, write every day. You’re going to struggle, especially when your imposter syndrome is hard at work, but that’s all the more reason to keep trying.

I Won NaNoWriMo 2021

The NaNoWriMo Winner 2021 banner from nanowrimo.org

On November 30th, 2021, I won National Novel Writing Month!

The Stats

A graph showing the climb from 0 to 50,000 words

As you can see, I started off strong.

On the first day, I was ready to go. I wrote for an hour at midnight, a couple of hours in the morning, and again later in the evening. I wrote a total of 3,550 words that day. Getting so far ahead on the first day allowed me to stay ahead until I started to fall behind around the 19th.

My motivation staggered for several days, followed by a couple of days of not writing at all. That big jump at the end was on the 28th, when I wrote just over 5,000 words!

A graph showing my daily word count

My daily word count chart has many ups and downs, some more drastic than others. Can you guess when I burned out a little?

Winning Is A Huge Deal

I won NaNoWriMo.

I won NaNoWriMo!

I haven’t said that in almost a week, and it still feels good. I squealed when I updated my word count and got the winner screen. Word on the street says I shed a tear, but I can neither confirm nor deny that rumor.

Winning NaNoWriMo is a huge feat. Writing a novel in one month isn’t easy. Perhaps some writers think it’s easy, but for me, it certainly wasn’t.

I attempted NaNoWriMo in 2014 in high school and again in 2016 in college. Both times I failed to reach even 7,000 words. This year, when I hit 7,000, I had a feeling I was going to win. This year felt different than my last two attempts: I had a detailed outline to keep me on course, I had more time to dedicate to writing, and I had a story I actually believed in.

At 10,000 words, I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t written that much for a single story before. 25,000 had me astonished. I fell behind for a while, but when I hit 40,000, I could see the finish line. I considered myself a winner already because there was no way I would let myself lose this.

To Think I Almost Gave Up On Writing

Mentally speaking, I had a rough time in college. I was working toward an English degree, but I fell out of love with writing while doing it. I declared I wanted to be an author when I grew up when I was eleven years old and felt that way until college. At eighteen years old, I wasn’t sure English was what I wanted to study. I felt like I wasn’t good at writing anymore, and I hadn’t read for fun in years. So what was I doing studying English?

Fast forward to my junior year, and you’ll see me fretting over my identity. I hated my English degree. I hated reading. I didn’t want to be a writer anymore. But how could I feel that way when I’d been writing stories since I was eight or nine? My whole life revolved around writing, so not loving it anymore made me question my purpose and who I was as a person. If I’m not a writer, who am I?

Fortunately, I progressed beyond my personal Dark Ages and enjoyed writing again. Once I got my first freelance job in March 2020, I got my confidence back. I was ghostwriting at the time and couldn’t take credit for my work, but I managed to find my published article online and couldn’t stop smiling. It felt right to see my work on the internet, even though someone else’s name was on it.

With each success freelancing brought me—sending my first invoice, having two gigs at once, my first decent-paying gig, my first article with my name on it, my very own website—my confidence got a boost. Most importantly, I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.

I’m A Writer

I’m a writer, there’s no doubt about it.

Winning NaNoWriMo was more than just winning a fun internet challenge; it solidified my identity as a writer and an author. I know who I want to be, and I’m confident I’ll get there.

Writing an entire novel and getting it published seemed impossible when I was eleven. But look at me now: I have 50,000 words and counting. I’m in the middle of accomplishing my dream. Wouldn’t she be proud?

Now What?

I’m sure many first-time winners ask, “Now what?” on December 1st. I didn’t necessarily feel that way because I still have a book to write! I stopped at 50,000 words on the dot, but my story isn’t finished. I’m at least halfway through it at this point. I intended to have thirty chapters, and I’m currently on the fifteenth, but I think I’ll change the ending and have fewer chapters. It’s hard to say how many words my book will end up being.

I haven’t worked on it since the 30th because I needed a break. I’ve never written that consistently before in my life. Although I enjoyed it and hope to keep up that kind of progress in the future, I’m not the kind of person who likes to jump in headfirst and go full-throttle to the very end. I need to pace myself, or I’ll wear myself out and lose interest.

But I’ve had five days of rest, and now I’m ready to jump back in. I’m aiming to write 800 words every day instead of 1,667. I would prefer to do 1,000 each day if I can, but I need a number that won’t stress me out on the days where writing doesn’t seem like a fun activity.

Let me make one thing clear: I will finish this book and publish it.

It’s a promise to you and myself. I’ve come so far, and I won’t let myself down. Not after what I’ve been through.

*

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear about it!

For full disclosure, I intended to publish more NaNoWriMo tips posts, but it was a busy month for me, as you can imagine. Since writing is my day job, and I was writing almost 2,000 words for a novel every day, I was ready to sleep by the time I thought about blogging! My plan is to write them throughout the year and publish them next November.

You Should Attempt NaNoWriMo

Photo by Marcus Aurelius on Pexels.com

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is an insanely ambitious undertaking for most writers. You should do it.

But wait, isn’t that the thing where you try to write an entire novel in just one month? Yes, it is.

It seems like a daunting task, but I think it’s an endeavor that every writer should take on at least once. Or, in my case, three times.

Yeah, I failed twice. My second attempt barely had any effort put into it. But you know what? There’s always next year! I find NaNoWriMo to be an alluring challenge. It’s proven to be impossible to me twice, but I’m going to do it eventually. For some reason, I feel like I must.

If you’re thinking about joining, but you’re hesitating, let me convince you to go on this crazy adventure with me.

What Is NaNoWriMo?

If you haven’t heard about it before, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organization hosting National Novel Writing Month every November since 1999! I’ll refer you to their website to learn more because they do amazing things besides encouraging writers to write until their fingers break every November.

You can choose to dive into the deep on your own, or you can make an account on their website to connect with others online or locally. I’m the lone wolf type, but I coerced a friend to do it with me this year.

What Are The Rules of NaNoWriMo?

Long story short, you need to write 50,000 words in 30 days, which comes out to 1,667 words per day.

These rules are meant to be broken, of course. Sometimes you’re on a roll, and you go way over the limit, while other days, you don’t feel well, or you’re too busy eating turkey and pumpkin pie to care. As long as you reach 50,000 words, you’re good to go.

Can you write more? Of course! Most novels dance around the 100,000 words mark, and you’re sure to find novels that are even longer.

Can you write less? Sure, but according to The Write Life, many publishers accept 50,000 words as the minimum length. But for the sake of your November writing goals, a finished book is a finished book, so I won’t tell anybody if you run a little short.

Where Do I Start?

It’s customary for many writers to begin prepping their novel in October, lovingly called Preptober. NaNoWriMo offers a planning calendar to help you build worlds, characters, and a plot. If their resources don’t suit your style, that’s okay! Search on Google or your preferred social media sites for prep tips, and you’ll find a plethora of ideas and guidelines.

If you’re like me, you’ll go off course and work on the details whenever you feel like it. For 2021, I spent September writing out a detailed plot outline because I knew I’d be too busy in October to do it. I sort of wrote up descriptions for the characters, but I gave up on that pretty quickly. I have a loose description of the setting written out, although the details are more fleshed out in my mind. I’m hoping they don’t get lost before I get around to writing them down.

Some writers go into this writing challenge fully equipped with everything they need, while others are like that kid who forgot to bring a calculator to the SAT test. When the clock strikes midnight on November 1st, what you have is all you’ve got, and it’s time to get writing.

Reasons You Should Try NaNoWriMo

If you’re on the fence about if you should join in the fun, let me push you. I think you should do it. If you don’t have a writer friend to be your support system, here I am. I spent many November 1sts wondering if I’d regret not joining, and I can assure you I ended up regretting it every time.

I think many writers don’t join because they don’t have someone encouraging them to do it. So, here are some reasons I think you should.

1. You Can See What You’re Capable of Doing

Can you really write an entire novel in just one month? You won’t know until you try.

Maybe you’re the type of person who loses motivation quickly, or you bail on projects because you’re easily distracted. (I sympathize. Have you seen the date of my previous blog post?) These bad habits make you think that you can’t accomplish much, but hey, you have to overcome them eventually, so why not now?

Maybe NaNoWriMo could be The Event in your life that shows you you’re capable of doing more than you give yourself credit for. It could be the breakthrough project that will help you succeed in the future.

Crashing and burning on day three is also an option, I won’t lie.

My first attempt in 2014 doesn’t even have 7,000 words. I tried again in 2016 and had even fewer words than the previous attempt. Will I surpass 7,000 this year? I’m excited to find out.

Homework, work, holidays, and life will get in the way. But as long as you tried, that’s what matters.

2. You Might Accomplish Something Great (Bragging Rights)

Yes, you might fail, but what if you succeed? What if, at the end of November 30th, you find yourself with a complete manuscript sitting in your computer files? Maybe you’ll hit 50,000 words but are nowhere near finished. You’ll still have about half of a book finished. Even 10,000 words are something to smile about.

Whatever you write in November is something you didn’t have written before, and that’s something worth bragging about. If you can’t say, “I finished my novel!” you’ll at least be able to say, “I started my novel!” How cool will that be?

3. You’ll Start A Project You Can Finish Later

Whether it’s a half-finished or entirely written manuscript, you’ll have a project ready for you to keep working on over the following months. That half-written book isn’t going to finish itself, so get to writing. That fully-finished book isn’t going to edit itself, either.

I still have my previous two attempts just waiting to be written. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to them, but I’m happy enough knowing I can go back to them when I’m ready. Part of me likes seeing my former progress frozen in time as if it’s a time capsule showing me my former ambitions.

4. You Can Get Your Schedule Organized

Depending on your typing speed and preparation, you’ll likely need at least an hour each day to dedicate to writing your novel. You’re probably looking at your calendar, wondering where you’re going to find that hour every day, right?

You have to make changes to accomplish something huge.

Maybe you need to wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later (please don’t do both). Maybe you have to sacrifice an hour of “me time” in the evenings after dinner. Or, pull out your laptop and write during meals.

Not a fan of unhealthy habits like losing sleep? Reorganize that schedule. Shift those priorities. It’s just one month. You may hate it, but it won’t be forever.

I’m fortunate enough to enjoy slow mornings as a freelancer, but I’m going to have to sacrifice an hour or two of it just to write. But I’m excited about it, so it shouldn’t be so bad.

If you can’t commit to daily writing, that’s okay, too. If you have spare time a couple of days each week, use that time block to write like the wind. Instead of focusing on 1,667 words per day, focus on 11,669 words per week. It’s a more daunting number, but you can divide it up as needed as you go about your week.

Excuses You’ll Make to Get Out of It

I can hear your “But, I—” from here. Whatever excuse you’ve made, I’ve probably made it, too.

“But, I’ve failed before.”

“But, I’m in college and have too much homework.”

“But, I’m too tired.”

Remember what I said before: It’s just one month. If you really, genuinely want to do this, you’re going to have to make some changes and stick with them.

We make excuses because we’re scared. We’re scared to be uncomfortable or fail. You can’t fail if you don’t try, right?

Wrong. I find myself regretting the things I was too scared to do more than the things I did.

So, let’s take a look at these excuses you’re probably going to make, and I’ll talk you out of them.

1. But I Don’t Have the Time

I hear you. I do. But, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I lay in bed for 30 minutes on my phone before I go to sleep or after I wake up?
  • Do I spend a lot of time scrolling aimlessly on social media?
  • Do I have a long commute?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have some time to spare if you practice self-discipline.

Not all social media time is useless (talking to friends, promoting your business), but I can guarantee some of that time you spend scrolling could be better spent writing a novel.

If your phone can track your screen time, check how much time you spend on social media, games, and other apps. How much of that time can be dedicated to your book?

I know it’s 2021, and more people are working from home these days, but some of you might still have a long commute to work or school. If you’re riding public transportation, take a laptop or a notebook and pen with you. If you’re driving, record your voice and speak your pages into existence. Perhaps your passenger would be willing to transcribe your work for you.

I tried NaNoWriMo while I was in college. I “didn’t have the time,” but I know I did. I spent many hours between classes watching YouTube that I could’ve spent writing. I managed to find time for video games that should’ve been novel writing time. Okay, maybe that time should’ve been spent on homework, but you get the idea.

2. But I Celebrate Thanksgiving

If you’re in the United States, you probably wish NaNoWriMo could take place in a month that doesn’t have a major holiday. Why November when Wednesday is spent cooking, Thursday is spent dealing with spending time with family, and Friday is the day we go shopping? (I think Black Friday is a thing of the past, but I digress.)

Let’s refer back to reason number four why you should try NaNoWriMo: You can get your schedule organized. Load up a YouTube playlist of how to organize your life, and get to watching. How can you work around two or three days of family fun and food? Are you really going to let a couple of days throw off your whole month?

I won’t make any promises, but I’m sure you’ll have enough good writing days that you’ll have some wiggle room at the end of the month. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you should have around 42,000 words. If you can have 45,000 words before the holiday arrives, that will safely afford you two days of no writing.

Maybe your Thanksgiving isn’t a fantastic seven-course meal, and your household isn’t filled to the brim with extended family members. If your holiday is more subtle or not observed, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Grab your laptop and get to writing. (Shoo away family members as needed.)

3. But My Idea Isn’t Good Enough

Maybe you didn’t prepare for NaNoWriMo at all, or you realized 10,000 words in that there’s a significant plot hole. Sometimes, what seemed like a good idea will look like a bad idea and leave you wondering how on earth you’re going to get to 50,000 words in the end.

Here are a few suggestions if you find yourself stuck at some point in November:

  • Write out of order. If you’re stuck in chapter 7 but know what happens in chapter 14, go ahead and write chapter 14 while those ideas are fresh in your mind. Do you have enough ideas to write chapters 14-20? Do it! You can figure out 7-13 later.
  • Take a day to revise your plot. It’s risky to get behind on your word count, but it’s even riskier to move forward without a solid plan.
  • Consult a plot generator. The internet is full of helpful websites for moments such as these. Try a plot generator like this one to see if it can suggest some ideas to help you move to the next bit.

You shouldn’t be worrying about this if you haven’t started writing yet. You don’t know where your creativity will take you! Maybe you know that Character A will do X during Plot Point A, and they’ll do Z during Plot Point C, but what’s the Y and B? It’s okay if you don’t know. Let’s worry about writing chapter 1 first.

4. But My Attention Span Is Too Short

Sigh, me too.

As someone who struggles to stay focused, I find that the Pomodoro Technique works wonders. You only have to commit to working for 25 minutes, and then you can take a five-minute break. When that break is over, work for another 25 minutes. Your fourth break should be 20-30 minutes. You can adjust the time increments as needed to fit your working style.

If that doesn’t work for you:

  • Download apps, Chrome extensions, or utilize websites to help you turn off distractions.
  • Lock yourself in your room with your phone on the other side of the door.
  • Clear everything off your desk except a notebook and a pen.
  • Pick a new location to write in during November.

Do what you must to make sure you’ll keep your writing commitments.

The most crucial step is to prioritize writing.

I struggle to stay focused on my work unless it’s the day it’s due. Suddenly, I’m on top of things. Why? Because my priorities shift when I realize what day it is. With my phone silenced and my body glued to the chair (metaphorically), I get my work done because it has to be done. There’s no other option.

Until you genuinely prioritize writing, you’re likely going to struggle actually doing it.

Prepare, For NaNoWriMo Is Nigh

At the time of publishing this blog post, NaNoWriMo 2021 is thirteen days away. I’m about 90% prepared. I printed up a word count calendar and taped it to my wall to serve as my reminder that it’s almost time to get to work.

I truly hope you consider joining if you haven’t decided to already. You don’t need to be a fantastic writer to join. You don’t have to sacrifice every hour of sleep in the name of success, but I’ll admire your audacity if you do.

Writing is more fun with friends, so find me on social media if you don’t have a writing buddy! I’ll be more than happy to hear about your plot and characters, help you brainstorm when you get stuck, and prod you every day with “Have you reached your word count?” That is if you want me to bug you, of course. Follow me on Twitter to read my progress updates and complain about it with me in the wee hours of the night.

I hope to publish some NaNoWriMo tips either before or during November. If I don’t, you know why.

Happy writing!

How to Decide If a Blog Niche Is Right For You

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Starting a blog is easy with the right tools. Finding that perfect blog niche, however, is the tough part. You might have a topic that you’re passionate about, but can you stick with it for a long time? It can be hard to tell.

I recently started a new blog called Where Plants Go to Die. It’s about gardening and houseplants (and my inability to keep them alive most the time). I wasn’t sure if it was the right blog niche for me. I’ve wanted to have a plant-related blog for a long time, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stick with it since I only occasionally keep a garden during the summer and kill all my houseplants (hence the title).

Ask questions

How do you decide if the idea for your new blog is the right one for you? I wasn’t sure how to tackle this at first, so I started a brain dump. I wrote out a bunch of questions, then, I went back and answered those questions.

This simple process helped me do many things:

  • Realize how passionate I am about this topic
  • Get an idea of how I would be able to use the blog
  • Brainstorm topics
  • Ignite excitement
  • Create an action plan

This thought process helped me out tremendously. If you want to start a blog of your own, I highly recommend trying this for yourself.

Here are the questions I asked. I’ll go into detail about each one:

  • What is it about?
  • Who is it for?
  • What are the possible main topics?
  • What are possible secondary topics?
  • How often would you like to post?
  • How often could you realistically post?
  • How much do you care about this topic?
  • How much could you write about this topic?
  • What kind of expertise is required?
    • Do you have it?
    • Could you obtain it?
  • What would “the end of the blog” look like?
  • Can you contribute unique information?
  • Is this professional or personal?
  • What monetization opportunities are there?
    • Are they feasible?
    • Is monetization important to you?
  • How could you connect with other bloggers in this niche?
  • What are some blog titles you could use?
  • Why do you want to make this blog?

Not all questions need an answer. They’re only meant to help you start thinking so you can determine if your blog idea is the right path.

Write out the answers to the questions. Don’t just think about the answers. Write them out so you can see them. Write out your thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Treat it like a messy journal entry. If answering a question toward the end makes you think of something to write down for a question in the beginning, go ahead and do so. I did that, myself.

You’re not just writing useless answers. You’re documenting ideas that you can come back to later.

What is it about?

It’s a simple question, but it’s arguably the most important. A blog without direction is messy.

Imagine going to a blog that promises to be about baking, but there are multiple posts about politics, auto repair, and volunteering. If you want your blog to be about all of those topics, that’s perfectly fine. But, you need to advertise your blog as such.

Your blog topic is going to draw in readers that are interested in that topic. If someone wants to go to your blog about baking and they have no interest whatsoever in auto repair, they might stop visiting your blog if you keep posting about that.

Decide what your blog is about and don’t stray from it. Of course, it’s okay if you want your blog to be a little of this and a little of that. Just make sure your readers know that ahead of time.

Who is it for?

Think about who your target audience is. This might be a tough question because it easily has a simple answer: anybody who’s interested.

That’s not necessarily the case, however.

Let’s go back to the example of the baking/politics/auto repair/volunteering blog. Who is that for? Handy bakers who want to make the world a better place? That’s specific, but maybe that’s the intended audience. If so, you can easily market your blog to that audience and form a community online who enjoys going to your blog.

I’ll use my plant blog as another example. It’s about plants. More specifically, houseplants and gardening. Most plant lovers love both houseplants and gardening. With all the videos and websites I’ve seen about the plant obsession, I don’t think I’ve seen too many people who are enthusiastic about one and hates the other. I can easily market my blog to “plant lovers.”

It’s possible for me to have issues with my target audience, however. If someone hates gardening but loves houseplants, and I start talking about gardening for a month or two at a time, I risk losing the houseplant lovers. If I venture out into the topic of environmentalism because it sort of pertains to plants, I risk losing all of my plant-loving audience if they aren’t interested in environmentalism, because that’s not why they came to the blog.

What are possible main topics?

Make a list of everything that pertains directly to your blog topic. Don’t steer too far off course. This list needs to be as focused on the topic as possible. These topics are the foundation of your blog.

Here are some main topics I wrote for my plant blog when I went through this process myself:

  • Garden progress
  • Houseplants
  • Organic gardening
  • Plant rescue (Propagating or restoring plants I find)

What are possible secondary topics?

Think of secondary topics as being a little off-topic, but not so far off that your main audience will lose interest. Make a list for this group, as well.

Again, here are some things I wrote for my blog:

  • Plant wish lists
  • Plant hauls
  • My favorite ____

My secondary topics are personal. They’d only interest the readers that want to get to know me as a person.

How often would you like to post?

What are your visions for this blog? Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly posts? This where you’re allowed to reach for the stars.

how often could you realistically post?

This is not where you reach for the stars. Instead, you need to be as realistic as possible.

Things to think about when answering this question include:

  • How much time can you contribute to this blog?
  • Is the topic evergreen? That is, is it relevant all year long?
  • What obligations do you have that would prevent you from posting regularly?

The example of the baking/politics/auto repair/volunteering blog might have difficulty juggling all four topics. Baking tends to be more popular in November and December because of holidays. Politics tends to be more popular every four years in the USA. Auto repair is evergreen. Volunteering is evergreen but might spike if a cause is getting a lot of attention in the media.

Let’s say this blog is your blog, and you decide to post once a week. Which topic do you post about, and how do you decide that? Or do you make four posts each week? That might be difficult to keep up with, especially if blogging isn’t your full-time job.

How much do you care about this topic?

A blogger that lacks passion might not be a blogger for long. You need to care about the topic enough to be able to post again and again, especially if you’re trying to make your blog work for you financially.

Caring might not even mean enjoying it. If you want your blog to be about a serious topic, like a cause or a political issue, you might not think it’s too fun to write about. But, if you care deeply about the subject, you’ll have the drive to continue.

how much could you write about this topic?

In other words, how much content do you have to contribute to this topic?

When I was answering this question, I noted that sometimes I don’t have money to buy a new houseplant, and I don’t keep a garden in the winter. That means I might have some dry spots on my plant blog where I don’t have much content to contribute. I’ll have to rely on some evergreen informational content to carry me through the winter.

This is where your secondary topics can help you. If you find yourself in a slow spot, take a look at the secondary topics you jotted down to see if there’s something else you can write about until you’re able to get back into the groove with your regular programming.

What kind of expertise is required?

Some topics require expertise. Do you have it? Could you obtain it?

If your blog is personal or opinion-based and you don’t intend to claim expertise in an area, you could probably skip this question. Still, if you’re going to make claims, it’s important to prove that you know what you’re doing, even if you only have to prove it to yourself.

What would the “end of the blog” look like?

Everything has to come to an end eventually. Or does it? You need to decide if your blog has a specific lifespan or an end goal. If it’s the kind of blog that will last “forever” as long as there’s content available, you need to figure out if it’s possible to run out of content. If it is possible, when will that happen?

Remember that the end of your blog can’t always be determined. Perhaps a new obligation will pop up in your life that will take up too much of your blogging time. Maybe you want to blog about a fad that will eventually go out of style. Consider these things when you’re answering this question.

Can you contribute unique information?

What do you bring to the table that’s different than what everyone else is writing?

If you Google, “how to bake a cake,” you will see several results about vanilla cake, white cake, and of course, how to bake a cake. Most of it looks the same, so it almost doesn’t matter which website you choose.

You want to stand out, right? If someone stumbles across your blog, you need to be memorable. How can you do that? If you know the secret to bake a vanilla cake in 5 minutes flat, that’s unique. You might draw in someone’s attention.

Don’t stress yourself over standing out. While it’s important for getting more views, what’s most important is that your blog provides good content, whether “good” means useful, informative, or entertaining.

Is this Professional or personal?

Are you going to use your voice, or are you going to sound like Wikipedia? It’s possible to be professional and provide information while showing your personality.

That’s what I try to accomplish on this blog. It’s my blog, not a blog; there’s a difference! I want to provide resources for writers, so I try to keep it on the professional side. However, I’m a person with a personality, and I don’t mind if it shows through.

Your blog topic, audience, and purpose will all determine how the blog should be written. A professional tone probably isn’t appropriate for a blog titled A Day in the Life of Fido, featuring your dog.

What Monetization opportunities are there?

Money isn’t everything, but with blogging, it can be something. Even if your purpose for blogging isn’t to make money, it’s wise to be aware of ways your blog could be a source of income, in case you do decide to go that route eventually.

Are they feasible?

Once you determine the possible income opportunities of your blog, consider what steps to take to make it happen. Again, money doesn’t have to be the driving force for your blog, but it doesn’t hurt to start taking steps in that direction in the very beginning.

Is Monetization important to you?

The answer to this question isn’t too important. All you need to know is your purpose for blogging. If monetization is an important aspect of blogging for you, then it will probably change how you go about building and marketing your blog.

How could you connect with other bloggers in this niche?

Socializing with other bloggers is a great way to spread awareness about your blog while simultaneously showing support for others. Blogging can be a solitary activity, but it can also be community driven. It’s possible that the people interested in reading about your topic have their own blogs in the same niche, as well.

It’s wise to connect with other bloggers so you can support each other. You might recommend their blog to someone, and in return, they can recommend yours to someone else. It’s a great way to help each other find new readers.

Places you can connect with other bloggers include:

  • Other blogs
  • Social media (make use of those hashtags!)
  • Discussion forums
  • YouTube videos/comments

What are some blog titles you could use?

Search the blog names as you brainstorm so you won’t get your heart set on a title, only to find out later that it’s taken.

Why do you want to make this blog?

When I jotted down these questions, I saved answering this one for last. As you answer all these questions, you’re thinking about the why. I grew more excited to start my plant and gardening blog with each question. By the time I reached this one, I had quite a bit to say about it.

I had been contemplating a plant blog for quite a long time. As I mentioned before, though, I had concerns with starting it up because my gardening and houseplant care can be sporadic. I needed to think about if I could really commit to blogging about it.

Answering these questions helped me out a lot. It helped me think of future blog post ideas, and now I have a bit of a game plan for the blog, too. Better yet, it allowed me to have new content for this blog, too.

Hopefully, these questions will help you out, too. I didn’t get these questions from other websites — I sat down and started typing out questions based on the answers I needed to find. This list isn’t perfect, and I can’t promise that it’ll help you solve all your problems, but I certainly hope it’ll at least point you in the right direction.

Seasoned bloggers, what other questions would you add to the list?

New bloggers, did something in this post help you in any way? I’d love to hear if it did.

How to Push Through Writer’s Block

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If you write, I’m sure you’re well-acquainted with dear old Writer’s Block. He shows up when you don’t want him to and stays way past his welcome. So rude, right?

It feels like I’ve always been well-acquainted with writer’s block. Whether it was essays for classes or writing for fun, there was always something trying to stop me. I’d either feel like I was out of ideas or didn’t know how to start. I still get stuck now, and I’m sure it’s not something that goes away.

Fortunately, this can be treated! Here are some tips to help push through this blockage. They are all tactics I personally use. (I cannot guarantee a 100% success rate.)

Listen to [different] music.

What do you usually listen to when you’re writing? If you’re having trouble getting started or continuing an idea, try changing up your music. If you typically listen to instrumental, try something with lyrics. If you listen to any music, try nature sounds. Try turning off the TV if you write while you watch, or try total silence if you’re used to having noise.

You can also try a different source of music. I’m an avid user of Spotify and will swear by it until I die, but sometimes when I feel like I’m in a rut, I’ll look for instrumental music on YouTube to get some new ideas. The smallest change can really help me out.

Journal for 10-20 minutes.

Sometimes writer’s block is just a form of procrastination. If you find yourself unable to write what needs to be written for work or school, try writing about yourself. Grab a journal or a Google Doc and treat it like a diary page – complain, write down the dream you had last night in vivid detail, or write about what you should be writing. Once you get into the flow of writing, it should be much easier for you to work on more important things.

Walk away.

This one isn’t recommended if you’re under a tight deadline or lack self-control. I’ve learned that sometimes the best way to combat writer’s block is to walk away from the project for a bit. This can easily turn into putting it off for longer than intended, so be careful! Taking a break from the project will give you time to rest and think about it, which will likely allow you to brainstorm new ideas.

If you’re worried about time and procrastination, walk away literally. Take a walk for 30 – 60 minutes outside. I’m able to get a lot of deep thinking done when I take a walk alone. It’s definitely a great boost in productivity in the afternoon!

Commit to a specific length of time.

Setting a time limit for a writing session will create a sense of pressure that will hopefully aid you in writing yourself out of your writer’s block. Set a timer for however long you need, even if it’s only fifteen minutes. Once the timer begins, don’t do anything but write! If you have to get up, pause the timer so you’ll be able to come back and fulfill the requirement you made. Setting a timer and not following through defeats the purpose.

Create the perfect writing environment.

Before you sit down to write, make your writing area fully stocked and ready to go so you won’t feel the need to get up in the middle of it. This tip works well with the previous one of setting a timer. Use the bathroom beforehand, have a couple of snacks right there with you along with something to drink, and make sure you have enough of your writing tools, whether that’s a fully charged battery or paper and ink.

Make sure your timer is set correctly and your music is loaded up fully before you begin writing, as well. If you’re the kind of person that gets easily distracted by background programs you’re working with, this is super important. I often get distracted just to make sure good music is queued up or that my timer will indeed stop after one hour, so I try to make sure those things are taken care of before I start writing. Also, be sure to silence your devices!

To create the perfect writing environment, know your weaknesses, and how to prevent them!

How do you overcome writer’s block? Changing my routine is always helpful, so I’m happy to hear your advice.

4 Reasons Why It’s So Hard to Start Writing

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You know how hard it is to start writing.

Although I will be specifically talking about writing in this post, I think this difficulty of beginning can apply to any project. You have an idea, you think it through, you promise yourself you’ll start it tomorrow, and then tomorrow never comes because you keep putting it off.

I often find myself staring at the blinking cursor at the top of the page with no words there. I have an idea, but how do I start it? Dialogue? Describe the setting? How do I start off a blog post? I’m sure many of you can relate to this to some extent.

Why is it so hard to start? I have a few ideas about this.

We fear not being able to finish what we started.

Failing doesn’t feel good. Nobody wakes up excited to fail something. So if we don’t start a project, we can’t have the opportunity to fail…right? That’s not a great philosophy to live by, but I think some of us might have that subconscious thought from time to time.

The only way to overcome this fear is to attack it head-on. It can be difficult to finish what you started writing, especially if it’s long, but imagine how accomplished you’ll feel once you have it done. Let that be what drives you to the finish line.

The blank page is daunting.

A cursor blinks amid a sea of white, sending a shiver down your spine. How is one supposed to create a brilliant blog post, a highly-detailed universe, or moving poetry out of nothing? Isn’t it wild how our imaginations can create absolutely anything we want it to through words?

To do this, we need discipline. I’ve learned that if I don’t sit myself down and say, “You’re going to write whether you like it or not,” it won’t get done. The empty page is the biggest speed bump. Just crack your knuckles and get to writing, even if the words don’t flow right away.

We don’t know how to start.

If you’ve ever heard of NaNoWriMo, you probably know what planners and “pantsers” are. I tend to be a “pantser,” meaning that I rarely plan out what I’m going to write. I’m becoming a planner, however. I’ve learned that it keeps me focused. But my pantser way of life always leaves me wondering how I’m going to begin a story.

I spend a lot of time thinking about my story ideas as movies. Do I picture a drone-like view of the setting first, or dialogue between two characters that reveal a little bit about the situation? It’s difficult to decide most of the time, but the best way I overcome this is to pick one and write. If I end up hating it, that’s fine. I can always change it later!

I have also learned that the best way to start writing is to start writing. Sometimes I begin with a journal entry in a different document. I spend a few minutes writing about my day or what I hope to accomplish in my writing session. Once I get started, it’s easy for me to switch over to my story and write for that because I already built up the momentum.

Writing can be hard work.

Writing doesn’t sound hard. All you have to do is transfer your idea onto paper/word processor via writing or typing with the power of language. That’s it. Easy peasy.

Sometimes, writing is neither easy nor peasy. Focusing can be a chore, there are one hundred other things you should be doing, you’d rather take a nap, the chair is too uncomfortable, or you have to face a topic that’s really uncomfortable to write. There will always be a reason not to write. When you’re faced with the temptation to back away from the computer or paper, ask yourself this:

What made me want to write this in the first place?

What put that blog post in your mind? What sparked that idea for your next chapter? What is that thought you so desperately want to share with the world? Things worth doing will be hard to do. Remind yourself why you wanted to do it and use that as motivation. Write it down on a sticky note and put it on the wall in front of you, if you have to. Write it on your hand, if that will help. You’ve set out to write for one reason or another, so you need to commit and finish.

What are your reasons for not writing? What makes it so hard for you to start a new project? I’d love to discuss it in the comments!

3 Reasons I Blame Social Media for Ruining My Relationship with Reading

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I used to read, but then I joined social media.

In my previous blog post, I suggested that social media caused me to hate reading. I believe that to be true. I also believe that I don’t really hate reading; I just developed unhealthy habits that resulted in a bad relationship with reading. 

It’s like eating healthy. You decide to make a healthy change and start eating well for several months, but then the holidays hit, and before you know it, you’re back to your old ways of eating junk and garbage. Once you’re eating junk and garbage, it’s hard to imagine yourself eating healthy because, well, that’s gross and broccoli and kale can’t compare to fried foods and sugar.

My relationship with reading is precisely like that. Thank you, Twitter.

I loved reading as a kid. As a teeny kid, I always wanted my parents to read to me. When I began learning to read, I would get so excited about being literate that I would run around the room screaming, “I’m reading! I’m reading!” 

I continued to be an avid reader in school. AR tests? Aced them. Finished an assignment early? I spent my free time reading. I always went to the school library when I could and always had as many books checked out as they’d let me (and they were promptly returned as soon as I finished them). The Scholastic Book Fair? That was as exciting as the annual South Plains Fair!

I joined Facebook when I was thirteen. I believe it was the following year when I joined Twitter and Instagram, eventually joining most other social networking sites. If I could do it all over again, I’m not sure I would make any of the accounts. I’m a self-proclaimed Twitter addict who has tried to quit several times with little success. (It’s not all bad, though! I’ve met so many amazing people online and have even met a few of them. My best friend, whom I met online, and I converse almost exclusively through Twitter DMs, and we like it that way.)

I remained a book lover until I was fifteen or so. As a young teenager, I was reading through two Beverly Lewis novels a week for the most part! But I slowly started reading books less and less while my time online was becoming more and more frequent.

By the time I graduated high school, I didn’t read for fun anymore. Picking up a book felt like a chore. I preferred to mindlessly scroll the social media timelines for several hours, however. Why was this? I have a hunch that it’s social media’s fault.

Why I Blame Social Media for My Decline in Reading

1. I was conditioned to the restraints of 140 characters.

Before Twitter allowed 280 characters, we were only allowed 140. That isn’t a lot of space to create complete thoughts, and it can only hold so much information. I learned how to confine many of my thoughts to just one or two tweets, even if I had much more to say. Many of my technical writing classes taught us how to be concise, so learning to do this wasn’t necessarily bad; however, there is a downside to this, and that’s my second reason for blaming social media.

2. I was conditioned to believe that short blurbs of information are enough.

Why read more if I can read less? Why bother reading an entire news article when a headline gets to the point? Why read a book when accounts like @ASmallFiction exist? Obviously, the answer is because news articles offer more information, and books are more satisfying, engaging, and meaningful. But for me, spending so much time searching for quick snippets of information led me to become lazy. I couldn’t be bothered to read because it would take too long.

This leads to a more in-depth discussion of instant gratification. Reading a book takes some time. Reading a headline does not. I became too accustomed to receiving information instantly that I began to hate acquiring it the “old” way. I’m not sure if this is a characteristic of the lazy or of the generation that was raised online. I know there are many people who spend quite a bit of time online but also love to read. My third point might be my answer.

3. I became addicted to social media and/or my phone.

It shames me to say it, but I got to a point where sometimes I couldn’t read two pages without checking my phone! Fortunately, I’m able to combat this by locking my phone up with an app or silencing it and putting it on the other side of the room. I often think about how disappointing it is that I allowed my phone to control me this much. It isn’t healthy, and reading isn’t the only area of my life that my social media/phone addiction has affected. While I was in college, it was so hard to focus on homework at times because I was so concerned with what was happening on my phone. Mind you, I was often trying to have conversations with friends, so I wasn’t necessarily itching to read the timeline. At least I was able to buckle down and work when I absolutely had to.

These three things are what I attribute to my bad relationship with reading. I was struggling throughout all of this in college. Of course, most of the learning in college comes from many, many reading assignments, so I did not enjoy reading all that much in school. Clearly, I rarely read for fun during these four years!

So, now what?

Now, I’m trying to regain that love I once had for reading. Over the years, I’ve learned that if I don’t read, I don’t write. Guess what I haven’t been doing much of for several years now? I’m starting out by making myself read for a little bit each day, and I’ll work my way up. I know I’ll fall back into it easily if I can break my current habits and form new ones.

It’s okay to move in and out of hobbies, but reading is one of those hobbies that I sometimes feel bad for not enjoying. This world is full of talented people with beautiful things to say, and as a writer, I really need to read to connect with other writers. I often feel guilty for not reading, but I’m going to “get better.” Life is all about making improvements, and I think that I still love to read. I just need to get past my short attention span!

If you have a book, series, or author you love to read, let me know in the comments! I’m currently finishing Carrie by Stephen King that I started last year, but got too busy with school work to complete. I also have The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins sitting on my shelf that I’ll begin as soon as I finish Carrie

Creativity is Necessary

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Hey there! My name is Kaleigh. This is my new blog, although I’ve tried blogging before as a young teen. Hopefully, I erased all traces of them from the internet – some things you just don’t want your name on after a while!

I have always loved writing. As a kid, I’d write all sorts of little stories, and when I was eleven, I decided I wanted to be an author when I grew up. Ever since then, I’ve written for fun but have never really shown anybody my work. Being shy and wanting to be a writer is not a great mix. Fortunately, I just graduated from college with a BA in English and a minor in technical writing, so my writing career is about to begin.

I graduated from Texas Tech University on December 13, 2019.

That’s why I wanted to start blogging. I wanted a way to make sure I’m writing each week and getting it read by people, so I thought blogging would be a great way to get things started. This blog will be a mix of lifestyle and writing. At first, I thought I wanted to stay professional on this blog, but I personally love a blog much more when I feel like I’m getting to know the person behind the keyboard. I plan to keep it mostly about writing, but I might get enthusiastic about something else here and there!

I aim to post on this blog at least once a week, preferably on Mondays, although this is subject to change. I’m transitioning from college to job hunting, so I don’t know what my schedule will look like. My comments are open, so please feel free to leave your thoughts! I think it’s essential to speak your mind, and I love engaging in conversation with others online, so I will be sure to respond!

Creativity has always been important in my life. When I was very young, I wanted to be an artist. I would often draw a picture of myself painting on an easel. I guess I lost interest or faith in my ability to draw because I eventually turned to storytelling. I can’t remember exactly when my love of writing began, but I do remember my fourth-grade language arts teacher using my essay as an example to the class of what good writing looks like. She was impressed with my metaphor, “an ocean of relief came over me.” That must have given me enough confidence to keep writing because I’ve been doing it ever since. The next year when I had a friend spend the night, I let her read a story I had been writing for fun, and she told me that she forgot it wasn’t an actual book. I often wonder if she truly meant that, but the fact that she even said it meant the world to me.

Throughout my teenage years, I started to seek out other means of creativity. Writing was fun, but I needed more. I tried knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, embroidery, scrapbooking, soapmaking, and that’s only naming a few. I liked crocheting the best, and I still crochet from time to time.

I think it’s essential to create, no matter what medium is used to do it. We can put so much of ourselves into the things we make without even realizing it. No two pieces of art – whether it’s a story, a painting, or a hat – look the same. All forms of art allow us to connect with its maker in a unique way.

I found myself in a funk when I was about fifteen years old. It seemed like the writer’s block would never end. For the longest time, I couldn’t think of a single decent idea to play with. Eventually, I did think of something, but then I couldn’t get started. I thought I had finally lost interest in writing and almost gave up on my dream of being a published author even though I hadn’t yet tried. Maybe that’s why I searched for other creative outlets. When I can’t create, I feel silenced as if I’m unable to speak my mind. I feel this way when I’m uninspired to write, when I have no ideas about what to crochet, or when I can’t find the motivation to do anything artistic. It’s not a good feeling at all, and admittedly, I’ve been creatively silenced for a long time.

Yes, I’m blogging to make sure I keep writing so I can get my name out there, but I’m also blogging to get my voice back. The past few years have taught me that waiting for motivation and inspiration is silly; sometimes, you have to force your way through the mud and take back what’s yours.

I struggled quite a bit with how to get this blog started. I wanted an About Me post to help me establish who I am and what I want this blog to be, but what was I supposed to say? If I wrote about school and experience, I could just point you to my resume, which is on the website already. If I wrote about my dog, it might attract more readers (because who doesn’t like dogs?), but that wouldn’t be about me. Asking “what’s interesting about me?” can quickly turn into an existential crisis, so I tried to avoid that question.

I can’t mention the family dog without showing him off! This is Pepper. He’s a 13-year-old dachshund/rat terrier mix that may also be part Chihuahua.

Creativity. That’s me. This introductory post stems from a realization about myself I had within the past year. I’ve changed a lot over the years, but my passion for creativity has always stayed the same. So that’s how I’m choosing to introduce myself. That’s all you really need to know about me, and don’t be surprised if it becomes a common theme in my blog posts.

What I find to be comical about this is my deep interest in technical writing, which is a straightforward form of writing that cuts out the fluff. This is usually found in instruction manuals, business documents like memos, and so on. In my “About Me” blurb on my website, I mention that I used to make technical documents for fun.

Technical and creative. I loved getting to imagine and create characters and towns of my own in my stories I wrote for fun, but I also enjoyed writing out rules and explaining processes. That was genuinely fun for me. I believe I also made a newsletter from a template with Microsoft Word that had “news” about what was happening around the house. At one point, I made a business card for grammar corrections since I had one specific friend that I seemed to always correct when it came to grammar and spelling. I suppose I have two sides of me, and I find them both equally enjoyable.

My website is mostly geared toward technical writing since creating it was a requirement for one of my last college courses. I’m grateful this was an assignment because I’ve wanted my own website for a long time, but for me, starting is always the most challenging part. My goal is to slowly integrate my creative writing side into the site because creative and technical writing are both equally important in my life, and I want to be able to use both skills in my career. I don’t necessarily want one without the other.

Some questions I’d like to leave you with: What is your creative outlet? How do you speak your mind without saying a word? I believe everyone is creative in some way. (Organizing a closet to death counts! That is definitely not my voice.)