Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Struggle is Real

            Well, it’s time to come out of hiding and return to the world of blogging. I have been procrastinating this post because I felt a little guilty for not making any visits since the A to Z Reflections posts. I wanted to and I even read a few posts on my phone without leaving a comment because my phone makes commenting too complicated. I have been a little burnt out from my job and the overall lack of sleep in April. I was just going to post a quick update with some pictures today, but I felt compelled to go a little deeper. I gained a few new followers (if you’re still following after my hiatus) during the A to Z Challenge and I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself and this blog. This should be a little different even for those who have been following me longer.
            Lately, I have been dealing with some struggles. Even before the challenge, I was having trouble balancing things in my life. I am a procrastinator and a night owl, which leads to many late nights, which in turn, leads to a zombie-like wakeful state. I am also an introvert and most likely struggle from undiagnosed social anxiety. I work in a retail pharmacy, which is definitely not a good job for someone with my disposition. When I get off from work, my energy levels are nearly drained and it is hard to find motivation to do anything at all until I unwind for two to three hours. By that time, I should go to sleep, but as a night owl, I try to get some things done, which inhibits my sleep and the cycle begins again.  I like to put thought into my posts and my comments on others’ posts, and that usually comes in the moments of higher energy or on my days off from work. My blog has the word “random” in the title for a reason. There are just times when my thoughts get all mangled during the course of the day and I still feel the need to get a post up, so it ends up being pictures or something very short and not as well-worded as I would like it to be.
            In the midst of all this, there is still one thing that remains constant in my life, and that is the presence of God. I may not always mention Him in my posts, but God is the one who keeps me stable when everything else seems to be in chaos, and He is constantly working in my life. Even with my issues in balancing time, I have managed to keep up with the reading the Bible in one year program I started in January. I can only attribute that to God prodding me to keep at it, although there were times when I was not paying enough attention to what I was reading and I still do not pray as often as I should. Before I joined the blogging community through the A to Z Challenge last year, most of my posts were about the lessons God was teaching me in my life. At that time, I only posted once a month, but I did put more thought into those posts. With my decision to post once a week, I do not always find the time to write the thought-provoking devotionals I used to, but I still have a long list of ideas for those types of posts. So, I am hoping to get back into writing posts about what God is teaching me at least once a month.
Baby Sawyer was so little :)
Wow! I guess I took too long of a break! I have more I could write, but I think this post is long enough and it is getting late (procrastination strikes again). I will probably continue this train of thought at a later date. Until then, I will try to set aside some time this afternoon for visiting (with comments) and I will be back here next Wednesday with the monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group post.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A to Z Challenge 2016 Reflections

            It is time to reflect upon the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This year my theme was Classical Music. I was looking through my notes of reflections and I decided to pull up my reflections post from last year. This is my second year to participate in the challenge and the things I wrote about connecting with the blogging community still apply this year. The main difference is that this time I knew what I was getting into and had somewhat of a plan of setting time aside each night for comments. What I did not anticipate was my incomplete posts. I am a procrastinator the majority of the time, and only a few of my letters were finished more than one day before they were due. I will say that it was not a total procrastination, because I had all of my composers picked out by the beginning of March with a few facts I already knew. And I had all of my featured videos picked out and saved in a playlist. I still had to arrange my posts and do a little research for extra facts on the composers for most of the letters. Early on in April, I mentioned something about an elaborate idea for next year’s challenge. I must declare now that I will not carry out that idea unless I have all the posts ready by sign up time! Otherwise, I think I might go simple next year if I participate.
            Beyond the post writing, I enjoyed making visits and comments a lot more this year. I understood more about engaging with the community and I connected with some new blogging friends, which makes the experience worth the effort. I did notice something that I have seen before but never fully understood its purpose until now. Many blogs include a blogroll of some of their favorite bloggers, and I noticed some people utilized the blogroll specifically for A to Z themes they liked. That is an excellent idea! I think I will get that set up so I can try it out on my blog.
            I want to say a big thank you for all of my friends and fellow bloggers who followed my theme this year. I learned a lot about the composers just like many of you did. Many of them lived interesting lives, and I am most surprised by the number of composers who did not reach the age of 40. Before my research, I only knew of Franz Schubert because I had heard about his “Unfinished” symphony. It turns out that many composers left works unfinished or lost, and it does make me wonder what more they could have come up with if they had lived full lives. I also want to thank those who left words of encouragement and my two best friends who provided their support via texts. It was a fun month, but I am glad that we have reached the month of May! I will be taking a short blogging break for a couple weeks. I do plan to visit some of your posts and I’m hoping to concentrate on some writing during my “time off.” If you missed my theme during the challenge, I have all of my posts and my video playlist set up on the A to Z Challenge 2016 page. I hope everyone has a great month and congratulations to those who completed the A to Z Challenge!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IWSG: Development and Release

Time for another posting with the Insecure Writers Support Group, where writers can share their insecurities and encourage one another. IWSG was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and we share our posts the first Wednesday of the month. The co-hosts this month are: Stephen Tremp, Stephanie Faris, Susan Gourley/Kelley, Bish Denham, Fundy Blue, M.J. Fifield, and Loni Townsend.
On Monday, I wrote a post for the Question of the Month about advice for new bloggers. I hardly feel qualified to give blogging advice. I was mainly thinking about what works for me and what I've done or learned through blogging, but everyone does things differently. Even the posts that day had a variety of answers and focused on different aspects of blogging, but they each made valid points. It got me thinking about my own methods in writing and where I picked them up. There are a lot of resources for writers out there, which the IWSG’s A to Z theme proved. There are websites, books, fellow bloggers, classes, and more. With all these resources, I wonder why I'm still holding back, beyond the lack of time. But, as I’ve said before, if I can make time for daily posts with the A to Z, I can certainly make time for writing. I don't know if it's a fear of commitment. I am at a point with my brainstorming material for my book that I could begin drafting it anytime. And it has been in that state for at least two years. It is kind of scary to turn an idea into a reality. I guess that’s why I’m in this group! Oddly enough, I can relate to the episode of Person of Interest that I just watched. Stay with me here, I think I have a point :) The character, Finch, created an artificial intelligence and its lifelikeness began to scare him so much that he decided to wipe “the Machine’s” memory every night so it wouldn’t develop feeling and attachment. Friends of his used metaphors, like that a child eventually leaves the home or a student bypasses his teacher. I’ve heard authors talking about books as their children before, and I get it now. Releasing a book into the world opens it up to everyone and not everyone is going to like it. When I do get my ideas to that stage I must be willing to let my book grow up!

Sorry, this was sort of a stream of thoughts, I hope it makes sense! I started with one insecurity and ended up with another, lol. Have a great rest of the week everyone! And if you did the A to Z Challenge, get some rest! I will be taking a short blogging break after I put up my A to Z Reflections post next Monday.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Question of the Month: Blogging Tips

            Well, the A to Z Challenge is over and it’s time to immediately dive right back in to my regular schedule. Since it’s the first Monday of May, it is time for the Question of the Month, which is a monthly bloghop hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. Michael poses a new question and participants post their answers on the first Monday of the month. Here’s the question for May:

 If a friend came to you looking for advice on starting a blog, what three pieces of advice would you give them?

In lieu of the A to Z, I read this question and my first thought was “I don’t know how to answer that, I’m questioning my own reasoning right now!” But after one day off, I feel more refreshed and ready to answer…well somewhat ready...

1.       You do not have to stay on topic. Even if you are blogging to showcase your books or give writing advice, it doesn’t mean you always have to do that. Post pictures from a recent vacation. Write about your crazy aunt. Share a verse that inspired you. If you feel the sudden urge to write a flash fiction about a snail in Paris, then do it! Share some of your interests with readers; they want to get to know you.

2.      Be brief or sectionalize your posts. If your posts usually have more than 1000 words you might consider including pictures or getting to the point in fewer words. Some people have short attention spans and most others are busy, and the length might appear daunting without a couple picture breaks. Plus, pictures bring more life to the page.

3.      Make plans for your blog. Spontaneity can be fun and it’s perfectly fine to post off schedule once in a while, but I have learned that readers like it when you have some sort of regular schedule. Pick a monthly blog hop to join, like this one, or use a weekly memes like Scripture Sundays or Wordless Wednesdays. Find something to do on a monthly or weekly basis and let readers know if you are taking a break.
Most of all, make sure you enjoy what you’re doing!
What advice would you give to a new blogger?
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