Sunday, 15 June 2014

To Blog Or Not To Blog

Blogging has very much been forced to take a backseat this year, while I deal with my health issues. Though I'm nowhere near 'better' right now, I'm keen to have something to concentrate on and that means getting back into blogging. How much I can do or how long it will last, I don't know. I spent a lot of time on the computer yesterday, to the point that I thought I was going to be sick and couldn't move or speak, I was utterly exhausted. All that, just from sitting reading and typing, nothing 'physical' whatsoever! As I lay there aching afterwards, I felt all the plans and hopes that I'd been working on, just fizzling out. Clearly, I'm not capable of coming back full-time, so do I admit defeat and give up altogether or continue taking a step back, in the hope I heal? It's tough to know whether to push through it or take the time off. It's something I've struggled with (blogging aside) for the 12 years I've been ill and going too hard was how I got into this mess in the first place. No makeup selfie

Blogging is not an easy thing to give up though. I was thankful that it was something vaguely in 'my field' that I was capable of doing whilst ill, as I'd had to give up on so many other hobbies and activities. So, I've worked my butt off on my blogs over the years. Of course I've pushed myself, keeping up both blogs, meeting deadlines, working when I wasn't feeling 100%, it's been damn hard, but I love it. It's exciting, it helps me interact with others (when I have very little or none of that in real life), it covers topics I'm passionate about and it's given me a 'purpose' and something to focus on, when my own life is a mess. I think about blogging every single day, whether it's an idea for a new feature, something I want to photograph or something I see online. I don't find it can be switched off, even during the last 5 months of 'bed rest'. I'm a blogger. I want to do it and I love to do it.

It's fast moving though and taking time off or blogging less frequently has consequences. Readers switch off (understandably so, when there's nothing new), opportunities dry up and statistics, no matter how much I try to wriggle out of dealing with, matter. People need something tangible to measure, your passion and sometimes content are irrelevant. I suppose it's a bit like dieting without weighing yourself. Some 'feel' lighter or tell by how their clothes fit, but you're never really going to know how much you've lost. When someone asks, how can you tell them, if you don't know the figures? You need a word or number, something factual. So this whole week (pre knackered incident), I got my blogging hat on. I've been writing lists, sending emails, thinking up new features and forcing myself to look at what the stats say. I'm talking 'targets', 'time management', 'goals' and 'planning'. Words I seriously used to hate. My mind is constantly ticking and I've even taken a notebook to bed, scribbling notes as I'm falling asleep. Like I say, it never stops.

So am I back to full time blogging? Well, I just feel I've worked too hard on building my blogs up, to sit back and watch them crumble now. Statistics or not, of course I've taken a beating over the last few months. Anyone would. In my favour though are some amazing and loyal readers. Yes, you! You've checked back time and time again in the hope of a new post and been straight in there to comment when I do. You've emailed, left blog comments and sent messages on Facebook asking if I'm still alive (!) and so I feel I owe it to you and to myself to keep going. Much like a movie musical-montage moment, I wish I could be all "I'm stronger than this, I'm going to beat it and come out the other side, rah-rah-rah", but the reality is, I'm just not sure if it is something I'm physically and mentally capable of right now. Only time (and a blood test on Friday) will tell.

I'm definitely going to give it my best shot though and that means being more responsible when it comes to managing my time and scheduling in necessary breaks, so I don't become overworked. Therefore the planning has to be spot on. I'm making up a weekly planner as we speak (it's like old-school study plans which I always had more fun making than adhering to), detailing what has to be achieved each day. It may sound silly to "list makers" but I tend to be a 'wing it' girl, doing what I want, when I want. That's only going to make me more stressed and that's the last thing I need. Hopefully (although it may take a couple of weeks to fall into a manageable routine), I'll get it down and be able to stick to it. So what does it mean for you? Well, I'm probably going to play around with the blog layout and add new components. You'll already see the social media buttons below each post, meaning it's easy to share posts or pictures you like from my blogs through any of the channels, in one click (or maybe a couple)! Once I figure out my techy HTML shizzle, I'll then see what needs neatened up, what can be lost altogether or what else to add. It might not all take effect immediately, it's a work in progress. There's also going to be some new features, seeing as my beauty ones are unachievable for me right now (makeup free, ill selfie in this post as proof of that). Basically a refresh, more streamlined (I think) and I want it all (blogging, social media, readers, sharing) to be more interactive with one another (imagine me doing finger locking actions to illustrate my point).

The Shoe Girl Diaries is going to see the biggest change, as it's completely come to a standstill during my time in perma-PJ's with no shoes! The thing is, I've always been so sure of the format of TSGD and exactly how I wanted it to look, only changing it once since I began in 2009 (with the introduction of full outfit/head shots) and even then, I wasn't sure I wanted to change it. So I thought long and hard about how it could or if it should evolve. Did I really want to mess around with my 'baby' and stray from the 'diary' style? Well it's move it on or lose it completely and thankfully those that visit TSGD are usually there for some shoe appreciation and there's definitely going to be plenty of that. For sure, there will be more frequent updates, once weekly shoe posts (old-school TSGD style) and even a new feature that involves my readers (stay tuned for info of that). I was almost at 1000 days of shoe posts before my break and already thinking ahead to how the blog could develop, so this has just given me a much needed push in the right direction.

If I'm serious about blogging, which I always have been, then I need to act like it. I can't be the scruffy surfer dude, that drives a colourful camper van, sometimes sleeps on the beach and refuses to get a haircut but actually works a 'respectable' 9-5 office job where he has to wear a suit but wonders why he is the laughing stock. If I'm doing the do and want to be taken seriously, I need to fully embrace it and that means sticking to schedules and keeping one eye on the 'boring' side of things, so hopefully I don't fall into the trap of long breaks or stopping blogging altogether. In theory anyway. Just when I think I'm getting somewhere with the blog, out of the blue there's a technical or health issue and I feel like all my work up until that point is forgotten and I have to start afresh again. I've put too much into it at this stage to allow that to keep happening. So the 'fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants' approach is going and the more structured technique is hopefully going to be my saviour. One thing that won't change is my enthusiasm and passion for writing about things that I love. I've always had that and the day I don't, is the day I give up blogging.

I've taken a lot from the past few months. I've learnt I'm very determined and don't give up easily, which I honestly never knew. I would never make light of how my health has been this year, because really I've been bedridden ill (and am not out of the woods yet), but blogging is so important to me that I'm hoping I've found a way to make it work and can build on it as my health improves. I always say I'm 'keeping it real' and showing that bloggers are real people with real lives and real problems and I like that I can show that more vulnerable, unglamourous side once in a while. It's perhaps a unique approach as many prefer to act like they just walked out the pages of Vogue, where everything is wonderful all the time and there's never a struggle to figure out what that HTML code means, tea stains on that white t-shirt, shit lighting for taking photos or something outwith your control that has meant you've lost 4 hours when you should've been blogging. Yes a blog should be a happy, inspirational place and not a daily moan, but there is this far from perfect life away from the hundreds of lipsticks and high heels that I don't want to ignore. I haven't left the house since March, I have 5" of roots in my hair, I can't walk up the stairs without getting breathless, I take more pills a day than meals and I'm only able to shower once a week.  If that is a turn-off for some, then so be it, I will never pretend to be perfect or someone I'm not.  If anything I'd hope that this will put an end to that 'perfect blogger' myth.  Life is cruel sometimes, but you've just got to roll with the punches.  Thanks again for the loyalty and welcome to any new readers that like my fresh take on blogging.  Like I say, you can share this post via the social media buttons below, if you think your friends/followers would like it...let me know if there's something missing there that you'd like me to add (I tried to pick the most popular ones) and I'll see what I can do.  Onwards and upwards folks, new outlook starts now!! x x x

21 comments :

  1. First time commenting, one of those who keep coming back in the hope of having new posts... thanks for being back. And you are so beautiful, a real inspiration. Hope you'll feel better soon, this post had me in stiches to see what's new!

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    1. Argh thank you. I hope I don't disappoint. I'm definitely feeling more positive about blogging x

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  2. Hugs. I know blogging with chronic illnesses is a real drain on already limited energy reserves, although I don't have things as bad as you. I wish you more spoons and a level of blogging activity which doesn't drain. x

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    1. Thank you, reading other peoples blogs is part of my new schedule too. I've just not had the time or energy to read and comment and it's something I really miss. x

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  3. Hi, I've been checking every day for a new post, it's great to have you back, I really hope you are feeling stronger soon, your readers are loyal and once you publish a post they will check in, so just take care of yourself. I have a very little blog of my own and always think about how my life is not as glamorous etc as other bloggers, so I understand what you mean, ☺ Also you look very pretty without makeup. X

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment. Well I'd rarely share a non-makeup face with anyone, but for some strange reason felt reasonably comfortable doing it here! x

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  4. I love your blog very much Gemma, you realness is what keeps me coming back. I don't want to read about someone's perfect life, I want to read about someone's actual life. Personally I don't mind large gaps of time or waiting, you're always worth it :) lots of love.
    Lucy x

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  5. I've been checking back regularly to see if you've been back. I'm so sorry your health has remained poor, and I think it's so admirable and inspiring that you're so determined and tenacious. I think you're awesome, and I know your other readers do too! xx

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  6. You look great for feeling so blah!
    Thank you so much for always caring about your readers, though. You are truly a selfless blogger, and that's quite hard to find. I love every post and new idea you have for posts, and can't wait to see what the future brings xoxAriel

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    1. Pah, thank you Ariel! The photo was taken 3 months ago, so I'm probably looking a bit rougher these days! That's so kind, I hope you like the new stuff happening x

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  7. I just stumbled upon your blog TSGD and it took me a week to read all of it because I was so hooked... Looking forward to catching up on this one too. I will be praying for a fast recovery and strength for you to carry on. God bless. :)

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    1. Oh wow, thank you, that's dedication for you! Hopefully I'll get back to the full outfit posts soon, in the meantime, there is always new shoes!! x

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  8. A weird thing for a stranger to say, but I'm proud of you! You are an inspiring person x

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  9. read this post finally...!
    well I was away from internet for little while and just checked on you about a week ago and I saw this post.also found out that you were away from blogging.
    I've been bit of sick because of summer started as I have low blood pressure...dizzy and all that stuff all day.
    anyways I read all you wrote here and I'm looking forward to see both of your blogs' new look and features as I already checked on "Bought & Thought" and "Shoe Girl Style It"!!
    I understand you becoming over work in the end up point without* knowing.
    I do the same when I'm doing something I like.that's part of our nature I guess.

    I was thinking that TSGD would look good with thumbnails look (and click and read the article) as like 98%+ posts of there are with photos.
    and I feel kind of same about this PHP too as you post a lot of fashion stuffs but not sure...
    as you said to keep *Diary Style* may you could make background or also fonts like that kind.
    I like designing,creating!
    actually I came back on internet to start designing unfinished my blog look again!!
    I never learned those web designing skills officially in the schools but that's even more fun to learn as self-study,hobby : )

    I'm interested what kind of ideas you have already!but awww...maybe spoiler~ x P haha

    take you time and hope you will get soon★

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    1. I just thought maybe would be nice if you make TSGD look kind of like your shoe closet!
      I'm sorry if I bothering your idea but I just thought about it while designing my site.
      so I'm just saying for the part of your inspiration.

      really excited for your new blog looks!
      but never hurry ; ) better with your pace

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    2. Sorry to hear you've been unwell. Dizziness is horrible, I sometimes get that too and it makes me stumble and fall into things! Yes, I've changed the background to white before, then i always chicken out of saving it like that because I've become so accustomed tot he pink! I've been playing around with fonts and new sidebar images today, but I'm not sure I like them, so haven't posted them yet! I'm not so keen on those posts where you have to click to read more...I suppose it keeps the main blog page quite tidy, but I'm not keen on only having some of the information/post there. I'm the same, it's mostly self-taught, so it takes a while longer to realise what you're doing and that it's right, but it stays in my head better if I learn it myself x

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    3. oooh I like the sound of that shoe closet idea...maybe once my shoe-room is finished, my photos will all be taken in there and it'll be more 'uniform' that they'll all have the same look or format.

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    4. yeah,that's quite scary to change look and click on save...
      you should get backup on your pc for sure!so just in case something goes wrong ;]

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