Remember my post from last month? The one I wrote on shifting perspective.
Yes, that’s the one. I wrote it exactly six months away from turning 40. Strange what a number on a calendar will do to you. I figured I need to do an update post here every month, just to keep things running, you know?
I need to be accountable to myself, in some sense. Am I actually following through on the ideas mentioned in that post? Am I happier today than I was a month ago? And, if anything, what can I expect of myself in the months to come?
So, this is a couple of days late, but stick around. I’ll try and make it worth your while.
Blogging has been particularly productive and in the best way possible. I don’t mean I’ve actually blogged more frequently, but I’ve blogged with more intensity. I’ll explain. In October, I wrote a post on my blog on how Pinterest can be used by beginners. Considering I am a rank beginner (I started dabbling in it only in May), I figured this would be a good angle to help bloggers get over their hesitation with Pinterest.
Now, there’s one thing you should know about me. When I make up my mind to learn something, I go all in. It’s almost as if this ‘learning demon’ possesses me and I fill myself to the brim with everything possible. Don’t worry, it’s a harmless creature.
But, the only downside to that is doing too much of it, right? So, keeping my shifting perspective in mind, I used my learning productively. I narrowed down my Pinterest time and worked on my specific niches: parenting and blogging tips. I also set cut-off times for Pinterest, because, let’s face it: That thing can turn into a rabbit hole deeper than the one in Alice in Wonderland! This ensured I could focus without getting overwhelmed.
The other delightful bonus that came from this month was the kicking off of my first ever newsletter. I can tell you I was nervous as heck! I’ve never written a newsletter, let alone design one. Who was going to read me?
But I figured I’d give it a go. I dabbled in Mail Chimp, read and watched tutorials, played around with colours and designs and sent the beta mail to 2 friends, one of whom is a design queen. Her honesty is everything! She told me what worked and what didn’t. She flatly told me that she would never speak to me again if I used pink in my newsletter the way I had! And that I had to look at simple things like structure and format, plus image sizes. God, I am so grateful for her in my life!
And hey, what do you know? I gained 25 new subscribers! EEK! How did that happen? You can still sign up, by the way. It’s a monthly newsletter and I share parenting and blogging/social media tips in it plus a few bonus features.
Lesson 1: I could still learn something, even on the verge of 40.
That was my first sign of visible change.
The second thing that happened was that commitment and effort began to pay off. I started October with less than 7000 views of my Pinterest profile. In a month, that number has risen to 54,000 views. Can you see me doing a happy dance? (Actually, don’t do that. I dance terribly. I don’t want you to have nightmares!)
Now why this matters is because I was terribly pleased with one important thing: The idea of designing graphics for my blog. I can’t draw. I can’t craft and I sure as hell can’t paint anything close to a crow. But, Pinterest showed me I can be a designer if I put my mind to it. And it’s not crazy or complicated graphics. It’s just simple images, text overlays and a bit of colour. That’s it.
I even designed cover images for my boards on Pinterest. I’d become unstoppable. (Well, not really, but it’s nice to dream.)
And in a surprise bonus, my site got approved for Google AdSense! I’d been trying my luck for over 10 months with no success and had just about given up hope. Imagine my sweet shock this morning when I opened my e-mail to see that message blinking back at me.
Lesson 2: If I work hard, really hard, the efforts begin to pay off.
Remember the other thing I mentioned? The writing? So, I decided to take the plunge into NaNoWriMo this year. With a fiction novel in the YA category. I didn’t announce it, because, I’d always jinxed it terribly every year when I did that. Or so I thought.
And it began really well too! I was churning out 1700 words per day and kept it up for the first 8 days. Then, life and a bit of exhaustion took over. Currently, it’s at 12,700 words and I’ve hit a block. I know where the story has to go but I’m not finding the thread to carry it through.
I felt horribly defeated when I realised this. I had started with such good intentions and this thing had fallen by the wayside before the halfway mark. After I’d gone through the motions of self-pity and self-flagellation, I pondered why this had happened. And the answer came to me.
Do you know when was the last time I wrote fiction? Yeah, me neither. I’ve been writing blog posts and personal essays and almost completely stopped fiction after the A to Z challenge in April. That’s when I realised: I have no practice!
Writing is a muscle, agreed? If I have to write fiction, any fiction, I need to be writing it on a regular basis. I can’t just wake up one day and say, ‘Okay let’s write a novel.’ Sure, some people can, but let’s face it: I can’t. I have to work out the muscle. I have to tweak it to ensure it bends the way I want it to, when I need it to. So, I have a plan to put this into place, but I’ll talk about it when I am ready.
Lesson 3: Don’t dive into the deep end when you haven’t been swimming for a while.
Finally (and this is probably my favourite lesson) I have begun to use social media more mindfully than ever. I spend time on every platform but I have an intentional approach to the process. It’s a series of delightful tools and wonderful connections if viewed in the right frame of mind.
This past month alone, I’ve made at least 10 new blogging friends, joined up to 15 new group boards on Pinterest, followed some experts in the field of social media, blogging and marketing strategy and attempted to help people with my limited knowledge. Oh and I joined and absolutely fell in love with Tailwind!(That’s a WHOLE new area which I will talk about in another post).
Lesson 4: Be ready to receive and give, no matter what the medium.
Five months away from turning 40, I am in a space where I am happy doing what I am doing. Learning, connecting, engaging both with the world and myself are all things I am grateful for.
Like I said, who knows if I will make it to 40? But I do want to give it the best shot possible and make every day worth living. And I can tell you, with certainty, that in this past month, I have created more than I have consumed.
Linking up with Shantala Nayak’s Chatty Blogs November Linky