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.

Five months to 40: Changes and Lessons for this #Blogger Click to Tweet

Five months to 40: As I reflect on the month gone by, here's what I've learnt about growing as a #blogger and a #Writer. Maybe these #BloggingTips will help you too.

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.

Sign up here.

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.

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*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

25 thoughts on “Five months to 40: What’s on my mind

  1. Saw your Pinterest stats the other day and I must say that I am truly impressed. Love your spirit to explore and learn and excel, Shailaja. Will get into Pinterest sometimes soon and take tips from you!! And thanks for some wonderful life lessons! β™₯

  2. Aww, Shy, you are being too hard on yourself. Yes, writing (like most things) gets easier with practice, but you’ll get there, as long as you keep at it, and don’t give up.

    Your growth on Pinterest is inspiring. Because well, like you, I can’t draw, or paint, or craft. I can probably manage 1st grade level art (with step by step tutorials), so I can’t thank you enough for sharing the Pinterest tips. I have bookmarked the page.

    1. Hugs. Yes, not giving up. I’ve found renewed purpose in life. These last few months have changed so much for me and for the better. I’m so grateful to the universe for every single lesson. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the hard knocks. They’ve helped me grow πŸ™‚

  3. I’m inspired by your post. Your post has sent an important message that Pinterest is worth taking seriously! Although I have started organizing for pinterest but I still need to put in more efforts and engage pinners!

    1. Thank you Arv! I’ve spent a lot of time on it in the last six months and continue to spend time on it daily. I find that the returns are worth the investment. πŸ™‚

  4. Lovely writing. πŸ™‚

    And all the best for everything that works closely with blogging. Your enthusiasm is obvious and pretty contagious too. πŸ™‚

    Happy 40 in advance. πŸ™‚

  5. Trying to remember me at age 40 πŸ™‚ Just kidding! I love that we can all keep on learning new β€˜stuff’ no matter what age we are. Well done you!

  6. Shailajav, I love your motivation to learn! I”m the same way, and my husband has been known to call me a β€œlifetime student”. I told him I took it as a compliment (although, I’m not sure he meant it as one as I had been on the computer for a few hours). πŸ™‚ Also, after reading your post I have learned that I have a lot more to learn about blogging. But, I’m ready to do so. Thanks for all the great advice!

    1. Lifetime student is a badge I’d wear with pride, Erin, so go you! Thank you so much for the kind words. I love that blogging gives us so much scope to learn and grow always πŸ™‚

  7. Firstly…that number really isn’t as bad as it sounds!! Honestly. You’re so right about still being able to learn….you have made me think of all the things I have learnt since turning 40, but this has also been the time that my health has deteriorated so I have had to learn and accept a new way of life. I was pensioned off work due to disability/chronic pain about 6 months before my 40th. Will be taking on your tips (loved the Pinterest post) and enjoy the couple of years left in my 40s!

    1. Big hugs, Claire. Your post today as well as the tags where you spoke of chronic pain had me re-evaluating so much in my own life and everything I have to be grateful for.

      Thank you so much for the Pinterest post feedback! So thrilled you loved it. I followed your blog earlier today. Will be looking forward to your posts in my inbox. So happy to BUYB for bringing us together πŸ™‚

  8. That is simply great, Shailaja! Of course, I can’t even expect anything less than that from you…I look up to you for so many reasons!
    You know, that last line of your post? That was my idea – my vow, actually – which I took when I created the new blog, Metanoia. And, that is how I have been living – taking a day at a time, blogging, writing and learning with much more passion and enjoying every moment of it all! It feels so so good!
    God bless you, sweetie! And, keep going!

    1. Thank you so so much, Shilpa πŸ™‚ I am super proud of what you have done with the blog and how you’ve taken so beautifully to WordPress and the creative process.

      Enjoy blogging. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me as a writer πŸ™‚

  9. I am so happy to see that you’re just drinking in all the experiences.. you know what I think about the book.. it will happen when it’s meant to.. and I’m sure it’s not just one either ;).

    40 and beyond is going to be a rocking time for you.. i have no doubt <3.

    1. Aww thank you so much! I figured I learnt so much through the kindness of others that it makes sense to share what I know. It makes me happy when others are happy, Mayuri πŸ™‚

  10. So happy for you Shailaja. You are truly an inspiration when it comes to giving your all in to make things works. Fortunate to know you. I would love to make some changes to the blog, learn how to start using Pinterest effectively and in a nutshell, focus but I know I’m not doing all that.
    Your post is a message that setting one’s mind is so critical and the of course taking it to the natural goal. Hugs! You are 5 months to 40 and even more awesome than before.

  11. I love your enthusiasm Shailaja and I love how you refuse to be held back by the new stuff. The moment I see technical jargon my mind goes into a shell like a turtle and refuses to come out at all. I wish I could borrow your monster for a bit to lick the turtle out. I wonder if that’s aptitude or just laziness or some kind of a block. I loved your life lessons. The YA novel sounds great – it’s a genera I’ve learnt to enjoy only recently. Good luck for everything.
    PS: Your newsletter would be read in any colour. Pink is good :-).

    1. I know, we’ve talked about this, no? I don’t think it’s laziness, per se. It’s more the comfort zone principle. Why step out when it’s nice and cosy? I had to change that when it came to fitness and somehow noticed that it automatically seeped into the rest of my life too.

      And aww, thank you about the newsletter! But she was right! That pink was a rather ghastly shade I’d chosen πŸ™‚

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