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.
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 on Pink Haired Princess 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).

Here at The Shoe Girl Diaries is where there's going to be 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 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 my readers here 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

22 comments :

  1. Gem!!! So glad to hear from you. I was scared when I first read your title saying, "Noooooooooo, she can't stop!!!". I am so sorry you have been so ill. You must be so tired of it after 12 years and to then get even worse must be awful! Hurrah, I look forward to the new features and everything with alacrity and thank you for your honesty. If it's any consolation, I still think you look lovely even without makeup! I totally understand what a lifeline the blogging is for you. I read a post by my other favourite blog person Lauren who suffers from depression and she says outfit shots are something that really lift her out of it! I look forward to blogging (even if I get really cross with myself for the heaps of time I waste when I should be doing other things!)
    Hugs to you! xx

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    1. Thank you, your comment sums up exactly how I feel. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse..it did! I'm hopeful the iron is taking effect now though and things will improve. I'm feeling really positive about blogging and excited for it again, which is good. The next couple of weeks will be a good test to see if my (pretty coloured) plans work!

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  2. So good to hear from you. Weekly, monthly or yearly whenever you're able to, we'll be here for the fashionable adventures! Take carex

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    1. It's lovely comments like this that make it worthwhile. I just wanted to be honest about the way things are. Thank you x

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  3. So good to read your blog Gemma. I've missed you! Please continue to tell it as it is. Whenever you're up to blogging, I'm reading :) xx

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  4. I'm super glad to see a post from you - I love that you're so passionate about your blogs and what you want them to be and look like. I try my hardest to ignore things like stats and numbers as I always maintain that my blog is for me so those things should not matter but I suppose they do.

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    1. Thank you Char, I'm hoping to plan in more time to read and comment on blogs too, because that's something that has fallen by the wayside during this. Yeah it's a tricky one with the stats side of things. I've paid little attention over the years, but I think it's good for measuring what's working for your blog and what isn't and gives you something tangible to aim for. x

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  5. I'm so glad you're sticking with blogging and if there's anything I can do to support you, just ask :) I've been your reader (and friend) for ages and I've missed your blogging SO MUCH. Oh and not to make light of your illness, but I still think you look super cute in your photo. (Those freckles! Are adorable:)))

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    1. Ha, I never realised I was still so freckly (obviously knew I was as a kid), guess they get covered up with makeup! Thank you, I really hope this new approach works because I need it to. x

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  6. Bravo Gemma!! I have really missed the regular posting but am so pleased to hear that you're sticking with it. Your attitude is fantastic - this (and PHP) is no longer just a shoe and beauty inspiration blog, you're building it into so much more. Hang in there!

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    1. Such a lovely thing to say Jade, thank you x

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  7. Great to see you back and sounding so motivated and determined. What I like about your blogs more than any others is the personal input; I feel like I almost know you. I really hope things start looking up for you, health-wise and you can start putting all those fantastic shoes on again!

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  8. So glad you are back but sorry you have been ill. Keep being you and being honest as thats what keeps us loyal readers here xxx

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    1. Thank you, that's much appreciated. Hope you're well x

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  9. So good to have you back! This blog post was itself inspirational - whenever you blog, I'll be keen to read and look. Thank you and good luck for the challenges ahead! Kx

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  10. I'm also happy to see you back! I really missed your updates. I have to say one of the things I love about your blog is that you aren't afraid to say when things are bad or frustrating. Your honesty is a refreshing addition to fashion. I mean, I get frustrated and things happen in my life that upset me. You've got to share it with your friends when things get bad! Thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. Aw thanks, that's very well put. Hope you're well x

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  11. very nice and interesting blog

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