What was, what is

Photo above by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

It’s interesting that when I’m on a bus, heading into town to meet people for dinner, the theme of a blog may magically appear in my mind’s eye.

When I’m outdoors and a scent catches me off-guard, and for once I am properly paying attention, and I can string a sense of meaning starting to materialise from there to here, the page.

When I’m waiting for the risotto to cook, I might start to write the first half of a post in my head, and my first reaction is not, “Nope, that is the most cliché-ridden piece to ever hit the Internet and I will never, ever let it see the light of day.”

And when I set the alarm early and pause to confront this blank screen, ready to harness what was, those ideas have vanished into the unreachable alcoves of my mind, leaving only taunting echoes of what was surely my best post yet. My inadequacy stares me down as I instead pummel at the keys, ham-fisted. Willing the next words to arrive, desperate not to appear desperate.

It is the time of year for many of evaluation or re-evaluation, commitment or recommitment, depending. I long ago realised that this blog was not going to continue as fervently or regularly as it started. As I came to see the impact of my early writing rhythm on the rest of my life, I knew something had to change. I couldn’t control how any post was received, but I could control how I felt when I was writing it, and what motivated me to share.

Instead, I try to notice when my body says, “Jemma, I think we could get up a little earlier tomorrow. I think I have the energy. I think we’ve got an idea we could throw around, together. I’d enjoy finding something to write about with you.” As someone who has spent most of her life ignoring her body and either suppressing or analysing her feelings, I’ve learned to treasure this calm, quiet voice.

And yet, this goes against traditional creative advice I’ve followed and condoned for years. What I’ve just shared above is a huge folly, according to those who tell me to get used to wrestling the Resistance and a blank page every day, to stick to my niche, and hustle here to get my first thousand true fans .

I was not spurred to write today because of the date, but I looked back at my diary this morning and realised it had been three years this week since I got up the courage to start sharing my reckons with you. My motivation for writing has matured, and I’m glad it has. The pieces still take just as much mental energy and determination, and I don’t know who or what I’ll be writing about in the future.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, while I’m figuring out what’s next, part of what this blog has evolved into is learning to look back with compassion and care. I’m learning how to say, “That was what I thought then, and this is how I’ve changed my mind.”

Of course, the trade-off is that fewers posts which are more likely to contradict themselves = fewer shots at a stand-out piece, lower metrics by all counts, and an inconsistent canon. But, interestingly enough, it does not mean I have fewer chances to get better at what I do, or a lower likelihood of finding flow. The beauty of how I write now is that not everything goes up here, because I’m learning to balance the input, output and silence. To me, that’s a goal more worth of pursuing than a post every day, or even every month.

Think of what you’ve picked up from an ex-lover, a bad manager, a failed goal or a long-discarded hobby.

Isn’t it wonderful to realise that something isn’t working for you, but you can take what you’ve learned and apply that knowledge or experience to somewhere where it does work?

The act of changing our minds encompasses growth, humility, wisdom and kindness towards ourselves.

It’s a skill we can learn to revere and cherish, not feel embarrassed or ashamed of.