Several weeks ago, I came across a blogger who runs weekly writing workshops on her blog, Sleep is for the Weak. On Mondays she posts a list of five possible blogging topics, and people can then pick one (or more) to write a post about. Two days later everybody who's participated has to list links to all the posts of everyone else who participated, so everybody gets to see what the list has inspired everybody else's creative powers into producing, and everybody's post gets that bit more publicity. And, of course, everybody gets a list of (hopefully) good posts to read.
I was torn between feeling intrigued by the whole idea, and recognising the rather obvious fact that, since I was barely managing to find time for one post a month at that point, aiming for one a week on top of all the other stuff on my mental want-to-post-but-can't-find-time list might be just a tad ambitious. As it turned out, I wasn't faced with having to make any sort of decision on the subject at that point, as the blogger who runs it took a few weeks' hiatus from the workshop over Christmas and the latest one has only just been posted. And I'm going to have a shot at it. For reasons which, as luck would have it, happen to be covered in the post topic I've picked.
From this week's list of five, I chose no. 3: What steps have you taken this year so far to make a dream a reality? It's a surprisingly useful question, because it made me stop and think about what my dream actually is. In amongst all the wishes and hopes and wouldn't-it-be-nice-if daydreams, which one is my dream?
My dream... is to make this blog into one of the really well-known ones - one of the ones that hits Top Mommyblogger lists and that's a familiar name to others across the blogosphere - and to use it for more thought-provoking and informative posts as well as the entertaining ones. I want to write more posts that look at the controversies of the parenting world, weigh up the evidence even-handedly, distinguish as clearly as possible between myths, uncertainties and facts, and hopefully leave a few people - or more than a few - better-informed than they were before. And, while doing this, I still want to go on writing about the day-to-day ups and downs of parenthood and anything else that happens to go on in my life. I want to write posts that will be respectful and informative and interesting and thought-provoking and readable, as well as posts that will be funny and entertaining and poignant and readable. I want (hell, I'm dreaming, so I'm going to aim high) to write a cross between Mainstream Parenting and Here Be Hippogriffs.I don't expect to get all that much done toward that end in 2010. But there's a lot I can do to pave the way.
This, of course, is where the writing workshops come in. Partly because they'll be the ideal way of at least getting a few people coming over to look at this blog - and, hopefully, some of you will like it enough to come back. But also because sometimes I need a goal to kickstart me past my crippling perfectionism, my reluctance to commit a single word to print until I've planned the entire post in minutest detail, complete with full links and snappy title, and dealt with my entire to-do list into the bargain. I'm going to have to get past all that, just sit down, and write. Even if it isn't good. Especially if it isn't good, because my fear of writing something off-puttingly terrible is one of the hugest things holding me back from blogging more, and I have to get through that and just write. So that's why it'll be good for me to have weeks when I just make myself pick a post topic from a choice of five and get it written in the next two days. Forget whether it's perfect, Sarah. It won't be. But it will be posted, and that will be a major plus point.
There's also something more indirect that I can do, and that's start dealing with the rest of that mental to-do list. Sure, one of the reasons I don't blog is because I'm too busy... but another is that that busy-ness is made even worse than it needs to be by all the perceived busy-ness muddying up my head. It's not just the time I spend on all the things I have to do. It's also the time I spend feeling that I can't sit down and spend a few minutes blogging because, well, it would be wrong when I have so much else that I should be doing that is, objectively speaking, a higher priority than blogging. So I don't blog... but a lot of the non-blogging time isn't spent getting the other stuff done, it's spent on fretting over the fact that I should be doing it.
So, to deal with that, I'm going to spend more time on doing the other stuff. Not by falling into the trap of thinking I have to spend hours on end working through my to-do list, but Flylady style - a manageable bit at a time. I'm trying to spend at least a few minutes each day working on one of the huge piles of stuff I have to do, and, little by little, it's getting done. And this frees up enough space in my mind that I can give myself permission to do some blogging as well. When I spend a bit of time on setting my house in order - literally and figuratively - it leaves me feeling much more comfortable with the idea of spending time on my own hobbies.
So... if you've come over from the Writing Workshop (or from anywhere else), hello and welcome! I hope you'll take a bit of time to look around and see what you think. Even better - let me know. Tell me what you like about this blog, what you don't like, and what bits you disagree with so much you think I'm a complete idiot for even writing them. Comment on any post you like, current or past - as long as you express your views civilly, I'm happy to hear from anyone of any opinion. Let me know whether there are any burning topics you'd really like me to blog about (of course, it'll be around 2012 before I get round to it, but it'd still be good to hear your views on what I should write). Or, if you don't want to make yourself known, just pull up a virtual chair and lurk. Watch this space, because I aim to make it one worth watching.
Addendum/erratum: Sorry - I thought all participants posted the list of everybody else's link, but I was thinking of the Carnivals. For the Writing Workshops, the links are all collected in a Wednesday post on Josie's blog. You can find this week's post here. My personal favourite was Dulwich Divorcée's post (and, no, I promise I'm not just saying that because she was the first to comment on mine), but I had tremendous fun reading all the different ones and seeing what different bloggers had made from the prompts. Enjoy!