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  • Jessica McQuistin

Celebrating My First 6 Months of Blogging


Photo by Patti Black on Unsplash

Did you know that Along the Way is six months old? Its official half-birthday was November 19th. Today I'm taking a moment to celebrate this milestone.


Um...How exactly does one celebrate a blog's half-birthday? I suppose I could put a party hat on while I write this post...Then again, those awful elastics always cut into my neck...I think I'll skip the party hat.


Instead, I'm celebrating by reflecting on the blog's beginning, the journey so far, what I'm proud of, and what's next.


Before I get this party started, I want to acknowledge how silly this feels. Silly, frivolous, self-centered, even boastful! It would certainly be much easier for me to write about mistakes I've made, what I could do better, things I want to learn, etc. And that's precisely why I'm making a point of celebrating. I'm hoping that this inspires you to find something that you can celebrate too, rather than just focusing on the negatives or the to-dos in your life.


How It Started

Sometimes you need to know your "why". Other times, "because my intuition said so" is enough.

The blog was a case of the latter. I can't take all the credit though! Two people from completely different areas of my life independently said to me, "You should start a blog." The first time, I felt butterflies in my stomach and a warm chill up my spine. The seed was planted. The second time, I felt a shockwave of certainty, fear, and excitement that took my breath away. There was no turning back.


So the blog was born somewhat suddenly, yet it felt like it was a long-time coming. A few years ago, I bought a brand new journal and on the first page I wrote:

I feel like a writer who doesn't write.

These words activated something within me. From then on, I've written in journals whenever I've felt inspired. Fast forward to 2020 (what a year!) and midway through, I started an Instagram account. This became a creative outlet where I could express myself publicly while connecting with like-minded people. In a way, the blog was a natural extension of this desire to write and share my experiences with others. It also helped me commit to the habit of writing regularly, which is something I've never done before.


What you may not know is that the blog almost didn't make it off the ground. I struggled a lot with the tech side of things initially. I expected that starting a blog would be difficult and would bring out my insecurities (which it was/did/continues to do), but I didn't expect the challenges to come before I even began writing! Needless to say, I'm glad I persisted and got this thing going. And don't be deterred if you're thinking of starting a Wix blog. Apparently - or so I've been told by several people - it's very user-friendly. *wink!* (I suppose that depends on the user!)


How It's Going So Far


It's been quite the experience, having my own little corner of the internet where I can write whatever I want! This blog has given me a sense of purpose and a way of connecting with others that feels very special to me as an introspective introvert. Surprisingly, I haven't run out of things to write about yet, and I've only experienced writer's block once. Not bad for six months of weekly posts!


One of the factors that changed the most has been the extent to which my kids have relied on me. When I first started back in May, both kids (then 6 and almost 4) were home with me, and my daughter was attending school virtually. Luckily, my son often sat with her during her online classes or played independently during her school time, so I had the perfect little writing window. A few months into blogging, the kids were on their summer break and we had a lot more family plans. I came up with some strategies to keep up my weekly posting schedule - mainly writing shorter posts, and writing several in advance during busier times. This worked out really well! (See My Blog-At-Home-Mom Summer Sanity Strategies for more on this.) As much as I enjoyed the challenge of keeping posts short and to-the-point during the summer, I was thrilled when I could let my posts unravel to whatever length felt right once both kids returned to in-person learning this fall. This newfound freedom posed a different kind of challenge, which I wrote about in a recent post. I think I'm starting to find my groove (again) between indulging in the freedom I have but also incorporating structure.


Another thing that's changed (which might seem minor, but makes a big difference to me) is where I've been writing from. I started out at the kitchen table for many months, then upgraded to a small hand-me-down desk that just fits in the front corner of my living room by the window, and now that Covid restrictions are lifting, I've started writing from coffee shops or the library once a week. Talk about living the dream! *happy dance*


Ta-Da List


Gretchen Rubin talks about writing ta-da lists instead of just to-do lists, to acknowledge things you've accomplished. Here goes!

  • Started a blog

  • Kept up with a weekly posting schedule for six months

  • Wrote 29 posts so far

  • Wrote my first newsletter in October

  • Experimented with different styles: longer or shorter posts, sharing tips, reflecting, an interview post, a recipe post, and incorporating poetry

  • Received positive feedback and insights from readers on the blog's comments section, on social media, and sometimes even in person

  • Reached a larger than usual audience with this post, where I shared part of my story


What's Next


Going forward, I would like to focus on reaching more people, learning more about blogging, reading more blogs, seeking opportunities for collaboration, and including more locally relevant (Kitchener-Waterloo) content. I'm also contemplating whether posting weekly is the ideal frequency for me. If you have any suggestions on any of these ideas, feel free to reach out!

 

By the way, the inspiration behind this post came from a group coaching call I recently attended, where we were asked, "What are you celebrating?" At the time, I couldn't name a single thing. After a few days, it dawned on me that I had been blogging for just over six months.


Now I'd like to extend this question to you: What are you celebrating? Big or small, everything counts.


P.S. I will be sharing more about this group coaching experience with Amy Ballantyne soon, so stay tuned!

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