I’m going to make a bold statement here: every person who has ever started a project of moderate to large magnitude has hit a stumbling block at some point in time. They may not have realized it at the time. They may have simply decided the project was no longer worth pursuing and quit. Or they may have gone full out steam-roller mode and just plowed through regardless. Maybe it slowed them down a lot, maybe it only stopped them for a second, but we’ve all been there. We’ve all done it. We may have kicked a pebble or ran face-first into a brick wall, but every one who has done anything worth doing since the beginning of time has most definitely stumbled.
I stumble a lot. Too much maybe. But I think it’s more about what you do when you stumble than the actual stumble itself. And for me, identifying my stumbling block is the first step in getting back on track. Now, when I sit down to blog and I feel like I cannot possibly get myself to write a single word, I look to see if I’m struggling with one of the following issues.
I have absolutely nothing to talk about.
This happens to me most frequently when I’m struggling with things outside of the nerdisphere. Either I’ve been too busy and haven’t touched a game in days, or I’ve been feeling poorly (either physically or mentally) for a prolonged period of time, which wreaks havoc on my ability to concentrate. Sometimes, this feeling also comes from a bit of imposter syndrome, when I cannot fathom why anyone would care about my thoughts on any given subject.
Honestly, this is probably my least favorite stumbling block, and the one I come up against most often.
Normally, my way of dealing with this is to close up WordPress, open up Steam, and just start downloading anything that looks intriguing. One of the benefits of having a large library spanning many genres is that something, eventually, will catch my interest, and although it might take a few days to get back to my blog, at least I stop worrying about it for a little bit.
Alternatively, I go seek out what others are doing for inspiration. Sometimes that means reading other blogs, or creeping my activity feed on Steam to see what my friends are playing. Sometimes, that takes me to Discord or to Twitch or to Reddit. I seek out people actively pursuing the hobby that I’m struggling with. Sooner or later, something will pique my interest, and before I know it, I’ll be back in the game, both figuratively and literally.
I have no visuals to support my content.
More than once, I’ve been tempted to write about something I played on the Switch, but I still haven’t bothered to figure out how to get screenshots from that machine to my PC, and that’d only be helpful if I had remembered to take any in the first place. Or I get deep into a game and sit down to write some first impressions and realize that the only screenshot I took was the title screen. Oops.
Of course, those are irritating, but easily remedied with a little extra time investment. Worse, for me, is when I want to write something that’s not specific to a certain title, and I get nervous because I tend to ramble on, and no one likes a giant wall of text. Do I spend the time creating custom graphics? Do I go hunting through PixaBay for something that kind of sort of fits what I want to talk about?
(The answer to that one is almost always yes, by the way. PixaBay is a gift.)
The irony of me getting caught up here so often is that, mostly, I don’t care if there are images throughout the blogs that I read. I’m holding myself to a standard that I’m not entirely sure even exists. Obviously, having relevant pictures is great, but I’m not sure it’s really required. There’s also no reason I cannot add images after doing the writing work, but … I don’t actually ever do that. I always feel like I need to have all my ducks in a row before I sit down to actually write, so when this one hits, I go find some ducks before I can proceed.
I have no idea why I’m bothering with this blog anyway.
Oof. This is the doozy. This is the one that hurts when I run into it.
Naithan of Time to Loot did a great post that sticks with me about finding one’s motivation to blog. Now I want to stress the importance of reminding yourself of that motivation when you feel like your struggling. Maybe the writing you’re doing (or trying to do) is no longer serving your purpose. Maybe your interests have changed, which has turned keeping your blog into a chore. Maybe the schedule you set for yourself is too limiting, or not structured enough to really work any more.
Do not be afraid to change something that’s not working!!! This is double extra bonus true if your primary audience is yourself. Sure, if your blog is an important income source in your life, maybe you won’t have that freedom, but if you’re a hobbyist? You absolutely do. Embrace that. Write something totally outside your normal flow, even if you don’t actually hit the publish button. Revisit your motivation, reexamine your structure, heck, redesign your layout if you think that might help.
If it feels like work, and it’s not work, then you probably should stop treating it like work and go do something that sparks joy.
Bonus Blaugust prompt idea: Are you familiar with the common stumbling blocks you tend to run into most often? Do you have a strategy for combatting them? If you haven’t really thought about it, consider figuring out your common stumbling blocks and brainstorm the best methods for you for dealing with them.