The Road to Platinum – #Blaugust2022 Blaugcheivements

Blaugcheivement Unlocked!

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

As much as I love collecting achievements (or nerd points, as I started calling them soon after they were introduced in World of Warcraft back in 2008), I’ve never been particularly interested in trying to 100% most things. Even in games I’ve really loved and played to death, it seems like there’s always that one achievement that feels impossible, or forces you to play in a way that you don’t enjoy. I’ve mostly elected to collect nerd points only so long as I’m enjoying the process, which fits right in with my Play to Satsifaction theory.

Now, Blaugchievements are different. I knew when I started that I wanted the top trophy, and I was going to do whatever I could to get it. Now, just one day from the end of #Blaugust2022, I’m going to sum up my personal Road to Platinum.

(In all honesty, I was going to do most of this stuff anyway…)

The Post-Specific Blaugcheivements

Tips & Tricks for Staying Productive and Avoiding Burnout – August 2, 2022

Welcome to the Club(house) – August 5, 2022

The Spirits of Hobbies Past – August 12, 2022

Your Summer Safari – Five Photo-Snapping Games – August 7, 2022

Pay No Attention to the Nerd Behind the Curtain – August 9, 2022

Quick Look – In Sound Mind – August 15, 2022

Blaugust Reviews Humble Choice August 2022 – Unwise Owl – August 29, 2022

The Joy In Everything That’s Not Blogging – August 16, 2022

Pushing Through the Rough Spots – August 23, 2022

The Boy Scouts Had It Right All Along – August 29, 2022

The Non-Post-Specific Blaugchievements

The non-post-specific Blaugchievements fall into one of two categories. About half are of the you played the game, have nerdpoints variety, and most of the rest are nebulous and harder to point to the moment of completion. Suffice it to say, that all of those I feel I completed over the course of the month, but there’s a couple I wanted to highlight.

Two folks signed up for #Blaugust2022, and explicitly gave me the credit for this achievement. If you haven’t popped in and said hi to Jaedia at Dragons and Whimsy or DarksydeTed at Dispatches from Darksyde, it’s not too late, go do that now.

Okay, this one specifically talks about sharing pet pictures in the Blaugust Discord, which I did, but you all deserve dog photos as well!

And In The End…

What would a series of achievements be if there was not a “Platinum Trophy”. This one is gained by completing all of the achievements above during Blaugust.

As of yesterday’s post, I completed the Going Platinum Blaugcheivement, and tomorrow, I will earn my Rainbow Diamond Award for the year with my September goals post. It’s been a wild ride again this year, and I am glad to have shared it with so many friends, both new and old.

Lessons Learned – Week Five – The Boy Scouts Had It Right All Along

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK FIVE of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Lessons Learned. Writing on this week’s suggested topic will earn you the Lessons Learned Blaugchievement.

This will be my third Blaugust even where I paid attention to the themes and talked a little bit about what I took away from the experience. In 2019, I was mostly just glad to be writing again, and little bit relieved it was all over. Then last year, I reminded myself that getting the words out was the important part, and I needed to let go of that part of me that desperately needs everything to be done absolutely perfectly.

Well, my big takeaway from 2022 is almost as revelatory – everything is easier when you take the time to prepare yourself.

The Boy Scouts of America may not be the best example to follow for most things in life, but “Be Prepared” is a pretty excellent motto nonetheless.

It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? Because of the limitations of my energy, and my constant skirmishes with brain fog, I already have a pretty good focus on preparedness in the rest of my life. If I have a bunch of things I need to remember to take with me in the morning, I make sure to get them all together the night before. I make sure I have everything I need for the meals I plan to cook between grocery deliveries when I put in my order. Heck, I don’t even like to start a craft project until I have all the supplies I’m going to need for it.

Why did it never occur to me to apply this to my blogging before?

Sure, it didn’t stay this neat as I came up with new ideas and moved things around, but I never stumbled over thinking about what I was going to write for the entire month.

I have been keeping a content calendar – this was on my to list even before I decided to start up the #JustOnePercent Project, but it’s proved absolutely invaluable afterwards. None of my other series or projects had really stuck before this, but sitting down once a month, installing the games I planned to play the following month, and putting all the project posts onto a schedule has – mostly – kept me on track. I even started adding random post ideas that popped into my head, and adding things to the calendar after I’d already written them. I didn’t need to, of course – I could always look at the blog itself to see the posts I’d already made – but I liked the visual reminder of what I had accomplished.

Since I set my goals pretty high for #Blaugust2022, I decided to take it up a notch. What if, instead of just pre-planning my content, I started pre-writing it as well? I was already in the habit of scheduling posts; stuff that goes live in the morning tends to get more views than posts that go out when I tend to write in the evenings or at night. I gave myself a couple of dedicated blocks of time per week to work on posts, and thought I’d be very pleased to be 1-2 posts ahead at any given time.

A snapshot of my scheduled posts from August 7th, 2022.

It worked out better than I ever imagined. For the majority of the month, I’ve had somewhere between 5 and 7 posts scheduled at any given time, with usually one or two in progress in my drafts. Because I was working so far ahead, I didn’t feel rushed or pressured into playing games when I wasn’t in the mood, which I credit with both improving my enjoyment of and disposition towards my project games this month. Being ahead motivated me to stay ahead, and this was – without question – my easiest #Blaugust yet.

While what I learned about being prepared might be a good lesson for anyone, the other thing I learned this year is more personal. That is: the posts I write that are – in one way or another – very personal to me, are about 1000 times harder to write than any post I write about games, crafts, or anything else. The time spent actually writing is significantly longer, I do a ridiculous amount of editing and revision, and I find the whole thing emotionally exhausting.

I mean, sure, there’s some me in every post I make – as soon as you voice an opinion, you’re revealing something about yourself. But all of my life, I’ve been drawn to things that make me feel included without making me feel like the center of attention. I never auditioned for main roles, content to hang out in the chorus or, even better, behind the stage. I’d volunteer to photograph events so I wouldn’t have to be in the pictures. With very few exceptions, I’ve lived my life in a way that it was easy for me to be acknowledged, without every feeling like I was been seen.

I’m not 100% clear on where I am going with this, except to say, I plan to (mostly) continue as I have been, and as far as this blog is concerned, personal posts will continue to be the exception, and not the norm. I know this potentially diminishes my reach – after all, if I’m not giving you any compelling reason to come back for the person behind the keyboard, you might as well just read anyone else’s discourse on gaming and nerd stuff as mine. I can respect the desire to inject yourself into your work, and I do read quite a few blogs that are at least part personal journals, but it’s not what I want to be putting out into the world at this point in my life.

Staying Motivated – Week Four – Pushing Through the Rough Spots [#Blaugust2022]

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK FOUR of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Staying Motivated. Writing on this week’s suggested topic will earn you the Staying Motivated Blaugchievement.

Apparently, this is not one of my favorite themes, as evidenced by the fact that I can only find one previous year’s post on the topic: Identifying Your Stumbling Blocks (August 2021).

For someone who is so very driven to be productive all the damned time, motivation should be easy for me. It is not. As much as I crave for things to be done, I often get all muddled up in the doing things step. The planning come fairly easy to me. The satisfaction of something finished is huge. It’s the parts in between that get me. And right now, we are all deep deep deep in the parts in between.

When this post goes live, we’re going to be just over a week out from the end of #Blaugust2022. Maybe you’ve found the whole thing a breeze so far, just posting every day and reading and commenting and finding inspiration right and left. If you have, great, but this post isn’t for you. Keep doing what you’re doing because obviously it’s working well and you don’t need my advice.

For everyone else, keep on reading. I’m going to blather on for a bit, and maybe somewhere in there, you’ll find something that speaks to you.

Finding the Reason for the Season (of Blogging)

Motivation looks different on different people. Even though I often struggle with motivation in general, for me, I put very little emphasis on external factors when looking for reasons to do a thing. When I set myself a goal, it’s almost always something I’m doing for myself, and as such, I try to set my goals in such a way that I’m not reliant on the cooperation or attention of others to meet them. Which isn’t me saying that there’s anything wrong with seeking extrinsic rewards for your efforts, but if you came into #Blaugust2022 or blogging in general with an expectation of receiving praise or fame or monetary rewards, you just might be a little disappointed in how it’s all turning out, even if you’re regularly producing quality content.

If you haven’t already done this, sit down with and confront your reasons. Get a pen and paper and write things down. Your first reason – your primary reason – should be right at the forefront of your mind, but don’t stop there. Really think about what being a blogger means to you. Think about why you’re participating in Blaugust instead of just treating August like any other month in regards to your blog. Write down everything you do get from it, and everything you hope to get from it, no matter how silly and farfetched.

Then go back down the list, and put a little checkmark or a star – heck, you can use stickers if you want to – next to every reason that’s working for you right now. If you don’t feel the urge to mark anything off, keep making the list longer. If you were truly getting nothing out of this, you would have quit already. There’s always a reason, you just need to find it.

Now look at the things you didn’t check off. Can you change how you’re doing something (or a lot of somethings) to get closer to a satisfaction point with those reasons? If so, what’s preventing you from making that change right now?

Figuring out what motivates you is often much harder work than doing the thing you’re supposed to be motivated to do in the first place, but if you don’t put in the energy to figure out your whys, you might be missing out on a lot of satisfaction you could be getting from your hobby.

If The Plan Isn’t Working, Make a New Plan

The first year I participated in Blaugust, this blog was only three days old. I have a tendency to jump into things without any care of how deep the water actually is. Despite the fact that my Parting Thoughts on #Blaugust2019 were pretty positive (and let’s be real – definitely sanitized), I know I struggled a lot that first year. I’d never started a blog without a narrow focus and a solid plan, and I have never been too good at just winging it. While I managed to reach my goals, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the journey.

Whatever your plan (or lack thereof) was for #Blaugust2022, it isn’t too late to revise.

Looking critically at at plan and deciding that it isn’t working is not failure. A non-functional plan is a roadblock, and the sooner you can clear it on out of here, the sooner you can get back on the path to whatever it is you actually want.

Depending on how much free time you have, it may in fact be too late to do 31 posts before midnight on the last day of the month, but if you’re revising your plan, you can also revise your goals.

If you accidentally missed a day, and it’s throwing your mojo off, well, write something else and backdate it. It’s your blog, you get to do that.

If you’ve been faithfully posting every day, or doing whatever it takes to meet the goal you set for yourself, but you’re unhappy about the quality, you can go back and edit your posts, but do it in September. Promise yourself, next month, you’ll go clean everything up. Chances are good that it’s either burnout or imposter syndrome telling you nasty lies, and when you go to look at those posts in a week or two, you won’t hate them anymore.

You’ll be amazed what you can get done if you make up your mind to get out of your own way.

Winning Isn’t Everything (But It Feels Damn Good)

When you signed up for #Blaugust2022, you probably did so with a goal already in mind. Maybe you intended to post ever day. Maybe you didn’t necessarily want to go that far, but set your sites on getting silver with 15 posts. Maybe you just wanted to jump back into the community and find new interesting bloggers to read and see if inspiration struck you.

Now, Belghast does a damn good job of making sure that there are rewards at multiple levels of participation, because let’s be real – everyone loves to get a shiny badge that says “I did something!”, even if we aren’t really comfortable admitting it. The addition of Blaugcheivements this year just added to the diversity of potential Blaugust goals.

However, I’m going to add two more badges into the mix – there’s not going to be a quiz or anything, and if you think you earned one or both of these during #Blaugust2022, then you did. I’m sure some of your are rolling your eyes, but I bet there’s someone out there for whom this is going to be a revelation.

There are a lot of ways to win. Just because you might not win #Blaugust2022 in the way you planned on, didn’t mean that you got nothing out of trying. You put yourself out there, and that’s certainly worth acknowledging. Maybe you learned something about yourself, about the way you work, about the kind of writing you do – and do not – want to do. That’s valuable. In fact, it might be the most valuable thing you take away from #Blaugust.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Everyone Else

It’s worth bearing in mind that a lot of the blogs you see posting every day, or nearly every day, are the work of bloggers who aren’t just starting out. They don’t just do this in August. At least a couple of them are on posting streaks of a year or longer, and in many respects, this is just another month of doing the thing that they do.

The thing is, if you were exactly like any other blogger out there, then you’d just be redundant. What makes you unique, and what makes your voice important is your personal perspective, your life experience, your taste, and your style. While it’s great to have role models, the world only needs one of each of us. The content you create, the parts of you that you choose to put forth couldn’t possibly be written by anyone else.

Blogging doesn’t need to be something you do every day to be worthwhile. Sometimes, it’s hard to forget that in the push of a sprint, but if you want to keep a blog and have it keep adding value to you (and to your readers), then it’s more important to stay the course than to rush to the finish line.

Welcome to Blaugust – Week One – Tips & Tricks For Staying Productive & Avoiding Burnout [#Blaugust2022]

Blaugust, as envisioned by Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut, is a festival of blogging, a celebration of content creation of the written word variety, and a community-building activity for people participating in a medium that many consider to be dying or already dead. Although Blaugust awards are granted for established blogs who put out at least five posts during the month of August, I’ve set my sights on the Rainbow Diamond award, and am planning a post per day for the entire month.

This is WEEK ONE of #Blaugust2022. The suggested topic for this week is Welcome to Blaugust. Writing on this week’s suggested topics will earn you the Welcome Wagon Blaugcheivement.

Whether this is your first time participating in Blaugust or you’re a grizzled veteran with many years and badges under your belt, if you’re going all in and aiming for 31 posts in 31 days, the next few weeks are probably going to feel a little bit rough. Some of us struggle with even small disruptions to our schedules and routines, and – at least for me – this requires more dedication than I normally give to my blog.

Personally, I like to offset some of that by laying myself a strong foundation, but I’m a planner by nature. Other people will take one look at my prep work and dismiss it as being entirely too restrictive, and for them it very likely would be. There’s just too many types of people for me to give you a “one size fits all” strategy. What I can do, however, is give some pretty general advice that might make it easier to identify and avoid your personal pitfalls.

Set A Reasonable Goal for Your Life

While it’s true that some people thrive when they have something to keep them occupied for every waking hour, for most people, this is the bullet train to burn out. If you’re already struggling to find time for yourself after taking care of all of your must-do’s, chasing rainbow diamond might not be in the cards for you this year, and that’s okay. If you still feel like it’s something you need to strive for, then your other option is to figure out what else in your life is somewhat less mandatory for the next month.

Maybe it’s worth it to you to give up a standing social engagement for a few weeks. Maybe you have a supportive spouse that can pick up a little extra housework, allowing you time to write. Maybe you already know exactly how to steal back an hour every day (or a larger block of time a couple times a week).

But if not, there’s nothing wrong with choosing an easier load this time. It always feels better to exceed your expectations than to fall short. You might also choose to focus less on the raw output and more on the community building aspects by knocking out a handful of Blaugcheivements instead of measuring your success strictly by post count.

Take the framework of Blaugust, and figure out how you need to adapt it to fit your life. You absolutely get to do that.

Give Your Inner Critic A Month Off

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say “Good, fast, and cheap – pick two” but you might be wondering how it applies to what I’m talking about here. Well, for most folks, when it comes to writing a blog, you get slightly different options. Of course, one of your three options is still good (in other words, high quality posts), but the other two are frequency of posts and reasonable time investment. Since what constitutes a reasonable time investment is completely subjective, it might not be impossible to ever have all three, but it’s a really hard road, and ideally, you don’t want to be hating your blog or yourself before the end of the month.

Unless you’re relying on your blog to make money that you need to survive (and if you do, you probably already dedicate more time and energy to it than your average blogger), if you really want to make sure you’re hitting your post counts, and you’ve already set aside as much time as you are able to, then you should get comfortable with the idea of the quality of your content taking a small hit this month.

I swear to you I didn’t make this up, but it was too on the nose to not include.

Now, I’m not saying you should subvert the whole concept and post a single word or sentence and call it a post (although sometimes subversion can be just as much work and outrageously interesting). But if you only have time to write or to edit, let it fly unedited. Don’t hesitate to post a fluff piece or two. Skip the pictures if you need to. Toss off a stream of consciousness post that doesn’t fit under your typical content umbrella. Give your thoughts on one of these philosophical questions. Write a quick paragraph or two based on one of the available prompts, or find one of those “blogger award” questionnaires to answer. I promise you, the world won’t end.

As a recovering perfectionist, I realize that this might seem scandalous. In fact, a year ago, I would never have given this advice. But what I took away from Blaugust 2021 was that none of us should be letting the idea of perfect be the reason we can’t reach our goals.

It probably was never going to be perfect anyway.

Be Kind to Yourself and Your Work

I’m going to be blunt: when you break everything down, there’s only three good reasons to do a thing. The first, because we live in a capitalist hellscape, is if it makes you money because you need money to survive. So again, this is where this post really isn’t for the bloggers (and I know they’re out there) for whom this is a job, be that a primary income source or a supplementary but necessary one.

So if you’re not writing for financial rewards, you’re likely doing it for one of the next two reasons: either because it brings you satisfaction, or because it brings you joy. The luckiest folks among us have things in their life that bring them satisfaction, joy, and money, but for most of us, we settle for one or two at a time. On my best days, blogging brings me both satisfaction and joy, but it’s rare that put in the effort and I don’t get at least one or the other. When it is no longer serving me in either capacity, I do something else until I miss it. So far, I’ve kept on coming back sooner or later.

If, during Blaugust or at any other time, you realize you’re banging your head against the wall and you’re not making money, or feeling good about what you’re doing in one way or the other, well, then it’s time to either release some pressure or stop entirely. Winning – whatever that means to you – is never going to be more important than having an outlet for your voice, and if you let your ambition kill your love of blogging, then we have all lost a little bit too.

If you find yourself starting to dread opening up your blogging software of choice, please quit before you hate it. There are already too many things we have to do in this life. I’m giving you explicit permission to only do it as long as you are excited about it.

As an added bonus, feel free to make an entire post giving your absolute best piece of advice about blogging in particular, writing in general, or avoiding burn out. You know, just in case you need a topic because you’re planning to do a lot of posting this month or something.

Setting Myself Up For Success – Blaugust 2022 Edition

Ok, so I realize I’ve already done a Getting Ready for Blaugust post, but honestly? That was more about making the decision to really go for it again this year. Now I want to talk a little about what I’m doing to give myself the best chance of meeting my goals without getting burnt out.

Step One – Filling Up My Content Calendar

I can’t believe how long I tried to blog without having any kind of plan besides my monthly goal posts. I mean, I love a plan! I love a schedule! Why did I wait until the beginning of 2022 to start using a calendar to plan my posts?

I have no idea, because this is probably the only reason I’ve been doing as well as I have this year.

It’s not easy to read with an entire month’s worth of content on a single screen, but I got it all on there!

I’m pleased to report that I have something down for every single day during the month of August. This includes all of my project posts for the month, as well as a post for each of the theme weeks (because I want my shiny Blaugcheivement banners), and four prompt posts (also because I want my shiny Blaugcheivement banners). Once I had those in, it only left me with eight days worth of content to decide on, which then really didn’t feel too overwhelming.

One of my favorite things about my calendar is that once I have everything put in, it’s super easy to move things around however I need to. Every one of those small boxes can just be dragged and dropped around as much as possible. In fact, several of my post ideas have been dragged through several months already!

I am trying to be optimistic that I’ll be able to get a handful of these posts scheduled before the first day of Blaugust, to allow myself wiggle room. Unfortunately my early July wasn’t as productive as I would have liked it to be, and I also have something to post about every day leading up until Blaugust (although I’m working on this post a few days before it will be published, so I’m on the right track). That said, it’s not uncommon for me to write two, sometimes even three, posts if I plan my time well, so

Step Two – Blocking Out Time to Write (and Play)

For me, the hardest part of a blogging marathon is coming up with enough ideas. The second hardest part, however, is making sure I leave myself plenty of time to actually do the work. I’ve made sure to keep my Sunday afternoons & Wednesday evenings unscheduled as much as possible for the past couple of months so I’m guaranteed at least two solid blocks of time to work.

Now, for my normal posting goals, I can usually squeeze most of what I want to get done in a week in those two blocks, for a total of somewhere between 8-10 hours. I don’t honestly expect that that will be sufficient in during Blaugust, so I’m planning to also put in a couple hours on Monday and Friday mornings, even if it means setting my alarm a little bit earlier.

Honestly, if I didn’t have as much free time as I do, I am fairly certain I would have set myself a more modest goal. My biggest challenge has far more to do with energy levels and the ability to focus, so I expect I’ll be heavily relying on scheduled posts to keep everything going smoothly.

No, my biggest struggle with time is being clear that just because blogging is something I do for myself, doesn’t make it any less important than anything else I do. If I have dedicated blocks of time already set aside, I plan other things that need doing around that, and am far less likely to decide that this time, during which I should be writing, is exactly when I need to be doing just about anything else.

Step Three – Getting My Images Squared Away

Obviously, for gaming-focused posts, I’ll take screenshots during my playtime, so there’s not much I can do about those in advance. However, for any of my non-game specific posts, I am currently working on making sure I have graphics pre-made (thank you Canva!) or pre-downloaded (thank you Pixabay!) and stored where I can access them easily prior to sitting down to write.

Just getting started, but it makes things so much easier when everything I need is easily accessible.

Again, the last several months have gotten me into good habits, as I usually am working on making sure I have all my #JustOnePercent graphics done and games downloaded during the last week of the month. When I sit down to do something blog-related, I want to be able to jump right in, rather than spend half of my allotted time looking for things.

I’m also considering keeping a link file in GoogleDocs for the game pages or other blogs I know I want to use in my posts – again, keeping what I need handy makes it less likely I’ll get distracted.

Although I haven’t quite finished up all of my Blaugust preparations, I already feel like I’m going into Blaugust 2022 more likely to succeed than in any prior iteration. I did manage to pick up Rainbow Diamond awards during Blaugust 2019 and Blapril 2020, although last year I only managed Gold during Blaugust 2021.

I think it’ll be very interesting to see how I’m feeling about this year’s marathon once it’s over – it remains to be seen how different I’ll feel about it having spent a good amount of time getting ready in advance.

Some Blaugust (After)Thoughts – Lessons Learned Week – #Blaugust2021

Now that Belghast has posted the official Blaugust 2021 wrap-up, I wanted to tidy up some of my thoughts on Blaugust in general, and talk about my experience with this year in particular. I reluctantly made the decision before the beginning of August that daily posting was probably not something I was going to be able to attain this year, and attempted to adjust my expectations accordingly. I hate backing down from any sort of challenge, and Blaugust is precisely the type of challenge that works well for me.

But I had to balance my desire for productivity and shiny internet awards with the knowledge of the toll that productivity can take on me. I set my sights on achieving silver, and managed to – just barely – eke into the next category up, hence the lovely gold Blaugust 2021 award.

I also made the choice to focus more on keeping up with my gaming interests than keeping up with the community, and in retrospect, I think that was not the best choice to have made. I made this years festival about me, and I’m not even sure that I can say it made blogging easier. Over the course of August, I spent almost 90 hours gaming, and as a result, managed to make posts about eight different games over the course of the month.

However, since I didn’t dedicate a whole lot of time to reading other blogs, and interacting with other bloggers much past dropping the occasional like on a post here and there, I definitely feel like I missed out on a significant part of what makes Blaugust so great. I didn’t even realize this until I read Pete’s final #Blaugust2021 post. Despite there being so many more blog posts to read, I read less in August than any other month in recent memory. Because of this, I missed out on being able to build posts of my own on the back of posts from other Blaugust participants.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the interactions I get from blogging and social media and Discord with like-minded folks, but I don’t need it. It’s not a goal for me. Getting my thoughts down and sending them out into the world like baby birds is the goal; everything else is just gravy. I forget that for many bloggers, connection is the whole point, and I did not give back this past month the way I would have liked to do.

Community is the point of Blaugust after all, and this year, I just completely missed the point.

However, in my own way, this month was a huge success for me. I managed to carve out space for myself in my life, and that’s something I am forever struggling with. I didn’t waste gobs of time unable to decide what comes next. I (mostly) proceeded cleanly from idea to execution. I made time, and then I made damn good use of that time, and as ridiculous as it sounds, that’s huge for me. Even though I think I didn’t necessary succeed at Blaugust in its own intention, I needed this as a kick in the pants to remember why I do this, and why I love doing this.

I feel like this has been an issue in my life for a long time now – balancing the things I do for my own edification, joy, and recharging my batteries with the mundane life stuff that needs to be kept up with, and the things I do because other people need or want me to to do them. Living with a basically completely unmanaged (and therefore unmitigated) chronic illness, both mental and physical energy feel like scarce resources, and I don’t always use those resources in the best way. No matter what I decide, I almost always am looking back and worrying about missed opportunity costs.

I won’t try to say there weren’t a couple of times over the last four weeks where I pushed when I should have rested, or when I wasted time I could have manifested just a bit more energy and made better use of. Overall, I did pretty okay finding the balance, and I’m counting that as a win.

Blaugust Lessons Learned – Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Done

I wasn’t entirely sure what (if anything) I wanted to bring to Lessons Learned week for Blaugust 2021, but then this tweet came across my timeline this morning, and it was like I got hit over the head with a giant lightbulb. Please excuse the mixed metaphor, but the takeaway here is huge as a blogger, especially as a hobbyist blogger (as opposed to one who is trying to make a revenue stream happen).

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of done.

It’s a funny sentence, in it’s own way, but I think it’s a conflict that just about every type of creative faces at some point. Everything you have ever done? Probably could have been done better. But how much better and what would it have cost you?

Sometimes, I have the barest glimmer of an idea, and I think, man, I need to ruminate on that. Or I just push it aside because I don’t trust my ability to make that idea into a compelling post. I think it’ll be too short, or worse, far too long. I have no graphics. I’m not ready to write it.

And that, friends, is why I have so many months where I post less than half a dozen times. I don’t want to put in the effort unless I think it’s going to be perfect.

But you know what? Perfect never happens, and done can be immensely satisfying.

I identify far too strongly with this Hiraffe from Alekon.

I continue to be grateful to Belghast and the Blaugust community because revisiting blogging at the start of a blogging marathon meant that, if I wanted to win, I didn’t have time to get bogged down in the details. I didn’t spend months looking through layouts, trying to find something that was just right. I picked something that I didn’t find visually offensive, slapped a name on it, and got down to doing what I was there to do, which was writing.

And it’s stuck for over two years now. Sure, there have been fallow times, but I’ve – more or less – kept up with my oh-so-meager planned posts. I’ve tried a lot of things I otherwise wouldn’t have, and I’m getting words onto the screen and sending them out into the world.

It’s not perfect, and it hasn’t transitioned into other projects in the way I had hoped, but man, it feels good every time I hit publish on a new post.

Identifying Your Stumbling Blocks – Staying Motivated Week (#Blaugust2021)

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.

Blog Features: What *Is* Working For Me

My last post talked about some of the things I’ve tried out on the blog that, for one reason or another, I stopped doing. In this one, I’d like to look at some of the stuff that I’m using to create structure without feeling constrained. These features have been pretty regular in one way or another for a couple of years now, and although my readers may disagree, I feel like they’re beneficial, either for the sake organization or for the content that comes out of them.

Quick Look and Game Over

My Quick Look and Game Over posts are basically the meat of this blog! Sure, I talk about my other hobbies from time to time, but mostly, I’m here to talk about games. I do some MMO content, but most of the games I play aren’t meant to be played forever. When I first start something, regardless of if I’m going to continue it or not, I like to give it a Quick Look, in which I’ll talk a little about what kind of game it is, my first impressions, and usually, whether or not I plan to continue playing.

Once I feel like I’m “done” with a game, I might write up a Game Over, although that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve gotten to see the credits. These posts are usually written when I’ve hit my satisfaction threshold, and I really feel like I’ve spent enough time with it to give a real review.

Nerd Girl Goals and In Review

Nerd Girl Goals and In Review are my monthly bookend posts, where I look at what I plan to do in any given month, and then what I actually got done. Sometimes, they even resemble one another! Even on my worst months as far as actually writing blog posts are concerned, I don’t think I have yet to miss either of these two.

Community Game-Along

Although I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across CapsuleJay’s Community Game-Along, I’ve been at least attempting to participate every month since January 2020. I say attempting because some of the themes just really haven’t aligned with the kinds of things I usually play. Sure, it feels a little awkward sometimes, because I think I might be the only regular participant for whom blogging is my primary medium – most of the gamers seem to be more focused on streaming, video, and podcasts.

I’m keeping up with it despite frequently feeling a little bit adrift because it’s both encouraging me to play games I might never have gotten around to otherwise, and because it gives me at least one thing I feel like I need to do in the sphere of gaming each and every month.

Steam Sale Analysis

This is probably my least successful regular feature, but full disclosure? I do this one for me. I like to have a record of what I was considering, what I bought, and how much I spent. I absolutely treat the two major sales (Summer and Winter) as their own games, and even when they’re not that exciting, I still have a good time. I love looking for deals, finding hidden gems, and creeping on my friends list to see what everyone else is buying.

As much as I love the interaction that tends to go a little crazy around Blaugust every year, there’s 11 other months every year, and during those? I realize I’m writing this more for me than for any potential audience. It’s great to get feedback and spark discussions, but I realized pretty early on that I would probably keep doing this if no one else ever read another word. I love having a record of what I’ve played, what I passed on, what upcoming titles sparked my interest, and what I thought about all things nerdy. I don’t intend for Nerd Girl Thoughts to ever be profitable, or even popular, and for me, that’s super freeing.

I would absolutely considering adding more regular features, if I felt they’d be enjoyable or otherwise beneficial.

Bonus Blaugust prompt idea: What types of blog posts do you feel are integral to the experience of your blog? What are you favorite posts to write? Are you writing for an audience, and if so, who do you feel that audience is? How does your blogging benefit you (or how would you like to see it benefit you in the future)? Is blogging your only / preferred medium of content creation, or is your blog part of a larger package?

Blog Ideas That Got Left Behind

… this one too was loosely inspired by Naithin!

Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried out a handful of regular blog posts or personal challenge ideas that have just … fizzled out. Mostly, they weren’t anything I deliberately abandoned, rather things that just fell by the wayside or that weren’t working out for me. In fact, other than the updates around the change of the month (which seem to have settled comfortably into a review post and a goals post), there’s very little that hasn’t changed from the start of the blog.

So what ideas seemed like they were great, but just didn’t work out for me?

What I’m Playing Wednesday

Man, I thought this was such a great idea. Pick one day a week where I would talk about the game that was currently taking up the majority of my game time. Except I didn’t think about what would happen when I was deep into a game for multiple weeks in a row. Or when I was between games. Or when I was playing five different things, but none of them for long enough to have even formed a cohesive opinion. What I’m Playing Wednesday didn’t really make it out of 2019 (although I brought it back for one post in 2020 when I wanted to write about a bunch of games I’d been dabbling in, but had no idea what to call it and it just happened to be a Wednesday).

The Nope List

Initially, The Nope List was a post made up of bite-sized summaries of games I had failed to actually get into in any given month. Then I folded that into my In Review posts, which wasn’t really working for me either because those could sometime get unwieldy due to tossing so many things into a somewhat disorganized format. Starting in March 2020, I did away with The Nope List entirely as a regular feature, although it did pop up again as a convenient way to divide the demos I played during the first big Steam Games Festival into multiple posts.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

This category and the next one are kind of intrinsically linked. Going into 2020, I had some big plans mostly centered around really working my way through my library instead of chasing after something shiny and new. Over the years, I’d acquired some games which, if I were to play them to completion, would represent a very hefty time investment, and because of that, they weren’t getting played. They were intimidating. I was starting to wonder if I’d ever actually dive into them.

So I made a list of some of these beefy games, planning to make a dent in them. Another cool concept that just didn’t work for me. I played only one of the ten games for a fairly significant amount of time. I tried out another four, but just long enough to bounce off of them (and if I’m being really honest, only one of those did I dedicate a fair amount of time to before walking away). Which means half the games I selected, I never even loaded up. Sure, 2020 was an unusual year for all of us, but I think the real reason this one didn’t work out for me is that I chose games I felt like I should play rather than ones I really was excited about.

And that loops right into…

Low Spend 2020

Out of all of these, this one is the one that kind of hurt to have had to throw out, and the only one I think was well thought out and could have worked in any other year. I made the rules in such a way that I completely set myself up for success; I allowed for Humble Choice purchases, for subscription game services, for MMO expansions, and to continue being the Steam Sale Santa.

What I didn’t count on was that my non-nerdgirl plans were going to be completely derailed by a global pandemic, leaving me in a kind of dark place, where I would really need the serotonin hits from buying stuff I didn’t need. By the end of April, I was desperate to spend some senseless money. I revised the rules. I gave myself $100 to play with. I thought I could salvage the plan.

And then, I just … kind of forgot about it. I started to have computer issues, and was finding most of the games I wanted to play wouldn’t run. In May, I was still tracking what I bought, but June brought the Bundle for Racial Justice & Equality, and then the Steam Summer Sale, and I formally decided in my July Goal Post to throw in the towel.

In retrospect, I realize that was also about the time I was entering a bit of a mental health crisis, alongside people everywhere who were watching COVID spiral out of control and realizing that this wasn’t going to be over anytime soon. I realize that just buying stuff willy-nilly doesn’t actually fix anything, but I was able to have some experiences in 2020 that I would not have had if I had continued arbitrarily restricting my spending.

Instead, I bought some things I really enjoyed, and some things I almost immediately forgot about. I threw money at cool sounding Kickstarters. I picked up early access titles that I really wanted to support. I grabbed a couple games I probably never would have bought, but my friends were playing them, and we played together. When I look at the big picture, I really have no regrets.

This is a project I might revisit again, but probably not for an entire year, and probably not until the world around us settles a little bit, if it ever does. I do think it was moderately successful, as I’ve been much more conscientious about where my money goes, and I have been looking at alternate ways to get value from my library long after the happy chemicals have faded from the purchases.

Bonus Blaugust prompt idea: Have you tried out any type of regular posts that just haven’t worked out for you? Was it because you changed your focus, your circumstances changed, or perhaps you just jumped into an idea with both feet before really thinking it through? Are there any types of posts you’ve gotten away from that you would like to revisit in the future? What would you do differently if so?