Last week I celebrated the one-year anniversary of Following Forward. (I didn’t post last week because I was out of town at my 10-year college reunion. Wahoowa!) My blogging journey began with a reflection on humans who, being formed in the image of our Creator, are created to create. Now that I have been writing/creating my blog for over 52 weeks I want to take a few minutes to reflect on some of my lessons learned from this creative journey so far.
Lesson 1: Just Ship It
I got this concept from an education business incubator called 4.0 Schools where I saw “Just Ship It” posted throughout the office when I attended a leadership retreat there. “Just Ship It” is an encouragement to set a deadline and to get a product, an idea, or other venture launched by that deadline, even if it’s not perfect.
I was paralyzed for years in my desire to start a blog because I was worried about having everything perfect before I began. I wanted a perfect website and perfect posts. But with some accountability from a leadership program I attended last year, I forced myself to set a deadline to launch my blog and met it. Then, I set a weekly deadline to post a new entry. Did I have everything on my website set up the way I wanted on Day 1? No. I still don’t! Did I like every single blog post before I hit “publish”? No. But I published many more posts than I would have if I had waited to get everything perfect – if there is such a thing! Out of 52 weeks last year, I posted 49 times! Was I perfect? No. But I’m perfectly proud of myself for starting Following Forward and seeing it through.
Lesson 2: Create for You
Much like childbirth (or so I've heard), creation is a labor of love. If you’re not passionate about what you’re creating or if you don’t truly enjoy the creative medium you're engaged in, you won’t have the motivation to continue to do the work. Also, creating a blog means spending a lot of time alone writing without getting much feedback (except from my parents who love everything I do, of course). Create what you enjoy, and your passion and joy will bless your life! And if other people are blessed by your creation, too? Well, that's the cherry on top.
Lesson 3: Invest in Yourself
Though I greatly increased my quantity of writing when I started blogging, I quickly realized that wouldn’t necessarily translate into a better quality of writing. I also noticed that the little feedback I did receive from people who read my blog was almost exclusively about content rather than writing style. I made the decision to take a 6-week writing workshop for community members taught by a Tulane writing professor. It was scary at first to go into a scenario where I would receive critical feedback on my writing – something I hadn’t done since college. However, it was a warm and supportive environment that helped re-charge my creativity and gave me some truly excellent feedback on pieces I wrote for my blog series on my heritage. If you’re interested in writing and you’re in the New Orleans area, I highly recommend the Bayou Writing Workshop. Next up, I'm looking forward to continuing my development through an online writing course taught by two writers I admire, Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle, and by reading the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
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So those are my three main lessons learned. I hope this post inspires you in whatever creation you’re being called to, and I look forward to sharing more lessons this time next year! Until then, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll continue to join me on my journey to follow forward.