The Best Laid Blogs O’ Mice an’ Men

 

Let’s face it. I’m not the most prolific of bloggers. In fact, my last entry here was in… September of 2016?! Wow… I… uhhhh… yeah, that’s embarrassing. So, this Blaugust, headed up once more by the incomparable Belghast, let’s get into reasons WHY this long break has occurred and what you, as a blogger, can do to not make my same mistakes.

The Best Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Let’s face it, we’re not perfect. And when it comes to our hobbies, sometimes they have to be waylaid when more important priorities come around. I type this as I look forlornly at my Disc Golf bag and discs sitting near my front door. When your hobbies are not making your family a living, and you need to put food on the table, and caring for your family is a priority, this can be the result as smaller pursuits and hobbies fall off.

When stress levels become so high in your life due to family, your career, etc. you tend to stick close to your primary sources of relieving that stress. For me, that is gaming itself. At the end of the day, it’s nice to kick back and immerse yourself in another world, one without the same stresses and goals and wins are easily attainable. But when the choice came: do I play games to help relieve my stress or do I spend that time writing about games, something that didn’t necessarily help, which was easier to choose? Time and again it became easier to choose that which I *knew* would help me.

The hard part is it’s hard to justify keeping up consistency under these circumstances. When faced with more important life decisions, only the foolish would continue worrying about the ephemera. But this is okay. You have to do what you have to do, and an understanding audience would sympathize, you just can’t expect them to hang around.

Habits are Hard to Force

The key to creating any sort of content, though, and having it reach your audience is: consistency, consistency, consistency. This has shown, time and again, to be one of the biggest paths to success. The music industry is filled with examples of one hit wonders, but the bands we tend to stick with the most are the ones that have kept creating. Our favorite authors have created multiple books, and our favorite Twitch/YouTube creators have plenty of backlog. The same goes with any creative endeavor. It’s not enough to just create, you have to keep it up.

Over the time that I’ve been away from blogging, it’s not like I’ve stopped creating. I’ve become more active on Twitch. I’ve been podcasting on Beyond the Veil, Master Debaters, and have been guests on multiple other casts. My want to create has never subsided, but making blogging a habit has always just been out of my reach.

So how do you force yourself into the habit? Obviously, it’s not impossible. Just look at Belghast, the force behind Blaugust itself. He makes blogging seem as easy as breathing.  According to James Clear, the psychology behind this is a circle of Reminder, Routine, and Reward. Reminding yourself to blog, getting into a routine that makes it easier for you to do so, and then seeing the fruits of your labor. Still, it’s not the easiest of processes.

Stop Beating Yourself Up!!

This is probably the hardest hurdle of all. You’re going to start writing, and feel like you’re yelling into the void. You’ll spend minutes, sometimes hours, pouring over a post, making it as perfect as you can, trying to separate yourself with some view that nobody else has come up with yet. After you post you’ll look up the stats, this big post that you’re especially proud of, that has life-changing wisdom strewn throughout it… and it only has 5 views. 4 of which are from Turkmenistan with the comments filled with  Rayban sunglasses spam.

I’ve beat myself up many times over this. Where I think I’ve made some poignant view, filled with wisdom and would be relatable for everyone, and then nobody sees it. See what are currently my most popular posts? A list of Skyrim mods, a look at the EA references made throughout Ultima VII, a post about having to switch to a flip phone for a week. The reality is that the best content you’re going to create, at least in your mind, will not be what others will gravitate towards.

In the end, you have to be happy just in the act of creating. When Twitch streaming, try not to look at those viewer numbers. When blogging, try not to focus on those hits. When podcasting, try not to worry about that blank space. They’re not always going to be nice. Hold onto those times when you get that “hey, this streamer is amazing” tweet, or that “this post has inspired me to post about this myself”. Let those be your fuel to keep going.

You Can Do It!

It can be hard, though, when you’re removed off that blogroll for not posting for a while because work stress has bogged you down, or when you see someone post about streamers they enjoy and you’re not a part of the list as you had to take time off from sickness, or simply when those that you’ve respected don’t reciprocate that respect. These have all happened to me, recently even, and it feels like you’re being kicked when you’re down.

Down, though, is the best place to start. Or, like Blaugust Reborn itself, the best place to pick yourself up and reinvent yourself. To attempt again to create that habit, to attempt to not let setbacks and negative reactions get the better of you.

I’ve done it, and I have failed, and I have done it again. Nobody but you can dictate how many times you pick yourself up and try again. Hold on to those reasons why you’ve decided to start in the first place, because they’ll be the same reasons why you pick yourself up, and why you keep going after the kicks.

You got this. You can do it.

 

// Ocho

Advertisements

To Write or Not to Write?

Casual Aggro, Dungeons and Dragons, Chronicles of Mystara, Paladin

That is the question. Well, it’s the question that’s been on my mind for such a casual blogger like myself, anyway.

I started Casual Aggro back in April of 2012 essentially as a way for me to take my hobby of gaming to the next level. I found myself in comments sections writing tiny novels as reactions to articles. You know the type. Not the ones that were being very critical, or trolling, but the ones that are just walls of text. Even if I was making a solid point, something others might want to read and comment on itself, I was putting a lot of effort into something that was mostly being passed over. The people seeing it had already read an article by a paid professional, why would they read my similar-sized (or sometimes bigger), amateur response?

So I joined the very first Newbie Blogger Initiative, sponsored by Syp the Mighty, and started this little page as a way to explore my hobby from a new perspective. But from the very beginning, I felt like an impostor. Here I was, some random MMO player, who didn’t even have that special of a perspective, just another joe-shmoe who thought that what he said could even compare a little bit to those who did this for a living. And in a way, even attempting to be on the same level as paid professionals felt like I was somehow insulting their profession.

At the same time, I had no realistic aspirations that I would ever be on their level. I already have a day job. I focused my education on math and science, not writing. I have, aside from the standard classes most universities force every student to take, zero experience writing. I would’ve much rather sat down and worked on a physics problem that took up three pages than write a three page paper. Because I felt like such an impostor my static friction, if you will, was much higher than I believed it would ever be. Just starting the ball rolling became a daily fight. And the days that I lost that fight, which were most days, I felt awful about it.

No Time to Explain, Existentialism

Basically this.

But I still wrote. Not every day like some other bloggers, and sometimes not every week. But I still put something out when I can. Some nights, especially after a long day, I felt like relaxing the way I already knew how. By playing, you know, games. So some nights it became a fight to play games or to write about them, and guess which usually won out.

When I did write, the reactions were… well, not exactly what I thought they’d be. I was writing to further myself, explore my hobby, and improve my own skills, sure, but when you put hours into a post, when you try your best, and get back in return only a handful of eyeballs? The return on investment seems not worth it. Seeing others celebrating hitting milestones that I knew I could never reach just hit me harder, and made me feel a little more alone.

Every month, though, is a new month and this is not just your standard month, this is Blaugust! The month of the Blog! So, let’s try this again, yeah? I’ve been picked up by the all-around geekery goodness site, Sub-Cultured, to be a regular contributor. Now being part of team the amount of friction already feels less and is so far significantly different than being alone. The success of my own site I never cared that much about, but the success of the group isn’t just about me, but the team’s success. And isn’t teamwork what it’s all about? Isn’t teamwork why we play the MMO genre in the first place? In fact, I’ve already put up a review of Star Trek Online’s new Agents of Yesterday to the site!

This explains so much, Octodad, Dadliest Catch

Or, it at least explains a bit of my absence, anyway.

So, if you’re reading this, and I sincerely thank you for still hanging around despite my lack of posts, maybe throw Sub-Cultured onto your Feedly as well. Expect posts from all around the world of geek, from comic books to television, from conventions to gaming, from current news to opinion pieces and all points in between. Who knows, you may even see little ol’ me hitting up a convention or two on *gasp* an official capacity!

But don’t expect it to be cultured, expect it to be Sub-Cultured.

// Ocho

 

P.S. – Alright, I just made up that tagline and I made myself groan when I wrote it. Still, though. Check it out. And as usual, a big shout out to Belghast the Prolific for once more throwing his leader hat in the ring for Blaugust. May it be a fruitful month of posts for all.

P.P.S – Now, to maybe work on getting myself onto a podcast or something of the like… I should really redesign this place, too. Maybe a new coat of paint, maybe a new door, couple of throw pillows… we’ll see.