I haven’t written a blog post for a while. Quite a while. Ok, it’s been longer than I’d like to admit. It’s been three months. Eek. Everything I’ve ever learned about blogging, about writing, about being creative, about being an entrepreneur, about getting anywhere in business, life, the internet or social media: Be. Consistent.
The problem with this very consistent advice about being consistent, is that on the whole it just doesn’t work for me. Not in a ‘I’m just too cool and creative to stick to a schedule, man’ kind of way. Not in a ‘I prefer being a flake’ kind of way. In a very real and genuine, ‘regularity is not where I do my best work’ kind of way. In a ‘that nasty creature called burnout is always nipping at my heels’ kind of way. In a ‘this is who I really am’ kind of way.
Don’t get me wrong, I am aware I need to show up to work, meet deadlines and pay bills to ensure my life doesn’t fall apart. I do all of these things reasonably well, and have become a lot better at the deadline and bills parts as I get older. But when it comes to writing and blogging, posting something once a week, every week, on the same day – most likely, its just never going to happen. But here is what will: I will write about what I’m actually thinking and feeling, and will articulate it as best I can. I will sometimes wait for insight before I post something. I will edit my blog posts. I will write what is true, and what is useful. I will refuse to become resentful about writing.
Maybe you’re a little bit like me. Or a lot – or just occasionally you stop your usual brilliant consistency and end up berating yourself for weeks and lose confidence in what you have to offer as a result. Here’s some ideas about what you can do instead:
- Understand that discipline is not the same as consistency. If you’re going to do anything in life, such as get out of bed, live in a semi-clean environment, remain healthy, further your career, save money etc. you require discipline to do so. Consistency, however, is not absolutely necessary. You don’t have to clean the house for two hours every single Saturday morning. You don’t have to attend the gym every Tuesday and Thursday night. You don’t have to get up at 6:42am every single day of your life. But you have to have the discipline to do these things sometimes, usually often. Cleaning, exercising, eating well, getting out of bed, these things have to happen. The over-popularised myth is that they have to happen within the confines of a consistent, strict routine or else chaos and destruction will rain down on your life. That strict routine may in fact be the undoing part – the resentment, the exhaustion, the boredom that is often borne of obsessive consistency, can be much more damaging to our achievements and our lives in the long run. Consistency=resentment. Discipline= progress. Focus on that.
- When it comes to creating things, if you’re not going to be consistent, make sure you show up when you do actually do it. Say (or paint, or sing, or draw or design or write or play or perform) something important, or at least something that means something to you. Try to reach people and make them think or feel something every time you create.
- Embrace it. Again, if you’re not going to be consistent, then allow yourself to do what you might not have been able to if you were creating something specific on a regular basis. Explore, experiment, contradict yourself, take huge risks, do new things, take time out to do whatever you want. This will most likely lead you somewhere interesting, and even if it doesn’t, you’ll have some new stories to tell and ideas to ponder.
- Start a conversation. I didn’t understand the power of this until I started a small conversation of my own that was important to me (For those interested, its called #52brightwomen and you can check it out here: Instagram.com/brightsidecreatives). If you begin a dialogue that extends beyond you, involves other people and has meaning behind it, then it tends to take on a life of its own and creates its own momentum. The irony of this point is that my own ‘conversation’ project does require a certain consistency, but the meaning behind it for me makes the regularity feel less like a chore and more like a happy meeting place I go to every week.
- Concentrate on consistency where you absolutely have to: i.e. the moneymaking parts of life. We all have a job, or a business, or a freelance career or something that pay the bills. In these cases, there are parts to your work where consistency is required to due to deadlines, bosses, and clients. There is no getting around this and so just use up your consistency points in these areas. But don’t buy the fact that the same rules need to apply to your own work, creativity and life (and that may well include some areas that do make you money).
For me, when I experience other people’s work, whatever it may be, I want to be moved. It doesn’t have to evoke tears or laughter. But I want to be taken out of myself. I want to hear what you have to say. I want my mind to be changed. I want to see you. We can’t all do this all the time, but its easier to do it if you’re not white-knuckling your way through self imposed deadlines and believing that your online presence will be lost forever if you don’t churn out content for the sake of that twice-weekly post and three-times-daily social media schedule. Also, it’s not very kind to expect that level of production from yourself — at least not all the time. You’d scarcely expect it of a machine.
Being human still counts for something, and we are all bundles of feelings and flaws and pain and confusion and light and dark and laziness and hyperactivity and inspiration and boredom and general contradiction. This stuff is not consistent, and we can’t ask it to be. However, it’s the best part of us, the human part, and that’s usually where the magic happens.