December 27, 2010

Blogging during dry spells - Any different from Retirement?

My new passion, blogging, continues to be exciting and satisfying. After 6 months I haven't run out of things to write about. I have found a schedule of posting and writing that seems to work for me. But, there are days when I stare at the blank computer screen and wonder how I am going to fill the page. Inspiration disappears for a period of time. The creative well seem to be empty. There is a little flood of panic. Then, something worth committing to words eventually starts to flow and I relax.

Is retirement much different? Don't we experience times when we are simply going through the motions? There is a predictable, comfortable routine to the day. Nothing really new or interesting happens. There are no problems we can't handle without a little effort. Inspiration is taking a break. Life moves forward. I thought it might be interesting to draw comparisons between where I turn for blogging inspiration and how I find new energy for whatever might be next in retirement.

Pay attention & shake it up
One of my best sources for blogging topics is to stop long enough to look at the world around me. What in my life might give me inspiration? Old photos,  movies, a play or theater presentation, mementos around the house, the birds in the backyard, people at the mall, actually just about anything can inspire if my mood is right and I'm open to seeing things in a new way.

Building a satisfying retirement works the same way. Looking for a new angle or use of the everyday, meeting a new person or having a new experience, any of these can energize an otherwise mundane day. I might read something in a magazine that changes my perspective. Shaking up a routine or attempting to break an unproductive habit can be just the boost I need to get moving again.

Sometimes you just have to act

When a deadline is approaching and there is nothing ready to go, I must force myself to write. I go through files of ides starters, other blogs, even random Google searches on topics that I think might interest readers until eventually something clicks. Then, I will usually just start writing and an hour later something has taken shape. There is still time required to strengthen weak parts, cut out unnecessary words, spell check, and select a photo. But, if the bulk of the post is done I can relax.

That process is the same for anything in your life that is worthwhile. There will be times when you must force yourself to take action. It would be easier and more pleasant to avoid whatever it is. But, the problem isn't going away until you confront it. Whether this is a relationship issue, a health concern, a financial upset, or even where to go on vacation you may have to simply grit your teeth and do something. 

Look for something fresh from others 

On a regular basis I read around two dozen other blogs a day. I like what the writer is saying or I think the information is useful to me. I find inspiration and topic ideas galore from others who spend their days in front of a keyboard. Many write substantially more words than I do everyday, so there must be something I can learn.

Your daily life isn't different. Inspiration often comes from an outside source. Interacting with other people may be an effective way to find an answer to a problem. They may not directly address what your need is. But, by simply being with them you may find a new path toward something. Being with a group of people you enjoy can't help but make you feel better.

Maybe you simply need a retread

When all else fails and my blogging well is dry, I'll take an older post that I've already written and find a way to freshen it up. Maybe I can add some new or additional information. Maybe my original premise is no longer valid and I can discuss how my thinking has changed. Possibly providing links to other blogs will give the reader a fresh take on the subject.

Reusing or reworking something you have done before is really what retirement is all about. A lifetime of behavior and expectations are up for review. Just because you thought one way while working doesn't mean that line of thought is best for your life now. Was there an interest or hobby you used to love that fell by the wayside? Is it time to bring it back, maybe in a slightly different way? When you were 30 you loved to mountain bike. But, now at 60, maybe trail riding is safer and more suited to your body.  You still love to bike, but you change the approach.

Writing a blog and building a satisfying retirement are not that different. Both require some of the same skills. Maybe that is why so many blogs are being started by retired folks. One tends to reinforce the other!

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  1. Hi, Bob… You’ve certainly offered some excellent advice regarding sources of ideas for blog material. I especially appreciate your thought about “simply needing a retread.” In fact, your post reminds me of an article I once wrote about overcoming writer’s block. I wrote that article perhaps a decade ago and I’ll bet I could dust it off, freshen it up a bit, and present it as a blog post. Come to think of it, the article is perhaps a bit long. OK, I’ll present it as two blog posts. Hey, thanks for stimulating the idea. Much appreciated, Bill

  2. Glad I could help, Bill ! I'll look forward to a two part series on writer's block. It is a subject we must continually address.

    FYI..I'm getting closer to the bike purchase.

  3. As one who tends to ready aim aim aim aim fire ... I like the "sometimes you just have to act" concept. Keep up the good work!

  4. Hi J,

    Thanks for the visit and support. Hope your Christmas weekend was a success.

  5. Bob,
    You have clearly learned a lot about blogging in your few months and it seems to be a reflection of learning how to live. You doubled your niche by hitting bloggers as well as retirees. Way to go!

  6. Might as well hit two targets with one shot! Thanks, Ralph. Have an outrageous week.

  7. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.
    It will always be useful to read articles from other writers and use a
    little something from their web sites.


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