Beginning to Write Again When You Don’t Know Where To Start

I’ve been having a hard time writing for these blogs for years. Sometimes, the things I couldn’t write about were too big and nothing could squeeze past them. Or it had been so long since I’d last posted that I wasn’t sure where to begin.  Or I’d start to write, only to think that whatever little thing I’d written was so not worth publishing. Then I’d wander over to my feed reader to see what others were writing, or to facebook, where very little gets said at all, and there went any time I might have had to put my thoughts on virtual paper.

I was thinking, though, the other day, about how I could make sure I write regularly, and I was remembering a time, long, long ago, when I was in high school. I had taken a creative writing class, and we would regularly spend an entire class period in an activity called free writing. The rules were simple: You had to write, and you had to write continuously for the entire forty minutes. Content didn’t matter at all. The only important thing was to keep that pen moving across the paper. If you found yourself at a complete loss for words, you could doodle, or just keep writing the same word over and over until the next one came. You just had to keep writing.

So I remembered that exercise from creative writing class, and I thought, I wonder if that’ll work for me, right now? Not one to wait once I’ve made up my mind, I set my alarm for five o’clock. That would give me a whole hour to write before morning prayers at six.

First thing in the morning, I started the coffee pot and the laundry. Then I opened up my word processor – no distracting internet! – and just started to write.  I figured that I’d find something in the jumble of my thoughts that I could work on later, but at the end of the hour, I had a finished post that just wanted photos.

I’ve only been doing this for a little over a week now, but you can probably tell that it’s really working for me.  🙂  I haven’t posted this much in years. And on both blogs, too!

The very first thing I ever posted, from August 27, 2005. From the left, we have Jonathan, Delaney, Rosie, Megan and Brenna, all waiting for swim lessons to begin. Gosh, they were so cute. I think we still have all of those swim suits, too. In fact, Tommy is now wearing the ones Jon has on. 🙂

I’ve been blogging now for ten years. Ten years! When I first started in 2005, I wrote for my deployed husband and my far-away family. As my readership grew, I began to write for you, too. And now, with David retired and home all the time, I write for these children, nearly grown now, looking for the way forward.

I write for myself, too. I love to go back sometimes and read those old posts. I love remembering the children as they were at that moment, our lives in that season, and I want that for our right now as much as I wanted it for our back then.

But the important thing is just to write.

 Blogging is way down in my small circle of online friends: If you used to write regularly, why did you stop? Do you miss it? Do you long to get back to it? Also, how do you read blogs since the demise of Google Reader? Seems like readership dropped like a rock that day.

And last, but not least, if there is something you would like me to address, just send me a note. I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

14 Comment

  1. It’s funny that you opened it up for writing suggestions because I was just thinking yesterday, “I’m going to ask Jennie to write about talking with teens.” I know you’ve certainly mentioned it before, and it seems like one of the most important duties parents nowadays have: addressing all the real-world mess that the kids are going to face as soon as they get that first job or what have you. I’m wondering specifically about the when. When do we stop rather purposely protecting all these little minds and their innocence from the mess and start having real conversations about it all. Do we just wait until they do go out and get their first job and just be ready to respond or did you take a more proactive approach? We have already started encountering evil in books and stories of course and that is certainly a good way to get talking about things, but for my crew (oldest being 8) I think in their minds they still very much keep all the bad separated to books , not this world stuff.

    What prompted my thoughts along this line is a new-old book Holy Heroes has available about raising teens. It looks more intriguing than a lot of teen-raising books I’ve seen, and I’ll probably order it and read it before too long.

    I’m glad you’ve found a writing exercise that’s working for you and what a good idea using a word document format to eliminate distractions. I have always very much enjoyed your writing. I’ve felt comfortable with your tone and that you have plenty of wisdom and thoughtful experience to share on the topic closest to my heart, motherhood/family life.

    As for my own blogging, I’m still at it at least weekly, but ever since my husband asked me to make my blog private, it definitely has a different feel to it. Now it is very much more like a personal record of family history. Now I am very much writing for my children if they want to read about their youth in the future. We get the blog printed by year at fairly regular intervals so they do serve as family photo albums and scrapbooks, but gone is the camaraderie and friendship one can find through blogging. I can still find it in blog-world, just not at my own blog, and I’m okay with that.

    Well, that was a rather long comment! I’d better go get breakfast stared now!!

    1. Yes! I have a LOT to say about teens! And a hint for you: I believe in being proactive. 🙂

      May I ask what your husband’s concerns were about the public blogging?

    2. He is just the most private person I have ever known, and it used to be that I would write whatever I wanted without much reflection which would often include tidbits about him, given that he’s my spouse, and he just wasn’t comfortable with that. I never had a very big readership anyway other than family and friends, so it wasn’t worth fighting about or causing further discomfort. My family and friends or any other readers I grew to know via blogging are all invited via email to sign in and read the blog, but I think few seldom do (except my dad and sister in law!).

      PS I follow blogs the same way as Barbara – an updated link on my sidebar, and it’s still part of my morning routine to check the blogs.

      I think the Catholic mom blogging community was at its height when Danielle Bean was hosting. That was fun! And the way I found so many blogs including yours I think!

    3. Ah, yes. I kind of forgot about Danielle Bean. 🙂

  2. I keep my favorite blogs on my sidebar — the “old-fashioned” way and blogger moves the updated ones to the top. I tried bloglovin, but disliked it. So I stick to what works. I have a small circle of friends, but I’ve always been that way! My besties. ♥️

    1. You are one of the few women who have remained faithful through this long, dark, lonely blogging time, dearest Barbara. I’m so glad you’re my friend!

  3. Life has gotten in the way of blogging…and thinking that my thoughts were irrelevant or narcissistic or TMI (considering teens and their privacy). And the community is gone…my community at least. But I do like Barb’s suggestion to have the sidebar with the friends on it and check it the way we first did before feeds. (I also just saw that I can subscribe to Barb via email as I subscribe to you, so I am going to do that. I miss you, Barb!). So many of the old bloggers now post via FB, and that really sucks my time. And isn’t intimate….it’s very superficial. And I wanted to read books. I’ve been trying to do that more than write. **But** with my oldest starting his senior year, I want to go back through the archives and put together a memory book for him, and that may inspire me to continue to document our family stories for the others.

    1. Life does get in the way, but I’ve always so loved taking the time to record it – and to chat with you! Our experiences are all so similar. Oh, not in the particulars, but in the grand, overarching themes. Women need each other. Write again! I miss you.

  4. I use Pulse to check blogs, but the only problem is that it doesn’t make it easy to leave comments. (Well, easy in the surfing the internet sense anyway.)

    I think I’ve been reading you almost since you started blogging. We celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary next month and it was right after I married and we moved to a new state that I really used blogs because I was so lonely. And really I learn so much from you all that I can’t imagine not reading blogs!

    My own blog is often neglected. So much of what I want to write about I feel has already been said and I don’t necessarily have a better perspective than anyone else. Plus this particular life stage has me tired and busy most of the time and I find little time for much except a nap here and there which trumps anything else at this point!

    Anyway, I’m glad you are blogging more.

    PS- I took your advice about bed time in a recent post and am now having my six year old fall asleep in our room, and we move her to her own bed when we go to sleep. That had been helping. At least she is not getting in trouble any more and I can focus efforts on the 4 year old. Bedtime has been much smoother. Thank you!

    1. Glad to help a little, Cmerie. 🙂

      Yes, blogging – and the community that goes with it – kept me sane in those days when I was all alone with young children 24/7. That community seems to be gone, but I can’t help believing that we’re all really still here, just silent for one reason or another. Maybe we need to be a little proactive in rebuilding that for ourselves. It was a really beautiful thing.

  5. my blogging has been sparse for many of the same reasons you mentioned. Big things that I couldn’t/didn’t want to share that overwhelmed me to the point of not writing. I love blogging, and I recently sat down and looked through my old posts, and realized I miss writing. So, after I return to Germany, (we are actually stateside visiting family!), I plan to make time for blogging more frequently.

    1. I wish we could see you! Those children are getting so big. I’ll look forward to reading, and let’s make a point of commenting. We need this community.

  6. I blog so rarely anymore, and I’d really like to do it more…for myself! I started mine several years ago too, and it is so fun to read back on things I’d totally forgotten. I am hoping with the start of the school year to get it on the schedule regularly again. I have been reading your blog since your husband was deployed! 🙂 You guys have done amazing things. I use feedly now…but I miss google reader.

    1. A lot of us have fallen away. Fallen away bloggers. 🙂 I don’t think I even have you in my feed reader anymore! I’m going to have to check. I use Feedly, too.

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