Regular readers of Crochet Concupiscence may have noticed that things are a little off here this week. This blog is usually really predictable in its posts. As a steady reader, you know that you’re going to get crochet artist info on Mondays, updates to my “50 years of crochet” series on Wednesdays, etc. And yet this week there have been fewer posts and they haven’t been on schedule. Don’t worry, those regular posts will be back next week but I thought I’d give you some insight into what’s going on here that created the change in schedule this week.
The Gist of the Issue
The truth of the matter is that as a blogger and author I am a little bit overextended right now. I have to find a way to maintain the level and quality of content that I want to produce on this blog while also doing my other writing, continuing to create connections with others in the crochet community and balancing all of that with financial needs.
Time and Money
To expand on that a little bit, the issue comes down to one that we all (as people, as mothers, as bloggers, as business woman) know all too well: there is never quite enough time and money to do all that we truly want to do. I tend to take a pretty laissez faire attitude towards this. I have been working for myself as a writer for more than ten years. I know that somehow the money usually works out and typically it involves tweaking my time. I also know that once or twice a year things will have built up close to a breaking point and that I need to make tweaks to my own schedule, goals, and commitments in order to release the pressure and set things on track again. There is enough time. There is enough money. It’s just a matter of making sure that I’m clear about my own center, my own needs, my own desires so that I can create a situation where I remember that it’s all enough.
Time Tweaks That Failed
One thing that’s been frustrating me so far in 2013 is that I set up a schedule for myself a few months ago that I put a lot of thought into and truly believed was going to work for me and it’s turned out that what worked on paper isn’t working in my real life. All of the good intentions I had just aren’t fitting. What’s happening instead is that I feel like not enough is getting done, I’m overextended and my cash flow is non-existent. I have to go back to the drawing board. As a creative business person it is imperative that you are willing to make changes and to admit when those changes were not the right changes!
And Life Changed
This situation, which had been building up for awhile anyway, coincided with some changes in my personal schedule as well. I don’t usually talk a whole lot about my personal life, but it seems right to share this here. So for all of last year, and for quite a bit of time before that, I engaged in significant downtime at home. I focused on writing, publishing and promoting Crochet Saved My Life. I focused on developing Crochet Concupiscence into what I wanted it to be. I could literally go days without leaving my house or talking to another person and I was content with that because I was so immersed in creativity.
Towards late fall of 2012, I started getting a little antsy for a different kind of energy in my life. Creative energy is amazing. And I do get a lot of great human connection through the friends I have here and the online community I’ve got around me. But there was something missing. In the fall I went on an amazing two week vacation with my family that was probably the best vacation we’ve ever had together just because it all gelled perfectly with where we were each at in our lives individually. That was followed shortly by all of the Christmas holidays, tons of petsitting and lots of just being busy in general. My sister arrived here for a week at the start of the year and she was quickly followed by my brother who stayed for two weeks. And in the middle of that, I met a man.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a close romantic relationship. I went through a pretty harsh heartbreak a year and a half ago and wasn’t even really dating as I healed from that. And leading up to the end of that relationship was a lot of time spent alone trying to figure out where we were going. I’ve been on my own, in so many ways, for so long. And as my life began to get filled with this new relationship, with my siblings being here, with the richness of community … I began to see fully that the old work schedule just couldn’t work.
The truth is that in order to adjust to this new life where people are around me so much more than before I really need to take a lot more downtime than I was taking previously. I love people. I’m thrilled to be having these experiences. But at heart I am an introvert who gets energy drained from being around too many people for too long of a period of time. I need space to sit down with my crochet hook, alone, meditate and relax and heal and integrate what’s happening in my world into the core of my being.
So while an extroverted craft blogger could probably get up in the morning, do a little bit of work, go on an afternoon date, come home and do some more work, make some phone calls, catch up on social media … it doesn’t work that way for me. The more hours that I spend with others, the more hours I need alone (not being creative/ not working) to compensate for that. And so the time spent with people doesn’t just detract that time from my work but actually detracts about twice as much because of the recuperation time.
Honor Your Own Needs
I am in tune enough with myself and my own personal, spiritual and mental health needs to know that I need to honor this.
Believe me, I am someone who prefers to push myself. I always want to work harder. I always want to create more. I have ten million ideas and I want to share them all. I believe in the value of supporting the endeavors of others and I want to do as much of that as I can.
But I know from my past that doing too much leads to crash and burn. I know that it is important to be gentle with myself. It is important to take the time to figure out how to work efficiently, effectively and emotionally safely.
Questions for Restoring Balance
So, while I’m taking some downtime from the blog and social media this week, I’m not just entirely resting. I’m letting my mind mull over questions and come up with new answers about how I’m going to restore balance in my work life again. Here are some of the questions I’m thinking about:
- How do I maintain the breadth, depth, frequency, variety and quality of blog posts that I love to offer (and that I believe my readers enjoy) without over-extending my time on content writing?
- Is there time-consuming content that I don’t actually need to have on this blog? Or that I could continue to offer either in a new way or with less frequency in order to reduce the actual time drain that it’s costing me.
- What role does social media play in my life? I love connecting with other crafty people online and social media is a great way to do that. Plus from a practical standpoint it’s important to use it to drive traffic to the blog. But it takes a lot of time and I need to figure out what amount of time and type of social sharing is going to really be right.
- How do I increase the profits of this blog without compromising quality or further overextending my time? I will be honest in saying that this blog continues to cost me more than it earns me, which is a difficult situation since I work on it 5-7 days per week. It’s something that needs to change but I have to figure out how to make that change happen. I have recently started accepting blog sponsors. This adds income but in order to do it in an ethical and useful way I need to invest time in the promotion of those sponsors and make sure I also balance that with other content that my readers will continue to enjoy. So how does that all balance out? I’m learning.
- In what ways can this blog support my book writing and vice versa? I need to find a way to let these things work together so that the time spent on one can be useful in at least some ways to the time spent on the other – so I’m not doubling up on work, in other words.
There are other questions I’m asking myself as well but this gives you an idea of what’s going on with me, what’s happening here, why there’s been a shift this week. I share this because I want you to know what’s happening with me. I also share this because I think we as crafty business women and bloggers and busy 21st century people often grapple with things like this and I hope that my transparency allows you to think of new ways to approach your own work and life.
Ultimately, what we are creating is not a physical product or a piece of written content; what we are creating is a life.