Blogging, Rediscovered (or Finding the Right Space)

In summer 2014, I merged the two blogs that I refer to in this post. In spring 2015, I dropped “Writing Through the Fog” as my official blog name and renamed it to simply “Cheri Lucas Rowlands.” So if you’re reading this for the first time, some of it might not make sense. Still, the idea that design might affect one’s posting routine, or be the source of blogger’s block, remains relevant.

* * *

I started “blogging” again, over at cherilucasrowlands.com. I haven’t been able to do that here, and it’s taken me a while to figure out why. I place “blogging” in quotes because I’m not sure what it means — for myself, at least. This site isn’t really a blog, but rather a cold, empty museum. Every several months, I publish posts as artifacts of my life. High notes, plucked out of my timeline, made public. Meanwhile, the ebb and flow of my life is unshareable; yet these lapses, seemingly mundane, are the most colorful.

I am my most recent post.

As writers on the web, we accept that readers will imagine what they want about us, will reshape their versions of us, based on our last words. And for those of us who don’t post much, the infrequency does not simply mean we do not post enough, but that we slip into limbo and irrelevance — which, to me, is much worse than not existing at all.

I am incomplete.

Over the years, I’ve tried setting posting goals. “Just publish one post a month.” When this didn’t work, I told myself: “Publish shorter posts.” That would make it easier, and remove the pressure of writing longer, thoughtful pieces — yet I only managed to write one.

I’ll write something, only to abandon it after working on it for an entire Saturday. I’ll resurrect a draft in my dashboard but can’t get past the introduction. Or I’ll combine multiple drafts into one but can’t make sense of the fragments, lost in my own fog.

I don’t have the discipline to follow pieces through. And that’s okay.

But there’s something else at work here, as if the blog itself vetoes my work and tells me it’s not fit to publish.

Can I blame the blog for my lack of writing?

* * *

I’ve had the domain cherilucas.com for many years; its first version was a simple website I built with Dreamweaver. I then moved it to WordPress.com and used it as a short-lived photography blog. After I got married, I bought cherilucasrowlands.com as well, and made it a static profile, with links to this blog and social accounts, and forgot about it.

I’ve felt that Writing Through the Fog has turned against me — how I’ve somehow erected a wall between us. It wasn’t until I started to use cherilucasrowlands.com again that I discovered the source of my blogger’s block: this theme. Sure, I love the simplicity and elegance of this theme, Kent. With the menu hidden on the left, and a footer with just a few widgets, the focus is on my writing — and the longer, the better.

I’ve paralyzed myself as a result, and created a visual space that accommodates just one mode — a single version of me. I’ve left little room for experimentation; I’ve promised a certain experience for my readers. Or maybe this is all in my head, and I overthink things.

Maybe I just need to shut up and write.

* * *

These anxieties aside, activating a new theme is like pumping fresh blood through me. On the other blog, I activated the McKinley theme. From there, I started posting again: Quotes from reads I’ve enjoyed. Weekly photo challenge submissions. Bits of writing. Random shit. And those abandoned drafts in my Writing Through the Fog dashboard? They’ve begun to see the light of day.

I remembered what “blogging” was. Is that silly to say? Because honestly, I’d forgotten.

Since I started posting there, I haven’t slowed down. While the process of “starting over” contributes, the new theme has much to do with this, as the design has been freeing — part-Tumblresque with different post formats, encouraging me to publish all kinds of bits. (I’ve discontinued my Tumblr, in fact.)

So it feels like I’ve carved out a space to capture those in-between moments. To expose half-formed ideas and unpolished writing that I’ve inadvertently made unwelcome here. To fill in the gaps. And finally, to let go. I haven’t figured out a name for the blog, and I’m not sure I will. We spend all this time thinking about our “personal brands,” strategies, where we fit in, what we’re all about, and how we can stand out. I like the idea of not naming this new space — of keeping it loose. It reflects more what I’d like it to be. How I simply want to just be.

This doesn’t mean I’m not happy with Writing Through the Fog and its current theme, which still makes sense here. I think, though, I’ve underestimated the power of layout and design, the need to craft a presence across distinct spaces, and my own quirks and insecurities as a writer. These online spaces are mine, and if I’m not inspired, I need to reimagine them — rather than sit and wonder why I can’t write.

44 Comments

  1. Stumbled onto this post by chance, or rather attracted by the photo and general super aesthetics of your blog. This post is extremely helpful in putting the fnger on feelings of perplexity on what one is doing by blogging, what and why and how. You describe your relationship with writing it in a way that resonates even for a beginner blogger and is very helpful. Thank you. I’d venture to say you seem to have developed a very strong writer personality that doesn’t blend with the “fog” in your previous title, and just puting your name out there sounds more coherent.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the note. Always nice to read a comment on a post published a while ago, and to know that these thoughts still resonate.

      Like

  2. Hi Cheri,
    I could definitely relate. I love to write and do call myself a writer but from time to time, I let my blog slide and then I get into an existential knot: how can I call myself a writer when I don’t even have the discipline to maintain a blog?

    However with passing time, I’ve decided to give it another go again. Especially when I’m not doing much but bum around in a foreign country. I love your musings and your style. Keep it up.

    On another note, it’s amazing how beautifully you designed your blog despite just using WordPress.com.

    Cheers!

    Like

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      On another note, it’s amazing how beautifully you designed your blog despite just using WordPress.com.

      Despite just using WordPress.com. You can do *so much* on WordPress.com — it’s here that I’ve not only made awesome-looking blogs — like this one — with not much CSS experience, but have also built a great readership, which I don’t think I could’ve done elsewhere.

      Enjoy your travels!

      Like

  3. I also struggle with how often, how long, and what about. So having just started this latest attempt, I’m trying several different things, and tying them together with Galleries that basically summarize the days I don’t post much in the way of writing. From what I’ve just read of yours, if I can do half as well at expressing my reasons for writing, then I’ll be fine. So you just keep it up and keep inspiring all those of us who read your pieces. Thanks for all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, I’ve nominated you to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour, you don’t have to take part but I thought I’d let you know! 🙂

    http://tjwiltshire.com/2014/06/20/writing-process-blog-tour/

    Like

  5. I know exactly what you mean. I’m ‘back on track’ or at least going the right way for now. You’ve definitely got your voice, just need to make it heard now.

    Like

  6. I think you said it best when you said the new blog, without a name, is allowing you to just be. As writers, isn’t that the single most important thing…to completely, thoroughly, honestly and joyfully – be ourselves. My theme doesn’t represent me, as I haven’t spent enough time on it, but my writing does. I hope that other creatives will choose to open the cover and see what’s inside. The name will come. Good luck! ~Karen~

    Like

  7. i can relate easily! I have trouble writing frequently too. I think what I have written isn’t good enough and start writing an another one. ps: your profile pic is very nice.love your writing. keep up the good work of “blogging”

    Like

  8. really great post, you say you are your most recent post and make it seem like a bad thing, but in reality, it’s not. The endless possibility of being able to change how people perceive you at the click of a button has power, and means that you’re never tied down. even if you don’t regularly post, that isn’t a bad thing. Instead just let the right words come out at the right time

    Like

  9. For me it’s two fold – not only do I have to write banter but I need to come up with a DIY project and photos to go with it! Because of all that, the last thing I want to do is change my theme- not because it’s perfect, but because it seems daunting and what if I don’t like the change! I also have a bit of the “don’t fix what ain’t broke” mentality, even though I can’t say for sure it isn’t broke already, lol! Anyway I’ve enjoyed what you’ve written in the past, so, thanks for keeping it real.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am so glad to know I am not the only person who struggles with what to write, how to write, and when to write it. Sometimes the blog IS unyielding in its lack of approval of what I have to say, or think I have to say. It tells me I have nothing to say, and other not nice things. Maybe a new theme is in the cards for me. Going to your other blog now.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. pharaonick

    This is beautifully written, and for some reason it made me tear up a little. So glad you’ve found a formula to reignite your creativity and passion!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree on honesty. You write with honesty that even when I start to read your posts here it reverberates somehow your thoughts in me as a reader. There is always something in me as an amateur writer that is moved and inspired to create thoughtful pieces as you put it.

    I am impressed with how you write, the tone it’s as if there’s a sound really coming out from these pool of words carved into thoughts and directly hitting someone’s mind or soul-to just go with the flow and write.

    You are an inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re so kind — thanks, and I’m happy that this resonated with you.

      Like

  13. These anxieties aside, activating a new theme is like pumping fresh blood through me.

    I will have to agree with you on this, Cheri. I used to use Blogum and Suits themes, but after discovering my current blog‘s theme, I’ve never wanted to post something right away even if it’s just a photoblog or a blurb from the mundanes of my daily life.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This echoes my own thoughts so very, very closely. I managed to write something about it, which has been difficult lately, not only due to time constraints but also a sharp awareness of the singularities we seem to be asked to be. Nothing can be more paralytic than being questioned about one’s job/education history, especially when one’s interests are multiple. It’s always a pleasure to find someone’s else’s thoughts are travelling down a similar path.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Very enjoyable post. It is great to know that we all go through this sort of thing and I, for one, am very glad that you’ve found your place and your pen again. Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. We are so much more than one person and so much more than a clean, smart blog design. I see life as lives. We remain the same person, yet our bodies, our souls, our thoughts evolve. Blogging can be the room where we are allowed to be ourselves at a certain moment. I admire bloggers with a focus, but I fall for the ones who show vulnerability. We are multifaceted, in constant mutation. Our personal lives and the lives of the people we know and love, impact us and our writing. Deep changes such as moves, change of careers, love relationships, and death change us.

    Our world is fast, but I don’t think it’s a waste of time to give some time to the passing of time.
    Through the blogs I follow, I perceive a common thirst for transparency and yet privacy. More of us want to show our human fragility in a sober way.

    I also like bloggers who post less to offer a beautifully crafted piece. The value is priceless.

    I hope to continue to read you as I appreciate your voice. I also hope that your tiny house is growing well.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What wonderful comments — especially this line:

      Blogging can be the room where we are allowed to be ourselves at a certain moment.

      So simple, but it’s often hard to do! I like your thoughts on us being multifaceted and constantly evolving. Ultimately there is no single online space that could reflect/define us, though I’m always curious about others’ efforts to create such a place (I think of Frank Chimero’s homesteading piece, for example.)

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Excellent post, Cheri, as per usual. Glad I read it for several reasons, not least of which is the link to where you’re now posting more frequently. Also, there was a lot here that resonated with my own experience. Curiously, I’ve often been bemused by my own need to change the theme of The Frailest Thing every 10 months or so. I’m contemplating a change even now. I wonder if it’s not related to some of what you write about here. There’ve also been numerous times when I’ve contemplated retiring the blog or else when I’ve thought I’d run out of steam and energy and desire to keep at it. But then some new post-idea would eventually rekindle that desire, even when I wasn’t looking for it. Anyway, this is a ramble. Bottom line, thanks for writing. : )

        (Oh, and I almost forgot. I added my comment here because I was going to say something about that Chimero post. It actually helped me think about my blog in a more useful way amidst one of those blogging funks. But I didn’t quite read it as an effort to create a space that could reflect/define us, so much as one where we might feel sufficiently at home to write as we would please.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Michael — I remembered this comment just now, as I redesigned my blog. It’s now more of a landing page for me, and I’ve moved all the content from that other blog (where I was gaining momentum again) here, into its own blog tab — acting as a tumblresque space for quotes, finds, links, musings, whatever — and then moving all of my more considered pieces into its own category as well, which you’ll see in my menu.

          I *think* this is going to work; we’ll see. With the more static landing page, it somehow takes the pressure off of posting, and with the separation of “Writing Through the Fog” into its own stream, I can distinguish those pieces of writing as its own thing.

          I know you have your WP.com blog, and then a Tumblr (I think?), and also fall into your own “blogging funks,” as you refer to them. It’s been a challenge figuring out how to set up one cohesive space that still brings in different pieces/interests together. Crossing my fingers!

          Like

          1. Cheri,

            That plan sounds pretty attractive actually. A few days ago, I was searching for new templates with a view to using a static page as well. I’ve actually stopped using Tumblr, although I do peruse the blogs I follow there every once and awhile. I’d really rather have one site to call “home.” I really like the idea of the static home page and then using tags to create separate streams of posts. That’s a pretty elegant solution. Once I get some time to set things up, I may follow your lead!

            Liked by 1 person

  17. You have described so well… I go through the same ups and downs of posting, research and pictures fill in notes but getting the final draft done… that’s another task. I simplified too, made my posts shorter, but I felt I am not doing justice to my writing. I put it down to discipline. Thank you for writing this, helps in understanding my working process too.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This speaks to me so much. I’ve been struggling with similar questions, with what some might call ‘writers block’ but isn’t, as I still write. It makes me wonder if I can change my layout too, to somehow find myself exploring new ground again. Or if I need to use my blog more like a scrapbook, a writers notebook of sorts. Thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks for sharing, Cheri! I, too, have been in blogging block for many many months, and although my reasons are different, my experience seems very similar to yours. It’s encouraging to see how you conquered it, and I hope you keep writing, no matter the platform.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A true writer…never satisfied with what’s on paper. Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Cheri, I go through phases of writing. Sometimes I blog more frequently than others. I find that if it becomes a chore, I just need to step back and focus on other writing areas of my life. I love this theme–it looks clean, simple and elegant. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. A very thoughtful post. I for one have always really liked Writing Through The Fog, it’s a refreshingly honest format.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks. “Refreshingly honest format” — that’s such a compliment. I appreciate these words and your visits to my blog.

      Like

  23. I feel some sort of obligation to those who have chosen to follow my blog. As soon as I publish a post, I begin thinking about what my next post will be. On average, I post once a week. I keep my eyes and ears open for ideas. Many times the idea comes from something my wife says or suggests. She is my muse. Nice to have you back.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Very good points and SUPERB writing skills! Your writing reflects who you are. I think we should NEVER feel pressure to write or post or share things. It will come at the right time.

    For my own blogging, I don’t have any patterns or schedules otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write and love it. I need this writing love.

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pattern-less and schedule-free! Most of the time, I like the idea of just going with the flow.

      Like

      1. That’s the best… You have talent. Don’t think too much 🙂

        Like

  25. Hi Cheri, it’s interesting how you mention that the theme of the blog can impact our blogging (and wanting to blog). I recently changed the theme of my blog, because as you say our blog is our little space, and I was so happy with the change because it felt I don’t know if more “me” or what but it has definitely positively impacted my inspiration to continue blogging.
    Good luck and have a great day!

    Like

    1. Glad to hear — yes, it’s interesting how layout and design might affect what we post…the sense, maybe, that we need to fit our words or images into some kind of space, or package it in a specific way.

      We shouldn’t fall into lapses like this — blogging should be ultimately fun and something we enjoy doing.

      Like

  26. Keep Writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I appreciate your honesty about your process… and love your beautiful words.

    Like

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a note 🙂

      Like

  28. Thank you for sharing your process. An interesting point about how theme and look can affect the writing, something I hadn’t considered before.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. It is amazing what a new theme can do; It’s like remodeling, or rearranging the furniture, spring cleaning, or throwing out all those old clothes. It completely revitalized my blogging.

    Do you think that all this reshuffling of priorities, tiny house, the way you think about “stuff”, has freed your mind up as well?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you think that all this reshuffling of priorities, tiny house, the way you think about “stuff”, has freed your mind up as well?

      I seem to be open to a lot of change at the moment, of various kinds; after many years of not exercising, for instance, I finally started again, and for the past several months have been boxing 3-4 times a week. It’s been an extreme (yet welcome!) change.

      So yes, I think the reshuffling of things — and general (re)thinking about my day-to-day life, and what I’d like it to be like — has helped 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Love this. Super helpful; I relate.

    I enjoy your stuff in all the places I find it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! So nice to hear you enjoy the things I write.

      Liked by 1 person

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