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The stuff I talked about in yesterday's post is broadly true; I've been very frustrated about work for a good bit. But the frustration was amplified by some unexamined expectations I've placed on myself. Not only did I feel frustrated, I felt like a failure. I thought it'd be a good idea to go over some of these expectations and see whether they're helping me.
This one, I think, is unambiguously good. If I didn't have the ritual of posting something every day, there's not a doubt in my mind that most of my good posts would never have been made. The bulk of them would've been good juicy ideas that withered on the vine. I've thought I've had nothing to write about and surprised myself so many times.
a certain % of posts have to be good
This is my main stumbling block. I look at my history, and if it's been a week or two and I haven't made one post I'm proud of, I feel like I failed. Like whatever well of good posts I've made has run dry, that this is the beginning of the end. Of course, this is nonsense. I can't believe I was thinking of giving up on the blog. There is no well, and I only have limited control over the environment that determines whether and what I can write. It's silly to beat myself up over it. The truth is, I could've posted something other than self-pity on Thursday and Friday. I made posts on the fediverse I could've saved for the blog. I was holding myself to too high a standard. "It's been too long since I wrote a story or a serious essay, I can't just keep making trash posts", but why not? I can't force a story or essay to happen, and trash posts are better than no posts.
if I get a prompt, I have to try to write a story from it
I'm scared to go back to the random prompt well too often. I have this weird expectation that if I get a prompt and don't get a story I like out of it, that's a failure on my part. I feel like I've gotten lucky with the first two, and managed to write stories I don't hate, but I don't want to push my luck. Well, there's absolutely no rule that says if I get a prompt and nothing comes to me that I have to write something that sucks. Crumple it up, toss it in the dustbin of history and do something else instead. Try a prompt some other day. (I don't think it'll do me much good to re-roll prompts; if my brain doesn't latch on to one, it's probably just not a good day for it.)
post formats and conventions
The way I do #GarbageDigest and sunday links posts is fun. I like writing the weird little intros and the running jokes and whatnot I include. But it also makes things harder on me. The whole point of my blog being on bearblog and not somewhere with a more complicated posting process is ease of adoption. If I want to make a short post, I can just open the site, type a title, type a post, and click post. That lack of friction is why I didn't want to do something that requires editing HTML or running a static site generator. But if I'm no longer having fun with the posting conventions, it's just another layer of friction. It's okay for me to put some ideas in the vault if it's slowing me down or affecting my ability to write what I want. There's no rule that says I need an intro if I have a bunch of short jokes to share; after all, Army Man, the zine that sort of inspired #GarbageDigest, didn't have an intro. It didn't even pretend to be a real magazine, except for throwaway gags.
There's also no rule that says sunday links requires me to comment on every link or include an image or any of the extra stuff I tend to like to do. It can just be links. The whole point of sunday links is to have a day where I can relax a little. Often times I end up having so much to say about one of my links that it essentially turns into a normal post. If that happens, it's okay. If I don't have the energy, that's also okay. And if I want to write instead of post links, that's also okay, I can write a normal post, just like I'm doing now.
Yeah, I can keep doing it every Sunday, even if it's not a links post. I know I said in the sponsorship explanation that the message would appear at the top of sunday links specifically, not just on Sundays, but I don't think either of my current sponsors will think it's a big deal.
Whew, that's a load off my mind. It's always a relief to realize that some of my perceived obligations aren't real, and to remember that being in trouble is a fake idea. I usually like to end posts with a little raccoon emoji, but I don't have to. If I'm on a computer and don't want to go hunting for the emoji to copy and paste, I can do without. Luckily, I still have that old entry I linked open in another tab, so I can just copy and paste from that. Good deal 🦝