one million words

find your voice. tell your story.

A year of writing [2016]

I checked my blog stats the other day and I’ve been trying to forget about them ever since. Not the actual numbers but the comparison between 2015 and 2016. In 2016 my blog received about half the traffic of 2015 even though I wrote more. I can’t easily tell how much more but definitely more than 2015 especially since doing the 31 day writing challenge this summer.

It takes more than lots of writing to run a successful blog I hear. You have to be willing to try new things and network and so forth. I prefer writing over marketing or networking and I am not alone in that. I didn’t set any writing goals this year (other than the 31 day free write challenge) and didn’t really try anything new. I didn’t participate in any link ups which I think my stats reflect and I neither worked very hard to be of great use to any specific reader.

I am scatterbrained and juggling various things without truly excelling in any of them. This bothers me at times, not to the point of quitting, more to the point of wondering where and how to focus my efforts.

Who are you writing for? A mentor friend asked me the other day. I was quiet for a moment because I have not followed through with nailing down my target audience or defining my brand. I guess I am writing for myself, I finally replied. You could just journal instead, the little voice inside my head offered. My friend seemed pleased. Smilingly she affirmed: Good! You keep it up then.

Refusing to engage because you can’t excel immediately or even savor success along the way is quite tempting. Writing is conversation to me and even monologues play a part. It’s okay to take a long time to figure something out, especially if you are unable to fully devote yourself to figure it out. I can and will figure this writing thing out and it will take more than time or more writing. It will likely require me to change, at least change some of my habits and preferences, not to mention the fear that lurks and lingers and harms, even the fear of success which seems more real than I am willing to admit.

A year of writing has taught me to pay attention and listen to the ins and outs and around of my world. Writing is grounding and soothing at best and tedious and frustrating at worst. Every year my most popular post is the anniversary one. My second most popular post this year was “Making peace with your average life.” “The resurrection of date night” was my third. Sadly for the audience, I am not interested in writing about marriage. Nearly all my traffic come from facebook and I know it would help to diversify and people have varying presence on social media.

I am not sure if I am closer to finding my voice and figuring out my story compared to a year ago. Numbers don’t lie they say and the numbers are making me think I am not on the fast track to literary excellence or even relevance. (Some would argue numbers hold little power for artists and are quick to point out people in history who became popular after their death)

I am learning to make peace with failure or apparent failure, the temptations to make up stuff and even let blog stats dominate the way I feel.

In summary: I wrote a lot this year. I am not totally sure what all I learned. I still like writing. I need to figure out a couple more things before I quit. Although at some point I may quit blogging, I’ll never quit writing. I suppose writing isn’t the real issue. It only reflects scatterbrained me.

If you’re lost in the creative woods, don’t check your stats. Take a deep breath. Take step forward. A new year is coming.

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15 Replies

  1. JOC

    I think that your writing has improved this year – better flow, transitions more natural. Relevance and popularity are certainly not the same thing! They don’t have to mutually exclusive but often are…keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks for saying that. I did almost all free writing this year- lots of fast first drafts which i do. think help improve your flow. Last year I wrote much slower with more intention it seemed though. This year felt unfocused to me. I am not looking to become popular but sustainable writing has relevance. I am still questioning mine. Happy New Year!

  2. Tara

    Oh stats. Of any variety they tend to reduce a heart’s journey into a pile of numbers by which to be measured. It’s the cruelest thing I do to myself. Measure myself by numbers and quantities. Yet every once in awhile the numbers appear to be in my favor for fleeting moments and I thrill. I too often forget that numbers are generally indifferent to the state of my soul. I still love your writing. And, like JOC, I’ve enjoyed the uninhibited free writes of 2016. But even my opinion makes no difference. Love you.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes- your opinion makes a difference . I agree- numbers are neutral and are not to blame for sure but can’t ignore them either. At least I can’t. Happy New Year!

      1. Tara

        Yeah, sometimes they can’t be ignored. In my experience there are still plenty of areas where they’re pretty flawed in evaluating what actually matters to me. Might just be how my brain filters the world though.

  3. Rachel

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog, friend, and I hope you keep it up. 🙂

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thx friend! Happy New Year! Xoxo

  4. elisa

    “bird by bird” – I kept a blog for the time I lived and worked in Malawi but since then feel I don’t have much interesting to say that people might read although I enjoy writing. I relate to your struggle a bit (although I haven’t been brave enough to do a blog just for the sake of writing) and mostly just journal and write academic papers. Anyway – not to focus on myself but just to say “keep it up”. I think writing is more about the process, at times, rather than the end result. Be proud of your dedication to the process – no matter the numbers.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks! I love Bird by Bird and do agree that one should engage in writing for the sake of the craft, not any particular outcome. It’s transforming even if only for the author. Good writers don’t even need a particularity interesting story it seems although it can certainly help…

  5. Heather Tourville

    Forget about the stats! Write for you and it doesn’t matter who reads. I love that your blogging is rubbing off on Jaden (and through him, Hunter as well). The boys are excited about starting their Youtube channels, which I view as a kind of video blog. Will be fun to see where it all goes!

    1. Astrid Melton

      I think the smart writer does check stats because numbers don’t lie but you can’t jump to conclusions. I do believe they reflect your effectiveness as a communicator. J is definitely hooked on vlogging Fun times.

  6. skipper

    Aw statshmats. Annoying things. We love you, and your writing. But since you want more than just us (wink, wink, totally joking!) we truly hope you find you joy in the subject matter that brings you the audience you seek (if u decide that’s what u really want): a cool tribe, followers who give you as much as they take from you. I am so inspired by your continuation of the thing. The Writing Thing. That, itself, is a Thing to be Proud Of. xx

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks friend. Stats are annoying, I agree and you can’t give them more credit then they deserve but in the end writing is about communicating and effective communication requires someone to receive the message and respond. Obviously this works different in the online world and I have not figured out how to effectively communicate online. It’s not even about large numbers, a focused tribe would be nice but I am too unfocused of a writer to create that at this point. Just a shameless observation. Makes sense? Thanks for reading and encouraging! Xoxo

  7. Carmen

    Don’t quit! You are an excellent writer. You write for you but your writing is also a voice for moms, women and other writers. I love your transparency, acceptance of yourself and dedication to your passion. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks friend! ❤ I appreciate your kind words.

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