Over the River and Through the Woods

Metaphorically speaking, this summer I’ve been traveling over the river and through the woodstrying to get over the hump of being bored with trying to come up with ideas for blog posts. I’ve been publishing blog posts for over 11 years now, and while I get into a slump occasionally, this slump (call it writer’s block) that I’ve been in lately has been over two months long. While I have still been publishing blog posts during this time, it seems like it’s been a real effort akin to swimming in molasses to come up with anything interesting to publish.

This morning I got an email from WordPress regarding someone who had “liked” my last blog post on this blog titled, And So It Goes,” published on July 26, 2021. It was from a blogger on WordPress, and in the email there were a few links to blog posts on their blog, so I clicked on the first link, and that blog post, published on July 12, 2021, is titled, Blog for Passion, Not for Accolades–The Secret to Longevity in Blogging.” It made me smile as I read it…

I’ve never published blog posts for the accolades as mentioned in that article linked above. My main blog has over 80,500 hits on it right now since I started it over a decade ago; however, that is not a lot of hits over that length of time. My second blog that I started in April 2018 has 6,500 hits on it right now, which isn’t a lot, either. So while I don’t think I’ll be getting any awards for marketing skills or traffic numbers, maybe I’ll get an award for longevity. I don’t make any money off of either of the two blogs. It’s mainly a hobby.

I’ve been blogging for this long as it has been a creative outlet for me after losing a job 12+ years ago that I never expected would lead to long term unemployment. As I stated on my blog’s main page:

I started this blog in July 2010 as a way to journal my experiences with long term unemployment as I lost my job at the peak of a recession that occurred back then in April 2009, and I was never able to secure another job in my professional field after a solid six-year search for it. I guess you could say I’m officially retired at this point in time (although I’d still rather be employed).

It actually started as sort of a diary/journal on my journey through long term unemployment, and eventually it has turned into something more, and that is how this blog came to exist.

On that blog post I mentioned in the second paragraph above published on July 12, 2021, titled, Blog for Passion, Not for Accolades–The Secret to Longevity in Blogging,” by G. T. Ihagh, a contributor on Motivation and Environment, he writes:

Eventually, it will happen: after a period of doing something you love, you’ll lose interest and even forget why you started doing it in the first place. Whether it’s a calling, a career, or a relationship, you’ll start to lose passion and feel trapped.

Generally speaking, when you are doing anything for passion, at some point, you will likely experience a loss of interest; surprisingly, almost every person does: musicians experience this; sportspeople experience this; entrepreneurs experience this; bloggers and writers do too.

It happens to the most gifted people: along the journey of their calling, they lose steam and start to harbor thoughts of breaking up with their passions. Even if they achieve success, they eventually get to a point where their success no longer matters much.

Why? Because the reason they followed their passions in the first place, was no longer able to continue motivating them. Along the way, many bloggers dreamed of quitting, and actually stopped blogging, checked out, and moved on.

Although you might have started blogging for passion and not accolades, you might have lost motivation along the way because you didn’t get enough accolades or even traffic; regardless of what happened or will happen, if you don’t give in and quit, you can be able to develop enough strength to continue blogging for passion—not for accolades—and end up getting more than you ever dreamed of.

Blogging for passion will determine the course of your blogging or online publishing work and longevity which will help to establish your online legacy—the end product of your passion!

Blogging for passion is what differentiates someone who creates something meaningful and memorable, from someone who just gives up because they weren’t able to get enough or any accolades.

If you continue blogging for passion, you will always find out that there are better blog posts you are yet to create. If you stop blogging for accolades which can lose steam, and continue blogging for passion which can keep or maintain steam, you’ll surprisingly find out that there are better blog posts you are yet to create…. (Quote source and his complete article are available here.)

So, I’ve decided to stop beating myself up because I feel like I’ve had a rather unproductive summer so far when it comes to blogging. After all, as the blogger mentioned above, “there are better blog posts you are yet to create.”

I do have a variety of interests, but I try to keep this blog limited to subjects regarding Christianity, which in and of itself is a huge subject. And the Bible is still the best selling book of all times. According to TheBibleAnswer.org regarding the number of Bibles sold each year, the article states:

The Bible is by far the world’s best-selling book of all time. No other book, fact or fiction, even comes close. Most estimates place the number of Bibles printed each year at over 100 million. 20 million Bibles are sold each year in the United States alone. Based on this number of 100 million Bibles printed per year, the following statistics show a breakdown for the number of Bibles that are sold or given away for different time frames.

    • 273,972 a day
    • 11,415 an hour
    • 190 a minute
    • 3 a second

Even With Bible Apps, Millions Of Bibles Are Still Sold Each Year

It is estimated that between 1815 and 1975 there was 2.5 billion copies of the Bible printed. A more recent estimate places the total number of Bibles in print at over 6 billion. These are absolutely staggering numbers.

An obvious trend that has no doubt affected the sales of printed Bibles is the ability to download the Bible on our devices. Bible apps have and are being downloaded by the millions. YouVersion’s Bible App alone had been downloaded over 400 million times by the end of 2019.

Even so, based on the number of Bibles that have been sold in the past, and are still being sold every year, there is obviously still something to be said about owning and having a printed Bible in your hand.

Bibles Sold In 2020

Many online bookstores reported record sales of Bibles for the year 2020. The surge in sales is attributed to people being closed up in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 has caused many to turn to the Bible for hope in these trying times.

The trend toward downloading Bible apps continued in 2020 as well. A couple of interesting statistics handpicked from 2020.

  • Searches on the YouVersion Bible App totaled over 600 million. 
  • Fittingly so, (Isaiah 41:10) with it’s encouragement of “do not fear” was the most searched and read verse on the YouVersion App in 2020.

On a side note, in addition to being the most sold book, the Bible has long been claimed to be the most shoplifted book as well. Go figure. (Quote source here.)

Within Christianity, there is an extensive list of topics on a wide range of issues and subjects (see this list at Gospel Coalition). But even at that, from time to time, writer’s block can set in, and part of it could be caused by what’s going on in the broader culture today.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic started back in March 2020 that has literally rocked the entire world, and it is still very much ongoing with the “variants” like Delta continuing to spring up (and yes, I did get my two Pfizer Covid vaccine shots on May 20th and June 10th), a number of changes have been occurring throughout our society. Sometimes I think about writing on some of those changes, but then I realize I want to keep what I publish simple and without conflict, and I’ve never been into picking sides in fights where nobody is listening and nothing is resolved.

So the issue for me this past couple of months has been trying to find topics to write on that won’t ruffle feathers, but sometimes in a climate like we are experiencing in today’s culture, almost any topic has the potential to ruffle somebody’s feathers. And that perhaps is some of what it behind my writer’s block right now.

Out of curiosity, I just now Googled “what to write when you don’t know what to write about,” and one of the links that showed up from that search is an article published on June 5, 2018, titled, What to Write When You Don’t Know What to Write About,” by Alice Vuong. She writes:

Write about your struggles

You may not feel very inspiring but people are often inspired by you just showing up and it’s even more powerful when they know you’re struggling to be there. Be there and tell your story.

Write about your experiences

We’ve gone through tragedies, heart break, had accomplishments, created a life.

Write about what gets you through the hard times

It can be hard to write about inspiration when you don’t feel particularly inspirational yourself but if we look at our past work, you’ll find a wealth of information and ideas from your own experiences family, books, blogs, quotes, songs, your own work, habits you’ve incorporated in your life, movies and even random thoughts — the world is full of wonders that have provided us with brilliant ideas in the past and will again. (Quote source and the rest of her article are available here.)

Ms. Vuong has a host of great ideas for writing that you can find on her website, AliceVuong.com.

Another link I found on that search was to an article published on July 6, 2020, titled, What Should I Write About? A Simple Way to Answer That Question,” by Dave Ursillo, a writing coach and leadership coach. About 2/3rd’s of the way down in his article he hits on a topic that sounds like one of my own issues with trying to find something to write about right now. He asks the question, “What have I been avoiding lately?” In answer to that question, he writes:

Avoidance will show you the way

Asking yourself “What have I been avoiding lately?” is a simple question, and it’s a fast method for pinpointing a writing topic that’s near to the experience you’re living in the moment.

Better yet, the question produces a personal, meaningful inquiry that may help you better understand what you’re resisting and why you’re resisting it.

Whether you’re resisting a book topic, a blog post, submitting an essay to a contest, or avoiding something un-writing-related altogether, you can use your writing as a process for better understanding.

Here are two simple scripts you can use to tap into what you’ve been avoiding lately:

  • “If I’m being really honest with myself, what I’ve been avoiding lately has been ________. I’ve probably been avoiding it ever since ________.”
  • “Where is my avoidance coming from? My go-to excuse for not doing it has been __________. But maybe I’m actually resisting it because ________.”

Something powerful begins to happen when we write through the very questions, topics and struggles that inspire more self-knowledge.

First and foremost, we answer the question, “What should I write about?”

Better yet, when we use our writing to confront the topic of “what we’ve been avoiding lately,” our writing becomes a tool even more meaningful than for just telling stories.

When we write about topics that explore the journey of life as we live it, we get to know ourselves better and better.

Writing becomes an aid for our own healing, self-actualization and pursuit of happiness. (Quote source and his complete article are available here.)

Mr. Ursillo also has a host of ideas from his years of experience that you can find on his website, DaveUrsillo.com.

I do think avoidance has something to do with my writer’s block. However, perhaps right now I should start enjoying my time spent this summer traveling (metaphorically) “over the river and through the woods” and enjoying the scenery along the way. And perhaps when the crisp fall weather arrives my muse will come out of hiding. And while I’m waiting, perhaps some contemplation is in order–which brings me to a verse in a psalm that I will end this post with which is found in Psalm 46:10:  He [God] says…

Be still, and know that I am God . . .

I will be exalted among the nations . . .

I will be exalted in the earth . . . .

YouTube Video: “Miracle” by Unspoken:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

I Am A Writer

I love reading almost anything on the subject of writing. And because of my love for writing and reading about writing, I volunteered to read and review a new eBook titled, You Are A Writer,” by Jeff Goins, which is available for purchase and download here.

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’ve been unemployed for over three years now and only recently came to the realization that I would never work again in the field I spent the last twenty years working in–student services at public and private colleges and universities. While you might think this was a heartbreaking realization, it was not. Actually, I was greatly relieved! Really! It’s not that I didn’t love working with the students (mostly adult students) that I helped over all of those years, but there was another side to me–a creative side–that I left behind in the dust many years ago.

I have been writing ever since my feeble attempts at poetry as a teenager. While I never thought of myself as a writer, I have always been one even though I didn’t realize it. I was more the artistic type since I had been drawing pictures from the time I was a very small child and even before I learned to write my own name. Of course, this was with the help of my mother who was also quite artistic. However, when it came to writing, I never thought of writing as an artistic endeavor, yet that’s exactly what it is—creating pictures with words.

At the very beginning of Jeff Goins’ eBook, You Are A Writer,” he starts out with an action statement in the subtitle which states something every writer needs to say to him or herself every morning:  You Are A Writer: So Start Acting Like One. In other words, we must tell ourselves and believe—“I Am a Writer”: not, “I want to be a writer” or “Maybe someday I’ll be a writer,” but “I AM A WRITER” and do something about it right now.

To give you an idea of what you will find in the pages of this eBook, here are a few of the chapter titles: “Writers Are Born, Not Made,” “The Truth About Writing,” “Building a Platform,” “Establish a Brand,” “Channels of Connections,” “Getting Started,” “Before Your First Book,” and “What Next?” However, don’t skip over the “Forward” and “Introduction” in an effort to get to the meat of the topic. If you are the least bit apprehensive about your writing (in other words, still thinking you “want” to be a writer instead of declaring “I am a writer”) you’ll find in these two sections encouragement and motivation that will keep you from giving up at the very beginning of your journey.

Jeff states in the “Introduction”: “I’m nobody special. Just a writer who got frustrated with a broken system and decided to do something about it” (p. 9). That statement, in a nutshell, is what the rest of the eBook is all about . . . taking action.

In the first couple of chapters, “Writers Are Born, Not Made,” and “The Truth About Writing,” he brings the topic of writing home to those of us who really are compelled to write. He mentions examples like a chiropractor who longs to be a poet and “closet artists and aspiring authors, people longing to do meaningful work that inspires,” but they are not doing it (p. 12). This leads into sections on “Finding a Dream,” “Falling Back in Love with Writing,” “When You Feel Trapped,” and “Becoming a Writer.”

Next, Jeff gets into the action steps, “It takes more than talent or luck to be a writer. You have to be intentional” (p. 39). Here is where he discusses three essential tools that every successful communicator needs: A platform (how to build it including his own personal story); a brand (the elements involved, mistakes to avoid, and making yourself memorable—choosing a name, designing your “look” and finding your voice), and channels of communication (building relationships, making connections, asking permission, reaching out).

Now that you have the tools, you can get started, and at this point he states, “Getting started is the hardest part.” So, at this point don’t find excuses to keep procrastinating because, “You’re ready. Ready enough, anyway. You don’t have to have it all figured out yet. You just need to begin. You’ll figure out the rest as you go” (p. 63). And in his chapter titled, “Getting Started,” he explains how to do just that. The rest of the eBook gives details from getting started to what you need to know before you write your first book. And it ends with “What Next?” which is really just a beginning to your writing life. It is a journey, much like life itself.

You Are A Writer,” is packed full of great advice in an “easy to read” style from start to finish in 101 pages. If you’re serious about writing, and you don’t know where to start, I highly recommend it to get you up and running and put some “action” to your passion for writing and take yourself off of hold.

I love to write. I’ve been writing all of my life but I’ve never pursued it as a profession. I think it’s time to start. No, I know it’s time to start (thanks for the push, Jeff). I also love music but since my singing voice is not one of my talents, I’ll leaving singing to other more talented folks. However, I find a lot of inspiration in songs for my writing. Recently I came across a song sung by Glen Campbell titled, “Sing” (YouTube Video at the end of this post) and the chorus in the song goes like this:

“But if you sing, sing, sing, sing, sing, sing, sing
All the love you bring won’t mean a thing
Unless you sing, sing, sing, sing”

I don’t know about you, but I often hear a song in the words of writers who are passionate about their writing. Their words “sing” across the page and connect like music connects with our souls. However, as this song states about singing, it can also apply to writing. All the passion writers bring to this world won’t mean a thing unless they share their writing with others.

So, if you’re reading this post and you love to write . . . then WRITE! “Sing” those words across a page–don’t keep them inside. And while I may never work in my former profession again, that’s okay, because…

I . . .

Am . . .

A Writer . . . .

And thanks, Jeff Goins, for reminding me of that!

YouTube video:  “Sing” by Glen Campbell (on “Meet Glen Campbell” CD):

Photo credit here