Greetings and a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! I hope everyone is well and apologies for the long absence. I hadn't really meant to take a sustained blog break at all but life had other ideas for me these past couple of months and made sure I had barely any time to get online.
Over the holiday season I've slowly been getting back into blog related activity - reading, commenting and now finally... an actual post! I've been reacquainting myself with my Google reader and it still seems to be working despite the threats that blogger would pull it. I've been noticing a pattern of post titles since the dawn of the New Year, with these two themes trending - New Year's Resolutions and that old chestnut, the "How To Blog" post.
Well I don't really do New Year's resolutions and given how I've singularly failed to manage blogging in the last couple of months I'm hardly an expert on how to blog. Rather, it would be more appropriate to be the maverick and share some anti-blogging advice, how not to blog if you like. So, courtesy of my own recent experience, here are ten really fail safe ways to throw every proverbial spanner in the blog works!
1. Bugger Up Your Technology Big Time
Start with tripping over the cable of your laptop to send it crashing to the floor. It's a great way to give it a faulty hard disk and a visual display that looks like it is going through permanent pixelated meltdown. Pack away all your computer software in a safe but very forgettable place while you send your computer to get repaired, so that when it is returned with everything wiped off you can't reinstall ANYTHING. That includes that useful little photo editing feature you relied on to get your pictures processed quickly for blog posts!
2. Drop Your Favourite Camera
...the one you habitually use to blog with. Best to drop it directly on it's lens. It really is the best way to stop a digital camera working. Take it from me, I've done it twice already! Once to a Nikon and then to my beloved little Canon. Still need to send it off to get it fixed!
3. Do Really Well at Your Day Job
A demanding day job is probably the biggest spanner you can throw at any blog, especially when it starts to become a demanding evenings and weekend job as well! Put some serious time into your career and the last thing you will want to do is spend more time on the computer at home after eight hours or more on one at the office. Have you noticed that the "How to Blog" posts are often full of the same mantras oft repeated to spur you on to achieving excellence at work? Be Committed! Be Enthusiastic! Be Passionate! Be Professional! Add Value! Deliver people what they want!
Let's turn this on its head for a moment. What if you actually did apply these principles to your job rather than your blog? Well chances are you would probably do really well at it. What's more, if you do really well at at your job, you might become a victim of your own success and get given even more work to do because people think you're more than capable of rising to the challenge. Bye bye blog but hello pay rise and promotion?
4. Have a Demanding Night Job...as well as the day job.
If life wasn't busy enough I teach flamenco three times a week and still perform from time to time. In the last couple of months I had two shows to rehearse for on top of my teaching hours. One was a fusion piece with a khatak dancer which was performed to a black tie dinner for dignitaries, the other was in a rather famous London jazz club, so I had to drop absolutely everything to rehearse for them.
5. Endure the Commute From Hell on a Daily Basis
I've seen suggestions from some that the severely time strapped should make use of their daily journey to work to get more done. Possibly even use that time to squeeze in some blogging. These people clearly do not live in central London, because if they did have to travel during the peak hour crush here they would quickly realise that this is a daily battle for survival! I usually spend the majority of my commute being crushed from all sides with my face pressed into either someones back or if I'm really lucky, their armpit, both to and back from work. I wouldn't be able to move enough to slip a smart phone out of my pocket let alone a tablet!
6. Have A Life.
Significant other? Children? Friends (of the offline variety)? Pets? Extended family? All those pesky assorted sundry loved ones who require, nay demand attention, thus encroaching on your precious blog time. Hobbies? Who needs theatre, live music, travel, exhibitions and books? You get the picture...
7. Renovate Your Flat
For maximum chaos, do this whilst also living in said flat. There has been a huge amount of unpacking and repacking as we move things out of each room that is being worked on, meaning I can never find anything when I need it without trawling through a mountain of boxes. And then there has been tackling the dust left behind afterwards from sanding floors and stripping paint. I realised that the dust got all the way into my wardrobe when I noticed all my black jackets suddenly had a two tone look with one black side, and one not so black side! Cue the mother of all laundering operations...
8. Prioritise Your Health
A niggling dance injury I've been struggling with finally forced me back into regular weekly pilates sessions in order to manage it. Pilates was something I used to do regularly a couple of years ago but I lapsed when I felt I didn't have time to fit it in anymore. Daft really because I'm sure that had I kept it up I wouldn't have sustained this injury in the first place. Well I changed my thinking and am now making the time, but obviously that time has to come from somewhere. Less time on the internet means more time on the reformer!
9. Go on Holiday
Go for a long time and to somewhere far flung, warm and sunny where you will have zero motivation to spend time blogging. How about Australia for three weeks? Cram your calender whilst there to ensure that time spent on the internet is kept to a minimum. My schedule packed in being bridesmaid at my sister's wedding, taking my parents up North for a few days, catching up with various family and friends, seeing a Muse concert, celebrating Mum and Godmother's birthdays and squeezing in a flamenco course.
Spend a decent amount of time without laptop, mobile and blackberry. This one was kind of forced on me. In the time that my laptop was away being fixed I went to Australia, so whilst I usually take it travelling I had no choice but to leave it. Same with my work blackberry - four out of five password fails on the morning we were due to leave meant it ended up staying in the UK too. And I kept my UK mobile off the whole time in Australia to avoid a hefty bill from picking up messages. I have to say that limiting my time on the internet and hand held devices was actually quite a revolution. Apart from freeing up time to do other things, my eyesight improved and the RSI in my fingers and wrists almost disappeared!
There are all times when we have to be very present offline rather than online and the last couple of months have been exactly those kind of times for me. Despite it all, I'm now back, albeit on a more limited basis than before. I've been really missing everybody in blogland and although I'm still being hampered by tech problems, I hope to be catching up with everyone eventually. In the meantime - over to you! Share your own ways how not to blog with me!
Photo: a feathered flapper dress by Australian designer Aurelio Costerella - in a display from the Aurelio Costarella 30 Year Retrospective, an exhibition at the West Australian Museum in Perth