Consistency, Happiness, Depth, and Breadth
The results of the reader survey are in and there's one thing you all want: more posts, more Ryder pics, and more content! And while it's still "my blog, my rules" around here, I'll tell you what we'll do: let's agree to a posting calendar.
Consistency - The Secret Sauce
Consistency. Demographics. Analytics. Content. Supposedly these are all the special spices that go into the secret sauce that makes a successful blog. For someone who is pro-spontaneity and anti-routine these are tough flavors to swallow, but as someone who also consumes content I know the comfort in knowing if I look at a certain site at a certain time then I can be confident I'll see something new. It's reassuring to know if I go to my favorite podcasts on a certain day there will be new episodes, or if I turn on the TV at a certain time there are my favorite shows (oh whatever, let's be honest, I DVR them. But the DVR has to know when to record!) Alternatively it's disappointing when you find a site you love and then discover they never post. As much as routine is a drag, it's better than feeling stagnant.
Now don't get me wrong, consistent does not mean "be a slave to the blog" or "do things JUST for the blog" or "sacrifice quality for quantity." My grandfather, ever the statistical quality engineer even in his 80s, always harps on quality and is even trying to get the word "qualitist" into the dictionary before he kicks it (come on people, help him out), and so the desire for high quality runs in my family. To support his vision of being a "qualitist" I'm adopting an approach of quality and consistency on the blog, because the two together create a product and community that I feel I can be proud of.
Can you believe I've actually had this blog for coming up on 5 years? My first post on this site was March 2013, and it wasn't even The Restless Wild back then - it was some other silly name that reflected my need for change in my life. When I first started posting on this site it was so sporadic that I went months between posts, and so I've never celebrated a "blogiversary" or felt like there was a time when my blog really "launched." Before this site I was on a blogspot site and before that I had a xanga. Yep, I had a xanga - angsty "one day I'm going to be a real writer!" teen posts and all. So let's say I've been blogging for 14 or 15 years now. In all that time I have never been consistent or even intentional. Sure, I've dabbled in some different posting schedules, from posting every day during a month-long blogging streak (which resulted in one sleep-deprived writer and a few stupid throwaway posts) to posting weekly (which seems a little too undedicated given my writing prolificacy - I just started journal #58 this week, hooray!), to posting two to three times a week. Personally the 2-3 times a week schedule feels like a good fit. I can be relevant and interesting without sacrificing quality and my sanity. And so, going forward, I am making every effort to post something on the blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6am EST so that you, the reader, can confidently come to the site every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:01am and find something new to read.
In an ideal world you can expect a posting schedule that looks like this:
|Posting Day||Post Type||Description|
|First of the month||Monthly goals||Recap of past goals and new monthly goals, plus some goofy pics of Ryder|
|Mondays||Restless Rundays||Posts usually focused on running|
|Wednesdays||Wild Wednesdays||Posts usually focused on the outdoors - hiking, backpacking, Sunday Strolls, climbing, or outdoor photography|
|Fridays||Fri-yays!||Any Friday favorites or other posts|
To do this successfully I have to plan (ughhhhhhh) and make sure I'm thinking about fresh content to generate. I have mixed feelings about this because I absolutely do not want to do something just for the sake of a blog post. You all are smart and you can tell if something feels forced or disingenuous. On the other hand, the great thing about this blog is that it's focused on things I love to do - run, hike, backpack, climb, and explore - so the act of going out and doing these things makes me happy, ergo creating blog content makes me happy.
Focusing on What Makes You Happy
I suppose in some regards that's the beauty of getting older: you have enough experience in the world that you know what makes you happy. For example, as you get older you know that when you go to the art museum maybe you'll skip the Faberge eggs collection but you'll spend extra time in the modern art gallery. You might not have a prior interest in Faberge eggs, but maybe you took a class in college that talked about the work of Rothko and Pollock, so you adjust where you allot your time and continue to build on those prior interests. I know that certain outdoorsy or creative activities make me happy so I want to make sure I have time for those activities.
On the flip side though if we fall into routine we may lose plasticity. Our interests have a positive feedback loop that builds on prior knowledge, but if we only focus on those things we may never discover something else out there that fills us with joy. Interest in an activity or subject is often rooted in whether or not you have experience with that activity or subject. Calculus sucks until you realize you need it to explain physics. The real estate market and interest rates are boring until you finally buy a house. The ins and outs of Italian coffee etiquette seems irrelevant until you visit Italy. You relate to what you know, and to relate to the whole world you have to put yourself out there and try something new.
Deepen and Broaden
So here's my paradox with the blog: to focus on what I know and love while always trying something new. To balance the familiar comforts of a routine against the plasticity and curiosity of youth. It seems impossible - to both deepen your knowledge in one thing while experimenting with something new - but it's all about how you deepen and broaden your experience. If you are a music student then you practice the same exact scales over and over again to build proficiency, but a good music student does not only practice scales - they practice new exercises that use those scales, play new music, and experiment with style and emotion and learn from others to build up not just technical skill but expressive skill.
Deepen and broaden. It is possible to do both, but only with practice and consistency, and by constantly expanding the horizons of your life. And so, fellow adventurers, let us chase that horizon! Let us climb higher, see farther, connect more, and grow so that someday everything the light touches can be ours.
(Why yes, I did just finish this post with a Lion King quote. Bite me.)