Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Just the beginning

Now that this blog is coming to an end, I think it's time to reflect on the past year. On January 19, it will mark the first time I have ever commit myself to a truly daily routine. Yes, of course I do things like sleeping each night, showering and brushing my teeth each day. Those are givens. But after spending nearly 365 days devoted to a principle, forcing myself to sit down and write each day, I'm sure some important things have occurred in my life.

A More Confident Writer

I've always felt good about my ability to write. In high school I ended up becoming Editor-in-Chief of my campus newspaper. It was my claim to fame in a place where I was generally overlooked; where I was one tiny fish in a large pond.

I went to school to study writing. I continued to join publications on campus. I may not have been the star journalism student anymore, but I've continued to do well for myself.

Somehow, through it all I've continued to feel dissatisfied with my work ethic. Writing became such a systematic process in classes that I lost a lot of my creativity in the craft. So I started writing this blog. It's an exercise in personal essay construction, and a way to make myself feel better about quick brainstorming, writing and revising. In school I learned the skills to become a better writer toward a chosen profession. In my leisure time, I learned how to become better writer, period.

My Happier Existence

The blog came not only out of a desire to rekindle my love for writing, but as a way to get over emotional issues I was dealing with at the time that I started the daily entries. I didn't feel good about myself or the way I was handling myself. It was especially hard because I knew how immature I was being at the time, but I didn't know how to stop it.

Knowing that there is a problem but not being able to properly rid yourself of it is one of the most daunting problems to deal with. It's like having a spider's web in the corner of your room and not being able to reach it to remove the eight-legged intruder. If you could just reach an inch higher with your plastic cup and your paper, maybe you could remove the "problem." Instead, you have to find a more sophisticated way to do so (i.e. finding a step stool or taping the cup to the end of a yard stick to get it up to the proper height).

Once you find that new method, the success is overwhelming and satisfying. That's what this blog was for me. Overwhelming, perhaps not always positively. But always satisfying.

How I Use My Time Now

In the aftermath, I've learned ways to manage my time more wisely. I gauge how long it will take to write a blog each night, plan my routines accordingly and bow out of social engagements if need be. My priorities are much more concrete now that I have a daily commitment.

Even though at times it became more of an annoyance than a pleasure, it taught me how I could embrace the blog writing even in the face of terrible circumstances. I wrote blogs on evenings while traveling through Europe. I was inventive with finding internet connectivity. I managed to do the things I love and to write this blog at the same time.

If I could manage to take just a little chunk out of each day for the past year, then surely I can handle any other time restraints that my schedule gives me. Through practice and repetition, I've learned that my day planner is not my master.

What I Want This To Mean

When I started this blog, I wrote an entry titled "It's whatever you want it to mean." At the time, I wasn't sure what I was in for. I wasn't even sure how often I'd be writing. I didn't actually make the resolution to write each day until the routine had already started and I felt like I needed to continue it. The plan was concocted somewhat arbitrarily, but served as a sort of end goal - the kind that keeps you going and feeling like the process, however frustrating, is worthwhile.

Looking back at that initial post, I see that it wasn't my plan to write about my emotions or to detail the goings-on of individual days of my life. As I've continued writing, however, I've learned that even though I'd like to write an essay a day on a fascinating topic, that the constraints of being human come into play quite often.

I have occasionally felt the need to go on long tangents about my feelings. Occasionally I've just written about what I did during my travels or on an off day at school.

I see nothing wrong with that. The grand scheme of this writing space was that it be a place of no boundaries on topics. I wanted it to mean whatever because the point wasn't the point.

If that doesn't make sense, let me clarify: the actual premise of the blog was that there was no point. No tangible one anyway. It was a practice forum for my technical writing skills, a place to build a voice and a place to share thoughts. That's what it ended up being, so in the end The Songs of Spring really did find its footing.

Looking Forward

Now I stand near the end of this blog's daily incarnation. I know that I won't be letting go entirely, but I also recognize that an era of my life will be ending as I leave behind this chapter.

I guess what I'm taking away from it most is the desire to keep writing and to keep testing myself each day. I've already brought a new routine onto myself that I'd like to continue in the form of a plan to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as I can before the awards ceremony. And when that goal reaches its end (presumably once the Academy Awards have aired), I will choose another project to devote myself to.

Because the real success of this blog wasn't that it created a portfolio of writing work that I am proud of and enjoy returning back to read. That is certainly an important aspect, though. The greatest result is actually that I managed to keep myself interested for 365 straight days (this will be true in a few days, but I'm assuming I'll reach my goal). It proves to me that I can do anything, even if that something gets on my nerves, I have the will power to go for it.

There's this sense of empowerment in me, facilitated by so many aspects of this last year in writing. I look forward to where it brings me in the coming weeks, months and even years. I have no doubt that in these past 12 months, I've become a better writer and a better person.

I plan to take those blessings to new heights. This blog was just the beginning, but I will keep on going. Just watch.

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