Monday, 22 August 2016

Studying and keeping a blogging schedule

"Hey, I've found a way to know how you're doing!" my friend Marinka declared on voice chat. We just landed our evil inquisitor duo on Balmorra. "Oh?" I knew she meant 'without asking you'. I always know what she means. "Yeah, it's easy:" she continued, "if you don't blog for a while, things are obviously not well."

She was right. But she also was not right. Indeed, my health has been below average the past weeks. I started a new treatment that is supposed to help me get rid of my extreme dysmenorroe; instead, I now suffer from chronic abdominal pain. Since pain devours energy, I'm so tired in the early afternoon that I can forget about anything involving some form of thinking. I'm enduring it, though, in the hope my body will adapt and things will get better. I'm running out of medical options.

On top of this, Conrad has started a new job. I'm really happy for him: it's a good job, he has a fun team and is learning a ton. It does mean I'm spending more time doing chores, though, and it takes its toll on my energy reserve. We also both need to get used to a new day rythm.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't describe the last couple of weeks as bad. Somehow I've managed to keep my spirits up and I've made progress on a tough assignment for my studies. I'm satisfied with what I've done, seeing the circumstances.

And that's the thing. My studies and my blogging schedule are in an infinite struggle for my attention. I would be lying if I'd say my studies has never suffered from my urge to write blog posts, but in the end, blogging goes on 3 and studies on 2 (after my health, which gets spot 1; without health I can do neither).

Looking back at my gaps in my blogging schedule, there are two main causes for them:

1) I'm not doing well mentally.
The large gap from April to December 2014 is an example of this. After being diagnosed with my neural disorder in 2013 and desperately trying to keep studying, blogging and trying to live my life as I used to (which turned out to be impossible) made me collapse eventually one year later. I needed to find a new way to sort my life and come to terms with the fact that I would never be able to do some things I love anymore. My first, deep depression turned to be incompatible with blogging. I needed to let everything go and start from scratch.

2) I'm spending all my energy on my studies.
This is the more positive cause for a fail of blogging schedule. Sometimes my studies ask a lot of energy, and there is simply nothing left for other activities. This is especially the case when my health is in a poor state and reduces my available energy. Although there is the lurking danger of mental exhaustion (I don't get out to do fun things with friends in these periods), I at least feel good because I'm able to make some real progress on my studies.

Not making my blog schedule (or, at times I did not have one, just not posting in a long while) can make me feel bad and cause stress - typically on moments you can use it the least. The good thing is that understanding the mechanisms behind it puts things into perspective and makes me come to terms with it. It's kind of "do it yourself psychology", but it serves me well when under pressure.

What are the main causes for gaps in your blogging frequency? What activities compete with blogging?


  1. When you don't post for a while I just tend to assume you are busy with studies. The alternative would be for me to worry a lot. And I mean, not the normal worry of "Something bad might have happened to Ravanel!". It is the "run catastrophic scenarios in your mind" kind of worry. So, for my sake I prefer to think the least worst possibility. :p

    As for reasons for me to not blog for a while... There isn't any particular reason. It might be because I am going through a bout of depression or I might be too into some game but I just don't think I have anything interesting to say about it. Or some other specific case.

    For example, right now I have two reasons for it. First is because I am trying to migrate my blog software to a new major version and make a theme of my own at the same time. The theme part is what is making it so frustrating since I have very poor visual skills, making themes for Drupal 8 isn't that easy (it is not that bad though, certainly not as bad as Drupal 7) and my mind is stuck to when CSS 1.0 was still cutting edge in terms of web design (I think that was late 90's or early 2000's?)

    The second reason is that I am trying to get those last achievements for Skyrim that I never got. I have Skyrim on PC and will be getting the Special Edition for free but I know that Steam will treat it like a new game which means I will have to get *all* the achievements again. So if the Special Edition turns out to be better I might not go back to the current version ever again. Might as well finish getting these achievements while it is the only version available and be done with it.

    I only got 6 more achievements to go. For one I unfortunately run into a bug that is unsolvable so I won't be able to get that one. Then there are two that might be a bit monotonous to get and the rest I should be able to get without issue.

    1. Awww, don't worry! If something truly bad would happen, I'm sure Conrad would post something on my blog. I'm not one to just disappear forever without a note, and otherwise... well, you have my e-mail address. :)

      As for you, I know your posts always come in batches, so I'm used to that. I always hope you are not going through a very depressing phase when there's nothing new, because I know that's an option...

      Cool that you're working on your blog coding behind the scenes! Even though you say you have poor visual skills, your blog has always looked fine to me. And it's always good to improve one's coding skills (totally not saying this because of personal interest, haha).

      I'm thinking about trying something out called Webflow. There are so many things I'd like to change about my blog's layout, but I simply don't know how (especially things like margins and distances); apparently it's designed for coding noobs (read: me), so it sounds promising.

      I've been keeping myself away from Skyrim after what you told me about the Special Edition (I checked and I should be eligible). When it's there I'll probably hunt for achievements and *finally* get through the story. I just can't bear to do that kind of thing twice, though, so that's why I'm not playing now. (That, plus I don't have much time and SWTOR and LOTRO keep me busy enough.)

      It would probably be fun to read about your Skyrim adventures, though! I can imagine you running into interesting situations while achievement hunting. Although I always found, back when I was writing about Skyrim, that it was tricky to make those posts more than a dry recital of events. I always needed a lot of creativity for those posts.

    2. Yeah, that is another thing that makes me not worry too much. I know Conrad would probably post something here if such a thing happened. *knocks on wood just in case*

      So far all my blog themes have been downloaded from the web. That is why they don't look like something made by a five year old doing finger painting. It is why I am also being so adamant on trying to make my own theme this time. Even if it might turn out ugly it will at least be something that is *mine*.

      Cool about Webflow! I hope it helps you out. If you need help in the coding deparment just holler. My knowledge isn't all that better than you and it is almost 20 years behind by this point plus I am not familiar with blogger but... uh... the thought is what counts? Ok, that was a terrible offer of help there. :p

      One good thing about Skyrim is that you don't necessarily need to get through the story twice if you want to hunt for achievements. Unless you did it once but never finished. In that case, it does get tedious. Another thing that helps is mods. They can always make the game more interesting. Even nowadays there are still some interesting mod that pops up from time to time.

      I thought about that and about other possible content to write. But until I migrate to the new version I'd rather not create more content as it would be more migration work. Hopefully I will be able to do that soon. But first, Skyrim achievements!

  2. My blogging gaps typically come about as not having the time to write. While I usually can fit in a post or two per week, there are times when that's just not possible.

    Playing several different MMOs gives me the opportunity to play something different when I get tired of the same-old, however. As long as I can keep playing, something will eventually pop up that will require me to post about.

    There has been the occasional week, however, when all I do is play Sudoku or Civ IV a few times, which isn't exactly interesting blogging material. On those cases, the gamer community usually provides; our hobby is kind of insular that way.

    As for you, Rav, I just hope you're hanging in there.

    1. Oh yes, the Civ weeks! That's something that has happened to me as well. Some games just *really* don't lend themselves well for blogging. Especially if they don't produce pretty screenies. O:) But then there are about 50 drafts in my Blogger waiting for me (not exaggerating, /sigh), so I can't use that as an excuse. :P

      It's going okay as it is, right now. It's a tough balance, but I will be okay. Thanks. :)

  3. I think my blogging gaps come from similar things, most mental energy (or a lack thereof). If I'm super busy with things during the day, or dealing with a rough personal life problem, or anxiety is in high gear, I just don't have the energy or will to blog. So it gets set aside.

    I actually like using blogging as the task I can set aside, because I feel little guilt about it. It's my hobby, not my job, so if I don't want to post, that's okay! I hope you're doing well, Rav!

    1. It's a great virtue that you're able to think about blogging that way. I envy you a little!

      I am a perfectionist at heart, and I always feel a bit disappointed with myself when I don't manage to get a blog post up in time. I *know* it's just a hobby, but it still feels that way! Sometimes I wonder if I better could not blog at all. It's still fun, though. :)

  4. Replace your studying with my job and you have the reason for my current gap. I think my gaps are all pretty much due to a lack of mental energy, for a variety of reasons. I suppose I could be organized and plan ahead... a goal I hope to achieve some day. :)

    It's nice to know I share this with others. Our health is Priority #1, and sometimes that can be hard to maintain!

    Take care of you.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. It's also nice to read I'm not the only one - not that I'm rooting for others to have stress, of course! It's easy to forget how lucky you are with your health right up until the day you lose it.

  5. hmm gaps - yes I have a lot of them :) It tends to vary between just being generally busy and using my free time to game instead of writing about games and periodically I get the blogging doldrums and wonder why I bother (the answer is because I enjoy it, but you forget that sometimes!)

    Also sometimes, like yesterday, you have planned in the time to write but you end up spending that time at the Minor Injuries unit (littlun knocked his toenail off - eek and blerk! poor thing, he's fine now!)

    good luck with your studies - I remember how all-consuming it is and it can be very hard to switch off - hope you can get some downtime and relaxing in :)

    1. ""Periodically I get the blogging doldrums and wonder why I bother"
      That rings true for me as well, I'm afraid. When blogging start to feel like a job, it's perhaps best to let it be for a bit. Trouble with that is that once you've missed one scheduled blog post, suddenly weeks tend to pass before you post the next! At least that's how it goes for me, so I try to stick to my schedule anyway when I can.

      And yes, then there's always random things happening to distract you from blogging. So sorry to hear about your little one, that must've been quite the scare! Happy that he's fine now. :)

      It's sometimes hard to let go of my studies, but I've gotten better at it now I've had so much practice. :P (Perhaps a bit too much practice, I hope I'll be done with it soon!)

  6. I hope you find yourself doing well in short order. It's OK to feel however you are feeling, though. There's social guilt that goes along with being sad, angry, or basically anything other than Very Happy and that's not cool. You feel how you feel.

    My gaps come from several mental depression which is usually assuaged by playing MMOs during the time I would normally spend writing. Like someone once said, blogging is a social club that you can visit and leave as you please.

    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your severe mental depression. I'm blessed in that regard. Although depression is always lurking out there, I seem to be doing OK most of the time as long as I keep myself busy and reasonable healthy (for as far I have any influence on that, ofc). I'm absolutely incapable of creating when depressed, so like you, I'd game instead.

      I love your metaphor of the blogosphere as a social club that you can visit. The social part of it is probably what causes the tad of social guilt for not posting, but you're right, I can come and go as I please and probably should think of it more like that.

  7. Maybe I worry too much. Lucky I speak to you often and then I really know how you're doing :). But you should not feel guilty about not blogging, some things are more important and everyone understand that. And it is a hobby :). I am happy that I at least gave you an idea for a blog post.

    1. I always do feel a bit guilty, but don't worry, I'm not losing any sleep over it! And yes, thanks for giving me a blog post idea! These 'analogue life' themed posts are a lot quicker to post than gaming ones for me, which is nice. I do try to write about gaming mostly on my blog, but I don't think a bit of normal life every now and then hurts. It's something most people can relate to. And you're a great friend for always listening to my moaning about my health. It really helps to have someone to talk about it honestly. :)


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