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Why I disabled blog comments

Sometimes creativity develops best in silence.

When I started blogging, I wrote daily-ish updates. It was kind of like an email to everyone I knew. I wrote about what we’d been up to or funny things that happened, and I’d post links to essays I wrote elsewhere.

(I do write essays sometimes. I want to be Nora Ephron and Anna Quindlen and Anne Lamott and Kelly Corrigan and Glennon Doyle Melton when I grow up.)

Over time, though, an email-to-everyone stopped seeming like the best thing for my blog to be.

Why didn’t I write essays on my own blog? Or why didn’t I write about practical life stuff — all that stuff people ask me about offline?

Friends would say things like, “You should blog about [fill in the blank with anything at all]!”

And I would think, “Oh, people who read my blog don’t want to read about THAT!”

Did I ASK those people if they wanted to read about THAT, whatever that may have been? Why no, no I did not, because:

1. asking sounded scary, and

2. I did not want to bother them.

This was a brilliant strategy, obviously.

I’m sure no one else was especially worried about WHAT I posted, but I had gotten myself all tangled up in the post-response-reply web of blogging, and I needed to get unstuck.

So I turned comments off.

I know, I know: comments are the lifeblood of a blog. Comments mean you’re listening, comments mean community, comments are social proof. I know.

And I still turned them right off.

Because while I think I shouldn’t care about these things, the truth was, sometimes I would stress out over how many comments a post received (or didn’t), or how quickly the comments came in.

What did they say? What did they mean? What did it mean if someone didn’t comment?

I would worry over how to respond. Should I reply to everyone? To no one? To some things? Which things? How quickly? How long should I spend writing my responses?

Some of that was about people-pleasing, and some was pride, but some was about knowing myself.

I know that I’m an introvert. I know that interacting with others — whether in person, on Twitter, or in the comments of a blog — is draining, not energizing, for me.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it, but it does mean I should be intentional about how and where and when I engage.

It’s okay for a blog to be a writing-only place. It’s okay to build community and maintain relationships in other ways.

It’s okay to need a little space between what you create, and the judgment of others. I think I did.

So I started experimenting with quiet. I discovered that without the comments, I could let go of some of my internal filters.

I was able to be more vulnerable in my storytelling.

I was willing to experiment with different kinds of posts.

I had more to say, when I wasn’t worried about how — and whether — others might respond.

I even started seeing my posts as (weird little) gifts I could give to my readers, without expecting anything in return.

Sometimes creativity develops best in silence.

It’s still not the usual way of doing things, I know. But you don’t always have to follow the rules. You don’t have to do things the way someone else would do them. You don’t have to do what other people expect. (She says, to herself.)

That’s what makes you YOU. That’s what makes your projects special and personal and YOUR OWN.

When you find a plan that lets you do your thing more, forget the rules. Do it your own way. Be your own self. Do your own thing.

Even if you’re doing it very very quietly.
 
Why I disabled blog comments

Design your own creative habits

Less sleep = certain doom.

I’m just going to say this, because maybe you will understand: sometimes I go about things all wrong.

I get caught up in the must-try’s, the should-do’s, the best practices, and I forget to filter them through the lens of what makes sense for ME.

Those things might work in general, and they might be great for someone else. But most of the time, what I learn by trying to do what works for someone else is that I’m not someone else.

Ahem.

We’re talking about designing our own creative habits at The Gift of Writing this week:

I have this idea, every once in a while, that I need to improve my habits. I need to drink more water, get more fresh air, walk the dog. I don’t even have a dog.

So you can imagine what happens when I read a blog or a book or a helpful message telling me I need to get up earlier to write first thing in the morning.

My best intentions—having shiny good habits, being an early bird, getting all the worms, etc—turn into burning the candle at both ends, and that much fire will turn your life into a disaster zone right quick.

If you’re a writer (or any sort of creative person, really), come on over and read the whole story, and tell us how you create sustainable habits that work for YOU.

1-Design creative habits that work for YOU.

Still human. Every day.

Be human.

Everyone knows that a toddler who is out of your sight for 8.4 seconds will find their way into your computer, open up Amazon, and accidentally order a new bike and a wheel of cheese. That’s just a fact.

It used to be that when parents looked away to sneeze or something, toddlers would climb the kitchen counters and eat all the cookies that were hidden up there. Now, instead, we’re all one unsupervised click away from being the proud owners of size 11 bowling shoes or a book on how to identify wild carrots.

I’m not sure it’s an improvement, honestly. It’s not what I was hoping for in the evolution of toddlerhood.

There is probably a list for this somewhere on the internet: 6 DIY Projects to Make With The Immersion Blender and The Toe Socks Your Toddler Ordered When You Weren’t Looking! Number three is a succulent planter.

The internet has a list for everything. Top 3 Tantrum-Busting Guitar Solos. 7 Foods to Stop Eating Or Else Your Hair Will Fall Out. 5 Best Tips For Organizing the Mess That Is Your Kitchen and Let’s Not Even Talk About Your Closets. The other day I read one called 10 Ways To Calm Everyday Anxieties.

This is, obviously, an area of interest.

Do something with your hands, the article said. Try knitting, it said, or worry beads.

What are worry beads, I wondered? Are they easier than learning to knit? I looked it up. Oh, worry beads are the same as prayer beads. Aha.

I put that information on the shelf of “things I will probably never think about again, even though they may be helpful or interesting,” right next to the DIY immersion blender/succulent planter, and there it sat.

Until I noticed an email from Amazon the next morning. Good news! The prayer beads you bought with one-click ordering have now shipped!

The what are what, now?

Okay.

So.

When you are worried that your kids will do something embarrassing or inappropriate or accidental: that’s how you know you are about to do that thing your own self.

I logged in to my account, but there was no option for “stop delivery on thing I did not mean to order.”

When you fill out the return form, under “reason for return” there is no box to check for “I guess I touched the ‘buy with one click’ button on my phone screen when I, out of sheer curiosity, price-checked this item.”

I marked the box for “I changed my mind” instead.

Self, I thought, you are fired from looking at things on the internet.

Self, I thought, you are kind of a mess. The kind of mess that purchases perfumed strings of sandalwood beads without even knowing it.

See, I forgot who I was for a minute there. I don’t mean that I forgot that I am the kind of person who accidentally orders prayer beads. I knew that.

That’s the same kind of person who forgets to put the most important grocery item on the list every single time. I’m that person too. But I knew that, I did.

No, I forgot to be the kind of person who says, it’s okay. You’re human, you don’t have to be perfect. I forgot to be the kind of person who says, it’s cool. No big deal.

I forgot to be the person who responds with love and gentleness.

But then I remembered. I remembered about truth and grace.

A while ago, I sent my email friends (that’s you) a note about how we all want truth, and we all need grace. (You can read it here if you missed that one.)

It was about how we’re all kind of a mess, sometimes. We all make mistakes. We’re all rocking in the same boat out here. That’s the truth, we all need grace, and we all always will.

If that’s true, and I believe it is, that means that none of us, not any of us, has it all together. Including you, including me, including our future selves.

This makes sense, because none of my past selves ever had it all together, and my present self doesn’t have anything together—but I was still holding out hope for my future self. Maybe she would get it all together! But I’m starting to think that she’s going to be just as human as the rest of us.

Things do change. Times change. People change.

We’ll get better at some things, we’ll realize we need help with other things, but we’re always going to be human. Always. Like, the whole time we live on this earth. All of us.

Still living in the truth that we still need grace.

You can reinvent yourself each and every day. You can accept yourself as you are. Both are perfectly valid choices.

But you aren’t going to reinvent yourself into flawlessness, and you can’t accept yourself into perfection. Either way, there will be some messiness.

This is kind of a bummer, I know. But it does, at least, change how we respond when we realize there are surprise prayer beads speeding their way to us from South Carolina.

We can treat ourselves with patience.

We can show ourselves kindness.

We can forgive whomever invented one-click shopping, that we cannot now figure out how to turn off.

Patience, kindness, and forgiveness,

We can live with purpose, and we can remember that our purpose isn’t “make no mistakes.”

We can all shake our heads and laugh.

We can be human. That’s kind of our job.

It’s our job to keep showing up, to keep wading through the weeds of the everyday.

It’s our job to keep moving along on this journey from glory to glory.

It’s our job to love everybody, including our own selves.

It’s our job to keep on being human, even though being human means that we remember who we are, and we forget, sometimes both in the same breath.

And its our job to tell the truth. The truth that even though being human means being kind of a mess, grace meets us in the mess if we let it. We don’t outgrow it, and we don’t stop needing it — but it doesn’t outgrow us, either, and it’s just waiting for us. That’s how things get better. Not by our fixing, but by our being human, and surrendering to grace, every day.

We're still human, every day. But grace meets us in the middle of the mess, if we let it.

A day in the life

Do you ever wish you could peek into someone else’s life, to see how they really do things?

Who does what chores, and how does breakfast get made? Do they really get up before sunrise? Do they really exercise every afternoon? (No and no, at this house.)

I always wonder.

A homeschool day in the life

I think right in the middle of the dailiness is where find out who we really are. We see the choices we make, we see where our time goes, we see what we make room for and when we’re willing to drop everything.

This is where our kids learn how to be, too. It’s not in the instruction, it’s in the details.

That’s where our kids learn about our heart’s priorities, because they see where we devote our time and energy and resources. They learn what matters, they learn what we trust and what we value, by seeing what we include in our daily routines and what we edit out. And they watch what we do when our ideals bump up against reality.

They absorb it all, and they develop character through the living.

So do we.

I think the details matter, even if they seem kind of everyday and boring as they’re happening.

Plus, you know, I’m just curious about everyone else’s.

We’re talking about the details of our daily routines over at Simple Homeschool this month.

I think of myself as the curator of our home and our schedule — I bring in inspiring materials, I make sure our home is set up to encourage kids’ learning, and I leave plenty of free time for them to pursue their interests.

Read the whole story at Simple Homeschool.

My simple-but-full day is part of the annual A Homeschool Day in the Life series. Every year, this collection of posts reminds me that there are a million good ways to create a day that works for your family. Yours doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. (And you don’t have to do everything.)

You can find all of this year’s posts here. I’m reading and taking notes!