Prior to this incarnation of my blog, I started several other blogs. I tried blogging just with poetry, with serial stories, with thoughts about my life and therapy and recovery. None of those things really stuck for me, because I was so depressed I couldn’t make them stick.
It has, obviously, stuck this time. It’s worked. But it hasn’t worked because my depression has gone away. That shadow is still here in my head; I just know how to live with it and control it better. Which means that this time, I’ve also learnt a few tricks about how to manage both my blog and my depression all at the same time.
One of these is very new to me, but has proven to make an absolutely huge difference over the past month – so I want to talk you through that, as well as giving a couple of other tips for running a blog whilst depressed.
1. Plan your posts in advance
Last month, on the 1st, I sat down and made a schedule for my entire blog. I didn’t go in-depth with it – it was little more than notes on concepts. “How to support indie authors”, “Writing with Evernote”, “Beating isolation”.
One of the things I struggle with the most is coming up with ideas. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas! The issue is that I panic, and get overwhelmed by it, and then I can’t see that I have ideas because all I can think of is the fog of awful.
Planning things means that even if I still have that feeling, I just have it for an hour a month. So I sat down and planned all of my blog posts for May. And…it worked. It worked so well that I came out of that planning session feeling more excited about my ideas than I had going in.
So I did it again this month – this morning, in fact. I put in all of the ideas I had, then looked around to find more ideas (thank you, Days of the Year, you are a font of inspiration). And whilst it didn’t feel as wonderful at last time, it’s done, and I know that stress is over for the month.
I can’t recommend it enough. It has made such a difference to the days where I feel so awful I can’t do much. It means I can get these posts done and out, because I have a clearer picture in my head of what’s required of me.
2. Make a schedule and stick to it
There’s nothing worse than looking at a project and not knowing how much work it is. Not being able to visualise it. It’s like the things people are saying about you behind your back – you can’t hear them, so in many ways they’re far worse than something said to your face.
So work out what your posting schedule is going to be, and stick to it. I really recommend building it up over time, if you’re struggling. I started with one post a week, then after a month went to two posts a week, and eventually to three posts a week as a Patreon stretch goal.
Then once you’ve set yourself in that schedule, don’t deviate from it unless you absolutely have to. Obviously, if you’re really very sick and you’ve not got your next post done, you might not be able to. That’s okay. You can make up for it with a bonus post on a day where you’re better, or just leave it and move on.
The important thing is not to post more than you can, either. Is your schedule once a week? Then post once a week. Don’t look at someone else’s blog and think ‘but they post four times a week, I must be terrible!’.
Do you read webcomics? I bet you they all post on different schedules. Some post daily, some X times a week, some just at random. You still read all of them. You don’t think one of them is less than the other because one of them posts more frequently. They’re different to each other, not less or more than.
It’s the same with your blog. If you can’t post five times a week, don’t. Don’t compromise your mental wellbeing or the quality of your work for a comparison that won’t help you at all.
3. Use tools that make your workload smaller
On a bad day, there’s nothing worse than sitting down to squeeze out that little bit of work only to realise that, actually, there are twenty steps to posting a blog.
So take advantage of the tools, built in or otherwise, that will help you. Always want to tweet out your posts the moment they go up? Use the publicise option on WordPress, or similar integration of social media. Know you need to work on SEO? Don’t do it manually. Install something like Yoast that will do all the calculations for you.
Spellcheckers, websites that provide royalty free images and don’t require attribution, even a friend who will read over your posts before you make them. If it’s something you have available to you, use it. Make your life easier – you might not need those things every day, but you’ll be grateful for having used them on the days where they become necessary.
And through all of this, remember the most important thing: even on the days where you think you are a worthless, awful human being, you still deserve compassion. Compassion does not stop just because you are struggling today. It’s still here. It’s still something you can give to yourself. And it will always, always be something you are worthy of.