Why you should treat blogging like going to the gym

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As a full-time writer and editor, there is something that I am constantly struggling with: Should I write a blog?

Back in the day when blogging first started, it was great for any and all aspiring writers. It gave any person the chance to become a writer through the power of the internet. Anyone could do it and, so, it seemed as if everyone did do it.

Eventually, we got to the place we are today: There are tons of people we know who are famous and popular bloggers, those who have made their living reporting on the news, writing about their anxiety, talking about their parenting woes, or posting their latest food creations online. Most of the people I know who are “popular” and making a living with blogging have been doing it for over five years.

As a professional writer, I’ve heard the question “How do I start a blog?” from many friends over the years. I would usually send them to the countless free resources they can find online and encourage them to sign up with the free WordPress.com service. If it was a closer friend, I would give them more advice on how to make their blog great, how to take good photos and what to do if they want to share their content with others. All great advice (at least I think so) but I have rarely taken it for myself.

Why? Because I consider myself a writer, not a blogger.

My career began began before the blogger boom. I went to journalism school, had six internships before graduating and promptly started working in women’s magazines. Since then, I hopped from one women’s publication to another in order to grow my career and, most recently, became a full-time freelance writer and editor.

Of course, I wasn’t immune to blogging either. When I was bored at my first job and seriously job hunting in 2009, I experimented with many blogs. I think at one point I had somewhere like six blogs… Not a good idea, clearly. I couldn’t keep up with any of them, though I did learn a lot and it led to me transitioning from print publications to digital.

After that, I had a single healthy living blog, then a Tumblr blog and finally a food blog called Healthy Latin Food. Every single time I started a new one, I thought I had found THE ONE. But I didn’t. I always changed my mind, let it go, said I didn’t have the time… Which is true, due to a heavy workload, and not true, due to me not being good about keeping up with my own personal projects.

But anyway, the point is: I’ve always been interested in blogging and have appreciated the people I know who do it, but I wasn’t one of those people.

Blogging seemed like a very serious commitment and not one that I was able to invest my time in. Plus, now, as a full-time freelancer, time is money and I didn’t feel as if I have the time to do it… especially when most of my time is taken up by paid assignments (like my PT food editor gig at Brit+Co or my contributor role at HipLatina) or looking for paid assignments (as in, pitching other publications). At the end of the day, it feels as if investing time into blogging, when it is unlikely to bring in any money, is a bad idea.

And then I realized: Maybe blogging for money isn’t the point.

Recently, my friend BJ Mendelson posted about why you should blog more.

We had recently had a conversation about this topic and he made one of the best points that I had never thought about: You should be treating your blogging like going to the gym.

To him, going to the gym is just the necessary maintenance of being a human. It’s one of those things that you may not always enjoy doing but that is important to do in order to keep your muscles flexible and strong. So when it comes to blogging, he takes the same approach: It keeps your (writing) muscles flexible and strong.

After chatting with him, he advised me to do one major thing: Delete Google Analytics from my website.

The reason that all writers should be blogging, according to him, isn’t because you might earn money with it or because it may make you famous, but because blogging is simply a good way to practice some of your writing ideas. It gives you a chance to let your personality shine, talk about some of your projects and give readers (and potential editors/publishers who want to hire you) an insight into your work.

Treating blogging like the gym, meaning that it’s simply there to flex your writing muscles, is a great idea.

To be honest, it would have never occurred to me to think of it this way—probably because I absolutely hate going to the gym. You can ask my fiancé and partner Adam: He’s been trying to get me to join him at the gym pretty much ever since we met. Although I have gone on occasion, in general, I don’t enjoy working out. It’s something that I continue to struggle with in terms of my weight loss maintenance. But anyway…

If you want to start a blog and you are a professional writer, you should do it because it is a fun way to do more writing.

I realize now that blogging isn’t about statistics, fame or money. It’s good for me simply for what it is: Blogging is a way to do some more writing because I enjoy the act of writing. As I have recently joked to Adam, writing is both my job AND my hobby—which means that it is something that I am basically thinking about 24/7. I don’t really have many other hobbies or the ones that I do (such as reading audiobooks) are very much tied to my writing, too.

So when it comes to blogging, I need to do it more.

Per BJ’s advice, I have deleted GA from this here website and plan to go to the gym more… I mean, I plan to blog more.

I don’t want blogging to get in the way of my other writing and editing, but I do want to enjoy it. I don’t want blogging to be too stressful, but I do want it to be fun. And, last but not least, I don’t want blogging to be adding an unrealistic expectation to my plate.

But I am very much hoping that it won’t be that. Instead, I want to treat blogging like going to the gym: Something that I want to do because keeping my (writing) muscles flexible and strong is important to me.

Now if only I could get myself to the real gym…

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Introducing Moscow Chica – now a blog, book and newsletter [#yearofwriting]

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As you’ve probably noticed right above this sentence, there is something new in my life – and that is that my in-the-works memoir, Moscow Chica: How Growing Up Russian and Cuban Made Me an American, is now also being joined by a brand-new Medium blog (or publication, as they call it) and a newsletter… all basically in service of my writing about multiculturalism, Russia, Cuba, being American today, immigrant issues and rights, and more.

Here’s the thing I realized recently: Writing a memoir takes TIME. So very much time! One of the commitments I made to myself during this #yearofwriting is that I was going to be doing #52essays2017, all of which are in service of my memoir and writing about how my immigrant and multicultural upbringing has affected my American life.

And it’s really exciting to write about all of that but, to be honest, with everything going on in the world right now with President Cheeto (I’m sorry, I just can’t say his name) and the Muslim travel ban in the first few days of his being in office… and everything that has happened since with immigrant issues and rights (including the recent raids which our so-called leader is calling “a military operation”), I feel the need to do more.

And so I started the Medium publication, Moscow Chica: Half-Russian, Half-Cuban, All-American. In fact, my very first post was about the “A Day Without Immigrants” protest and how I personally am choosing to honor it (hint: it has to do with the new blog!).

What’s coming up on the Medium publication/blog will be primarily topics and issues surrounding immigrant rights today and multiculturalism in general. I will also be sharing things I have published in the past and some of my writing that is being published elsewhere (all related to immigration, being Russian/Cuban/American and growing up or being multicultural).

And, of course, I will be continuing the #52essays2017 challenge (which is, as you already know, about the memoir and my past) and how all of that relates to my upbringing as an immigrant in a multicultural household. These posts will also now live on Medium, since I want to talk about all of the things that relate to being “Half-Russian, Half-Cuban, All-American”.

Meanwhile, the newsletter is primarily a vehicle for me to be able to easily share updates with those that are interested in the things I am writing about. So if you’re curious about memoir writing as a topic, multiculturalism and/or immigration rights (or if you’re just a big fan of me, haha), then you should definitely subscribe.

At the end of the day, though, this isn’t just about me or my work (though I hope you like what I have to say) but about what’s going on in the U.S. today.

It’s no understatement to say that we’re in a bit of a dumpster fire at the moment. Just this week alone, things haven’t been good for immigrants (duh), Native peoples or trans kids. And that really hurts me deep down because I love America. Or at least I used to.

These days, to be honest, I struggle with my (former?) pride in the country my family decided to make our home and my disgust at what is happening today. But I firmly believe that it’s in the power of the people to create change. And as a writer and journalist, my power lies in my words.

As I look to create more dialogue surrounding multiculturalism and immigrant rights, I will also be seeking out and sharing the stories of others. After all, the only way to fully form a resistance is to use our voices (while we can) and continue to speak out against injustices.

At least, that’s my plan for the next four years… and 40 years, too.

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Let me explain this whole “Map Your 30s” thing to you

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Today is exactly six months after I turned 30 years old, a journey which I planned to blog about here as I grow and learn in the next decade of my life.

I’ve named this part of my life the Map Your 30s blog but I now realize that I never actually explained what that all means, or what even the concept of “mapping” stands for.

Yes, I’ve talked about why it’s okay to not have your life figured out at 30, where I currently am in my life and even the scary part of turning 30 that I have been holding back on. There’s also been smaller chapters about how my life turned into a rom-com, beginning to go to therapy, going back to a flexitarian diet, whether or not I should buy a car and the struggle of growing out my hair.

These have all been important tidbits into my life after 30 and I know I still have a long way to go, and a hell of a lot of room to grow in my six key areas of focus (relationships, career, home, finances, health and confidence).

But one thing that I haven’t actually explained as I started this journey isn’t the WHY, though there’s more to be said there, but exactly what this next part of my life means to me.

Last year, after I had gone through a particularly difficult time in my life, a friend gifted me a swirly heart picture from MapYourProgress.com. The story behind this Maps project is quite interesting, but what fascinated me more was the combination of art and charting your progress toward something important all through this oh-so-pretty map.

From losing weight to paying down debt to creating a new habit (like recovery!), I was fascinated by all of the possibilities. The drawings, you see, actually represent goals and the power of this Creative Progress Maps system is that you can actually set whatever goal you want. “Just pick one that matters to you,” the creator instructs.

And so I picked mine.

My goal is to make turning 30 into the Decade of Awesome, as the same friend who gave me the heart-shaped map said, and I’ll be coloring in the map’s swirls as I make progress.

That’s the whole point of my new quest, and thus the Map Your 30s blog went from being an idea to being an actual thing. It just happened to be a thing I didn’t explain very clearly before today.

And so now, six months after turning 30, I am more focused than ever on making the next few years of my life the best that they can be. Because there’s no age limit to living the best life you can, right?

In fact, since turning 30, I think that I actually have my priorities a bit more in order. I may not have everything figured out yet, but I’m looking forward to getting there.

All of this is ultimately about having the courage to follow my dreams and about having the courage to say that I have a lot of growing left to do–and that’s TOTALLY okay too. It wouldn’t be a life worth living if I wasn’t constantly learning and striving to be happy.

So happy half birthday to me! It’s going to be a good decade.

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(Image via MapYourProgress.com

Map Your 30s Blog: Why life doesn’t end when you turn 30

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Exactly two months ago, I turned 30 years old.

One month later, I arrived to my new (old) home in Florida.

Today is May 22nd, 2016, and I have officially lived thirty years and two months on this planet. I don’t want to get annoyingly philosophical here but, in a nutshell, here is what I learned:

We never, ever stop growing as human beings.

Or at least we shouldn’t. Constantly growing and improving ourselves is something that I have always believed in, and it’s what has driven me to this point: being officially three decades old, feeling both like an adult and like I still have a LOT to figure out, and wanting to kinda sorta do something about it.

That’s where the idea behind the Map Your 30s blog came in.

As I was approaching turning 30, I noticed one big thing happening to me and my friends. We were all simultaneously freaking out about the Big Three-Oh while also realizing that–hey! it’s really NOT that big a deal, is it? And as I approached my own milestone birthday, I started to think about all of the things I cared about in all of the different areas of my life.

Namely, I cared about: nourishing the relationships I had with friends and family, taking my writing career to the next level, creating a wonderful home life, organizing my finances (aka saving money), making sure to keep up my health goals with clean eating and exercise, and working on my self-confidence through therapy.

These six key areas of focus, I realized, are what is most important to me and where I want to grow in the next decade. So, following the spirit behind and the wholehearted belief that, HEY, just because I’m 30 now doesn’t mean that my life is made or figured out or that I don’t still have plenty of learning to do, I decided to create the Map Your 30s blog.

For the next year or five or twenty years, I am going to be doing big and little things to improve my life in these categories: relationships, career, home, finances, health and confidence. And, like the writer that I am (and because it might even help a bit with the “career” part of this project), I decided to occasionally blog about my adventures here.

While this site will remain a representation of my portfolio in general, I will also be cataloging and generally talking more about some of the other aspects of my life.

Like maybe dating (relationships), the book I’m working on (career), my new apartment (home), saving money for a trip (finances), cooking more Healthy Latin Food (health) and continuing adventures in therapy (confidence).

These are all topics that interest me, I hope to write about here and elsewhere, and I hope will maybe interest you a little bit too. And maybe, just maybe, I might even inspire someone to do their own growing, changing and otherwise improving life after 30.

Because let’s face it: whether you’re married or single, have a fantastic career or still looking for the right fit, bought a house or not even thinking about it yet, started your 401k or haven’t even figured out doing your taxes on time, regularly make it to the gym on time or get winded climbing the stairs, go to the beach without a shirt on or can’t even step foot in the bathing suit section of the store, turning 30 is just another milestone.

It’s never too late to be a more awesome person. And, as a good friend of mine put it: this is the Decade of Awesome. Welcome to it!

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