Monday, January 25, 2016

Monthly Highlights: January 2016

There's a feeling in the air. Do you know that sensation that something is coming? Something wonderful and new. Do you know that mesmerizing mix of nervousness and excitement? That is what this month has been for me. The first month of the new year is over, and now I have the opportunity to share with you all that's been going on. If this is your first visit to Forgotten Featherpen, then allow me to welcome you. I hope you enjoy your visit and come again soon. The Monthly Highlights are where I share with you all that's been going on this month in my blogging, my writing, and life in general. As always, I would love to hear about your month of life as well, so don't be shy. Let's get going!


Yes! I'm starting the year on the right foot and posting every week! This month was all about the new and the old. It was all about ideas, memories, and dreams.

Instead of starting out the year with Resolutions, I wanted to begin by looking at the Yearly Highlights from 2015. This post was incredibly fun to put together because it gathered up the most popular posts from last year, as well as some pretty looking numbers! Looking back on my year of blogging in 2015 was so helpful in planning for 2016.

I was tempted not to write a set of Resolutions at all. It's hard not to get conflicted over it because of all the cliches you know? But in the end, if you don't set goals then you'll never accomplish anything, so I sat down and wrote down my Resolutions for 2016.

Now this is what I've been waiting to write. This month was the perfect opportunity to share my Ten Lessons from Blogging: What I've Learned from My First Year. Even though I've been blogging for more than one year, I've only been consistently blogging for that long. The lessons are more towards what I learned personally as a blogger, and less about the technical side of things. If you have any lessons from blogging feel free to share them in the comments here!

My Life

I've entered the last half of my Junior year, the second semester of my time here at Bryan College. As daunting a challenge taking on 19 credit hours is...I know in my gut that I can take this on. I have a special feeling about this Spring Semester. Something amazing is going to happen as I grow and learn more. That's the best part really, I'm looking forward to the adventure of learning. One of these days I'll share my thoughts on learning. It's been on my mind a lot lately. Anyway, what else have I been up to?

My Pretty Weekly Schedule
Well, during Christmas Break I kinda encountered my super-organized side. I wanted to learn from the mistakes I'd been making in previous semesters and get myself together! So I started making spreadsheets....lots and lots of spreadsheets. Spreadsheets for my weekly schedule, calendars for my overall schedule of classes, shower time schedules, a semester assignment spreadsheet, and even a small weekly schedule for my roommate so I would know what she was doing day to day. That's not overload...right? Even if it is, I'm looking forward to less stress in the scheduling department this semester. Already it's starting to make things easier. Has anyone else started doing this lately?

What to Expect Next Month:

Review: Secrets of Ancient Man Book 

That's right, it's finally arrived and landed in my eager hands. Somewhere in between all these classes I'm taking I am going to dive into the pages and get to work reviewing it for you. In the meantime, did you know you could purchase both The Genius of Ancient Man and Secrets of Ancient Man: Revelations from the Ruins right here on Forgotten Featherpen? Just click either of the images below or check the links in the sidebar.

Some Personal Insights

I've been processing a lot over break and now during these first weeks of the semester. A lot of it has to do with how to handle stress. We all have issues with this one don't we? I'm trying to see stress in a new light, so keep a lookout for that post.

Other posts might include topics like time management, daily devotional time, or even my spreadsheets if anyone is interested.

Being at college never fails to reveal something new to learn, so be sure to keep a lookout for these personal insight posts!

That's all for this month! February promises to be chock full of more learning experiences and awesome blogging opportunities. How was your January? Are there any particular topics you would like to see in the future? I'd love to chat, so feel free to post a question or comment below. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

10 Lessons From Blogging

Yeah, so technically my blog is two years old. However, I've only been blogging consistently for one year. So I'm sticking to that story. So what has all that time taught me? What stands out amidst all the bumps in the road that I can share with you? Ten come to mind right away. I hope they help you grow as they've helped me to grow.

1. Explore Possibilities 

I've struggled with the whole niche deal. Knowing and occupying your niche can be really important to establishing a name for yourself in the blogosphere. You want to be known for something. But, at the same time, I might let that limit me.

As I prepare post subjects I might think, "Does this fit with my image?" or "Does it fit with the theme?" These are good questions to ask! But not if they keep me from writing! Your niche cannot become your limitation. As you go through life and experience new things, you'll have new content to share. So don't be tied down by a niche or the idea of an "image" you have to be like.

Look around in your life for the things that interest you. Write about those things. Explore the endless topic possibilities. When I first started blogging, I didn't think my personal experiences fit in with a writing/history blog. And that's another point! I couldn't just stick with a writing blog or a history blog. I had to have both in one and make it my own.

Explore your possibilities and don't be tied down by niches.

2. Plan in Advance

I've learned that if I don't write an idea down then it won't get done. Same goes for writing posts for a blog. If I don't write down ideas when I have them....I'd never get any posts done. So that's one tip: keep an idea cache for future ideas.

Whenever an idea for a post strikes you write it/type it down somewhere. I keep my idea cache on Evernote by using the checklist function. The free version of Evernote has been enough to save my blog from death many times. I can't say enough good things about that software. You can use it on your laptop or your iPhone. If you keep a well-stocked idea cache then you have a backup plan for no-inspiration week.

I don't keep to a strict calendar of posts, but I usually have several ready to go topics in the cache. What I like to do is pick four or five of those ideas and group them together for the coming month. If I'm being super productive I'll work on them in advance whenever I have a spare minute. But there's always room for a last second idea to take its place if needed.

3. Deadlines Keep Me Motivated

I'm one of those people who work really well under pressure. Well, maybe I should say I'm one of those people who work well when I know I'm going to be under pressure soon. That's why I make deadlines for myself. When I know something is coming I tend to work to get it done on time. If I don't put a deadline on myself then nothing would ever be done.

When it comes to blog posts I set a deadline for when I need a plan for the coming month. Another deadline is for outlining the post, writing the post, and finally publishing it. For my Monday posts, I try to have a draft completed by Wednesday. I let it sit after that and spend Thursday or Friday making the graphics. The weekend is for polishing and starting on next week's post. First thing Monday morning the post goes public and the cycle starts again.

Find a deadline schedule that works for you and fits your lifestyle. Not only do they help you get stuff done on time, but they help you feel accomplished for the day.

4. Set Aside Time

It's the same as deadlines. If I don't set aside the time purposefully then I will end up writing things last minute. That equals a poor post and then I've let you all down.

You can put it on your calendar, or you can keep it in the back of your mind, but you must set aside time in accordance with your deadlines to write. Take an amount of time and make it all about blogging. If you don't do this then guess what happens? You. Won't. Blog.

5. But Remember to Be Flexible

Life happens. Sometimes I don't get to spend the set-aside time on my blog. I've gotten used to it.

Flexible can mean two things. The first is that your plans to blog may fail and you have to accept that you won't have as much time to finish as you thought. In that case, don't beat yourself up about it. Just be flexible and do your best when you can.

The second meaning for flexible is to take advantage of free time. Did that lunch date fall through? Did class finish early and you have a free half hour? Is there suddenly a free patch of time? Be flexible and take advantage. Write for your blog! Who cares if you scheduled to do it later today? You never know when plans will change, so take advantage of every opportunity to get a little bit of blogging done.

6. Tackle a Post in Bite-Sized Portions

When I started blogging I tried to write whole posts on the morning they were due to be published. Please don't do what I did when I first started blogging.

Posts that are worth it take time to finish. If you've planned ahead, set deadlines, and set-aside time to write, then you can easily tackle a good post in bite-sized portions. You can start with an idea, then an outline. Then you can tackle the graphics. Do little things in your post and before you know it a full post is waiting to be polished and published. No going crazy or rushing involved.

7. Doubts will Come

As soon as you press publish you're going to doubt what you've just put out there for the world to read. It happens to everyone. You're going to wonder if you missed a grammatical mistake. You're going to wonder if you sounded stupid or not. I've learned that doubts will come for every single post. Whether I post about something I love, or about something personal, I'm going to feel a bit uneasy because it might not be perfect.

That's the root of the issue really. Obviously, we as bloggers want to write and present our content well. That is not a bad thing. However, we can't let a small perfectionist streak keep us from sharing what we feel compelled to write. I've adopted two little habits to deal with the doubts when they come.

First, accept that sometimes your post will not be perfect. It happens. Strive to do better next time.
Second, trust yourself that you did the best job you could.

Doubts will come. Will you be ready for them?

8. Treat Yourself like a Professional 

Your blog may be a lot of things. It could be a public journal, a hobby, or the way you make money on the side. Whatever it is, and however you see yourself as a blogger/writer, you have to treat yourself like a professional.

What does this mean? It means learn your trade as a blogger. I'll tell you this now, it's about more than just writing a few paragraphs. Before I even started my blog I wanted to have a firm understanding of what it meant to blog. I researched platforms and read articles on how to build a pretty blog. I read about the elements of a readable post. I researched lots of things, okay?

Did I implement all I learned? Not exactly. I took what I wanted and have worked hard to apply it to my blog so I and others can take me professionally. That doesn't mean I do this for a living. I've just learned that when I treat myself as a professional and take mastery of my trade, I can fee more confident in my work.

9. Never Compare to Others

I've been there. You're scrolling through all those awesome blogs you follow and thinking.."I wish my blog could look this pretty." Or, "I wish I wrote witty things like that." Or even, "That blogger is so much more interesting than me."

Stop. Right. There.

Don't play the comparison game. Just don't. Unless you're researching new ways to update your blog's content or design then you shouldn't be comparing! Applaud the other creative bloggers around you. But, never lose focus on what you've done yourself.

10. Always be Proud of what you've accomplished

There have been a lot of mistakes in my short blogging career. There are posts with horrible formatting and many misadventures with Blogger. But what ultimately do I see when I look back on my year of posts? That all depends on how you look at things. Ask yourself that question.

Are you going to focus on your failures? Or are you going to be proud of all that you've accomplished?

At the end of the day, I've learned to always be proud of what I've accomplished. If I made a mistake then I learn from it and become better. If I had a success then I can celebrate and learn from it too.

That's it! My ten lessons from blogging in my first year. Were any of these helpful to you? What lessons have you learned from blogging so far? How long have you been blogging? Make sure to comment below! I'd love to hear from you. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Resolutions for 2016

It's a new year, and you know what that means. I used to hate making a New Year Resolutions list. Why tie myself down to a goal I might not reach? Since then, I've learned this interesting little tradition can be a useful tool. Ever heard the expression, "Man plans, God laughs." It's true that whatever goals or plans we set for ourselves will most likely be changed, or even cancelled before they are seen through. That's a fact of life. However, just because plans or goals may fail isn't a reason to not make them. A friend of mine once said that without a plan, you're going nowhere.

I want to go places this year! So, I've decided to share some Resolutions for 2016 with you. In 2017, I'll revisit this post and see how many things I actually accomplished. This post will be divided into three sections.

Blogging Goals
Personal Goals
My Word for the Year

1. Post every Monday

 I deliberately delayed posting this until the first Monday of the New Year. Because I wanted every Monday to count and I had already made the final tally for posts for 2015! You see my issue? I had to laugh at myself when I refused to post. I've got issues.

2. Grow my Followers

That sounded less robot-ish in my head. I want to be able to reach more like-minded people like myself, so I'm always for new ways to reach out. And new friends are always so much fun!

3. Do better on my Instagram account

*looks down in shame* Yeah...I kinda vanished from that account for a couple months. Sorry about that. I want to do better on that this new year since I lot of my followers have come from Instagram.

4. Connect with more Blogging Friends

 I'm an introvert. *sigh* I might strike you as a quiet, stand-offish sort of person. But every time someone new pops on or leaves a comment this little introverted heart of mine gives a leap for joy. I want to do more this year to cultivate those blogging friends.

1. Write more for my Novel this year

Ideas have been churning deep inside for a while now. I can feel them finally surfacing, ready to spill over to the page or screen. Maybe the page actually. I've been experiencing a difficulty writing on a computer lately. Anyone else prefer writing on paper to writing on a laptop?

2. Journal every week

I've been pretty consistent with this in 2015. The purpose of most of the entries has been to record life and lessons from college. In the past, when I've journaled through a specific season of life it's been incredibly useful. I want to try and journal once per week. So it's like a blog post to myself right?

3. Pass this upcoming semester (seriously, what was I thinking with 19 credit hours!?)

Seriously, y'all. I am this close to thinking I'll go insane this semester. But all the classes and required and I wanna take all of them! Three writing courses at once! I'll be happy and stressed all at once. Wish me luck and remind me next year that I did this to myself.

My Word for the Year

(It's Scottish because I really wanted to go to Scotland but wasn't able to.)

What are your New Year Resolutions? Any Blogging or Writing plans? I don't know about you guys, but I'm always looking for new tips for keeping on track. What is your word/verse/saying for the year? I'd love to hear from y'all! So don't be afraid to comment below. Happy New Year! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Yearly Highlights: 2015

Welcome to the Highlights from 2015!

This is the one post that will gather together all the Highlights from 2015! If this is your first visit to Forgotten Featherpen, then this is how a "Highlights" post is going to work. Like my Monthly Highlights, I will showcase the high points of the blog. This will include popular posts, events, and future plans. I'm really excited to show you all of what happened this past year. So, let's get started!

Wow, it's been one incredible year. At the start, it seemed pretty hum-drum. I spent the first few weeks of this year packing up a house in Florida and moving up to Virginia. I was on the road for my twenty-second birthday. I didn't know what the future held for me. The summer was spent keeping up a full load of online college classes while dreaming of one day living on a campus. Now look at me! I've just finished the first semester of my Junior Year at Bryan College. Along the way, I've managed to post consistently on Forgotten Featherpen and not go insane.

I was actually curious to see if I actually posted every week like I had promised myself. So, I checked the stats. I knew I missed a few weeks in December....but how much had I posted this year?

44 Posts for 2015! 

That's just 8 Mondays short of writing and publishing a post Every Week!

I'm so pleased with myself. In 2016, I aim to post every single week without fail!

Now I realize.....I'm a horrible blogger. I completely forgot Forgotten Featherpen's Birthday!

This past November 9th, the anniversary of my very first post, Forgotten Featherpen turned one-year-old. 

Technically, Forgotten Featherpen has been up and running for two whole calendar years, but I like the November to November thing better. That's how people's birthdays work so why should it be different for people's blogs?

Some Pretty Numbers

Are y'all ready for some pretty exciting stats? Because I am! I was so happy to see these numbers over this past year. It is so, so encouraging to know people actually do read all the stuff I post! I wasn't paying much attention at the start of this year to how many people actually followed Forgotten Featherpen. But I'm assuming it was under 10. Here's what the numbers look like now!


7 Blogger followers
3 Google+ Followers
12 BlogLovin' Followers
7 email subscribers
25 Instagram Followers

That's 54 followers total!

I know there's possible a few repeats in there....but still! This makes me so proud of my year of work on the blog. I look forward to it growing even more next year.

Most Popular Posts of 2015

There were a lot of really neat posts this year. Seriously, I had fun with lots of them. So, for this yearly wrap up thing I wanted to go back and see which posts from this previous year stayed the most popular. I was surprised by the results.

1. Movies and History - El Dorado (488 pageviews since February)
2. Calm Amidst Chaos: A Response
3. The Creative Blogger Award
4. Share Your Serenity
5. What Anime taught me about Memorable Characters
6. When Wings Grow Weary 
7. Top Ten Books I'd love to see as Movies 
8. Movies and Worldview: Spirited Away 

A post from February remained in the top all year long! And that post has next to no comments on it! I'm wondering why this particular post was so popular. If my reviews on movies are that interesting then maybe I should write more of them? Besides what made it to the top of this list, I have a few personal favorites to share.

My Favorite Posts:

- Movies and Worldview: Spirited Away
- Release Announcement: The Secrets of Ancient Man
- 5 Ways to Challenge Yourself in College
- My Time to Fly
- When Wings Grow Weary
- Adam and His Kin: A Book Review
- The Big Misconception about Pre-Historic Man

I'd like to hear from you guys too. What were your favorites posts from 2015? What would you like to see more of in 2016? I'm all ears!

Plans for Next Year

The main plan is to continue posting every Monday morning, every week of 2016! I know I might miss a week or two because life tends to happen. But if I plan for it I still might be able to make it.

But you're wondering about next year's actual post topics aren't you? Well, definitely expect a post with my new year's resolutions! That's going to be a fun one. I'm thinking I won't do as many fluff posts or tag posts like I did this year. Instead, you can expect two big topics next year.

Creative Writing

Okay guys, I'm taking three writing classes this upcoming semester. Two specifically for creative writing and the third for expository writing. On top of that I'll still be doing my own novel work. So guess what's going to be on my mind 24/7? Writing! Prepare to be presented with lots of posts about the subject.

I'm really excited about this. I can't wait to write all year! Will it make me go crazy? Probably. All the same, I look forward to sharing what I've learned with you and hearing what you think!

Ancient Man

With the release of "Secrets of Ancient Man", I am so ready to write a review! I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my personal copy so I can dig in. As soon as I do, you can expect a thorough review. Plus, I've been asked to help out some more with the ancient man blog and other projects they have in mind. It's gonna be so much fun.

And, since I'm taking an Expository Writing course this semester, you can probably expect some independent research articles on the topic. I'm getting pumped up for this, y'all.

Closing Thoughts 

I'd like to take a moment here and thank everyone who's had a part in the growth of this blog. My family has been such an encouragement to me. And I could hardly have the same drive to continue without my friends. Both in "real life" and on the internet. Even something as small as a "follow" or a comment has made my day.

A special shout out to Victoria @ StoriToriGrace for her amazing comments all of this last year. Seeing her around all the time has been amazing. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you definitely should. She manages to post several days a week and I'm totally envious of that. Thanks, Victoria!

And thanks to all my other followers, active or silent, I am thankful for you all and hope to keep you coming all of next year.

Well! That's all for 2015. On to 2016!