Quality over Quantity – OR – Why more is less

In the waning months of 2013, I posted less and less to my website.  This was a website I spent much time and effort pouring into to make it what it is.  2013 was a year of hiatuses.  Originally, I started this blog during my unemployment as a marketing tool.  Market the best product I know: myself.  But then I got a job and not just any job, a major step in my career and my life long ambition to work for the National Archives.  In an instant, the purpose of this blog changed overnight.

Now, I found myself caught up in the exciting of a new job and a new city.  A city which I’ve yet to fully explore.  But once the shiny luster of newness faded away, real life crept in.  I noticed things and situations in my professional life that I wanted to talk about.  And I did, but not as often or as satisfactorily as I wanted to.  I applaud those with the guts and courage who openly discuss their jobs to broach larger archival topics.  I wanted to do that but I didn’t know how.  It’s one thing to blog in a vacuum which is what I was doing before.  Quite another experience to have your name now attached to an organization.  Knowing that despite the disclaimer, “this is my opinion and not of my employer,” that on some level people couldn’t fully disassociate me from NARA.  Suddenly I felt locked in.  I was stuck in this panic of wanting to use my experiences to shed light on broader issues.  I didn’t know how.  So, I took a hiatus.

I do these mini-hiatuses all the time.  Friends and family members know them well, I think.  I’m grappling with something or some circumstance that I can’t figure out what to do next.  So, I pull back.  I don’t go into hiding or anything.  I focus my attention elsewhere for a spell while, in the background, I’m still working on the problem.  These hiatuses can last for any length of time: a day, week, a month, or a few months.  Who knows, really.

When I started to finally put all the pieces together that’s when I suffered a personal tragedy.  I mentioned it in an August post.  Now, I had to put that on the back burner to deal with more pressing issues.  It left me mentally and emotionally drained.  Still positive and upbeat but drained nonetheless.  After things started to click back into place for me I thought, now I’ll get back to my blog.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know what to say.

I made multiple attempts at blog posts.  I have several unfinished drafts under the “Posts” category of my blog.  Things that I was, for a time, really excited to share with my readers.  But then I had another moment.  Is this really what I want to share with people?  Or am I side-stepping again?  It seemed that great epiphany I had after my last hiatus faded away and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with this blog anymore.

In many ways, I still don’t know the answer.  Isn’t that always the way?  We never have everything fully figured out.  We think we do.  We may say we do. But when it comes down to it, we don’t.  And, you know what?  That’s okay.

2014 is shaping up to be an amazing year for me especially professionally.  This year will see the fruition of much of my hardwork in 2013.  Ideas and workshops that I’ve been slowly plugging away at will take center stage.   All of those ideas nurtured in a supportive environment created by my colleagues at the National Archives.  While the long-term plans of my future remains up in the air, I’m moving ever forward toward acquiring the skills to be the archivist I want to be.

I may not post as much or on a regular basis but I will still post.  This year will focus on the quality of my posts instead of the quantity.  For a large part of my website’s existence I was driven by the stats and numbers.  How often I posted.  When I posted.  How many people viewed this post vs. that post and why.  You know what I found out?  The posts that got the best numbers where the ones where I stopped, took a moment, and really wrote what I thought instead of spit out something for the sake of having something up here.

There’s a lesson to be learned in that.


About Ashley S

I'm an archivist!
This entry was posted in Archives, Professional. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Quality over Quantity – OR – Why more is less

  1. David McMillen says:

    Nice post Ashley. Reflection is an unheralded art in this world on instant pudding to instant communications. Solving tough problems requires fits and starts for most of us. The seamless flow from innovation to production or idea to novel happens only in the retelling of a story. May your 2014 is as amazing as you hope it will be.

  2. I can relate, and the numbers don’t do justice to the honest posts you rarely see, like this one. Check out ‘Why I Write’ over at leeyonard.com.

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