What the F have I been doing?

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 2.38.44 PMI mean…its a fair question.

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 2.35.57 PM.pngI have been dieting again. Keto this time. Same diet new name. In my twenties it was Atkins. A few years ago it was low carb. Now it is Keto. All three involve me melting cheese on a plate and eating it with a fork, drinking heavy cream, and consuming lots of red meat. It could be called the cow diet but then the pigs and chickens would be unfairly left out. Bacon. Eggs.

It sounds horrendously unhealthy. And yet…I have lost 45 pounds. I have stuck to the low carb plan since late July with a pretty baguette length break during our trip to France.

Other than dieting I have been busy with everyone’s third favorite subject. Volunteering at Middle School. Hey Denver join us for a lightly Star Wars themed Gala on May 4th.

Wait, while I’m talking to you Denver…check this out.

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It is my new project. I have a partner which makes it less lonely and more collaborative than this navel gazing blog. We are also looking for contributors. I am going to make you click through to learn more.

And hey Vermont: the Palmers are coming at you very very soon.

And hey other readers: sorry I have taken a sabbatical from writing about sex and parenting. Now that I have semi-retired is there anyone out there who wants to write about used underwear?

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Half-assed free ways to promote your blog posts

Just because I know 20 ways to promote a blog post doesn’t mean I promote my blog post 20 ways. It is a big huge blogging world out there and it can be hard to find your audience if you are a half-assed blogger. Here is a numbered list (because the blog gods like them) to work with if you are motivated, organized, and patient. My blog is a self hosted WordPress blog. Some of these things work only for WordPress. Some work everywhere. Some may work nowhere.

Low Hanging Fruit (Easy)

  1. Stumble thumbs up your own post. I do this 100% of the time. SU is my third biggest referrer and the absolute easiest thing I do. I also make sure I thumbs up pages that I like in the world outside of my blog. Then SU thinks I am useful. I have my stumble bar open all the time. I don’t have many followers and I still get clicks on my posts.
  2. Have each blog post pushed to your Facebook Page. The Facebook WordPress plug in does this for me. I don’t remember angsting over setting it up so it must have been super simple. Facebook is my second biggest referrer.
  3. Share that Facebook post onto your own timeline. AFTER you have clicked through to the post. Facebook math penalizes promotion that happen without link follows. I don’t know how they know or why they care but they do and they do.
  4. Tweet your blog post from within your blog. I have tried lots of social share buttons. None seems to work better than the other. Right now I am running Ultimate Social Deux. Because it sounds fancy and, like, the best.  Feel free to do this every day for a while.Those twitter feeds can handle repeat tweets. Also use hashtags like the ones in this article. My favorite hashtag #amnotwriting. It hasn’t caught on yet though. Want to follow me?
  5. Share your post on Linked In. Try to skip the ones with swear words and drug use if you might someday be using linked in for professional reasons. I hear people do that. Linked in is pretty low on my click back list. But then again I only share the posts without swears so that limits a whole bunch of what I write. Want to link up?
  6. Share your blog on G+. I share to the public. It is less effective than Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Facebook. and Reddit. It is easy though. Particularly because I do this through my Buffer dashboard. What is buffer? I will tell you about this at the end. So keep on reading.
  7. Share your post on reddit. It is easy because there is a reddit button to add to your browser. It is difficult because readers there are intense. You need to select the correct subreddit or people will tear you a new one. I posted a sex post on the wtf subreddit. My post was called Fuck your husband. It seemed like a fit. IT WAS NOT A FIT. They let me know. In fact they let me know so clearly that I have started a new account just today.  That said it does send readers over even if they are an angry sort.

Takes Set Up but is free (Medium)

  1. Share your blog on Medium. I started. Then I stopped. Now I am going to start again. I plan to post only my posts that feel literary or are about writing. I love the clean look and unlike all of the other cluttery content sources out there my feed is unspoiled and of great interest. Here I am.
  2. Flip your blog onto a flipboard magazine. I have a magazine for my blogposts and then topic magazines so I flip each post twice. Or I theoretically do. I often forget to go back and re-flip. I am very new at using flipboard so I can’t give a huge review but I can say it is better than google plus. Which is praising with faint damn. Want to follow me?
  3. Share your post on IG. This is frustrating to me because you are supposed to use all 30 of your hastags #writer, #blogger #parenting #parentsofinstagram #petsofinstagram #someotherthingsofinstagram AND people have to click to your bio to see the post. This annoys me. So I pretty much just take pictures of flowers and cars an small dogs. Zero of my traffic comes from here. Follow me if you like cats, dogs, flowers, cars and architecture. Oh, and graffiti. Also food. If you like none of those you are obviously some sort of heathen.
  4. Pin your blog onto Pinterest. Elena is the expert at maximizing pinning strategy. I pay for someone to design my pins and Tailwind to pin the shit out of them. See below.
  5. Share your blog on Bloglovin’ I have an account. I try to follow people in my niche. I usually forget it.
  6. Share your blog on Blogher. This takes bios and copies and pastes. It does send some traffic back. In 6 months I had 233 click backs from the few posts that I shared. That said I stopped doing it. Like so many things it might have been a slow climb to actual effective promotion but there are only so many hours in the day.
  7. Add click to tweet boxes to your posts. Click on them. I use Easy Click to Tweet Boxes by Cheeky Apps. (Not an affiliate link. That would be difficult to set up.) I do this less than 10% of the time. I don’t track its efficacy. Try to remember to add your twitter handle in your click to tweet box. [Tweet theme=”basic-white”]Add click to tweet boxes to your posts. Click on them. via @annawritesstuff[/Tweet] Classic. It is not working. I’ll leave it here to remind us of the real life of blog promotion. Maybe I will update the plug in.
  8. Share your blog on Facebook Group Boards. Before you click on over you need to be ready to read, comment and share other people’s posts. This is the honor system and there is no honor in pasting your link and flying out of there. Here are my top three group boards. 1. 2. 3.
  9. Share your post on Triberr. I set this up. I never went back.

Takes Set up (maybe) and money (Hard)

  1. Pinterest (the way I do it.) Make a custom pin for each post. I have a blog board. Then I have topic boards. Then I have many group boards. I share each pin at least 25 times using Tailwind. I set intervals so I don’t share the pin in a spammy way. I also pay someone to make my pins. As you can see in the last 6 months Pinterest has been my biggest referrer. If you want to include all of the UK, NZ and other international Pinterest boards you will be even more impressed.
  2. Promote your post on other blogs. I have paid two bloggers to link back to my work. It has cost 1.38/day. I earn $3.52 a day.
  3. Scoop.it  I have never tried it. I have a friend who loves it. Figured I’d throw it in here. For it to work you need to upgrade from the free trial. Let me know if any of you love it.
  4. BUFFER. Some of you love Hootsuite, some of you love co-scheduler, some of you love Edward, some of you love buffer and some of you are drowning in social media. I pay for buffer and use it for the facebook groups I admin, the middle school page I run (which I mix up and Gary helps set me straight) and all of my various twitter, linked in, google plus IG, etc etc etc. Not only can I share my post with a single click but I can schedule and re-post popular posts as well as get analytics. I would be even more grumpy without buffer.

So that is that.This list of ways to promote your blog is exhausting if not exhaustive.  [Tweet theme=”basic-white”]This list of ways to promote your blog is exhausting if not exhaustive via @annawritesstuff. [/Tweet] (Nope. still not working). I am going to use every one of these methods to promote this post. HA. I will use a few of them. Do me a favor…tell me how you got to this post, and add on your own blog promotion tips. Particularly if they are free and easy.

Sharenting…what we are saying about our kids online.

My livelihood depends on me sharing secrets. Loyal readers know my bra size, that I cheated on my first husband, and the brand of pill that I take for my mental illness. The details, often intimate, that I share on my blog and in articles are a part of the stories that I tell.

My most popular posts are about parenting.

Steve and I have a free range parenting style that I call “lazy.” My writing is personal narrative, so even when I am creating a “listicle” for an outside website I tell stories about my family. Our fights, our loneliness, and our laziness illustrate my lists. More often the stories are the entire story. There are things I filter. Not many, but I avoid references to particular penises and re-telling embarrassing moments between my sons’ and their friends. (my trick for spelling embarrassing correctly? There is an ass in it) For the most part I treat outside characters obliquely.

Yet I do not finesse my boys. They are alive in this blog with the way they loathe flash mobs and love socks.  As every parent knows children offer us a new lens through which to view our world. Their questions and observations challenge long held beliefs. Their interactions with each other make us explore nature versus nurture. Their arms around our necks and spat out “shut up pleases” make us think about our own parents and our own childhoods. Their jokes make us laugh like no others. So they are of me and in me and all over these virtual pages…and I’m not sure how to quit that.

But I need to.

Late in December I learned that some of Leo’s online friends were reading my blog. The how and the why are both interesting (because really, why) but more urgent was the reality of Leo’s life being laid bare. We had taught him never to share his last name (clearly that ship had sailed somehow) or give his home city. Yet I had given them that and so much more. Pictures of his school, stories of his sadness, the ways in which I failed him. I provided both access and ammunition. When I thought about the impact of my writing it was mostly for Steve. Our sex life is public knowledge. I figured that might embarrass the boys, but it seemed really only Steve had a say. And he said yes. (Like, all the time)  Sometimes I imagined the boys reading the blog and then laughed at myself. What tween wants to hear what his/her mother has to say. Or teen. Or twentysomething. It felt safe. Ish.

For most people sharenting is telling a few stories over coffee, or posting naked baby pictures. My writing is over-sharenting. At least once you bring my ten year old’s friends into the picture. His skype chat is filled with links to the blog…friends telling him what they know about him. So much for online privacy.

So I asked the boys whether or not I could write about them. And told them I would be writing about the conversation. They were quick to see the flaw in this. “I can’t tell you what not to write about and have you write about it.” Right. So we had a conversation that I won’t write about.

My take away was that no one was clear about what I should and shouldn’t say. I gave some examples of stories that I thought they wouldn’t want me to share…and I can’t share them here. For the next week I kept at it. ‘What about this, can I write about this?” The pattern began to emerge. “Sure” said Oliver. “No” said Leo just as quickly. Oliver would shrug and I would try to tease out a reason for Leo’s hesitance so that I could create workable guidelines. The line seemed to keep moving.

For a few weeks now I have only been able to write about the dog. He doesn’t have a say. Yesterday we had a conversation about what being “cool” meant. It was excellent. It was great blog material…and it is off limits. In yet another effort to clarify my boundaries I asked the boys.” Can I write about this?” “No.” Said Leo. “You can always write about me” said Oliver. “You can do anything with me” he continued in his amiable way. (This from the boy who defined cool as “not trying to make other people like you”.)

“Wait.” said his brother. “Can I do anything with you?”

“What about this…this last part…can I write about this?”

“Of course” he answered with an evil grin. “You can always write about me taking down Ollie.”

How about you? What is your policy on sharenting?



#amnotwriting what about you?

This is a rant for my blogging buddies. The rest of you might want to tune back in when I am writing about bras, or kids, or drugs.

I made myself a desk.

First Steve and I took everything out of the office. The office is a 10×10 room that is clown car full of games and homework and beer posters and clay figures and dead plants. It is home to 6 mismatched chairs and all of the electronics that are somewhere between life and death. (Much closer to death). It has bank statements and tax returns and beer advocate magazines and that office toy with the clicking balls. (Wow does that sound so wrong.) Plus the pencils and sharpies and dead pens. So many of those. For one hour it had none of those things and instead it looked all of its 100 square feet. It was fantastic. So then we returned just the stuff we needed and tried not to look at the disaster we made of our dining room table.

We achieved the impossible. In a corner I have now have a desk.

So obviously I can no longer write.

I am sitting here and trying. This is my fourth attempt at a post this morning. I tried to explore Oliver’s question of whether it is good to be humble but I got tangled into whether imaging that you can determine humility immediately bands you as un-humble. I also tried to write about my toes but those were even more boring than the navel I gaze into so regularly in this blog. Then I wanted to write about having sex when you don’t want to. But I didn’t want to. So here I am writing about not writing.

In the opposing corner of the office Steve works at his standing desk. His rapid keystrokes are taunting me. Clack click clack is the sound of stuff getting done. It is not even as passive as that tense. Steve himself is getting stuff done. Every once in a while he slurps his coffee and gives a sigh of satisfaction. Much more frequently he gives a gigantic sniff. How have I never noticed how much my husband sniffs? So much. So many sniffs. I’m amazed that he still has a nose on his face given the sniffing. It might sound as though I am exaggerating but those of you who write, or try to write know what I mean. Sniffing is the worst. Or whatever your version of sniffing is.

However writing is non negotiable so I pause on the blog and open up a new word doc. Not actually word but Pages because I am all apple but using the word Word seems more inclusive. But less productive. A word is not so impressive. A page is something. But a page comes about one word at a time.

See that? See above right there? That is the sort of shit that is in my word doc. Or Pages. AAAAAARGH.

Usually I start my morning checking in on my “writers” list on twitter. In the past I have enjoyed reading other blogs and make a point to comment and share. Yet recently I have slipped away from social media because it is full of links to articles and posts and books. I try to feel pure happiness for my online friends but instead other people’s success only highlights my lack of words. And pages. Twitter is filled with the hashtag #amwriting. I feel double judgement when I see that hashtag. 1. You #arenotwriting when you are tweeting. 2. I #amnotwriting while I am reading your tweet. Instead I #amjudging.

Oh my god. I thought Steve’s sniffing was bad but know he is yell-talking about some sort of super secret chip. Which is not made of potato. I’m feeling a bit pessimistic about my desk/corner/writing set up. “They need to have versions of these modules that can support leaded columns like the old ceramic parts.” I am trying not to listen but his volume is too loud. Its like when I drive the kids in the car with friends and they can’t keep themselves from yelling. There have been times when I reach for the volume on the dash board to try to turn them down. It doesn’t work.

So I #amjudging my work and lack thereof, Steve’s work, and my friends’ success.

I will say this.

At least I am getting a lot more done than these two.


I might have to get myself some of these. Sniff.

What about you? Are you writing?





In Denver there is sunshine and crunchy leaves. We have candy for breakfast and hot tea in thick mugs at night. Tomorrow we celebrate 13 years of marriage with dinner in a renowned restaurant. I will see a friends play and watch Oliver eat pizza to celebrate the end of his brother’s soccer season. We will canvass to get out the vote and watch the election returns with popcorn on the big bed. Still the kids tumble past blooming roses wearing shorts to school but soon there will be sweaters.

We will host a close friend on a stop of her families’ year long road trip. We will take them to museums and parks and bakeries. We will issue humble brags about how we have one car. We will head to LA to battle traffic and be tourists.  Steve will have a work trip and the boys and I will eat dinner with our fingers while reading Harry Potter. When it is the four of us their will be games in front of the fire. We dig our toes into the white sand of the Gulf of Mexico and brave Thanksgiving airport misery to visit my mom and her siblings for turkey and pifecta in NYC. We will go to Central Park and hunt Pokemon. When we get home we will only have a thin wisp of November left. Not really much at all. Just enough to squeeze in a lunch outdoors where 95% of our conversation is expressing amazement about the Denver weather.

November…It looks good, it sounds good, it even smells good…it just doesn’t deliver good work time.

It’s early to write off a whole month of writing but I think I am up for the challenge. I am going to be too busy. Things are going to be too fragmented. I am going to host and guest and fly and drive. I am going to meet and eat and probably something like greet as well. Whatever these things are they will get in the way of my mornings with my computer. I know they will.

I am telling myself that my life is too full to write but I have a sneaking suspicion that writing has left me before I left it.

Steve has tinnitus. The ringing in his ears is a result of hearing loss. His brain is missing out on sounds, so it creates its own. He says it sucks. This is what my brain is doing as well. Where I usually have opening sentences and strands of quotes that I can grab hold of and ride to some sort of story I instead have PTSA websites and grocery lists. It is my own version of ringing, and it too is pretty damn annoying.

November is telling me No. Or I am telling November no. Neither of us are admitting that the words left before the calendar changed.

It is easier to blame the on No-vember.

You might not see me around here for a while. I will be in California and Florida and New York. I will be in the middle school cafeteria. I will be ringing doorbells and building websites. I will being doing everything except writing.

See you in December. I hear that is a great month for words.



The business end of blogging

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-9-30-28-am(Almost) every morning I write. I credit my need to write to my mother who made me keep a journal. Every night I had to sit with my bound book for 15 minutes. Roughly 87% of my entries were about how much I loathed keeping a journal. The rest were poems written to my cat. For a brief period of time I wrote about Nate Archibald, the Celtics point guard with the nickname Tiny who made his way cheerfully through the courts with the giants. He was my guy. Although he probably enjoyed his paycheck he ran around the court like a kid (and not just because of his stature) he was there for the pleasure of the game, not the business end of basketball.

Last September I started a big project. Called Slut: Spit AND Swallow it was the story of my adolescence juxtaposed with my current life. It was about sex for sure, but also mental illness and the work that it took to feel that I was not simply some giant hole to be plugged. Forgive the imagery but those of you who know the emptiness of depression will know exactly what I mean. As time went on the simple weave of past and present became a snarl. I knew the narrator of my past would be acerbic and pretty unsympathetic but I had hope that my current voice would be more appealing. Sadly this was not so.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-9-31-33-amI have blogged for five years. It started just like journal entries. The posts were like this one, completely stream of consciousness. If I go back and read them I can always find a line or two I love but they were really a brain dump rather than a discrete piece of writing. When I started writing for other websites I tightened things up a bit. It took a little more time and thought and I devoted less of my word count to my bigger project and more to my individual posts.

At around the time that I virtually shelved Slut I had a blog post go viral. It was never my favorite post, but at least the headline worked because I had 250,000 views in 5 weeks. Feeling that blogging wasn’t “enough” I looked back through my traffic over the past two years and realized that my parenting posts were garnering more attention than my posts about sex. So I began gathering my thoughts and sketching out an idea for a large scale parenting piece.

But something got in the way…the business of blogging.

I work for 4 hours a day. Often I only write 4 days a week. Recently I have started tracking my time. The results are uninspired. I spend 2 full hours on social media promoting my work and the work of a small handful of friends.  I schedule pins and tweets and I flip and stumble.  Flip and stumble. If those names don’t say it all I don’t know what does. There are stumble groups on google+ and twitter groups on Facebook. There are blogging groups and social share threads. There are group Pinterest boards and Pinterest tribes.To pull my weight in the share groups I have to read and comment on dozens of blogs. Outside of my small regular groups I pop in to other share threads. Thats the crummy grammar posts. There are literally thousands of sentences with the word literally. I an greeted with so many exclamation points!!!!!  !

It is tiring. It also makes me feel like a sell out sharing posts that I don’t like or care about. (BSlovers this is not you, I love you.)

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-9-16-03-amThere is also the time I put into optimizing my site, finding tags, creating link backs, and labeling images with whatever keyword I have chosen that rarely works for my wordy posts. The WordPress SEO plugin wants posts to be at the readability level of a fifth grader. I pretty much never get there. Not to be bragadocious but I have the biggest vocabulation. Which means that my readability needs improvement.

I try to make sense of the cents. Since last September I have earned roughly $6,416.10 on affiliate links  within my blog and re-posting my articles on other sites. If I roughly calculate my hourly rate it comes to $13 an hour. Which I guess is above the minimum wage. (Although it shouldn’t be.) Now I need to back out expenses. I pay $35/month for buffer + tailwind, applications that help schedule my social media so I am not just a storm of shares about comfortable shoes. I spend around $20 a month on graphic design and $35 dollars a month on hosting the site. Let’s leave out the cost of the tea and tips at my coffee shop office. Now my hourly rate is an impressive $11.11. (Pause to make a wish.)

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-9-32-24-amI know I have never done this for the money. (Which becomes even more clear when I look at the dollars and cents). I used to think I was motivated by the conversation. I felt privileged to be able to share details about depression and sex and parenting. I loved to hear that I was striking a chord with readers, even when it was dissonant. I wanted to build traffic and gain an audience. I imagined even more spirited conversation.  I am not sure about that anymore. When my lazy parenting post gathered momentum it really didn’t shift MY momentum at all. The comments were a mix of “right on” and “you suck.” Which was what I thought I wanted. As it turns out comments on posts that I wrote with SEO in mind and click bait headlines are not posts I am interested in talking about. They are pieces that came about because of the business end of blogging. As we all know, the business end is rarely better.

Chatting with a friend who has made a legitimate career of blogging we talk about the grind. She has taken three weeks away and realized that the business end of things has brought her far from herself.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-9-36-16-amShe sent me the image of her profile for some social media site.( I can’t even tell which one it is that’s how many we need to deal with.) She called it “boring, lame, and promotional.” I can promise you she is none of those things in real life. Yet the business of blogging makes us robotic.  She explains that she has let her online persona take top billing. She manages three sites and has managed to shelve her self in the process. She tells me she might change her profile to “doesn’t give a shit.” I know which description would make me want to click through and read more.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-9-38-47-amI have never been one to avoid swearing in social media profiles. Or in life. Lately I have been cursing top ten lists and fear based headlines. I have been swearing at SEO and throwing the F bomb around Facebook. (Which then edits my writing more than I do.)

So I am going back to my roots. To my journal. To celebrate brain dumps. To eschew editing. To channeling Nate Archibald and focus on the joy in writing rather than the business end.

Here are things I didn’t put into this post. A click to tweet link. A prompt at the end to try to get you to comment. A focus keyword. A numbered list.  Or time editing.

How to get offered a sponsored post

I am about as capable of pitching as this toy is at fixing an engine.
I am about as capable of pitching as this toy is at fixing an engine.

If strike through was allowed in titles this post would be called: How not to get offered a sponsored post again.

It’s pretty simple. Just say no.

People have pitched me to pitch them. I have been asked to write about toys and trips and books and strange powder that you put in hair to make it look less thin. (I did try this product but ended up with weird color on my fingertips and an itchy scalp.) I am supposed to tell you to buy beautiful purple make up bags. I have found that they work well for pencils. If you don’t mind seeing just the tip sticking through the zipper.

So I have said no. Often before trying the product. Always afterwards. The things I pitch are things I found on my own. My top ten products are things I use all the freaking time. What follows are affiliate links that may or may not earn me $16.10.

  1. Ginger Peach Tea
  2. Tinted sunscreen that my MD says will save my life (spf 40 and light as a latte (texture not tint))
  3. That same super expensive knife
  4. Apples to Apples Junior
  5. Vicki’s parenting book
  6. Clogs clogs clogs (clogs)
  7. Every Body Soap (look at two bathroom products making the list…thats weird)
  8. The best vibrator (I don’t even make money on this link..but I want to help you out)
  9. Coconut Oil (good for body parts, furniture polish and cooking. what else do you need?)
  10. This house book that I never put away. (Which totally works with  the theme by the way)

Resisting the pitch pitch changes today. I am finally allowing myself to be paid for my opinion. Assuming you think being paid in food counts. Which it totally does.

There might be soup.
There might be soup.

I am headed to a Kosher Deli for a free lunch. It is possible (likely) that I was invited as an eater not a blogger and I am FINE with that. I have many decades of eating experience, and not to be braggadilicious but I can tell what is delicious. Also- as a proud culinary jew I know my way around a matzoh ball. Or at least through it.

I’ll let you know tomorrow how it goes. I should be upright by then.

Procrastination Concrastination

I am an expert on my own procrastination. When I can’t write essays I write about not writing. I am not alone in this.

Somewhere in that sidebar over there is a little field that says “ask me anything.” It moves around a bit as one article or another tells me pinterest should be on top or social share buttons are most important but it is always there. I put it up there instead of the “contact me” form. I am notoriously terrible at listening to voice mails. But written questions I tend to answer.

To my great pleasure it became an easy source of job opportunities.

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I found that it (slowly) filled with strong responses to the blog. Some were grateful for my honesty.

Many were damning. And then apologetic.

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One even threatened my children. After that I dreaded reading them. Yet the prompt stayed up there (or over there if it has been pushed down.)


Earlier this week I received the following question.

I was quite pleased to receive it because it was neither about my children nor my underwear. Also it seemed to play in my head with a British accent. Which is always quite lovely.

I’ve been enjoying your article on procrastination, perfectionism and depression. I am in the final year of a journalism degree at The University of Sunderland, UK, and as part of my dissertation I am researching ‘hidden’ symptoms of anxiety and depression disorders – procrastination very much involved. I was wondering if I might ask you a couple of follow-up questions to your article, as part of my research?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Kindest regards,


The logical thing to do would be to sit on this message for a week or more…but I don’t like to be predictable so I answered him RIGHT AWAY. I took some time composing my response so he knew that I was a serious individual capable of adding my voice and perspective to important research.
Sure. Just send the questions and the due date. 😉
I even included the winky face. I want you to note that a. I have disabled yellow emoticons on my phones keyboard keeping me hip and old school.  And b. there is no other way to ask about due dates on a dissertation regarding procrastination without a jolly self deprecating wink. (yes, something can be both jolly and self deprecating see above wink.)
Here is how he responded:
Whilst not trying to prove this either way in my dissertation, I am discussing whether procrastination itself is a symptom of anxiety, depression, or both – do you think it fits more as a symptom of one or the other (or both, or something else) and why?
As somebody who spends a great deal of time writing, so you have any techniques you adopt to avoid or recognise procrastination (and if so, what are they)?
You describe the arrival of the ‘panic monster’ – have you ever found that you thrive on this frantic mindset, and if so, would you say that sometimes procrastination might even pay off?
Have you ever found, during a period of procrastination, that your mind wanders to the ‘what if’s’ of a given situation, and starts to project possible, even far-fetched outcomes of doing/not doing what you’re supposed too? I’m talking here about projection (not the psychic, telekinetic kind!). Do you think projection is linked to procrastination, or is in itself a separate anxiety or depression based symptom (or, again, both.)?

Interesting questions right? But most importantly…no due date. Not one at all. I haven’t had a due date in life since the birth of my boys. Both of which I ignored. (The due dates not the boys) (Well not all of the time.)

How would I handle this? Would I possibly ask a SECOND time for the due date? Ha! Would I compose a thoughtful response right away? Ha HA! Would I….

Before I could even come up with a third option (which most certainly would not include waiting some super long amount of time until the work and worry of answering a few questions loomed large) he seemed to have caught his error.

Additional –  in response to query re: due date – if you could respond before the end of the working week that would be wonderful. My deadline is a little later, but that would give me time to draft and redraft (and procrastinate!) and finalise my paper. Thanks again,

Damn. But again with the s instead of the z. How British. Doesn’t finalising something sound lovely and possible whilst finalizing it sounds horrid? In any case I had until Friday. My flight was due to arrive in Denver Thursday at 1am. Which technically is already Friday but you know, lets call it Thursday. So I would arrive home by 2:30 and then sleep a while. Less than I wanted probably and then give myself an excuse to drive to the coffee shop and then banter with the cat sitting barista and then write this guy. It would be done by early afternoon which, if we didn’t take into account time differences, would give him plenty of time to procrastinate. Done. You might note that I probably could have DONE the work in the time I took planning WHEN to do the work. If you find that interesting you are not a procrastinator. That is procrastinating 101. So basic.

So the next day I woke up in full bitch mode because it was a travel day and everyone knows that a snappish family member is necessary if you don’t want to miss a flight. I barked orders about laundry ignoring all the shit I brag about about letting my kids do things on their own. I had really poor sex with my husband. To my credit this at least was following my own advice. Then I sulked through a breakfast with a friend while my cold kept me from having the best bloody mary in the world. I actually yelled at her about yoga pants. Yelled. She is the kind of friend I can yell at and she will laugh. Which she did. So then I did. So then I coughed because I had a cold (which I think I forgot to complain about already.) If you are noticing that I am bossing around my family while I am having brunch you are right. But I didn’t have the bloody mary so that is suffering ENOUGH.

So I dropped the kids at the playground and as I drove down my least favorite street in Vermont telling myself how naive I had been about its bad-ness (I now live 2 blocks from Colorado BLVD which could eat Shelburne Rd for breakfast) I tried to chill out. What was upsetting me? The cold? The travel (tin can, how do you stay in the sky) the sluggish children? no…it was answering the questions for that British guy. He makes it seems like such a little thing it can fit in an email but instead he wants me to come to some sort of understanding that has eluded me for 25 years and write it up for him by Friday! The nerve. Also- could I dig out my college journal, cause all of that stuff is in there. I’m pretty sure I can’t write at all on this topic without my original source material. There it is folks. I have created from my very own imagination an insurmountable task. I have now fixated on finding this journal which if it still has physical form is in neither of the two states I will be in between now and Friday. So that is that really. Done. Also, by the way, it doesn’t really matter if I answer these questions. I’m sure this British guy wrote to like 75 bloggers on this topic. Maybe it is all just a numbers game. Maybe he is tracking how many people respond to his query and that in fact is the data he wants. Not my words. So I could do nothing and be as good a data point as if I wrote answers. In fact it might even help prove his hypothesis (which although he pretends he doesn’t share it anyone who reads his email can see that he DOES think procrastination is a hidden side effect of depression/anxiety.)

So I’ll do nothing. That’ll be fine.Or maybe not. What if it isn’t fine. Maybe I can find someone else to write it for me. Someone who is approximately like me so he can have his quotes or whatever but I don’t have to provide them. That would be good. I’m sure I can find someone, explain the situation, have them write a response that would be similar to but better written than mine and let it go at that. Hmmm…let me make a list of writers who have some sort of procrastination issues.

My list includes every writer who isn’t Steven King.

Now I need to narrow the list to writers who I could access before friday. This is a smaller list, but somewhere in this list is my savior so it will still work.

At about this time Steve arrives to return a car we borrowed for our two weeks in Vermont. I hurry up. He won’t be much more than 5 minutes and I need to hit on a solution of who can do this other than me. Wait, what about Steve himself? He could sit at the computer and write something. Then I could edit it. Editing is much easier than writing (please ignore the fact that I never edit this blog- that does not contradict my statement, because I don’t edit anything I obviously know for a fact that editing is easier.) Steve is not depressed, does not procrastinate and is not a writer. But he MARRIED one. Thats enough to drag him into this quicksand with me obviously.

But no, this whole line of thinking has to stop because Steve is here to say that our flight got cancelled and we are flying from VT to Denver Friday. Fuck. a. I wasted half a day of being a bitch and now I might not have enough bitchiness left to get my family safely on the plane. b. now I couldn’t write back to this guy on Friday.

So I guess that means I can’t respond at all. Phew. That’s settled.

Except. Maybe I could do it Thursday.

Today is Thursday.

I could respond to him Thursday.

AKA Today.

This is a frightening word to the procrastinator. It is the second most frightening word. The worst?


A brief word about now. It is always now. always. See it follow you as you read this sentence. Now. Now. Now. It sounds sort of like a gun shot, doesn’t it?

So if you dread now, if now is scary, then that is not ideal.

I guess it is time to answer his questions. But see, I used the time to write about how it was time. So now there is no time. I need to have a re-do on the breakfast. This time I will not yell at my friend. This time I might have the bloody Mary. In fact if I think about it…skipping the bloody mary might have been the problem all along.


I went ahead and answered him. If you are interested here it is. I can already think of other things to say or things to say in other ways but the best way to beat procrastination is to just get working. So I did.

Procrastination Responses

Whilst not trying to prove this either way in my dissertation, I am discussing whether procrastination itself is a symptom of anxiety, depression, or both – do you think it fits more as a symptom of one or the other (or both, or something else) and why?

My gut says that procrastination and depression and anxiety are neither causes nor symptoms of each other but rather fruits of the same sad tree. I’d like to propose a branch of perfectionism which seems to be tangled together with at least the two that I have a lifetime of experience with…procrastination and depression.

Comparing the sensation of depression and procrastination makes them seem far from each other on the spectrum of suffering. When I am in the midst of a depressive episode I feel detached and numb. Nothing seems to have meaning or significance. Procrastination feels like the opposite. The job to do seems to have tremendous importance that dwarfs all reason. It is so important that I can’t get my mind or arms around it. I let it loom over me and that in itself makes it larger still. The similarity between the experience is that both take me away from normal function of life. When I am depressed I am doing very little. When I am procrastinating I am doing many things, just not one particular thing. I find both states to be exhausting. Neither my brain nor my body is working at a healthy sustainable speed, in one case too slow and in the other too fast.

I am not in treatment for anxiety, but my depressive tendencies come with a manic component as a result of my medication. My doctor and I do a lot of psychopharmecudical and therapeutic work trying to turn down the volume on the mania without dampening my ability to function on the lower end of my moods. When a project enters into my procrastination queue my response recalls the feeling of uncontrolled mania. Whatever I am focusing on at the moment is too important to look away from. With procrastination that leaves the “job” unattended. With mania that leaves all other parts of life out there as “other.”

When I was school aged I suffered from perfectionism. I loved spelling tests and multiplication tables because there were finite ways to be right, and also finite ways to fail. Outside of structured school work I floated in a sea of possibilities. Each essay, autobiography, diorama held the likelihood of being terrible. And by terrible I mean not the best. And by likelihood I mean guarantee. In an effort to avoid the feeling of producing something terrible (and at that stage each piece of work that I produced felt like a piece of my self out there in the world being judged) I would avoid it altogether. Then it would be too late. There would be too little time. So the reason for low quality work came from circumstance not authorship.

As somebody who spends a great deal of time writing, so you have any techniques you adopt to avoid or recognise procrastination (and if so, what are they)?

It doesn’t take much for me to recognize procrastination. If anyone (including me) has expectations for some physical output of quality (article, sewn pillow, tax report) my first line of defense is to procrastinate. I have three ways to deal with this. One is the technique of diving in. The other is living a life with few external deadlines, and the last and most effective one is realizing that my work product is not the same as my heart or my head.

Diving in. I can’t set a time to write a particular article. If I say I will write on Friday my entire week between then and Friday becomes clogged with worry about Friday. What I do do is set aside blocks of work time every morning. I work then. I don’t expect to work at other times. So when I get an idea or assignment I start it the very next available work block. No tip toes. Just dive in. Then I have to keep swimming. If I get out of the water patting myself on the back at my “progress” I might as well not have started. So I keep swimming. There is a big and obvious downside to this. Everything I attempt needs to be broken into pieces small enough to be done between 9am-11:30 am. This (amongst other reasons) is why I am not a surgeon, and why if I ever publish a book it will not be a beautiful narrative but broken observations

Choosing my battles. I am lucky to get to choose my work. I do not need to show up every day and punch a time card (although occasionally in my least clear headed times I imagine that might be a relief). I can say no to assignments that involve subjects that don’t engage me. And I can afford to lose jobs if I miss deadlines. For the most part I fit deadlines into the regular rhythm of my life. But it doesn’t last long. I have abandoned my weekly writing for websites. I can create a myriad of reasons, but the bottom line is my creativity is crushed by the regular expectation of an editor with space to fill. So I have very few deadlines in my life. We have family meeting Mondays at 6:30. Most of the time I make it.

That essay is not me. It took a long time to realize that my perfectionism (which I feel is the root of my procrastination) derives from the idea that any piece of work of mine that exists needs to reflect all of my values and my value. That is a huge expectation to have. Too huge for a second grader. Too huge for an essay. Once I realized that things could suck and I would live I made some progress. Not only did it improve the feeling of drowning while trying to work but it also improved the work itself. It turns out trying to reference everything on the planet and be relevant to everyone is impossible. Saying one thing to one person was easier. Then if other people are interested I might say something else some other time. And even if I end up saying lots of things to lots of people gathering them all together does still not make them me. So its OK if those things suck. Just like me they will suck sometimes and not others.

You describe the arrival of the ‘panic monster’ – have you ever found that you thrive on this frantic mindset, and if so, would you say that sometimes procrastination might even pay off?

The panic monster (as I referenced in my original post) is not my creation even if he does keep me company. He is a concept and drawing that borrow from Tim Urban of the blog Wait But Why. I thrive on his arrival in the sense that I would NEVER DO ANYTHING if I am in procrastination mode and he didn’t arrive. I need to be scared to get going. It is a little different when it is depression rather than procrastination. Here the monster is carrying my life preserver. I have had to teach myself not to like the frantic mindset. It has taken a while to realize that it is simply the flip side of my depression and even though I feel supercharged and powerful I am neither. When I am down I am almost literally so. I have compared depression to drowning from the inside out or being buried not so alive. Often when I emerge from that state I fly too high. Being able to breathe and see and hear is so strong that I feel untouchable. The trick is finding the middle of it all. For a long time I felt that I needed that fear to work at all. Now I have realized that I can live and work between the ups and the downs. It is tough to remember and practice it, but it happens sometimes. I don’t think that procrastination has ever paid off. There is not a single case where the work that I produced couldn’t have been better researched or edited if I didn’t spend 90% of my work time finding ways not to work.

Have you ever found, during a period of procrastination, that your mind wanders to the ‘what if’s’ of a given situation, and starts to project possible, even far-fetched outcomes of doing/not doing what you’re supposed too? I’m talking here about projection (not the psychic, telekinetic kind!).

I had an ongoing joke with my college roommates. This was in the days before cell phones when five of us shared a phone in our suite. Before I would answer the phone (which I would always do because-hey-procrastination) I would call out. “Its your econ professor he is calling to say stop studying he decided just to give you an A on the exam.” Or “Hey Debi don’t write that semiotics paper- your professor has decided it is all a construct so everyone gets an A.” It was a running joke but a piece of me always believed that if I suffered long enough on one project I would end up with an instant A on another. In graduate school my father got sick and I commuted back and forth for 4 hours twice a week between school, work and his bedside. I ended up taking an incomplete that term from a professor who had appreciated my work the semester before. I met with him to go over what his expectation were to turn my “I” to an “A” (perfectionism again) He told me he would email his assignments. The next day I received his email. It said: Don’t bother doing anymore work, I have given you an A for the semester and the year. So that one came true.

Do you think projection is linked to procrastination, or is in itself a separate anxiety or depression based symptom (or, again, both.)?

Is there a way to feel anxious without projecting a negative outcome? I really don’t know. I don’t live in the world of anxiety the way I do procrastination and depression. In the depths of my depression there is no projection at all. Nothing. Procrastination requires a lot of thinking to get started. Meaning if you think the procrastination will start…not the work. If I just get going on an assignment I rarely imagine either great or horrible results from the work. If I am invested in the outcome I am much more likely to procrastinate. Procrastination is caring…too much.




Anna Rosenblum Palmer egomaniac.
Me, Me, Me

When Steve types my name into Facebook search it returns the result “Anna Rosenblum Palmer egomaniac”.

This upsets him.

But it doesn’t bother me. (See, that’s what an egomaniac would say). I spend almost every morning writing about myself. Then I often share what I wrote. At its best blogging allows readers to see the world through another person’s eyes. Sometimes they are enlightened by the differences in lifestyle and world view from their own. Sometimes they are comforted by the similarities to his/her own experiences and feelings. At its worst blogging is masturbatory and boring to anyone outside the author. I’d say this blog runs the whole spectrum. One thing that almost every blog as in common is the copious use of the word “I”.

It was during my second serious relationship that I realized that some people didn’t live their lives in the world of pronouns. I watched my boyfriend lean his curly head over tiny circuits and explain how they would come together to power the robotic knee he was helping to build. He was alive with the idea of these connections. The electricity from the circuit board lit him up more than our high school gossip. I knew that that was where his head and heart were meant to be. For a moment I saw my life as the 1x of an enormous microscope, and he was a magnification higher, looking into to systems that I barely knew existed.

I pictured it in the shape of a Hershey’s kiss with myself at the top  (that what an egomaniac would do) the micro world had his circuits and the way the body systems worked together, then beyond, unfathomable to me, were atoms and quarks. I realized how deep his understanding and interest was but decided to ignore it. I would stay where I was comfortable analyzing our relationship to death and think about the life of the person who would get the robotic knee.  Something my boyfriend had never considered.

It wasn’t long before I came face to face with the reverse of his micro world. My mother was a political theorist and studied democratic and other political systems. I knew this was her work life, but as I got older I realized this was also her life’s work. When I would talk about a particular problem in school she wasn’t as interested in the story or characteristics of the players but the general social workings of the school as a whole. When I began to realize the depth of my depression she would listen to me of course, but her main focus was on “experts” and what the overarching medical system might say, where my problems fit in a spectrum of issues. For me it was always about me. (an ego-maniac catch phrase) The particular trumped the general.

In college my friend and I rode for two hours in the back of a car while the two guys in front talked about the possibility of infinite solar systems. After quickly getting bored of their circular discussion I decided to count the pronouns in their conversation. In two hours they uttered 5 pronouns. All “he”. Each was in reference to research by scientists. The image of the Hershey’s kiss with me at the top morphed into an hourglass with me at the center (exactly where an egomaniac might live.) Below me were circuits and circulatory system, atoms and quarks. Above me were political systems and global trade agreements, the galaxy and the questions of humanity’s purpose.

I am in the middle of the hourglass. I live here with my husband and my family and my friends. I understand the world of pronouns where I learn and care about personal problems. When I talk about parenting philosophy I am referring to Steve’s and mine. When I talk about education I refer to the public school my boys attend. I think about the world and the carbon that it is composed of and the carbon that we spend…but not as frequently and without the same facility that I do when discussing a friend’s fears. It is the macro, the micro and me. I live in the center at the thinnest point of the hourglass where I can easily get my arms around it. As well as my head.

Over drinks I talked about my concept of an hour glass of magnification with friends. One made the astute observation that work life and personal life often required different levels of focus. At work he needs to understand a broad corporate culture. At home he focuses on family. Then his wife reminded him of his love for debate over foreign policy, a topic whose pronouns might be limited to us & them. He looked at her and nodded. He did like to discuss foreign policy. Probably more than he liked discussing each of our individual magnifications of life.

I see how my 1X perspective  can make me seem like an egomaniac. Yet I think it is more a function of how I best analyze the world. Starting with me and the people I know and moving in and out from there. The fact that I write about it is another issue. One that I would be happy to discuss with you individually.

What about you? Are you at a magnification of one? (This is not a question an egomaniac would ask.)

[PS- there was an entirely different post that I meant to write about how some people are comfortable (and might even celebrate) being disliked and others have never been disliked in their lives. Any thoughts you have on that before I write it up are welcome.]



More intimidating…empty bed or empty screen?

The longer you wait the harder it gets. Literally and figuratively. The expectations rise, as do the sexpectations.


It has been seven days since I produced any fresh new text. And three days since I have produced any fresh new sex. Both of these counts are significantly longer than average.

With each hour that passes I become more tense, and it becomes more difficult to produce anything.  Somehow the quickie, usually a low barrier for entry feels insufficient. The post most be meaningful and humorous. The acrobatics in bed numerous. This is tiring. Even to type about. In both areas performance anxiety creeps in where it rarely rears its head.

The solution to both problems is the same.

Forget the intricate weave of insight and intercourse. Let go of lingerie and lyrics. Ignore the verse and vigor. Lower that bar down to the floor.

Step 1. Write a shitty blog post.

Step 2. Have some crummy sex.

It is likely that one of these activities will exceed my expectations. At this point all signs say it will be the sex.

Get write to it. And right on it.