Daily, weekly, monthly, never—the blogging habit

The blogging habit: “habit” is the word that matters. If I don’t blog regularly, routinely, as an automatic habit, it’s not gonna happen. It’s easier to decide to blog weekly than to kid myself that I’m still a daily blogger.

Lockdown jolted the rhythm of life for most of us here. Every day in lockdown held a yawning void in place of regular events and spontaneous outings. So every day I did a wonky drawing and almost every day I blogged.

The benefits of a daily exercise like these surprised me. Never a lack of ideas. More a rush to grab an idea before it was displaced by the next one. Daily practice energises, inspires, professionalises, and strengthens you for more creative work. To quote Simon Sweetman, you become match fit. Terrific!

When lockdown ended in New Zealand, the rhythm of life gradually resumed. Now my days, weeks and months are studded with events large and small until, whoops, my blog entries became random. I’m also committed to a big editing job, doing a few pages every day. With this shift, this reversion to normality, comes random posting. And randomness weakens the blogging muscle.

Those outside commitments are precious and important. Like regular practice, they also energise and inspire me. How to find some balance? It ain’t easy! Maybe if I look back over the last week, that will give me some perspective.

A quick trip through last week

Last Monday: started packing for this week’s private concert in Nelson.

Cabin bag, tennis ball, book HOw To Be Old poems by Rachel McAlpine, and a pink iPad sleeve

Essential packing for a trip to Nelson this week for a small soiree

Tuesday: Capital Choir is rehearsing our wonderful song cycle based on New Zealand poems. Composer is Felicia Edgecombe. Previous choir members are returning especially for the occasion.

Old Webstock bag and book, Shaky Places, a song cycle of New Zealand poems for mixed voices, Music by Felicia Edgecombe

Ready to rehearse Shaky Places with Capital Choir. Bag to die for is vintage Webstock model.

Wednesday. Sacha Copland lent me a red dress for our dance to Autumn from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi. Yay! Now I can rehearse the scarf-wielding section properly.

Cat sniffing a red drress and orange scarf

Ursula examines my dance costume and grants her guarded approval for odour and autumn colour

Thursday. I launched Mary Cresswell’s book of poems, Body Politic, at Unity Books. It’s hard work preparing but we had a good time and launched her ecopoetry into the  world.

Rachel McAlpine listening, Mary Cresswell speaking into a microphone

Rachel listens to Mary Cresswell speaking about Mary’s book, Body Politic

Friday. I walked to Epuni Street to chat with Simon Sweetman for his podcast, Off the Tracks. Such a gorgeous street in Aro Valley!

Bright Yellow and violet houses on a green bank

Epuni Street in Aro Valley, Wellington: fantasy in yellow and red-violet

Saturday: I discover my book (of poems, for crying out loud) is listed among this week’s best-sellers for The Spinoff. Wow. I also discover the book has sold out and needs a second reprint, fast. What a nice problem to have.

TheSpinoff.co.nz best seller list. No.3 Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump; No. 4 How To Be Old by Rachel McAlpine

The Spinoff’s best seller list (Wellington) 31 July 2020 has How To Be Old (poems! by me!) straight after Too Much and Never Enough (non-fiction by Mary L. Trump)

But poems? A best seller? When I walk over Mt Victoria to Hataitai I wonder whether our semi-local aliens have been messing with people’s minds.

Alien abduction zone WARNING among trees

The aliens have been messing with our best seller lists

Lessons about the blogging habit from one week’s random events

What have I learned from this rushed exercise in weekly blogging—maybe:

  • when I’m in a pickle (in this case, not-blogging) doing something is always better than doing nothing
  • this week in my life there has been packing, singing, dancing, walking, and working—not a week of lockdown leisure but a week of many pleasures
  • my new book How To Be Old is not like my other books: something peculiar is going on here, but what? Selling out in a week? What’s the story, ETs? Are you conducting experiments on my book? If so please tell me what the secret is.


31 thoughts on “Daily, weekly, monthly, never—the blogging habit

  1. Congratulations, Rachel – best seller list!!

  2. bone&silver says:

    Congrats on selling out and needing to reprint! And congrats to your whole country for eliminating that virus :/ We are in trouble here in Australia… 🙁 G

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      So worrying: I just listened to our morning news. So difficult for everyone. And when do we see our Aussie kin again?

  3. Rachel, this is so fantastic to read all the way over here in Canada! I’m so very happy to see you on that bestseller list…What a fantastic accomplishment! You give me the oomph to re-start my focus here and just do it.

    You are fortunate to the outlets you do. We’re just starting phase 3 in Toronto and, well, we’re close to the American border and things are a little bit dire down there, I worry whether this continent is going to progress in the right direction, or what. It’s all just so maddening. But seeing that other parts of the world are propelling forward is at the very least encouraging.

    Congratulations on your book’s success! I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you, Claudette, for your generous words– they make me smile. Unlike our worries as a world about Covid-19, because we’re all in this together.

  4. LA says:


  5. You are lucky. We have not yet resumed anything near normal life. Congrats on your book!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You are so right. Friends and I were exclaiming about this in wonder yesterday. We have bookstores open,and we can sit a

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oops, lost m y reply. More later!

  6. alison41 says:

    Congratulations of the book sales! Time for a fresh print run? Gosh but your life has suddenly filled up hasn’t it? sounds wonderful. We are still thrashing around in Stage 3, the usual African muddle and confusion. Heigh ho. Onwards and upwards. Enjoy the dancing etc. etc.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      It’s my little splash of happiness in a deeply disturbing world. We have to glory in these all the more. Courage.

  7. Great news. Let’s hope the aliens don’t mess things up!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hey, maybe they can print faster? My first translated edition?

  8. Nyla Carroll says:

    What a wonderful posting – loved the photo essay of your week! And a massive congratulations on the best seller list and reprint – you go girl!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hi Nyla! Thank you– I’m feeling flashes of delight that this is the book — of the 30-odd I’ve written that people need and love the most.

  9. JT Twissel says:

    Congrats – now don’t get abducted by those aliens!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      They are on friendly terms with us locals, but tourists beware.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I am afraid we are some years from being able to be out and about as you are able. I was very nostalgic seeing you so close to another poet! Congratulations on your sales. I much prefer your poems to Mary Trump’s book, and I have read both.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yes, breathing and speaking so close to each other: an historic shot. And thank you!

      1. Elizabeth says:

        You are welcome.

  11. cedar51 says:

    I never had much on my regular schedule as it was, well in the last few years…so in some ways not much has changed. Although on saying that I can catch bus/train and go some place else in the city, not restricted to my suburb. But my thoughts on said suburb have changed, I’ve come to know houses, strip shops and even people.

    My head space although somewhat better, does have issues at least once a week – and walking in quiet streets (yes there is noise/cars) has been a godsend. I was advised that should be consistent in walk-time so I’ve rejigged my daily schedule which means rain/sun I’m off early arvo. Not always a long walk but get out and about. Plus I take a photo of something and post f/b…things that someone driving a car, might not even see. If I pass the pink eared stuffed dog, high above me on a street lamp pole, I say “hello” (guardian from L/4)

    I’ve rescheduled my mornings to including “art-making; cooking” … cooking may seem odd but it a skill I had no choice to rekindle when in L/4 and I enjoy now sorting out what needs to be done in that arena.

    Congratulations on the book nomination and the “print sell out”.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Seems you have succeeded in achieving a good level of consistency in your regime. Terrific!

  12. I’m one of those on the waiting list. Couldn’t make it to the launch and Schrodinger’s Books in Petone sold out quickly.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Sorry sorry!

      1. Got it now! Patience pays off.

  13. Inspirational, Rachel! Well done!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      There’s luck involved here of course–but hey!

  14. Cathy Cade says:

    Congratulations on that book!! I too haven’t blogged lately – not that I’ve been too busy (although I have sent off a story to a magazine and I’m proofreading a friend’s novel) but I can’t think of anything to blog about. This week I have two meetings to go to in the heady rush towards normality (whatever that is). I shall people-watch for inspiration.
    Enjoy your singing – I must find another choir to join, once they’re up and singing again.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      There’s such a lot to sort out in such strange times, and things keep on changing. Choir practices on Zoom were a poor substitute. And people-watching is a timeless sport.

  15. congratulations on your best seller! You are in good company!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      It sure is fun to see my little book in such unexpected company.

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