After a few long, terrible, agonizing seconds of generally not very intense thought, “Still Frame” is the title I came up with for posts about the state of the blog and where I see it going in the future. Any future posts that deal with the blog or anything personally related to me will have this subtitle. I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining why I chose this name, but if you don’t get it, well… don’t think about it too hard. 🙂
If you look back at the last few posts I’ve written on here, you might notice they’ve been…sporadic, to say the least. While this is in part due to real-life obligations getting in the way of my having time to both watch anime and write about it, if I’m honest a large portion of it has been due to lack of motivation and discouragement. Simply put, I don’t find trying to write full-on technical Reviews all that much fun, mainly because I feel like I don’t have sufficient expertise in the various artistic elements that go into anime to really comment on it in a meaningful way, or at least as meaningfully as I’ve seen others with proper training in artistic critique do. This is magnified by the fact that I find myself sometimes in disagreement with other anibloggers whom I respect (and who clearly have more of an idea of what exactly they’re writing about with regard to the technical side of animation), which leads me down the path of wondering whether my subjective preferences and appreciation for certain anime is wrong, and worrying needlessly about being criticized for saying something “wrong”.
All of this does present a problem for me, because one of my major goals in starting this blog was to improve my writing ability, and one of the cornerstones of writing about media is the ability to at least in some capacity review and critique it, to accurately and succinctly present your thoughts and opinions about a piece and your reasons for holding them. I’ve felt for some time that this ability is one of my primary weaknesses as a writer (please, feel free to tell me if you think otherwise). I can express appreciation or dislike with the best of them, but my explanations for why feel jumbled and vague and…same-y. If I like a show, my first instinct is to view everything about it through rose-colored glasses, even those parts that are merely average or mediocre. I imagine this is the same for most people who write about media, but I don’t know how well I manage to actually move past that into honest critical examination. My positive reviews feel like I am simultaneously shortchanging the show for the areas where it truly excels and covering up the areas where it stinks with the label “EVERYTHING IS GOOD”, and vice versa for my negative reviews. It’s hard to realize I’m doing this in the moment, while my feelings about a series are still fresh, but when I look back at my old reviews later on it’s pretty evident in many of them, at least to me.
Anyway, all of that long spiel is to say that I realize my critical analysis needs work, and the only way for me to improve it is to keep practicing. Unfortunately, probably the best way to keep practicing is through writing those tedious and time-consuming Reviews. It’s kind of a catch-22.
This also applies to a number of things I’ve said I was going to do in the past and never really did, like episodic write-ups and research essays. Basically, through the summer season, the reason I barely wrote anything (I say barely because I did write some stuff that I threw out because it was frankly not very good) boils down to the fact I didn’t have the discipline to follow through and do it even though it’s not terribly rewarding or fun at my current skill level.
Obviously, something needs to give, or I might as well drop the blog now for all the good it’s doing to do me. The way I see it, there are a couple of new approaches I can take going into the Fall season:
First, I could decide to keep doing what I’m doing. Honestly, it would be entirely valid for me to say that critical analysis is not my strength, and to come up with ideas for more creative writing projects (not fanfiction, I did not say fanfiction) revolving around the anime I’m watching. I’ve had enough ideas that have fallen by the wayside for creative stuff like fun character profiles, lists, show and character comparisons, “Who Would Win” battles, and the like to fill several blogs with daily content, and I could still do the usual season summary and random thoughts posts that I do enjoy writing from time to time. While it could be argued that this type of content would be better suited for YouTube than WordPress, I’m not nearly photogenic or charismatic enough for the camera, and YT is absolutely stuffed to the brim with that kind of content anyway, so it might be fun and interesting to offer something similar in a written blog.
Secondly, I could go the “all in” route. I could finish out this season by writing individual reviews for all of the anime I’ve watched through, then start next season with episodic write-ups of multiple shows, and focus my posts on critical analysis of the shows I’m watching, with the goal being to write something analytical for all of the shows I watch next season. This would mean less content, most likely, because it would require more research around the shows I watch in order to learn their backgrounds, influences, thematic references, etc. But the content would be in line with both my goal of improving my writing and my goal of better understanding and appreciating anime from an artistic and cultural standpoint. It probably wouldn’t be that good or fun to read starting out, but as I get better, it should start to improve.
But honestly, I don’t think either of these approaches works for me. Option 1 feels like a cop-out, because while I enjoy writing, especially about stuff I love (like anime), to be completely honest if I were allowing my life to be governed solely by what I found to be fun, there are plenty of other things I would be spending my time on. Blogging isn’t a full-time career for me, and most of the time it’s not that much fun to come home from a stressful 9 to 5, only to plop myself down in front of yet another screen and force myself to think for several hours of writing. Reading a book or playing Overwatch with my buds is immeasurably more appealing in those moments, I can assure you, so if doing whatever is most fun were my main standard here I’d drop the blog entirely. On the other hand, option 2 seems unwise for a few reasons, one of them being that it will almost certainly lead to burnout. Going with that approach would also imply that I place inherently more value on critical analytical writing than on creative writing, which is not true at all. I’d like to follow through on some of the ideas I’ve had for creative writing projects in the past, and I don’t want an artificially imposed Review quota to prevent me from doing so.
So I’m thinking I’ll go with option 3: episodic write-ups of a few shows, reviews for a few shows, some analytical pieces sprinkled throughout the season as the anime I’m watching warrant, and the rest being whatever I want to write (apart from the scheduled weekly topical posts I’ve been meaning to start up since FOREVER ago). A balanced approach should keep things fun and interesting while also pushing me to improve as a writer, which is the main reason I started this blog in the first place.
And hey, fall is my favorite time of year, so what with the cooler air, the leaves changing, and the new anime season starting…what better time is there for a new beginning?