What Do I Do When I Can’t Figure Out the Directions

The Anxiety of Problem Solving

I’m new to WordPress and blogging in general, which led me to sign up for a short course on WordPress/blogging familiarization. The creators of the course send a daily assignment designed to stoke a writer’s creativity and teach about the different formatting features available in WordPress. Today’s assignment gave me a bit of an anxiety attack, bringing back memories from my past, and made me use some lessons learned along the way to calm down to solve the problem.

The Assignment – Day 11 – Making a Prompt Personal

  1. First, visit our Daily Post site and check out today’s prompt — it’s in the dark blue box in the middle of the page.
  2. Next, click the button below to start your new post. Be sure to include a link to the prompt so that others can find your post on the prompt page.
  3. Finally, give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

The Problem – I Couldn’t Find Anything on That Page That Seemed to Match the Assignment Parameters, Just Other Articles

The Anxiety

After not immediately seeing what I expected to see I started to feel anxious. “What was I missing?” “How could I not see a ‘prompt’ like directed?” Click. Click. Click. Update the page. Nothing new magically appeared. Only previously written articles, nothing like a phrase or idea I thought would be on the page. Oh my goodness… The pressure. “I’m supposed to be learning how to be a blogger, but I can’t even follow simple instructions.” This situation caused flashbacks from college exams. The panic that set in as that packet of paper hit the desktop in front of me. The fear of failure causing my heart rate to spike before even looking at the first question. You know that feeling?

The Reasoning & Questioning

So, here I am, in the middle of a mini-anxiety attack wondering “what in the world am I supposed to do now?” I went back and forth a couple more times between the email instructions and the website. Still, nothing popped out to me as a starting theme for this article. It’s when I felt a bit of tightness in my chest that I forced myself to STOP AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH. (Begin internal dialogue)

“Why in the world am I anxious? Remember, this is a blog about learning how to blog. What consequences are at stake? None. The only thing that I risk is not taking a step toward being a better, more effective writer. So, calm down and solve the problem.”

Matt’s inner voice

The Solution – Fake It ‘Til I Make It

Now that I had calmed down I was able to think this problem through. The problem was that I couldn’t seem to find the information that was supposed to trigger a subject for an article. Defining my problem clearly led me to question the real point to the exercise. The real point is to create an interesting article based on external stimulus. At this point the idea for an article popped in my head. “Why not jut document the anxiety and problem solving process I employed?” This might not be the actual prompt I was supposed to find, but this assignment did provide me with an opportunity to write a post prompted by an external stimulus.

Now here I am coming to the end of writing an article that, I believe, meets the teacher’s intent. I hope you enjoyed this look at my process and got a good natured laugh at my expense.

Have you completed this assignment? If so, I’d love to take a look at your article. Did you find something that spoke to you in the link that was sent?

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Reader Comments

  1. Sumita Tah

    I’m in the same boat. However, I have decided to take things in a cool manner and given myself time to learn through practice. The grass is green where you water it. So , practice , practice and practice till you become perfect.

  2. inkyblacksnow

    I love how you found a creative solution to your problem!
    What I have noticed is that some of the courses and resources stopped to update.
    I had a similar problem with another task ( don’t remember which) where there was no new content so I did not find what I was looking for!
    Looking at your blog now it does seem like you got the hang of it!
    Keep writing and have fun!

    • Matt Chesebrough

      Thanks for the kind words. I agree that things here are not always the most straight forward. However, sometimes, the best thing to do is to take action. I aim to learn something new with every blog post to make continuous improvement part of the process.

      Have a great day. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. Take care.

  3. kirkspencer0444@gmail.com

    Brand new to blogging myself. I started this as a way to introduce others to my story, “A Gift…Only Borrowed”. It is a compelling narrative of what it was like for a father trying to navigate the train wreck that crashed into his young family through the death of one of his children. Writing that story was an amazing journey even 35 years after my daughter’s passing. My hope is that it may help others struggling with the same cards dealt them. I have a website, but learned that spreading the word was a very challenging task. Maybe a blog would help that happen.

    • Matt Chesebrough

      Hi Kirk, first and foremost I’m sorry that you had to endure such a loss. My parents too lost a child. Mom has spoken of having a portion of her life she can’t remember as a result. I think one of the best things about the internet is the platform it gives people to share their stories. Sharing stories helps others know that they are not alone with their struggle.

      I’m by no means an expert blogger. My goal is to find some way to improve with each article. One thing I have learned, however, is that if you keep writing and posting at a steady pace people will find you. Also, if you find that sharing your journey is something that gives you peace and purpose, consider reaching out to other bloggers to guest write articles. I’ve been guest writing for another blog channel for the last six months and have found that leads to upticks in visits to my website.

      Just some thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and sharing your story with me. Peace be with you and your family. Take care.

  4. kirkspencer0444@gmail.com

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I am sorry for your parent’s loss, but wasn’t a loss for you as well? My faith was just beginning whilst in the middle of this strange journey, but I believe my real life experiences during that short time I had with my baby girl is an important story, and maybe it might help other families living that same nightmare. I will take your suggestions and try to use them to help build my own blog and add followers. Any ideas how to add small pictures to a post? When I try, it changes my whole website theme.

    • Matt Chesebrough

      Well, she passed away before I was born so I didn’t have a chance to build a relationship. Her passing is the reason my parents decided to adopt first me and, later, my sister. My parents didn’t talk about that time in their lives very much. I think it was just too painful a memory to think about.
      For blogging –
      Work to size your images with 1200 pixels as your long edge maximum (whether portrait or landscape orientation). This will keep the file sizes to a reasonable level. If you are using the wordpress editor you should be able to simply add an image block right in your text. Start here: https://www.wpbeginner.com/

      Wishing you well on your journey. Take care.

  5. Matt Chesebrough

    Well, as you know, healing from the loss of a child is an ongoing process. I think they did the best they could to both keep her memory alive and move on by loving and raising two more children. God Bless.

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