Success! Change of Perspective Redux

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The process of deleting the old blog and beginning the new one didn’t go exactly as I had expected, but the opportunity to start over did turn out all right nevertheless.

I had wanted to install the new version of WordPress in the same directory as the old one so that the blog’s URL would remain unchanged. However, I discovered that to do that, I would have to delete the original blog’s subdirectory, which would also delete the old URL. Instead of doing that, I created a new subdirectory for the new blog, then set the old blog’s subdirectory to redirect to the new one.

What This Means for Readers

(1) Since the old blog URL redirects to the new one, you will still be able to land here by using any old links to Change of Perspective. If you would like to use a direct link to the new blog, this is it:

(2) However, although I have the content of lots of previous posts to republish, I did lose all comments and “likes.” If, as you read through posts here, you find anything worth commenting on, please do so. Please!

It’s lonely having a blog with no comments.

(3) If you had subscribed for email updates for the old blog, you’ll have to resubscribe for the new one by using the form in the sidebar on the left.

(Oops, the sidebar is now on the right. That’s what happens when you change WordPress themes.)


After setting up the new blog and making sure that it works, I republished posts from October and November 2015. I still have to redo all the material that I have (back to mid 2014), which will take some time. I hope to do that gradually over the next two or three months.

Despite all the hassle, I’m feeling triumphant at my accomplishment. I was apprehensive about working with files and subdirectories at the server level, but figuring out what to do and how to do it taught me a lot. I’m still not ready for a job in tech support, but I do now have a basic understanding of how that stuff works.

I still have to do a bit more tweaking here—for example, I want to change the listings of categories and archives to dropdown menus—but just having a working blog again is a relief.

Thank you for sticking with me through this process of allowing the sun to set on the old blog and to rise on the new one.

When My Blog Went Bump in the Night

One night a couple of weeks ago the blogging gremlins crept into this blog’s database and stomped around, trashing the place. I first noticed the results of their fun when a new post didn’t show up on the blog, even though the WordPress dashboard assured me that it had been published. I then saw other signs as well: the feature photos on individual posts were not properly centered, and the row of sharing icons underneath the body of each post did not display correctly.

I tried deleting and republishing the latest post, but it still didn’t show up. I contacted tech support at my hosting company, Dreamhost. They tried a number of things that tech support guys do but couldn’t get anything new to publish, either. Finally, they notified me that the situation was not a server problem and suggested that I try to restore the database to a time when the blog was working properly.

By then it was time me to leave for my Thanksgiving retreat on the coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, where I would have neither cell service nor internet access. By the time I got back home, it was too late to do a database restoration because backups are only saved on the server for five days.

My knowledge of blogging is like my knowledge of driving: I know how to start the car, put gas in it, and watch for flashing alerts, but beyond that I know nothing about how or why the car does or doesn’t work. WordPress allows me to blog the same way: I’m fine as long as it works well (which it almost always does), but I know nothing about how it integrates all the individual parts and where it puts them together and saves them. When it comes to doing anything to the files stored on a server, I’m in way over my head.

When Dreamhost’s tech support couldn’t fix the problem for me, I knew that I had only two options: (1) give up this blog altogether, or (2) scrap the current setup and start over.

Since giving up wasn’t really an option, I looked with dread at the prospect of starting over. The first post on the old version of Change of Perspective went up on August 14, 2007, so I’d be losing eight years—eight years!—of work. I took a deep breath and told myself to look at this as an opportunity to improve the blog rather than as a disaster.

Even though the blog no longer displayed beyond a single page, I was able to look at the earliest posts through the WordPress dashboard. And do you know what I found? I had posted a lot of the early material before I decided what the focus and purpose of the blog should be. And much of that material was now either insignificant or outdated, or, most often, both. I started using Scrivener to manage blog content back in mid 2014, so I had a year and a half of good material that I could repost. Suddenly starting over became an exciting challenge.

Because I still had access to my work through the WordPress dashboard, I was able to download the blog’s media library, although I had to do it one item at a time, a time-consuming project. And I was able to copy other information, such as my “about” page content and post categories, and save them to a text file for use in re-creating the blog.

The next step, though, was more difficult. I combed through Dreamhost’s copious support documents to find out how to perform the steps I thought I’d need to go through to set up the new blog:

  1. Remove the old installation of WordPress
  2. Remove the old database
  3. Install a new, shiny clean edition of WordPress that would create its own new database

I even emailed this list, along with what I had found out about how to do each step, to tech support to ask them if this process would work. They replied that it looked good.

Tomorrow is the big day when I (try to) launch a reboot of Change of Perspective. Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how it goes.

How I Use Scrivener & Excel to Manage My Blog Challenge


Like a lot of other writers, I have used the outstanding writing program Scrivener from Literature & Latte for a few years now. If you haven’t heard of it, I encourage you to check it out. You can find lots of information, including video tutorials, about it online. If you decide to take the plunge and purchase it—the price is very reasonable compared to other comparable programs—I recommend the book Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez.

Although I cannot give a full-tilt tutorial in Scrivener here, I can describe a couple of its features that particularly make it great for blogging:

  1. The basic unit of the program is the document, which can contain a virtually unlimited amount of text, from a short note to a whole book chapter. The program also allows you to create folders and subfolders in which to store selected documents. This ability to structure information allows me to collect separate bits of information that I will eventually combine into a single blog post.
  2. The program has a default research folder into which you can save material to consult later. The feature I use most often here is the ability to save a web page as a PDF file, although you can also save other types of files (such as Word files, text files, or even images) here too. And you can create subfolders underneath the main research section to group related materials together.

Other people have also recognized Scrivener’s power as a blogging tool:

I started using Scrivener to manage my three blogs in the summer of 2014. I began by adapting Jennifer Mattern’s Free Scrivener Template for Managing Multiple Blogs at All Indie Writers. Her directions made it easy to download and import the template into Scrivener. I was then able to look at her structure and see what I wanted to change to make the template fit the way I work.

Jennifer includes two blogs structured by date and a third structured by categories. I chose to arrange all three of my blogs by date because I’m a Virgo and like to track things in a logical, linear way. It was easy to delete the main folder for the category blog, then copy and paste one of the dated blog folders, with subfolders, to replace it for my third blog.

Jennifer also includes more than one year for each blog, but I decided to start a new multiblog project folder each year because the amount of material I was collecting, including research materials (I’m a big fan of Scrivener’s print function called “save PDF to Scrivener”), became unwieldy. Once again, changing the folder structure to accommodate this preference was easy.

I tweaked Jennifer’s template in other minor ways significantly. When I finally got things just the way I wanted them, I used Scrivener’s “save as template” feature in the file menu to save my set-up as a project template. (A project is Scrivener’s top level of organization. If you are working on two novels, each novel would be a project, a separate Scrivener file.) I can now use the revised template to start a new multiblog project each year.

If you start looking at what other people have to say about Scrivener, you’ll see that the most common knock against it is that it has a steep learning curve. I agree that’s true, but it’s true because the program has so many powerful features. I’ve always been a believer that we learn what we need to know when we need to know it, and you only need to know a few basic things to get started with Scrivener. You can learn everything necessary to manage the procedures I’ve discussed here in a short time. Like anything else, the most important thing is to start working with Scrivener instead of just reading about it. The folks at Literature & Latte let you download a trial version before requiring your credit card number.

So far I’ve used only basic functions within Scrivener, but now that I’m blogging much more, I need to learn how to use Scrivener’s status and labeling functions to keep track of which posts are completed and published and which ones I’m still working on.


Scrivener makes it easy to manage my blog posts, but for my Blog Post a Day in 2015 challenge I needed Excel to track data about the posts, such as how many words I wrote each month and how many posts appeared on which blog. I set up a worksheet with the following columns:

  • A: Date
  • B: Blog #1
  • C: Blog #2
  • D: Blog #3
  • E: Post title
  • F: Number of words

When I document my post published each day here, I put a 1 in the column of the blog where the post appears. (Occasionally I publish the same post on more than one blog, but I only include it once in my total word count.) Having a column for each blog allows me to see easily how I need to distribute future posts and to calculate how many posts appeared on each blog at the end of the month.

At the end of each month I calculate the number of posts published on each blog and the total number of words I wrote that month.

At the end of February, after I had calculated my February totals, I realized that I also wanted to be able to compare the statistics across months. I set up a second sheet with the following columns:

  • A: Month
  • B: Total words written
  • C: Number of posts
  • D: Average post length
  • E: Number of words in shortest post
  • F: Number of words in longest post

At the end of the year, I hope this second sheet will allow me to see the patterns in my writing.

New Look, New Focus

Finally, I had to make a decision.

Now that I’ve gone back to school and earned my doctorate (2011), now that we’ve retired and relocated (2013), I finally have to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve been thinking about all this inchoately for some time, but, in a marvelous example of synchronicity, a recent writing prompt in the 30-Day Digital Journaling Challenge made everything fall into place.

I had already decided that I was spreading myself too thin and needed to make changes to spend more time on my own writing. But when the journaling prompt asked me to have a talk with my inner critic, I was surprised at where the conversation went. All writers grapple with the inner critic, that internal voice that constantly tells us we have no right to write, no talent, nothing worth saying. I had barely started asking my inner critic to go easy on me when she interrupted and starting talking back.

And here’s what she had to say: You and I are not adversaries. In fact, I’m your writing best friend. I’m that alternate state of consciousness that takes over and does just about everything right when you’re in the zone, writing in flow. You know that we do your best work together. But you haven’t invited me to come visit you for quite a while.

And I had to admit that she was right. I haven’t written in flow since I finished my dissertation in the spring of 2011. I had forgotten how exhilarating that writing state feels and how good is the work that comes out of it. I’ll explain writing in flow in more detail in another post, but its most pertinent characteristic for this discussion is that it can be nurtured and cultivated. To court flow, the writer—or at least this writer—has to provide conditions conducive to that mental shift of gears that happens when flow kicks in.

So in my journal entry I agreed to once again offer her—let’s call her Flow and get her a big tricked-out name tag—what she needs to operate:

Flow nametag

  • meaningful writing projects
  • real deadlines
  • specific target audiences
  • extended periods of uninterrupted writing time

For me, that final one has always been the most important. I’m sure some people can slip in and out of flow at short notice and for small bursts of time, but my Flow doesn’t work that way. She likes to move in and stay a while.

As a result of the compromise I’ve reached with Flow, I’ll be narrowing the focus of this blog to the following topics:

  • journal writing
  • memoirs and memoir writing
  • therapeutic benefits of expressive writing
  • creative nonfiction writing, both general advice and my own writing process
  • psychology news as it pertains to these topics

Also, since one of my areas of study is the intersection of psychology and literature, I will try to create more interweaving between this blog, which emphasizes psychology and writing, and my literature blog, Notes in the Margin. To that end, I have changed to the same design theme for both blogs to create a sense of continuity for readers moving between them.

Unlike Peter Pan, I think I’m finally ready to grow up into who I want to be. Thanks for listening.

Flow and I would love for you to write something in the comment section below.