Four posts in and I thought it would be fun to look at some of the psychological craziness that accompanies a foray into blog writing. Perhaps fun is the wrong word. Interesting, at the very least?
Let’s get this out of the way. Starting a blog IS TERRIFYING. No physical danger generally, but still profoundly intellectually terrifying.
You’re putting yourself out there, possibly to discover that you don’t actually have anything interesting to say. What could be more frightening than that??!
(My) TOP 3 Blog Fears:
- That it doesn’t make any sense
- That it sounds like a different person and doesn’t reflect the way I am in real life
- That I won’t have anything to write about (even though I have a gigantic running list of blog topics and partially started blogs so that fear is completely irrational)
When you spend a lot of time with yourself (as most of us do) you’re not always convinced that what you have to say is interesting or novel because it just bounces around jimbly-jumbly in your brain all day long. You’ve already heard it all 10 billion times before but eventually you remember that no one else has so you should probably just write it up and put it out there. The essential question: Why Not?
Like everything EVER, writing a blog post takes way longer than you ever think it will.
It goes like this:
The first draft is super fast and you experience this premature euphoria, particularly if you get it done in advance of the arbitrary deadline you’ve set for yourself (we all see how well publishing posts on the same day each week is going for me). But then after you've written and slept on it, you realize that there are way too many words and you’re just rehashing the same thoughts over and over again like you did in high school when there was a history paper with a 16-page length requirement. Or, even better, you get a zillion new ideas in the car or shower (#showerthoughts) and then the direction totally changes and you have to rewrite the whole thing or else you’re stuck with a post you're no longer excited to work on.
Ah, but the most cruel part is yet to come:
After a few more sit-downs and comb-throughs to trim the fat, you realize by the time it’s published that you’re totally over it.
But something has to get published. So you just put it out into the world. Even if it is just a few notches north of a glorified draft and you're epically bored of it.
Terror elements aside, there is some solace to be found in being new to blogging.
TOP 3 New Blogger Wins:
- No one is reading it (because no one knows you exist). There’s a beauty and comfort in that—you get your little personal blog cocoon to quietly improve in while no one is watching.
- Every week you’ll suck a little less and the process goes a little faster.
- Actually writing a regular blog marks the fact that you’ve finally started to keep a little record of your thoughts. And one day it will be fun to look back on.
Started a blog doesn't have to be intimidating. There are really only TWO things you need to think about: getting writing out consistently and preparing for (and embracing) feedback.
What I find helps with staying on the writing train is tying finishing to rewards, having a mechanism for accountability and scheduling firm times to work on my writing. My personal rewards include but are not limited to: going for a walk, reading some filthy celebrity magazine, or sometimes eating a James Brown cupcake from Sugar Mama’s. My accountability mechanism is my own guilt coupled with a work group I’m a part of whose main objective is to make sure all the members are producing content regularly. And I do schedule calendar blocks just for writing. Because if I don’t make dedicated time, something else will always come up (and the writing won't get done).
DEVELOPING A LOVE AFFAIR WITH FEEDBACK:
If you want your writing to improve, you have to warm up to the idea of feedback, whatever form it may take. Enable the comments and share your writing widely, especially with people whose opinions you value. Solicit feedback (we do that in the content creation work group too)—it’s your fastest road to getting better. There will be less than ideal comments, but it’s just a case of that thing they (the Soviets) say about the first pancake:
It’s never your best. But no big deal—you’ll just make another one. And another, and another and another. But if you never make the first, you'll never have a chance to make the next.