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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.


Blogging therapy: What do I even say?

Number four in our series on how to take some of the scary out of blogging.

If you want to catch up, here you go:
Part 1. What if people are mean to me?
Part 2. What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
Part 3. Why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?

And today we’re talking about the whole omg I don’t know what to saaaaaaaaaay problem.

And I know I’ve said this every single time but it does bear repeating: what we’re really dealing with is the process of working on your “stuff”. So even if you’ve never had a blog and don’t plan to — or if you’re a total A-list superstar, there should be something for you in here.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! I don’t know what to say!

Oh boy. We all know this problem. And yet, I’m kind of having the opposite one at the moment …

Yes, even though I’ve totally had this problem too, at the moment I have so much to say about this particular topic that I’m actually feeling a bit overwhelmed.

So, to avoid this morphing into a hundred different posts, I’m going to speak to a couple of specific questions I’ve been asked that relate to aspects of this problem … and (she types hopefully) come up with some useful points to consider.

Scenario 1: What if I the stuff I have to say isn’t interesting?

This is familiar stuff. Mostly fear of being judged and fear of being “found out”.

Because what if people figure out that you’re really not that great? Or — and maybe this is even worse — what if you discover that you’re really not that great?

I know. This feeling is awful. I’m sorry. Hug.

I’m not going to talk you out of it or tell you how great you are or anything. At the same time …

Things to think about …

Not interesting? To whom? So what?

There are what, six and half billion people on earth? If the tiniest sliver of a miniscule fraction of a percentage of those people find you interesting you’ll already have a ridiculously popular blog.

All you want to do is talk to your right people.

Your right people will never find you boring because they’re your right people. And they’re the ones you want to be talking to anyway!

Your writing is the best red velvet rope there is.

“Red velvet rope” is a Michael-Port-ism. It means that you want to welcome your “right people” in and keep everyone else out.

I’m sure lots of people find my blog dull as dirt. They couldn’t care less about self-work or biggification or non-icky self-promotion. They don’t even like my duck. (Don’t tell Selma though, because she might cry).

You know what? I don’t want those people here. And luckily, they don’t hang out here. Because the stuff I write about and how I write it is a big, fat, red velvet rope that says this stuff isn’t for them.

Anyone who doesn’t find your stuff interesting doesn’t need to be there.

Be yourself and it can’t be boring.

Yes, there are a ton of blogs out there that bore me to tears. But I’m 99% convinced that it’s not because the people who write them are boring.

I’m pretty sure that it’s actually because the people writing them are reining themselves in. Restraining themselves. Holding back from putting their true internal dialogue out there.

There’s something reserved or constrained. Some stuckification that’s keeping them from letting their inner goofball come out and play.

If you show up as YOURSELF it won’t be boring. It can’t be.

But even if I’m completely wrong and these people really are that boring, there’s still the “right people” thing. Maybe I’m just not their right people. And their right people will love them madly regardless. So either way, you’re good.

Scenario 2: I can’t talk about this stuff to total strangers.

Yes, blogging can get pretty personal. I’ve talked about the second worst summer of my life. About being poor and terrified and about falling apart completely over my friend who killed himself. About going back in time and healing my heart.

Is that hard? Absolutely.

And, as someone wrote in the comments to last weeks post:

I especially hesitate on issues of privacy. How much of myself do I want to expose to strangers? How much of my family?

Things to consider:

You don’t have to expose everything.

Start talking about stuff you’re comfortable with and gradually expand your comfort zone without having to leave it.

Set boundaries. (With yourself and with others)

You can make up nicknames for people. Or use initials. Or leave out certain bits.

Things will morph and shift and change anyway, but at least you’ll be interacting consciously with the process.

Maybe you want to agree with certain people in your life about which topics will be off-limits. Not everything needs to be shared.

Or whatever, you could go completely postmodern like the addictively great Black Hockey Jesus and have a blog that defies reality in all of its forms. He might or might not have a wife who might or might not have a hundred different names.

And is he just kidding about his four year old daughter’s fifteen year old phantasmagorical boyfriend? Is any of this happening at all? And does that matter?

Vulnerability and honesty are the highest currency online.

They’re also your protection against scenario #1. Trust me, you will not be boring if you’re talking truthfully about the stuff you really think about.

Being honest and vulnerable makes it easier for people to relate to you. It allows you to be human, which is the sexiest thing there is in the land of blog.

The biggest problem I see with blogs (yes, the boring ones!) is that the people writing them try to protect themselves by wrapping themselves up in Expertise. They talk down to me. They lecture me.

They give me lists and bullet points and concepts but there’s no one there to connect with. And it’s not the sexy kind of distance. It’s the lonely kind.

No one wants a flawless expert. We want empathy. We want to identify with you. We want to know that you understand our pain because you know it intimately and are moving through it. Well, that’s what I want.

You don’t need to be vulnerable in a “strategic” way (ew). You just want to let who you are shine a little brighter.

Bottom line: the more personality you show, the better. As Naomi says, show a little skin.

And given the fact that every time she writes about cowering under the covers in terror of failure she gets more clients, I think we could all use a bit more of that sort of thing.

Terrifying? Oh, absolutely. I’m feeling kinda nervous right this second telling you how nervous I sometimes get when I post.

But it’s honest. It’s a practice. A practice I get to do at my own pace in my own quiet, introverted way in my own room from behind a screen.

And — in a very weird, completely discomfiting and counter-intuitive way — it’s shockingly good for business.

In fact, ever since I realized I could just be myself on my blog and this is actually enough to support my entire business, I’ve dropped every single “marketing strategy” that I was either doing or — more likely — thinking I should be doing. But we can talk more about that some other time.

One last point.

This point actually works for just about any scenarios you could imagine. In fact, I could have probably skipped my other points and just made this one.

Because this is …. um, whatever you call the card that takes all in a really brutal game of poker. This is my ace of spades or something. I don’t know. You know. You’ll tell me.

Anyway. Here it is.

Blogging is nothing more than therapy you don’t have to pay for.

That’s it. Just think of it as the cheapest form of therapy known to man. It’s your own 50 minute hour with no one interrupting you!

Forget about all these people. Forget about your “target market” and “their needs” and all the stuff that the experts and biggifiers tell us we should be focusing on every second of the day.

Writing is healing. It will be healing for your right people when they read it. It will be their gift later. But right now — in the writing — it’s for you.

The rest is gravy.

Next week we’ll be talking about the other thing that keeps us from knowing what to say: perfectionism. Ahhhhh, perfectionism.

But this will do for now … and if not, I can work on my own perfectionism over the week and see what comes up. Or not. Either way I’ll probably be writing about it though.

15 Responses to Blogging therapy: What do I even say?

  1. Julia Rocchi says:

    Hi Havi — Selma must be clairvoyant (and channeling to you) because I’m feeling this exact identity crisis with my own blog right now. The velvet rope analogy might be just the image I need to jolt me out of self-sabotage and write what *I* want to write — not what I think others are expecting of me. Thanks for the positive reality check!!

    Best, Julia

    Julia Rocchis last blog post..Funny Baby Pictures: Cries like a ninja!

  2. Allysho says:

    ha ha ha

    I told stumbleupon I liked this and wrote a quick description.

    The random words in the box thingy I had to retype so they know I am real? grains and gold

    (gotta love that)

    Thanks Havi for the Grains of Gold.


  3. JoVE says:

    You know some of the best example of this are things like knitting blogs. To some people (even some people who knit), that just seems really boring. What would you write about. But look how many there are. A some of them (cough The Yarn Harlot cough) are really really super popular. I don’t think the Harlot started out thinking about building a business, she was just blogging about knitting. And know she has a highly successful career writing knitting books. Knitting humour books. Who knew there was even such a category. Not her. But there is now.

    Same with mom blogs. Millions of them. Many of them probably dull as ditchwater to a lot of people. But some moms like reading about what other moms are dong.

    Your right people. Absolutely. On the other hand, I find it ridiculously freeing to think that no one really reads my blog. Who cares what you write then. And sometimes you find out that lots of people do read it and even value what you write. Bonus.

    JoVEs last blog post..UPDATED post-Rhinebeck productivity

  4. Worrying about not having anything to write about is totally a fear you have *before* you start blogging. Once you get into it, you have the opposite problem: figuring out what *not* to write.

    I struggle with working too hard to cover every possible base in posts. After all, you have to leave enough room for your commenters to be able to make good points too.

  5. Sonia Simone
    Twitter: soniasimone

    Nathan, me too. In fact, Havi made me laugh a lot with “We all know this problem. And yet, I’m kind of having the opposite one at the moment . . .”

    Sonia Simones last blog post..Linky Tuesday: Anti Recession-Freakout Edition

  6. Ken Wagner says:

    Thanks for the great post. I enjoy your blend of the wise, the clever, and the fun.

    I crave clear, crisp ideas that also blend and flip. Sometimes my talk is – junk – and the reader rightfully declares me a hack. But I want them back. Needfully so.

    Not anymore. I’m inspired. I’ll sprawl myself on the couch once again. Let the passers-by linger and stare or move on and cackle.

    I am only expert – as me. That’ll just have to do.

    Ken Wagners last blog post..Childfree by Choice – How to Talk with your Friends

  7. GirlPie
    Twitter: TheGirlPie

    Yes, Nathan, Sonia — I too I haven’t ever asked “what do I have to say?” as I was born chatting (“shut up, she explained” was a mantra in our funny household), but Havi, your idea of hiding behind expertise made a huge GONG! sound in here. Hmm. Musta hit something.

    This post accidentally made me think about why I’m sure my field would be too irritating to blog about — and how there are no experts in my arena — only wanna-bes and has-beens — and how it’s all a matter of opinion — and experience and — all those other idiots should just shut up — and — !

    Sorry, got me a bit worked up… this is one reason I don’t blog.
    But thanks for the great series — it’s making me go behind the scenes of the excuses, and look at the real reasons. UGH. (And I mean that in a good way…)

  8. GirlPie, maybe start with some Twitter action to get your feet wet? I see you writing interesting comments and every time I say, “I want to hear more from GP, but alas, no URL.”

  9. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi

    @GirlPie – glad to give you a good UGH moment! I guess …

    Anyway, take your time with it. We’ll all be thrilled if/when you give it a go. And we’ll love you just as much even if you never have a blog. *sniff*

    @Nathan – She actually twitters up a storm under TheGirlPie and I think there are thousands of us all wondering “who is that masked woman and when can I subscribe to her feed?”.

    Then again, given how incredibly long it took me to make a go of it, I’ll be the last person to pressure anyone else into starting before they’re ready.

    Hey, Mz GirlPie, count us in as your fans even before you start!

    But all in good time.

  10. Sonia Simone
    Twitter: soniasimone

    GirlPie, I for one will be very happy if you should ever take the plunge. You’d be fantastic.

    I am *so* with Havi on the “free therapy” thing. This post definitely has me vowing to try and get even more of myself into RC. (Mostly that would involve me actually making more time for RC. Always at a premium. But I hang in there.)

  11. Sandra
    Twitter: yoginisandra

    Dear Havi, I had the feeling I can’t write about all the stuff which is going on with me since I am back from India – didn’t know where to start writing. And then, your post inspired me it only one situation came into my mind about which I was able to write. Thank you for your beautiful post, which reminded me of being not theoretical but authentical, even if you are vulnerable. Sandra

    Sandras last blog post..Learnings from importing and exporting mattresses in and out of an ashram

  12. Charlie says:

    I’m with the group of people who find it harder to figure out what not to say. When I had the time, I could write every day, but I outpaced my readers’ want to read the sometimes boring stuff I write about.

    I’ll spin (a little) your statement about blogging being about therapy: blogging for me has been about finding myself. People trying to find themselves before they start to blog will be stumped, but if we let go of the ideas about what we’re supposed to be writing about, who we’re supposed to be, and such questions that presume we’re not growing, learning, and changing beings, we can actually figure out what we want to say.

    And yes, a critical part of therapy is about finding ourselves. So I really haven’t said anything different.

    @GirlPie: Seriously, can we get a blog out of you yet? Everytime I see you I want more, and I’ve already told why I don’t like saying “I want more GirlPie.” Don’t blog about whatever you’ve got funk with, but you’ve got a “I want more GirlPie” tribe already. I mean, you’ve got pre-fans, and few of us were that lucky. Quit holding out on us already!:p (But I understand; take your time. We’ll be here when you’re ready.)

    Charlies last blog post..Why GTD Contexts Are More Work Than They’re Worth (For Me)

  13. […] is this very cute, quirky, stimulating, emotiofying (is that just a word of mine?) blogger I know.  I heart her.  She makes me cry and […]

  14. […] is, I was reading old blog posts at The Fluent Self and suddenly felt as though I had permission to write for […]

  15. […] for me, Havi’s got a post on […]

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