And it’s number eleven in our weekly series about making blogging (or the thought of maybe eventually getting around to it) seem more fun and less scary.

But as we all know, this series is not really about blogging. It’s about working on your patterns and figuring out how to do stuff differently.

Should you happen to feel (no pressure!) like catching up, the rest of the series:
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?
Part 4. What do I saaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?
Part 5. Help! Perfectionism! Gaaaaak!
Part 6. But I’m not an EXPERT!
Part 7. Don’t make me be vulnerable!
Part 8. I just don’t have the time!
Part 9. What if someone READS what I wrote?
Part 10. But I’ll never be popular!

Guilt and Shoulds make everything harder.

And that’s where the stuck happens.

We’ve talked about the “should” patterns a gazillion times before. Like when we talked about how you don’t always have to take a deep breath even though everyone says you should. Or my infamous zero guilt email policy.

But if you’re anything like me, you also tend to forget just how much these old, stuckified patterns of I have to do this and no one will like me if I don’t do that can really mess things up for us.

And I’ve been noticing this pattern coming up a lot in the questions people send me. So I think we need to talk about it.

Basically what I’d like to do is to give you permission to take the various rules and shoulds and “this is how things work” stuff that you’ve learned from all the biggified experts (me and my duck included) and toss it all out the window!!.

In fact, I’d love it if — every time one of those shoulds comes up for you — you’d say to it the following:

Hey, I appreciate that you’re trying to help me out by giving me some guidelines, but I happen to know that there are no shoulds in blogging. Selma the duck said so. It’s my experiment and it’s my experience. So I’m going to do this my way, thanks.

Look how much how easier it gets to deal with blogging questions (fresh from my inbox!) if we start pruning out some of the shoulds:

“I want to start a blog, but I just can’t write as much — or as often –as you do! Impossible.”

Yes. Weirdly, this might be the most common thing I hear.

That because I churn out a ridiculously long essay every day, and you can’t, this is somehow a reason not to blog.

The truth is, I’m defying all the blogging rules and shoulds myself. Conventional wisdom says that posts “should” be about a third as long as mine. Oh well.

You know why I write long posts every day? Two reasons.

1. Because I don’t know how to write short posts. It would be annoying and time-consuming for me to have to write short posts. And 2. because my morning writing ritual is therapeutic and healing for me. It feels good.

But that’s no reason that you should write long posts. Your post could be a sentence. Or a link. Or a thought. Or a collection of thoughts.

It’s your thing. The popularity of this very blog that you’re reading right now is proof that conventional wisdom is a load of crap. Or at the very least, that it doesn’t hold for all situations.

Everyone told me, “No one will read posts this long.” Turns out my people will.

Your right people will want the stuff you do in exactly the way that’s right for you to do it.

Not only do you not need to write posts of a certain length, there’s also no reason that you should post every day. Why don’t you start with once or twice a week and see how that feels? Get a rhythm going. Your own rhythm.

If you find that you, like me, get addicted to a morning practice of writing, go with that. But that doesn’t mean you have to publish everything you write. There are no obligations. It’s all practice.

“I want my blog to support my business, but the business doesn’t exist yet. Does it make sense for me to start blogging now?

Yes.*

*When you remove a hundred layers of shoulds, there’s really only ever either a YES or a “I really truly don’t want to and I don’t have to, so no.” In this case, it’s a yes.

“I want my blog to support my business, but the business seems to be constantly changing. I’m not sure yet what I do.

Oh, my dear sweet you. I know how this feels.

Identity crises are a natural part of owning a business. Your business will change shape and keep on changing.

That’s because your business is alive.

And just like your life and your business, blogging is a living, dynamic process. It will change. Steadily and regularly.

The good news though is that you won’t need to do a total overhaul of your blog or your business each time this happens if you remember that the heart of your business is you, wherever you are right now.

YOU are the the center. Your voice, your personality, you.

What I mean is that if your voice and your way of being become the reason we want to hang out with you, it won’t matter much how your blog or your business shift.

I could announce tomorrow (don’t worry, I won’t!) that from now on I’m not going to talk about patterns, habits, fear, guilt, stucknesses, biggification and business-growing.

I could tell you that my plan is to talk about relationships. Or what my yoga practice has taught me about working with addiction. Or even about why I never eat dessert, don’t believe in Mt. Hood and am afraid of dipthongs.

Sure, I’d lose some of you. But most of you would keep on hanging out here. Because it would still be entertaining and we’d still have fun. Plus you know you can’t break up with Selma. Just look at that schweet little face!

Point is: it doesn’t matter.

Toss out that annoying little should. Let things change and evolve as they will. Be yourself and have some fun with it. It will find its form. And your right people will know it when they see it.

A couple more?

Guess what. We can do the same reassuring should-tossing thing for questions about the Blogging Therapy course happening — ohmygod — this weekend:

“I want to take your Blogging Therapy course but I already have a blog.”
Good. We can still zap your fears (but nicely!) and answer your what-ifs and what-about-thats if you’re already blogging it up. You’re welcome to come.

Unless the only thing you’re interested in is getting traffic. If that’s your only thing, wait for a different class.

There’s no rule that says you have to have a blog — or that you can’t have one yet — in order to start using techniques that help you consciously, actively move through the things that are scaring you and holding you back.

If you’ve got stuck stuff around blogging and/or how-to questions of the sort that will never get answered here because I don’t like writing about tech-ey stuff, this is for you.

“I so want to do this course but I still haven’t read all your Blogging Therapy posts! Gak! Sorry. Will I be out of the loop?”

Permission to not have read my stuff? Granted. Show that should the door!

We’ll be covering stuff there that hasn’t come up in the posts, and also going way deeper with some that did. Having to read this stuff could give you some background, but it’s certainly not a requirement.

Should should should should should.

I know it’s not easy interacting with shoulds. And it’s even harder to be nice to them.

The main thing to remember is that you don’t want to ignore them because that makes them louder. And you don’t want to stomp on them because that makes them mad.

A little acknowledgment goes a long way: I see you, I hear you, I know you’re there.

And then tell them that you’ll be able to get a lot more done and get it done faster if they give you a break. Send them out to buy snacks or something. And then gradually replace them.

Last minute stuff.

Right. So the Screw Therapy and Start Blogging course that still doesn’t really have a name is this weekend.

I announced it yesterday and it’s already over half full. Actually, there are four spots left. If one of them is yours, yay! I would love to hang out with you there.

To answer some more questions: no, I’m not going to record.

Apologies to the Aussies and Kiwis and South Africans and the woman in India and everyone who has plans over the weekend. This is an intimate group and we’re talking about intimate stuff, and I want it to be a safe, cozy place for us to open up in.

As for “will I do it again?” … yes. However — and this is kind of a big however — I need to tell you something.

As some of you know I’m about to launch my Next Big Thing. I wasn’t going to say this yet because I really don’t want to be hyping it up. I’m really hoping that only my right people will end up applying for it.

But, just so you know, everyone who signs up for both Blogging Therapy classes will get to take that tuition off of the Thing I Can’t Tell You About Yet.

So if you’re thinking about this course and you’re planning on doing the New Thing That I’m Not Supposed To Talk About But Embarrassingly Can’t Stop Talking About with me anyway, just do it now so that you’re not mad at me when the New Thing happens.

We’re done.

Tomorrow we get to goof off again, and then we’re back to Blogging Therapy next week. See you there. *blows kiss*

[Ed. Just to say that registration for the Blogging Therapy course I mentioned here closed a few hours after I posted this. So if you’re not in this one I’ll see you in the next one. Thanks guys!]