I’m so glad no one has asked (yet) what you do when you lose a post, because I don’t have a good answer (yet).
Let’s just say — for now — that this is the second time I’m writing number thirteen in our weekly series about taking the scary out of blogging, so I can only hope that it comes out better this time.
And as always, it doesn’t matter if you’re a rockstar blogger or don’t have any plans to get started, because it’s not really about the blogging. It’s about stuckified life patterns, and ways to think about them.
You can always catch up on the series if you like (no obligation, though!):
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!
Part 11. De-shouldifying.
Part 12. A bunch of questions.
Finding your voice.
When you’re not even sure what you’re saying, why you’re saying it or who you’re saying it to.
This seems to be one of the biggest barriers to blogging, if my inbox and the wonderful women in the Screw Therapy Start Blogging course are representative of anything.
It’s a mysterious thing, the blogging voice.
People want to know how I found mine, what if they never find theirs, do they need to find one and what if no one likes it!
And that’s just the beginning.
I could launch into a whole series of amusing rants on this topic (more or less), but let’s just try and keep it to a few useful tips and concepts this time. Oh, and a reminder. I’m totally starting with the reminder.
This is normal.
Just about everyone starting a blog worries about the voice thing.
Because blogging is weird that way. It’s new. It’s uncomfortable. You haven’t really gotten your bearings yet.
Plus there’s all this symbolic weight to it. You’re putting yourself out there. You’re admitting that yeah, you’re a creative person who can string words together. You’re experimenting with something new, and this adventure is being documented, and ohmygod other people could see it.
So I just want to remind you that you’re allowed to be terrified, nervous, anxious and whatever else it is you’re feeling.
Natural, normal and not the end of the world. These are questions that lots of us ask, and keep asking.
Okay, I’m done reminding. Big crazy internet hug to you. On to the Things To Consider.
Have you read my archives?
Most blogs have a link to their archives. Yes, those are mine.
Go to the archives of a blogger you admire, go back to the very, very beginning and read the very, very first posts.
And no, this is not about whether they suck or not. You don’t want to get lost in that awful internal criticism game of “okay, fine, this is crap but it’s still less crappy than mine will be” because that goes nowhere but it goes there for a really long time.
What you’re doing is discovering (or reminding yourself) that even the best blogging voices are not born that way.
A blogging voice doesn’t rise from the ocean fully formed like super-hot non-blogger Aphrodite, or pop out of the head of Zeus like the strategic genius Athena who reigns over wisdom and warfare and also doesn’t blog.*
* Expert tip #2: Don’t write like THAT.
Anyway, reading people’s archives is
always good for a laugh a terrific reminder that these. Things. Take. Time.
The best voices — the ones you love the most — have grown and developed and changed. Read our early stuff. Listen to our voices crack and stutter.
You’ll be amazed.
The most important thing about a blogging voice is that it’s casual.
More like an email to a friend than a noozletter to a bunch of important clients.
The biggest mistake I see in blogs — especially business and “personal development” blogs is that they’re super preachy. Too authoritative. Too bossy. I do this in my earliest and most cringe-worthy posts like crazy.
And I reread them to remind myself (again with the reminders!) about the dynamic, ever-changing stream-of-life process thing.
Stuff changes. This can be alternately terrifying and reassuring, but in the end it can be liberating too — if you let it.
Your voice is a work in progress, like everything else. It will shift and move to accommodate different situations, and it will become something you’ll get to have a pretty intimate relationship with.
Wait, tell me more about this mistake thing. Don’t I want to seem authoritative and like I kind of know what I’m talking about?
Here’s the thing. You’re already an authority by virtue of the fact that a. you have a blog and b. you’re giving advice or answering questions or discussing stuff.
And what people crave from you (and me, and anyone) is connection. And intimacy.
The more you hide behind your podium of expertise, the more distance you put between you and the reader.
And not the sexy kind of distance. The off-putting, chasm-building, “I can’t connect with this person” kind.
We all ruin posts all the time by thinking we have to have a point every single time, or forgetting to admit that yeah, there are things we don’t know.
Puffed-up biggified experts who speak only in authoritative lists of seven ways to do this and eight ways to screw up that … they’re a dime a dozen. They’re interchangeable. They’re expendable.
We’re not coming for your expertise, really. There are all sorts of places to get that. Sure, the information is nice. But we’re really coming for you.
I mean that. We come to your blog because you’re there. For some time with you. For your voice. For that reassuring, comforting feeling of “hey, this is a safe place for me to hang out and get replenished.”
Write to someone you love.
When I started writing my noozletters, I used to write them to one of my favorite clients.
In addition to being a super cool person, she was a symbol for me of where my business was going. She was smart and funny and kooky and totally got my work and where I was going with it.
I wanted all my clients to be like her.
So when I wrote a noozletter, I’d pretend that I was writing an email to her, answering one of her smart, interesting questions.
That’s where my blogging voice began. It’s me, talking to people I like. Like you.
And I have to say, now all my clients are that cool, which means (to me, at least) this voice thing works in magical and mysterious ways.
Well, maybe not all that mysterious. But if you write to your Right People, they’ll be seriously overjoyed to find you.
It’s an ongoing dynamic process.
I know. We’ve talked about this. In fact, two weeks ago when I was talking about de-shouldifying, I said:
And just like your life and your business, blogging is a living, dynamic process. It will change. Steadily and regularly.
Life is flow. That is … well, it’s the way of things.
Of course your voice will change. As you write, it will become more you. It will loosen up, lose some of the stiltedness, some of the formality that comes from fear and insecurity and just not knowing.
It will change register — becoming friendlier as you get to know the people reading and become friends with them. Hi guys! *blows kiss*
So give it time. And love. And remember that hardly anyone will go back and read your early posts unless you decide to draw attention to them by linking to them.*
*Well, aside from all the people who have read This Very Post. They’re totally going to be peeking in your archives. Bwahahahahaha!
Let your first posts be exactly what they are and how they are. And one day someone else will read them and say, Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? You were nervous? YOU?
And that person will be inspired and moved to start their own thing and meet their own fears.
And it will be awesome.
You don’t need to find it. You’ve never lost it.
I don’t want to get all yoga teacher on you, but really. Your voice isn’t something to find. It’s yours. You already have it.
You just haven’t gotten to the point yet where it feels safe to access it and to sink into it, but it’s totally there. It’s waiting for you.
The flowing, moving, ever-changing thing that is your voice is already doing its thing, even if only inside your head. The voice that says sweet, funny things? The sarcastic grumblebug?
The conversations you have between the part of you that really believes you can do it and the part of you that is petrified that you’ll fall down and get hurt?
It’s all part of your voice. It belongs to you to do what you want with it. You know, with practice. Over time. But it’s yours.
That’s it for now!
Tomorrow I’ll be doing an End Of The Year version of my weekly Friday Chicken.
In the meantime, send some love to my amazing Blogging Therapy course participants and to all the other Fluent Self-ified readers who are secretly working on blogging it up over their holiday break.
And yeah, more Blogging Therapy next week. I mean, next year. Internet hugs all around!