Wow. So this is number fourteen in a series that has grown way bigger that anything I’d planned on (the original set-up was a six-post series, feel free to laugh at me).
On the surface, we’re talking about taking the scary out of blogging, but really we’re talking about patterns and habits and the art of “working on your stuff”.
So … you really don’t have to have a blog (or even care) to pick up something useful.
And if you’d like to catch up (you don’t have to), the rest of the posts are right here:
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.
Part 13. Finding your voice.
Four different reader questions today, each dealing with a slightly different flavor of worry, anxiety and what-iffery.
And, as always, I’ll remind you that whatever is worrying you is legitimate. Anxiety? Natural, normal and completely human. You’re allowed to have it.
Worries. Lots and lots of worries.
“How can I come up with a witty lesson every day?”
Gah! Oh no! A witty lesson every day?
Now I’m feeling anxious too!
On second thought, though, that kind of sounds like a big, horrible Should to me.
And I seem to remember someone smart (probably me) saying at some point:
“There are no shoulds in blogging!”
You definitely don’t need to post every day. And really, only about one in fourteen posts needs a witty lesson!*
*Tee hee! I just gave a witty lesson! Okay, it wasn’t really that witty. Never mind. I will now hang my head in shame.
Seriously, not every post has to teach something or make some profound point.
I tend to find the “Hi, I’m an expert and this is all I ever talk about” blogs to be pretty dull, as a rule. Sometimes you just want to hang out with someone and not have to learn Something Important.
Forget the witty lessons. Sometimes they’ll show up by themselves. But you definitely don’t have to go out and look for them.
And posting every day? Only if you’re a masochist.
Or, if you’re me. But as I say every single Tuesday, I treat blogging as … therapy you don’t have to pay for.
So yeah, I write five or six posts a week. But that’s because the process of writing stuff down is good for my soul. Don’t use me as an example for anything!
“What if whatever I say is useless and unentertaining, and nobody reads it?”
Okay, I’m taking this as a two-part question. Because what if it’s useless and unentertaining is actually completely unconnected to what if nobody reads it.
Well … what if it is useless and unentertaining? Let’s pretend it is. What does that have to do with anything? There’s lots of useless, unentertaining crap out there that is beloved by millions.
Some of the most popular blogs that I know of bore me senseless.
Some of the most popular Twitter users I — personally — find to be bland, tiresome and yawn-worthy in every way. And don’t even get me started on music, television shows, film …
Anyway, it’s all a matter of taste. Which, I’m told, varies. Plenty of people find my stuff useless and unentertaining too, and that’s fine. Not my right people.
Lots of people happen to like useless, unentertaining, time-wasting irrelevance. If your stuff is that bad (or even just mediocre) too, you’ll do just fine. I’m not worried about you at all!
What if nobody reads it, though? That’s a different question.
There are close to a billion and a half internet users in the world. All you need is a teeny, tiny percentage of a percentage of them to find you and dig your useless, unentertaining style, and you’ll be fine.
Getting people to read is not about being interesting. It’s about strategy.
Are you on Twitter? Do you comment on other people’s blogs? Do you know of other places online where people write useless, unentertaining things in a similar vein to yours?
Maybe their followers are dying for some more useless, unentertaining writing that’s similar to what they already like. That’s where you come in!
And yes, best way to get people to read your blog is to be on Twitter. I try to say something useless and unentertaining there at least ten times a day.
“What if I don’t have an entertaining little voice that gives me the cute ‘come-hither’ wink?”
Okay, I’ll skip the “you don’t have to be entertaining” thing, since we’ve just covered that.
But yes, what if your voice doesn’t give you the cute come-hither wink? This is, I believe, a variation on writer’s block.
Which is almost always about fear, transition and internal conflict.
At the deepest level, though, it’s really about trust. About not trusting your voice. I wrote last week about finding your voice and why you don’t have to. Still good advice.
Anyway, I’d treat this like any other form of stuckness.
Give yourself permission to be where you are.
This is where I am right now … in this moment … not being winked at. Even though I’d love my perfect entertaining little voice to whistle at me lasciviously every single time I prance by, it’s not happening right now and baby, that’s how it is.
Then go be in your body. Take a walk. Dance around the room. Do five minutes of Shiva Nata to stimulate some new neural connections and launch an epiphany or two.
And then talk to your Shoulds again and tell them that yet again, they just aren’t helping. Even though they want to keep you safe so you won’t get disappointed, hurt or laughed off the internet, they’re actually keeping you paralyzed by fear.
And when you’re paralyzed by fear, you can’t do what you need to do to feel safe, supported and loved. So ask yourself for permission to take some steps to help yourself feel safe, supported and loved.
Because otherwise, what’s the point?
“What if I hate what I write?”
Hmm. That could happen.
You kind of can’t know until you try, right? Maybe you will hate some of it.
Nothing wrong with that. I mean, it’s not fun. But pretty normal. Happens to the best of us. And you’re allowed to hate it.
I often hate stuff I write. Usually I let it sit for a few days. And by then I’ve usually figured out what’s going on with the hate.
Sometimes it’s that I’m feeling too vulnerable. Other times it’s because I’m trying to make too many points at once and I’ve gotten myself all mixed up.
So then I have Selma read it, which doesn’t help because she likes everything.
And I have my gentleman friend read it, which does help because he usually points out that if I just delete a couple of meandering paragraphs, it turns out that it’s actually pretty good.
But my guess is that this isn’t really what’s worrying you.
To me it sounds like you’re feeling anxious that some of your old, stuck, fear-of-success patterns of “what if I do X and I still don’t like myself” will show up.
And they might. Because blogging is a reflection of the self-work process. Your stuff will come up.
The good part is that writing is healing. Which means that the very act of documenting and interacting with this process will help you learn from that stuff.
And learning from said stuff is way more useful than having it just become another reminder of how miserable everything is right now.
So I’d say, take your time with it. Remind yourself that you don’t need to publish everything. You can let stuff sit and percolate.
Blogging doesn’t have to become another place where you castigate yourself for being you. But yeah, when we’re not careful, sometimes it happens. And then you catch yourself.
And you give yourself some attention. And some love, if you can stand to have some.
That’s it for now!
I was going to wrap this up with some possibly-wise words about meeting the fear and allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling and so on. But you guys are bright enough to connect the dots so I’ll refrain.
Tomorrow (gott sei dank) is Wednesday, which means some goofiness. And Thursday Selma and I will be answering a flood of questions about At The Kitchen Table.
And yeah, more Blogging Therapy next week. Because there’s a lot of it. Internet hug to you, in the meantime.