Number three in a series on how to take some of the scary out of blogging.
The first time we talked about what if people are mean to me? And then last week we talked about what if I throw a party and no one shows up?
This time we’re talking about why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?
And again, this is also for you even if you’ve never had a blog and never plan to — or if you’re a blogging superstar.
Because guess what? Feeling like you’re not good enough and dealing with all the other what’s-the-point-isms is human. It’s normal. It’s your “stuff” talking.
And working through it is important and vital because — like it or not — the world needs you. At the very least, someone in the world needs you!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First we just want to meet the fear. Ready?
Aaaagh! Why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?
When it feels like, okay, maybe you’re good — but you’re not that good…
All right. You’re absolutely allowed to be scared. You’re allowed to feel worried about not being good enough. You’re allowed to wonder if there’s even a point to trying.
This is one of the biggest scary bits to blogging. For sure. Okay, here we go.
Maybe other people are doing it better: five things to think about.
1. So what?
This is where I wish I weren’t this sweet, accepting yoga person so I could channel Naomi and yell Yeah? So the #$&@ what? So what so what so WHAT?!?!
Sigh. I’m not Naomi.
So I’m going to channel Selma (my duck) instead and see if we can find a way to say this in a way that might trigger slightly less resistance. (Though I’m not at all convinced that we’ll be able to pull it off … this stuff is tough.)
Okay. So yeah, maybe other people are doing it better. Maybe you feel frustrated because you think you’re just going to be taking up space.
Even assuming that this were true, so what? Why does this exclude you from the equation?
How does that idea even work?
I’m not Richard Russo so I shouldn’t write at all? If I said that to you, you’d slap me silly.
(And yes, I’ve said it to myself on more than occasion. Being human: it happens to the best of us, I guess.)
So we know on some level that we’re being a bit absurd and yet it feels true. And when it feels true, all the “so whats” in the world aren’t useful anymore.
In this case, I think what might help here is if I let you in on a leeeetle secret about the world of blog.
2. Something critical that you maybe don’t understand about blogging.
And I’ll say it twice so you don’t miss it. There’s always always always room for more.
There is always room for more. Always.
You really think that the world is not big enough for two _______s?
Sure, I could give you that “every soul is an individual snowflake” thing but we don’t even have to go there because the world is actually big enough for a hundred ________s, maybe considerably more.
I read Naomi every day. If you’re a fellow Itty Biz fan, you’re probably thinking “But wait, Naomi doesn’t post every day. Not even close.”
You’re right. And yet I read her every day. Every. Single. Day.
Because at some point during the day I need a dose of Naomi. So I head over there and reread something I’ve already read. Just to hear her voice. Just because I like being there.
So there’s only one Naomi, of course, but if there were other people talking about similar things with a similar voice? As a reader, that’s only good news for me.
If there were fifteen Naomis I would read them all. If there were THIRTY Naomis and they each posted once a day (impossible!) I would STILL read them all.
There is a depressing lack of stuff that rocks. Which means that there is room for you.
The blogs I love to read are my joy. And when I’m done reading the handful of favorites there’s nothing left to do except press refresh over and over like a sad and hopeful mouse at a feeder. *sigh*
As a blogger, I also want to be unique and special and all that crap. But as a reader? I wish with all my heart that there were a hundred versions of Naomi or Pam or Jenny or Black Hockey Jesus because I would read them all and then wish for more.
There IS room for you. For you and for a hundred imitations of you and for the people who in six months will be thinking of you when they say “Man, I wish I could be like that amazingly awesome _____ who writes _________!”
It does not matter how many people are already doing what you want to do or doing it better. There will always be people hungry for more.
Why can’t you be the one to give it to them?
3. How can you know that you’re not that person — that voice — that people need?
Okay, this is where we double back to that “every soul is an individual snowflake” thing I said we wouldn’t talk about.
You cannot know. You absolutely cannot know what other people need right now in this moment. It might very well be that what they need is you. And not just you, but you exactly where you are right now.
You can’t see your gifts. You can’t see your humanity or how heart-breakingly beautiful it is.
You can’t see how useful it is for other people to know that stuff is hard for you too or that you’re also going through things that they experience.
But the rest of us know. We, your “right people”, can see it. And we need you.
It’s not fair of you to hide from the people who need you. What you know and think is valuable just because you are who you are.
4. Man, you’re talking like a real blogger now!
You know what? This tendency to think that somehow your stuff isn’t good enough? Natural and normal. Everyone feels this.
Before I started blogging I also had the thoughts that said “Oh come on, Pam Slim is already doing it, so why even bother?” or “I’ll never be as influential as Seth Godin.”
Yes, that was stupid. And not even the point. But I didn’t realize it then.
Thinking that all those people are somehow legitimate and you aren’t? Completely normal. Completely understandable. Completely human.
It’s also not an excuse.
So come on — join us, and become yet another “possibly irrelevant and boring” self-doubting blogger! Because the good news is that this feeling will go away.
And if it doesn’t right away, hang out here some more and read up on ways to change your patterns, because if that feeling is not a big ole life pattern, I don’t know what is.
5. If it’s showing up in your blog, it’s showing up in your life.
Exactly. This pattern of thinking that for some reason other people are allowed to thrive but you aren’t? It’s something that’s true for Life In General, and not just for blogging.
This what-iffery is something that can show up in every field and in every aspect of life.
So what if I’m a good musician? There are already great musicians. So what if I help people as a therapist? There are already better therapists. And so on.
Where would we be if Einstein had decided that he could never be Isaac Newton so why even bother? Or even if George Clooney had decided that he could never be Marlon Brando so why not just hang it up?
You’ll never be those people. But you will be you and there is room for that. Because there is something for everyone.
I find plenty of blogs to be painfully boring. But many of these very blogs have enormous followings, and you know what? They help people.
They don’t help me, but that’s completely okay — it’s only because I’m not one of their “right people”. They help other people. Your job is to write for your people. And don’t worry about who they are just yet, because they will find you.
There is something for everyone. There is room for you.
But until you do some work with this pattern, it’s going to follow you around everywhere and poke at you until it gets the attention it deserves.
Reassurance time again!
This is where you stop me and say, “Okay, fine. I’ll start the damn blog. But I don’t even know if I have anything to say. I mean, what am I going to say? I don’t even know what to talk about!”
And this is where I point out how awesome it is that you’re no longer thinking you shouldn’t write one because all those other people are already doing it, and instead you’re worried about things like content and how-to.
We’re chasing the worry and the what-ifs, and they’ve shifted to a new place. And that is very, very good news.
We’ll be talking next week about not knowing what to talk about! In the meantime, rejoice in knowing that if you aren’t the next Havi & Selma? Rock on, because you being you is not as depressing as you think.
And if you are the next Havi & Selma, that’s also great because there are a ton of people who will be jumping for joy to have more of this kind of thing.
And either way, Selma and I want to be reading your blog, so point us in the right direction!
P.S. If all this stuff is freaking you out, take advantage of the “fact” that it’s Non-Sucky Yoga Month and book yourself some yummy, relaxing yoga time with yourself.
Because non-sucky yoga will calm you the heck down and everyone knows that calmification is good for the soul. And also for your blog.
P.P.S. This is a total aside, which you can ignore if you are not Richard Russo. If you are Richard Russo, let me just say this. Richard Russo! Why do you not have a real website? Argh. Hire me. Or hire my designer. Or both. Because this is a disaster.
I’m glad that you wrote this because I was thinking “Why am I even blogging anymore now that Havi is doing it?”
Really, I am so, so glad that you started blogging because when I get overwhelmed with the stuckitude that plagues my dear readers, I don’t have to say “you know, I really don’t know how to help you, just DO something, I can say: GO SEE HAVI!” She will not only treat you well, she will explain things in a way that makes sense and breaks the death grip and will allow you to move forward with your plans.”
There truly is space for everyone. I gave up trying to be Kathy Sierra long ago, as much as I wanted to know stuff about brain science and horses and draw killer graphs. And I will never be as quick and wickedly funny as Naomi. And I won’t be as patient as you.
Knowing you are all there allows me to keep writing my own stories, which hit just the right people on just the right day. That was true when 3 people were reading my blog, and will be true if 3,000 are reading it.
We want to hear your stories, stuckified readers, JUST DO IT! Oops — I mean follow Havi’s non-stupid advice and get blogging.
Pamela Slims last blog post..Blog Action Day Today – It doesn’t have to be about money
I heart you today.
This was just the little pick-me-up that I needed.
I have a set of blogs that I read often as well, and I have to stop myself from thinking about how I’m not those bloggers and how I couldn’t possibly be as cool as they are.
You just proved me wrong. I’m cool too. And if I build it, dang it, people will find and love me 🙂
Thank you, Havi (and Selma)
Monicas last blog post..I require a lot of attention
That is so damn weird. I was sitting here reading this and thinking that this is so what I needed to hear because every time I read posts from Debbie of i_obsess I just want to quit because I know no matter how hard I try I’ll never have that amazingly easy eloquence with words that she has and right then I read what you wrote about me and you made me feel a million times better.
Honestly, you’ll never know what that meant to me.
Jenny, Bloggesss last blog post..An open letter to Apple regarding dead hobo fingers
I, too, read a little IttyBiz daily, always finding something I didn’t see before, even in repeat reads, she stokes my fire power. Ditto to your blog — I come for a daily dose of chill-power.
Thanks for the useful post; I appreciated the familiarity of the argument, and the support. We’ll see.
I love this post and tweeted about it. I could have written this myself only you said it better. Uh-oh “not good enough” stuff coming up. lol!
Seriously though, so many people have this feeling but you illustrated why it’s just an illusion. Another example is the fact that we all own books on the same topic by different authors. I’ve probably read over 100 parenting books and still read them! Everyone has something valuable to share.
Carrie Lauths last blog post..Quiet But Busy
I think there was a little divine intervention when you wrote this post… It seems to be what we needed to hear Dear Havi!!!
You make me more calm just by reading your blog.
I hope you get extra calmness next time you do some yoga!
Melissas last blog post..Tip? I’ll give you a Tip!
Last night I read a piece in Wired (written by a ValleyWag writer) telling us all to quit blogging because the big boys have it all sewn up and we’ll never be able to compete.
Halfway through my “that’s a crock” response I saw that you had posted this. Awesome stuff.
Not to pick on that Wired writer, but if he really believed in blogging in the first place he wouldn’t go work for the Silicon Valley equivalent of People Magazine.
Nathan Bowerss last blog post..In the event of Zombie apocalypse, please keep blogging
I just have to say that “In the event of Zombie apocalypse, please keep blogging” is the *best* title in the history of the world. For anything.
Like, I want to see the musical. And own the nail polish. Well, maybe not the nail polish but that’s only because I don’t use nail polish.
Nice sharing of head-space!
If there’s anything that can’t be made more awesome by adding Zombies, I don’t want to know about it.
My wife likes Jenny better. But I will keep on keeping on.
Black Hockey Jesuss last blog post..Saussure Jr.
1. So the #$&@ what? So what so what so WHAT?!?!
2. The illustrious Mr. Godin shows a startling lack of ducks.
3. Thank you.
Off to read about zombies.
Naomi Dunfords last blog post..Setting Prices and Knowing Your Market
It helps me to imagine myself as a singing bird (yeah, well I don’t have a duck to help me, OK?). There are already tons of birds singing beautifully, but the singing bird sings anyway. It’s just what singing birds do.
Of course, like most of my good ideas, this one comes from someone else,
“If singing birds must sing, with no question of choice
Then living is our song, indeed our voice”
– Nightingales, Prefab Sprout
Gary Fletchers last blog post..How to Reach Your Goals Immediately
I suddenly figured that I have nothing to lose by blogging and everything to gain 😉
Boing Boing just posted about a Zombie apocalypse wall-decal. I’m not sure if that’s a coincidence or a sign of our impending doom… 🙂
Thanks to you and Nathan for this push of encouragement. I have been planning to get started blogging for several months, but I really stalled out on that concern that the A-listers would always be a step ahead of me. But I finally realized that as you say, it just doesn’t matter – blog anyway. I think it was Charlie Gilkey that pointed out to me that you started this blog less than six months ago. You’ve come a long way in those few short months, and found a huge amount of success. So it’s never too late. Thanks for the encouragement to get out there and do it.
Great post…I guess I am one of your right people…most of the other blogs get blocked by the FIREWALL of DOOM…but I can read you and a few others while waiting for the next email/phone call at work.
I have two web pages…a blog:
Mostly for what’s up with me type stuff
for Soul music and “Yooper” shining through to my right people type o stuff.
Oh, and I found your link on Pace and Kyeli’s blog.
They are a lot fun to read as well and also not blocked by the FIREWALL OF DOOM 🙂
ooh great blog !
yes its believing that something you say will help or strike a cord with someone else thats hard to keep in your blogging heart.
thanks for a great blog by the way
creativevoyages last blog post..yes pie
Somewhere on your site I recall you saying that your friends don’t read your blog.
If you don’t mind sharing, how do you feel about that? And why do you think that is?
I know that none of my friends are particularly interested in even venturing near my blog to see what it’s all about. It hurts, I have to admit.
Either they have looked, and they don’t know what to say, or they haven’t…because they aren’t interested? Maybe jealous that I have found something I enjoy? (There have been other signs of the latter).
I see we’ve all had our minds read by you with this post.
For me, it really does boil down to fears of:
* I don’t have anything interesting to say
* I’ll never be as good at saying it as X
One of my own unsurmountable-bar-of-blogging-standards is the one and only dooce.com.
Looking forward to the post on “not knowing what to talk about.” I especially hesitate on issues of privacy. How much of myself do I want to expose to strangers? How much of my family?
Heidis last blog post..THAT IS ALL
@Heidi – good point on the privacy thing. I’ll definitely cover that next week. Thanks for the reminder!
And I’d read you over Dooce any day. Just saying.
@Juliet – Do you mind if I turn that (awesome) question into an Ask Havi post? Because I kind of have a lot to say about that.
@Jenny the Bloggess – That’s so funny. And so great.
Because at least ten times a day I catch myself wondering why I can’t be as fabulously uninhibited as YOU and then have to accept that oh right, I’m not and that even with a duck I still don’t have the balls to not at least somewhat edit my extreme run-on sentences and all the other awesome yet ridiculous things that come out of my head. But you model that for me and it’s freaking amazing.
Looking forward to the Ask Havi post!
Havi and Selma,
Thank you, thank you, thank you. For so long I’ve been hiding in fear, refusing to update my blog, scared that no one cares and no one reads it.
You’ve helped me to see that what I think isn’t important and yet at the same time what I think is vitally important.
I’d love for you to visit my blog. My favourite post that I’ve written is ‘How to Be an Everyday Clown’ – http://beplayful.org/how-to-be-an-everyday-clown/. If you look closely, Selma might even spot some distant relations.
Ta da for now.
David | beplayfuls last blog post..Creative Inspirations #3: Sentences are Difficult to Write
OK, so it’s not exactly timely, but … this post inspired a whole bunch of Big Thoughts that became a post a couple of days ago over on my site.
Thought you might like to know.
Heidis last blog post..This Christmas, Give Presence
I know I’m late on this post, but I’ve been slowly working my way through your fantastically encouraging blog for the last week. Reading this post made me think of two things.
One of the things I’ve noticed you do in pretty much every post is write more about your readers than yourself, a rarity in the “blog-o-verse.” Isn’t the best way to have a good conversation with a stranger to talk mostly about them? Is this a conscious voice you use? Or just an effect of you being your own unique self?
Secondly, I feel weird posting comments on blogs I haven’t been reading long and creepy de-lurking after reading a blog I’ve followed for an age. Like I’m asking to sit at a lunch table in a brand new highschool where I don’t even know how cool the kids I’m propositioning actually are.
Thank you for always having something interesting to say.
Kates last blog post..Unstuck.
Yes, Kate! You absolutely nailed it right there: “Like I’m asking to sit at a lunch table in a brand new highschool where I don’t even know how cool the kids I’m propositioning actually are.”
Both about commenting, and about posting in the first place! thank you….
Hi Havi & Selma,
I’ve been lurking here for awhile, so first of all THANK YOU for what you do. And second of all thank you for this post. I set up a blog site maybe two months ago and have done exactly nothing with it because I am frozen with fear about this very idea you’re discussing here. Also because there is just something so intimidating about have no archive of posts, and yes, I realize how crazy that sounds because the only way to have an archive is to actually post! So I just wanted you to know that halfway through reading item 3 above, I opened up my dusty post-lacking blog and dove in. I think your Procrastination Dissolve-o-Matic is definitely in order for me, I could use any fairy dust I can scrounge up on this matter. And I’ll be back to finish reading this post and the rest of your blogging therapy session as soon as I finish my first post – that will be like the dangling carrot.
Thank you both, you rock,
Working through the archives this is totally on target for me, as I start a new blog.
I was reminded of Eckhart Tolle saying something like:
Every time you think you’re better than someone or worse than someone, that’s the mind.
.-= Andrew Lightheart @alightheart´s last post … Never how you planned it =-.
Thank you, Havi. Even a year later, this post is finding it’s target. What you say here makes all the difference to this newbie blogger, trying to find her tribe and her voice. Thank you. I’m pinning this up in my office for reassurance when I need it.
.-= Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists´s last post … Martha Does Christmas Cookies: and, Why I like Martha Better Post-Prison =-.