Tyranny of a Blank Page
Early in the week I had this idea of what I was going to write about for Storytime Saturday, and it was something good. The problem is as Saturday has now happened I cannot for the life of me remember what it was that I wanted to write about. Jaedia says this is why she keeps notes… but I ultimately fail at doing that. I have literally hundreds of “Untitled” Google documents with only a few sentences in them, so note taking is not exactly my strong suit. Actually the problem isn’t the notes themselves but the organization. Some people can neatly compartmentalize their lives into subjects and categories and then there are people like me that are shocked and amazed if anything goes as planned… because we are constantly rewriting that plan as we go along. This is the point where I admit that I really have no prep work for my blog.
This is a curse and a blessing both depending on the day. As I could not think of anything to write about this morning it was a curse. The fact that I could start banging away on my keys and make something work as I went along… is the blessing. As writers we have to find whatever it is that works for us. I’ve always tended to be one of those “rough outline” people, that I need a sketch of a roadmap… but then prefer to fill in the details as I go allowing myself to be flexible and adjust to change as it happens. The irony of this… is that I am pretty damned adaptable, but I still end up hating change in most forms. I guess when you choose to life your life is a state of loosely organized chaos, you learn to really respect the parts of your life that you can commit to routine. Those are the stable base that you build your ever changing life upon, so when one of those things changes you notice it.
The Wayward Blogger
One of the things I took special time to point out yesterday in all of my NBI 2015 announcements… was that we are also looking for what I termed the “Wayward Blogger”. I guess this hits home for me especially because still deep within my core I am one of you. I was a Wayward blogger for years, with weeks where I was extremely active, and month long pauses in activity. If I could do this whole blogging daily thing naturally then I wouldn’t need to challenge myself by calling it the “Grand Experiment” and keeping track of each and every day that goes by where I didn’t break the streak. If you look through my blogs history you will find several six or seven month lapses in posting, and today during Storytime Saturday I guess I want to address those. Not necessarily why the lapses happened but what my mental state was like during each.
The problem with a blog is when it starts to get popular you feel like you are forced to produce content. The irony of doing the blogging every day thing, is that in many ways it is a gimmick. When you are producing that much content people are generally forgiving on your off days. Not every single post I make is meaningful or important, and some of them are going to flat out honestly suck. I’ve talked about the “permission to suck” before, but it is even more than just this. When you are blogging infrequently you feel like you have to write gold every single time you set your fingers to your keyboard. This pressure is overwhelming sometimes and each day that passes gets internalized as another rung higher your subsequent post has to be to make up for the fact that it has been six months.
Permission to be Boring
I have no stats on this, but this is something I have heard from each and every other person that has gone dormant. That they don’t blog because they feel like they simply don’t have anything to say that is worthy of that “triumphant return” post. This is the instinct we have to figure out how to subvert if we are going to be happy bloggers. Like the permission to suck when you are just starting out, you have to give yourself the permission to be boring on occasion. Writing a “return” post is often like ripping off a band aid. You need to get it over with quickly so you can get on with the normal business of writing posts. The thing you have to realize is that for most readers your blog has been shuffled into a RSS Reader along with the rest of the people that they follow. They will notice when you come back, but no one is actually there waiting every single day for that “epic post” you have built up in your head.
Ultimately if anyone is going to read a blog for any length of time, there is a transition that happens. You stop caring so much about what is being written and begin to focus on the person behind the screen. Those people, the ones that have transitioned to caring about you as a human being… they will always be there when you return to welcome you with open arms. The other folks who were only there when you were producing that thing they desired on that specific moment… they will always be fickle and aren’t really worth the heartache and frustration. You need to ask yourself what exactly do you want to write about and then focus on doing just that. So many of us started our blogs as one thing, and then realized whatever that “one” thing was no longer sustainable. We then transitioned into writing about the things that made us happy, and have kept going because of whatever that “thing” was.
I Am Proof
Essentially I offer myself as proof that you too can be a pillar of stability in the community. I was quite possibly one of the least prolific bloggers, with some pretty massive absences. The longest one that I can remember was the seven months that passed between the last blog post and me rededicating myself to doing the daily blogging experiment. Each time I felt like a complete failure for letting the blog posts stop. Each time I beat myself up for not being able to crank out content when I “wasn’t feeling it”. Each time I could not get the desire that I should be writing something out of my head, and ultimately this small amount of madness lead me to put fingers to keyboard again and start writing. Now is when I let you in on a little secret… that inner doubt, the bit of you that tells you not to post. That never actually goes away. Most mornings I have to hold my breath and close my eyes… and press the publish button, because the inner voice inside me is constantly telling me that whatever I am doing simply isn’t good enough.
I was and still am in many ways a Wayward Blogger, I am just learning how to overcome those instincts and force myself to perform. I don’t know what I am doing most days, and in truth I don’t even have a clue. I just keep moving forward and adapting to whatever happens, coming up with things on the fly as I push forward. If I can do this… quite literally anyone can. I am possibly the least qualified person to be doing what I am doing on a daily basis, yet I keep finding a way to make it happen. You are significantly more talented than I am, and will go on and make more magic than I could ever dream of. You simply have to push yourself to do it. Prove it to yourself, prove it to the community… that you can be our next shining star. The support is there, you just need to make it happen by finding what it is that you love talking about, and start writing. My hope this Newbie Blogger Initiative is not so much that we get this massive crop of new bloggers, but that instead we find a way to rekindle the fires of bloggers that have long gone dormant. If I can do this so can you.
Source: Tales of the Aggronaut
The Wayward Blogger