For those of you who are just joining the party, I’m almost a week into a little personal challenge. I’ve always struggled at maintaining an active blog… I love writing, but coming up with the actual inspiration for new posts is surprisingly tricky for me. Those who know me well can attest that this particular issue plagues most aspects of my life. For me, everything from coming up with ideas for a new product to deciding what to order at a restaurant can be a nearly impossible challenge. I’ve been known to go into a restaurant and tell the waiter or waitress to bring me their favorite items on the menu to prevent having to make my own decision.
Until today, my challenge has gone remarkably well. I hadn’t struggled with inspiration almost at all… it seemed as if by challenging myself, I’d opened the floodgates and every day a new idea just magically appeared, until today. Today, for some reason, I’m back to my traditional indecisiveness… and it sucks. I mean really sucks.
While I was pondering potential ideas and getting nowhere fast, a friend suggested a novel idea; why not post on my difficulty posting? My initial reaction was something along the lines of “are you out of your mind? I’m only a week into my challenge… it’s way too early to be showing weakness!” His response to my perhaps a bit too explosive statement was simple: “There’s nothing wrong with being vulnerable.” This point struck me as both brilliant and, in some ways, a bit humbling. It also reminded me of another quote, the origins of which I have long forgotten: “You can’t force greatness.”
Now, I’m not trying to compete with the likes of Chris Lema or any of the other insanely prolific bloggers in our little community, but at the same time… I have been competing. With myself. And by trying to force myself to be “brilliant” (in a literary sense anyway) I’ve been holding myself back. The reality is, I come up with dozens of potential ideas every day for products, posts, etc… but almost all of them get tossed aside as “not good enough” to go beyond the proverbial drawing board.
Last week, Chris posted on Four Stupid Reasons People Don’t Blog. I usually try to read most of what Chris writes, and find much of it insightful at the very least but, in this particular case, I briefly scanned the article and left it at that. After all, I do blog, don’t I? After my little epiphany today, I thought about his post and went back to give it a second look. It seems it applies to me much more than I’d like to admit. To summarize what Chris said, the four reasons people don’t blog are as follows:
- No one wants to hear what I have to say
- I have nothing to say
- I might say something wrong
- I’m not a writer
Ok, so not all of the points apply in my given scenario, but let’s break them down all the same.
No one wants to hear what I have to say. This feeling is a trap that I suspect every writer falls into at some point. It may not be as all-encompassing as it seems at face value, but it’s there nonetheless: a dark shadow cast over the work of every aspiring author. In my case, it’s a situational thing. I’m the first to admit that I don’t have a huge following, but I also know that I do have a respectable number of people who take time out from their busy day to stop by my blog and see what’s on my mind. As a result, I have been known to discard potentially valuable ideas because I don’t think my regular readers would find a given article relevant. Therein lies one problem. I’m focussing on my so-called “normal” readers while I should solely concentrate on quality content and let the readers decide for themselves what’s relevant. There’s nothing wrong with diversity, but I’ve been treating it like it’s the plague. One problem identified, now I have to resolve it.
I have nothing to say. For me, this goes hand in hand with the previous issue. I don’t care who you are, everyone has something to say. And yet, when I’ve exhausted my pool of almost-ideas, I frequently find myself looking at a pristine (read blank) drawing board thinking to myself “I have nothing to say.” In reality, I should be telling myself “Idiot! You have a million things to say, but you keep discarding them like so much chaff!” Two problems identified.
I might say something wrong. Again, I find this one to be a situational issue. Anyone who has spent any significant time around me has probably heard me say something to the effect of “As soon as you think you’re the best in a given area, someone will come along and prove you wrong.” This thought is my go-to response whenever someone gives me any sort of praise regarding an accomplishment. Yea, I’m a bit self-deprecating at times. I hate acknowledging anything I’ve ever done as praiseworthy. Because no matter how awesome something seems, I always feel like it could have been done better… or someone else could have done it better. And it doesn’t help that several of the people who fall into the “better than me” category do frequent my site… so on a technical level, I have been known to be afraid of saying something wrong and getting called out publicly for it. Of course, that’s also one of the most efficient ways of improving oneself. Three problems identified.
I’m not a writer. Finally! Something that legitimately doesn’t apply to me! I may not be as prolific as Chris Lema, or as renowned as Danielle Steel (currently sitting at the highest sales volume of all time while still alive), but I most certainly am a writer. I love writing. In fact, my love of literature may only be rivaled by my love of development.
Like I said… not all of the points apply to me… but most do. It seems it’s time for a change. So what can I do to improve? What can I do to better myself both as an author and an individual? For starters, I’m issuing myself another challenge. For the remainder of my initial challenge (that’s a minimum of twenty-four days) I’m going to make a concerted effort to throw my doubts out the window. By that I mean that every day I’m going to actually make an effort to write on the first idea I have for the day… regardless of how I feel it will be received or how irrelevant it may be. Yes, this may result in some less-than-spectacular writing, and it almost certainly will result in some headaches, but I think it’ll be worthwhile. I suspect that regardless of the effect this has on my site traffic, it’ll help me put aside my indecisiveness even beyond the scope of writing which will, on the whole, make me a better person. Wish me luck, and stay tuned! This could be a very entertaining month!