Following are 3 writing/blogging issues raised by bloggers I follow that I completely relate to and then how I deal with them:
Everywhere I turn, people are producing blogs that I want to write. Ingeniously hilarious; truthful and hard-hitting; nostalgic and gentle; thought evoking and deep. Their words jump from the page, conveying whatever emotion it is they intend with pure genius. I want to write those blogs. I want to have 235 likes. I want to be a blog-star, with my name up in lights.
Writing is a funny old game. Once upon a time, the skill was left to authors, wannabe authors and hardened hacks. Nobody else wanted to touch it with a barge-pole. Now everyone and his aunt Fanny is writing a blog. And most, it has to be said, are pretty good. Which leads us to the reason for this post.
So. Blog-envy. Anyone else care to admit that they indulgesuccumb to a little every now and then?
I indulgesuccumb daily. It makes me feel like shittycrap. But, I happen to think envy is good. As Susan Cain, author of Quiet, wrote: “pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You only envy those who have what you desire.” Envy tells me where I want to go. Blog envy tells me what kind of blog I want to create and what is possible in the world of blogging. (Anything is possible.) Instead of letting the envy eat me alive, I do what artist/writer Austin Kleon advises: steal from them.
Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes. — Austin Kleon
The blogs I envy are written by people who are committed to blogging, so I commit myself to blogging. They write regularly, so I write regularly. They have a specific point of view, so I try to have a specific point of view.
I try to remember that no one starts out writing brilliantly with 1000 followers and a ton of traffic. Envy-worthy blogs are built on good content. And I can create good content if I work hard enough.
How do I deal with blog envy? I KEEP WRITING.
Traffic’s been way down this week and I’ve been doing this fun thing where I worry about traffic dropping then berate myself for being enough of a wanker to worry about it. Enough!
I wish I had the problem of dropping traffic. Even with infinitesimal traffic, I worry and obsess about my stats. Interestingly (or sadly), the less traffic I get, the more I check and re-check. Maybe I think I can will the numbers to rise with constant checking. It’s useless to keep checking and useless to feel bad about checking because all that energy I spend doing it is energy I could spend writing.
Infinitefreetime kindly reblogged some posts that offer very helpful ways to look at your traffic or lack thereof:
From Alexandra Franzen:
Readers are readers. Listeners are listeners. Friends are friends. Humans are humans. Honor them. Respect them. Write your _____ off for them. Do it with grace — whether they’re standing directly in front of you, or seated halfway across the world. Because you never know whose life YOUR words are going to touch, transform or even heal.
From Sarah Kathleen Peck:
We’re so eager to hyper-glorify the entrepreneurs who are billionaires and the writers who reach hundreds of thousands of readers that we gloss over the beautiful middle, the delicious space where you get to express yourself, connect with others, and share your work. There is nothing more beautiful than this. Delight in the expression and the sharing. Show your work. Love your audience, in all its shapes and sizes.
In other words, be grateful if one person reads what you write.
My personal cure for stat obsession is to start obsessing about my next post or my next 10 posts. I remind myself that the way to get more traffic is to share more, write more. I replace worrying about stats with worry about writing well.
I don’t have an audience. I have a set of standards. — Don DeLillo
How to I gain perspective on traffic worries? I KEEP WRITING.
3. On the writing badly from Dreamerrambling:
It’s quite a nasty shock, because you think to yourself, yes, yes, I’ve got this seed of a brilliant idea, oh boy, I’m a creative genius, they will shower me with accolades from the top of the Eiffel Tower once this gets published! And so you’re off floating on the clouds of idealism and egotism. And then, you’re all pumped and ready to birth your brain child into the world and thump! You crash down to earth like a flaming aeroplane. What? How could this be? And you feel a completely irrational sense of betrayal. Like, hands, why couldn’t you have written better words? Brain, why did you not communicate your sentiments better to hands? You feel inadequate and useless and get stuck into the why-do-I-even-bother-mentality, I mean, it’s obvious that you have you no creative or writing talent. Those were just silly ideas and fancies that popped into your head. You don’t have the ability to wrench them from the clouds and plaster them to paper.
Anyone who has even attempted to write one sentence can relate to Dreamerrambling’s very funny and very painful description of writing and feeling like everything you produce sucks. Sucking is part of the process. Maureen McHugh best described it in “The Life of a Project”:
- This is the best idea ever
- OK, this is harder than I thought
- This is gonna take some work
- This sucks — and it’s boring
- (Dark night of the soul)
- It will be good to finish because I’ll learn something for the next time
- It’s done and it sucks, but not as bad as I thought.
Writing is a torturous process. Coming up with ideas? Torture. Ideas that haven’t already been written about to death? Torture. Translating those ideas into words so they make sense? Torture. Finally figuring it out? Fun torture. The funnest, most rewarding torture around is going through the agonizing writing process and then having someone like what you’ve written. That is worth the torture.
Every time I write something and I think “I suck and I will always suck. What’s the point? I wish I had some talent” I remember what Annie Dillard said:
Talent isn’t enough…writing is work. Anyone can do this, anyone can learn to do this. It’s not rocket science, it’s habits of mind and habits of work. I started with people much more talented than me… and they’re dead or in jail or not writing. The difference between myself and them is that I`m writing.
To get from “This sucks and it’s boring” to “It’s done and it sucks, but not as bad as I thought”, all I have to do is …
How do you deal with blog envy, stat obsession, writing despite the torture of it?