Earlier this evening I read an awesome blog post by Ryan Macklin about why he blogs, and why other people should stick with it. He lists four reasons (Makes you smarter, makes you faster, gives you material, and starts your brain engine) that he sees as the most important. As usual, he manages to drill into the heart of something fairly complicated in a really short space. Of course this is because he writes and blogs frequently, so he has lots of practice.
Me? I stare blankly at my screen, mentally flogging myself until eventually my brain vomits something up just to make the pain stop. Most of the time I look at what I finally managed to force out and think “My god, that’s really terrible,” and promptly tear it apart and rewrite it.
And ya know what? That second attempt is nearly always a lot faster, and usually for one or more of the reasons why Macklin calls out in his post. I’ve already got a starting point, I know (at least partially) what I want to say, and I got my mental gears moving.
Note I said faster, not easier, because I’ve yet to find writing one of these posts easy to write. Even this post which is a pretty straight forward “This guy wrote this thing that made me thing these things!” post has taken me more than an hour and has had to be dragged kicking and screaming from my brain meats.
Macklin also listed a fifth reason why people typically start blogging, which is to become internet/nerd famous. While you can build up an audience, but it does not happen over night (something I can very personally attest to), so you should be prepared for a long slow build as you find your voice and audience. This last bit of his post really struck a cord for me, especially since a few days ago I’d had a conversation with him and a few other folks on Twitter in which he’d given me this exact advice.
Turns out the conversation at least partially prompted his blog post, which made me stop and reexamine the hows and whys of my own blogging, and what has been stopping me from blogging more. I won’t get into the specifics (which are largely individual to me and most likely of no concern to anyone) but I do have a better handle on why I’ve been doing this. A big part of that was admitting to myself that at least part of the reason was that I do want some sort of validation. I don’t think that’s unusual or a bad thing, but I also can’t let it be the only reason or even the biggest reason I blog.
I apologize if this post has been slightly rambley or disjointed, but I said all that to say this: From now on I’m going to try to write more often and more for myself. Yes, I still hope I get feedback and possibly even grow an audience, but I’m going to try to not let myself be concerned about those. I’m going to try to not get hung up on something being perfect or clever. I’m not going to ask myself if something is important enough that people will read it, but rather if something is important enough to me to write.
Basically I’m going to “Just write something, dammit!”