This week is the 1 year anniversary of the Second Chair Leadership blog. I recently saw the statistic that 80% of blogs go silent within the first year, so I am happy SCL is in the surviving 20%. Thank you to the 1,000 unique visitors who stop-by to read, share and comment each month.
At a pace of more than two posts per week, I have written 60,000 words in the form of 120 blog posts over the past year. During that time I have ridden the roller coaster of writer’s emotions. Here are the emotional stages I have experienced as a first year blogger plus a little take-away I’ve learned from each one.
Stage 1: I have something to say…
For two years, before I published my first blog post, I used a system of note taking that allowed me to capture fleeting thoughts for potential posts. Because of this “note taking incubator” I felt I had something to say beyond momentary thoughts of inspiration.
However, note taking did not develop my blogging voice. Like every new venture in communication, you have to do it to discover your true voice.
Today, I look back on my early posts and I hear a different writing voice. Almost like an adolescent trying to sound more sure of himself than his life experience can support.
While I recommend every blogger collect a hopper of seed thoughts, I’ve discovered that those thoughts are NOT the source of your voice. Your blogging voice comes from writing, so write and say what you have to say.
Stage 2: I have nothing to say…
When you start blogging you can’t help but pay attention to your site visits. Every time you go public with a new post you hope hundreds will flock to click on your words of wisdom :).
Eventually, you will write a post that attracts more traffic than anything you have written previously. This was my first high-traffic post. After publishing that home-run article I struggled to write the next one because I felt like I had nothing to say.
It’s emotionally hard to write in the shadow of a previous success. Every thing you type gets measured against the structure and tone of your winning post.
To get over this winners-block I had to accept the fact that readers are not putting their life on hold until my next post. Every post has different levels of benefit for readers. I have received kudos on content I felt was inadequate, and I’ve had silence on posts I thought were stellar.
Value is in the mind of the reader who will always surprise you, even when you feel like you didn’t have anything to say.
Stage 3: What happened to the magic?
There is a point in blogging that feels similar to being at Walt Disney World in mid-July. You went for the fun, but now your standing in an eternal line, the heat index just passed 104 and your kids are starving.
It’s in that moment you wonder, “Why did I ever sign up for this?”
As a blogger, I get amused when people tell me, “I need to start blogging. I like to write.”
At some point in the emotional journey of blogging “liking to write” has nothing to do with it. It’s usually at about 2 a.m. after a long day as you sit at a computer under pressure to create useful content for tomorrow’s post.
It’s at that point your inner critic is the loudest and just like the demoralizing heat of WDW your own voice makes you question, “What happened to the magic?”
I heard an author share a writer’s truth one time that has helped me in those “magic-less” moments: Write for yourself to speak and not to be read.
Yes, you have to write with your audience in mind, but when you feel the magic is gone you have to emotionally push through and write for an audience of one: yourself. That’s the only way to keep going in the “Magic Kingdom.”