Last night I was at the MN Publishing Tweet Up and I found myself getting really insightful somehow.
We were discussing blogging, and I noted that as a Writer (capital W*) I find it very difficult to blog. In fact, I suggested it is possibly the most difficult for Writers as a class of people to blog, because, as a class, Writers tend to be somewhere on the spectrum of hyper-self-critical to purely self-loathing. This has been my observation since my days at the Arts High School.
This is exacerbated when a Writer is confronted with the task of blogging. With a manuscript (or a magazine article, or a fortune cookie), the Writer can sit and stare at it for weeks, swap out words, delete and then re-add whole sections, and he is given lots of feedback form an editor. There is a process. But with blogging, the Writer has to sit down and publish instantly. Because of this, he must overcome the following:
1. Believe that the idea is good enough to be a blog post.
As a Writer all we have are ideas. Which idea is worth writing about? I mean, I bet no one really cares about this. Yeah, this is stupid idea. I won’t even bother opening my blog. Not worth it. Nope. 99.9% of potential blog posts never make it past this point. I make no value judgement on that fact.
2. Actually think the idea has legs once you start writing the blog post.
Once the Writer has been able to open his blog and begins to write, each word that follows it is another nail in the coffin of the idea. Each word makes the blog post worse, no matter what. The Writer must be able to maintain the confidence in the idea (one difficult task) and really feel like he’s making it clear with his words (a second difficult task). Most of the blog posts I write meet their fate at this stage.
3. Think the idea was done enough justice in the blog post to warrant publishing it.
After finishing the blog post, it has to be good enough to publish. The problem is, the only person to reassure the self-loathing Writer that what he just wrote is any good is the self-loathing Writer. This rarely ends well. (The smart Writer will save this as a draft and simply let it sit there, hoping it inspires him in some way down the road. Others will simply delete it.)
I should note that this impacts Writers almost exclusively. Dara from the Loft noted a case where a friend of hers works in another profession (baking, if I recall) and can’t spell for shit, but blogs vociferously. He does not have this problem, because he’s not a Writer.
(As a Writer myself, I was able to overcome these three hurdles by having my ideas validated in person by Jen. Thanks, Jen!)
*I hate using the capital W, but I really want to delineate Writers as a class from people who write, no matter how well, but do not identify as Writers.