This is the second February that my little word home has existed. This time of year is a ripe space for contemplation and reflection, and it brought some thoughts to the surface of why I'm still here, clicking away at a keyboard while my toddler says "play with me, Mommy" on loop. (Don't worry, I set a timer and told her I'll color with her when it goes off. The only problem is, she has zero concept of time.)
Blogging is a world fraught with expectations. I didn't expect much when I carved out this little corner of the internet for myself, and I liked it that way. We writers are known for our love of over-indulgent navel-gazing, which is part of why I enjoyed hitting "publish" without overthinking. Of course, as my readership grew and my knowledge of blogging (and marketing, because of my job) increased, the overthinking developed anyway.
What's my goal? To get my words in front of as many people as possible? Is that my goal, and if it is—is it even a decent goal? Is it to connect with people? What does that mean? Is my goal to make money? To de-stress? To pad my resume during these years that I'm raising tiny humans?
The answer is complicated. It's multi-faceted. It's something like this:
1. I'm Supposed to Write
Yes, this photo is me. Yes, I'm scribbling nonsense with a coffee cup next to me. Yes, there is nothing new under the sun. My mom is going through our old papers right now and has confirmed it: I generated more pages than all four of my sisters combined.
I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer when I grow up. I'm still waiting for the growing up part, but I'm confident I'm supposed to write. What I've learned is that I don't have to wait to "be a writer," especially in the age of the internet. I don't have to slave away in an attic on a manuscript and then wait on the mercy of a publisher to share my words with you; I can write and share at my whim. This is an incredible gift, and I don't take it for granted.
That also means that writing and blogging can feel a little cheapened; everyone can do it, so are you really a writer? I've dealt with crushing imposter syndrome every time a post of mine is well-received—I'm just sitting at my kitchen table, stringing some inadequate words together. I'm not a writer the way my idols are.
But here's what I know about creativity and art: we all start somewhere. I am writer because a writer is someone who sits their butt down at their kitchen table and keeps stringing together words and believes in the craft. A writer is someone who gets past the competing messages in their brain of inadequacy, purposelessness, and imposter syndrome. A writer is someone who cuts through the noise and writes, expectations and guidelines and standards be damned.
I like to remember what one of the great creatives, Ira Glass, says:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
2. We All Have Something to Share
I once read a mean-spirit piece about how we're in an age of over-sharing (maybe true) where too many people fancy themselves writers (not true) and there's just too much content written and submitted to publishers (absolutely not true). I realized the writer was operating under a false pretense: that there's not enough room for all of us.
Here's what I know: writing is a form of communication—a beautiful one—and it connects us. Everyone has something to share. There's enough airspace for every single one of us. So what if someone feels you're just adding to the noise? Someone else probably needed to hear that noise.
3. I Have an End-Game
Maybe that sounds calculating, or self-promoting, but I do. I have an end-game. Blogging, for me, is a place to play—to test out material, to see how you all react to what I write, to hone my words and my craft. Eventually, this will help me write my first book, whether by providing the groundwork words (groundwords? see how playful I am when I blog?!) or just letting me exercise my publishing muscle. Whatever the case is, I know blogging has made me a better writer.
If you're writer wondering whether blogging is right for you, I'd encourage you to give it a try. This episode of the Hope*Writers podcast also makes a great case for writers to blog.