Some recent conversations about blogging have re-conjured some questions that I’ve pondered for years. What holds us back from hitting the “publish” button? Seems we are a bit worried that blogging has evolved from “share daily personal stories” (LiveJournal and Xanga style) to “write something useful with a conclusion you can justify” or something like that. I have had a lot of conversations with people (family, friends, coworkers) who express their desire to blog or write more, but they are paralyzed by others’ (or their own) expectations of what should be written, and therefore they end up writing nothing at all.
I used to feel a lot of freedom to write in a stream of consciousness voice, and now I worry that my posts should be a bit more “put together,” be more “useful” even. There’s a lot of pressure to write about business, or politics, or productivity, etc. So many posts just sit in my drafts folder, sad and neglected. It’s a double-edged sword: publishing something on the web means you are opening yourself to an audience. When you feel the scrutiny of the audiences you do end up encountering, it may become an obstacle to writing what you *want* to write.
Last July, I noted the sharp decline of the number of posts I publish per month.
Maybe this has nothing to do with the blogging platforms or the fact that we’ve ushered in a different and more mature “age of blogging” — maybe this is just what it’s like to grow up, and maybe I don’t really want to grow up. I’m looking for ways to fix this, and sometimes it just means giving myself the freedom to write across multiple platforms, notebooks, and apps depending on my mood and topic. But I don’t have the answer, and I’d like to hear suggestions.
Anyway. Speaking of LiveJournal. Sort of relevant, because my last post here was about my trip to see my grandmother in Taiwan. I mentioned that it had been over a decade since my last trip there. I found my LiveJournal entry (!!! I’m not kidding) about one of my first visits to Taiwan. Remember when blogging was like this? Sometimes I want to feel the way LiveJournal made me feel about writing on the internet. A personal account, a story for my friends, a conversation, an invitation, a letter, a freedom to make mistakes, a freedom to be myself, to ask quotidian questions about haircuts, to make typos and be silly or hyperbolic in my descriptions. I like the way I pluralized “Snoopy.”
PS – Last night you said that you’d never suggest anything that would cause me to write less. My heart is still fluttering over your explanation of how difficult it is to achieve a desired outcome if two parts of a whole have conflicting objectives. You used a business example because that’s what you do best, and then you explained how it was relevant to us. “I know you write more often when you’re sad. But I’m planning on making you really happy, so I’m hoping you can find a way to write when you’re happy as well. Because I want you to write. Because we will be happy.”
So, messy blog posts and all, you’re taking me as I am. Making me feel like I can be myself. I think this, (having such supportive people in my life), more than anything, engenders the acceptance and freedom that one may need to hit “publish” with confidence.