I was reading the other day about a blogger excited about getting a certain number of followers. Another blogger worried how a change to her site layout was affecting her page views. I’m wondering to myself if my mindset for this blogging experiment is wrong because I could care less about my number of followers or what my page views are. Should I?
Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with bloggers being concerned about followers or page views. Those are essential benchmarks to ensure they are fulfilling the needs of their readers.
The purpose of having a blog is to express your ideas and thoughts publicly. But in this instance, I’m the tail wagging the dog. Readers are irrelevant if I’m not writing.
I fight to publish anything these days. Writing is difficult for me. Blogging runs contrary to who I am as a person. While I’m articulate enough to write a coherent post, at my core, I’m a private person. I struggle to bare my soul and express my opinions in a public forum. No doubt other bloggers have this same problem but are far more successful than I in wrestling this particular demon. So I know this is a problem I need to overcome, so I continue to bang my head against the wall. My attempts to improve my writing skills demands I “lay it all on the line.” I get that. But therein, as the Bard would tell, lies the rub. It is far more critical for me to write than it is for someone to read it.
Do I have the wrong emphasis? Probably. Part of the creative process is opening up my writing for criticism and critique. How can I hope to improve unless I have people read and voice an opinion? I’m not afraid of the criticism; the blogging community is far too supportive and constructive for that. No, my worst critic lives between my ears. I am by leaps and bounds my own worst internet troll. I have started dozens of posts on a variety of topics, only to have my inner critic shred them to pieces.
Unfortunately, I’ve found no magic formula for getting past either of these problems. As far as I can tell, the only way for me to deal with my issues is simple: keep writing. Luckily for me, along with my penchant for privacy and destructive inner critic, I have another tell-tale personality trait. I’m obstinate.
Ultimately, I DO want people to read my posts. That is the whole point of having a blog. But I also recognize I haven’t reached a level of competency where I can expect it. That’s the finish line for this exercise, and I’m still rounding the first corner (and already bringing up the rear!). I have to publish something worthy of reading, and that just hasn’t happened yet. As I think about the posts of bloggers that have resonated with me, they are putting their heart and soul into their words. Their anxiety, pain, frustration, happiness, excitement, etc. is readily apparent for their readers to see. That’s a hurdle I have yet to cross. But I’ll keep at it. Julia Cameron once said, “In order to write well, I must first be willing to write badly.” I have that second part down, and followers and page views will become important to me when I learn to write well. I can live with that.