Why is it so hard?

So blogging is really truly “as easy as writing a public email” – but sometimes it just feels so damn hard! Not the act itself, comitting an act of blogging is super easy, just as it is right now, a stream of consciousness, focused on my WordPress posp.php page. It is really the one’s that matter that are the hard ones. I could talk to people all day about the insytes I want to share (and most days that is what I do, talk to people). To actually focus those ideas into the post.php form, however, is a different story.

Last weekend, Kristie and I were having brunch with Robert and Maryam Scoble, along with Francine Hardaway, to discuss Francine’s upcoming conference in Phoenix, when Robert made it clear to me what my real problem was. I am often afraid to write something that is not perfect, that might make me look ignorant or foolish. He mentioned to me that one of the things he has really discovered and now uses as a technique, is to go ahead and write something before having a full and deep comprehension of the topic (publish or perish?) and let his commenters/readers educate him on the subject and/or correct him. Once my audience gets that big, perhaps it will work for me too, but in the meantime, I just need to hit publish more.  Interestingly, Brian Oberkirch mentioned a similar approach the other day, with a very humorous slant on this, but I can’t find the post now…

The reality is that I have worked on letting go and not trying to be a perfectionist for a long time. It is the one trait I dont understand in my psyche – or rather, I don’t know where it comes from. I am certainly not perfect, and believe the Tony Robbins angle that the goal of perfection is the worst goal – to really work on being Outstanding instead as a much higher plane of being your best.

Bottom line – now that I can see this is one of the things preventing me from blogging more freqently, I can do something more about it, but I still wonder why it is so hard? Does anyone else have any ideas or thoughts or suggestions?

  1. #1 by Connie - January 18th, 2007 at 23:12

    I’m in the same boat blog-wise, Chris. Your post reminded me of a lesson I learned when I first started writing book-length projects – so intimidating to think of writing 80,000 words, even when you break it down into chapters.

    In Bird by Bird author Anne Lamott describes how to deal with perfectionism when it keeps you from writing: Give yourself permission to “write a sh*tty first draft.” I need to relearn that lesson and apply it to blogging.

    I’m not thick-skinned enough to do as Robert does and simply throw my thoughts out there for readers to educate or correct. But I could do a much better job of letting go and writing those first words. When I do, others invariably follow. It’s easy to polish once I have my thoughts down, but you can’t edit what you haven’t written.

    Maybe you could look at writing a blog post as a series of Twitter updates. They’re short; one thought per message. But if you write enough of those little blurbs on related topics, you can organize them into a longer piece.

  2. #2 by Shannon Whitley - January 19th, 2007 at 17:27

    Great post, Chris. I think you are echoing a lot of people’s frustrations with blogging. They feel they have something to say, but sometimes it just doesn’t flow. From what I’ve seen of your writing, you’re more comfortable with expanded prose, while some blogging, ala Scoble and Dave Weiner, is often a series of mental explosions. I experience the same issues that you do.

    One thing that I’ve discovered for myself is that I blog better outside of the post.php page. I found that the limitations of that little box was somehow squashing my ideas. I’m now using an external editor, which makes me more comfortable with my blog writing.

  3. #3 by Connie - January 20th, 2007 at 13:50

    Shannon, which editor do you use? I recently started using ecto for Mac. I find it more productive than drafting in TypePad. One complaint: it defaults to iPhoto for inserting images, so I usually wait until I transfer my article to TypePad for adding photos.

  4. #4 by Tony - January 20th, 2007 at 22:34

    I have personally found that the best thing is to actually give yourself very, very, little time to do it.

    Between my day job, my real life, and all of my blogging responsibilities, I’ve noticed that its when I have all day to do things — well, it just doesn’t get done.

    For all kinds of reasons — and not necessarily procrastination related.

    If you have a germ of an idea, spend some time thinking about it — but put yourself ont he clock and get it out.

    Often times, you’ll surprise yourself with what comes out, and the best part?

    Its out. 😉


  5. #5 by Shannon Whitley - January 20th, 2007 at 23:26

    I use Windows Live Writer. I really like the simplicity and the way it handles images. It still creates crappy HTML, but compared to MS Word, the HTML is fantastic.

  6. #6 by Chris Heuer - January 21st, 2007 at 14:10

    It may be silly, but I was using ecto and changed laptops and have not put it back in for one reason – the technorati tags it produces are visible on the page instead of in the background. I need to just change it and take a new approach to my writing process.

    Oh well, I have had a bit of practice in just getting it out over the last 24 hours, so all the working out will hopefully be helpful. Still doesn’t help me from worrying when I hit the publish button that something I said might be misinterpreted, but my subconscious worrying part of my mind is focused on not being heard in the conversation more than that.

    Of course this also goes back to practically failing honors english in 7th and 8th grades – still very strange that I find a large part of my professional life focused on writing.

  7. #7 by Ryan Anderson - January 21st, 2007 at 18:48

    I had the same problem when I was writing my thesis. All through school, I wrote one draft of anything. I let it percolate until it was just right and let it all out… I rarely even proofread. Once I started writing something longer and with a far more complicated argument, it was psychologically crippling because I was trying to write it all at once.

    My thesis advisor gave me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever heard – “just barf on the page.” Once I got over the fear of writing something wrong, it became a lot easier to just write.

    Of course, it’s a lot easier to do with blogging. Robert’s right – you don’t always have to have the final answer. Sometimes ending a post with “That’s what I think… what’s your take?” is the most educational thing you can do.

    That being said, your posts are top quality, so you must be doing something right.

  8. #8 by Chris Heuer - January 21st, 2007 at 20:11

    Thanks for the kind words – makes me think I am making my Mom proud somewhere out there.

    I too have often just done the first draft and finished technique – was necessary to make those deadlines on papers I started in college a few hours before they were due 🙂

    When in the flow, it works great – getting to flow state is another matter entirely…

    The post I just wrote on Social Media Club this morning was one of those flow posts, just popped into my head when I sat down and had very few edits surprisingly…

  9. #9 by Easton Ellsworth - January 24th, 2007 at 02:16

    Excellent post, Chris. It helped inspire a sort of response at my blog.

    For me, blogging frequently is hard because I revise too much. I can make it easier by forcing myself to post within a given time limit. But a lot of it is that I’m worried that people won’t like what I have to say. I’m slowly realizing that this is nothing to be worried about.

  10. #10 by Mosaic - March 14th, 2007 at 14:46

    Hi,Chris….I happened on your site by accident……and enjoyed it…..I particularly enjoyed the comments that were made by Ryan…about the thesis…..I could have written the exact same comments—I am writing a thesis and I, also have never been used to writing a draft. I’m still struggling with the literature review at the moment and am well overdue! The advice that I can give that seems to be true, is that the more you write, the easier it comes, however, you have to write everyday.
    All the best.

    Ryan: your advisor: ‘barf on the page’…excellent!

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