Yesterday was my second anniversary with WordPress.
That’s quite a milestone for me–I figured we’d be divorced by now because I have a tendency to abandon projects when doubt creeps in. I can easily convince myself that it’s not worth the effort, and that my dreams of writing as a career someday will never be realized.
They may never be, and that’s fine. I will still write.
- I’ve read that it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to become a master at something.
- I’ve read that it takes 10 years of consistent practice to produce fluid and prolific writing, and to build a blog or produce a manuscript that people want to read (obviously there are wizards who achieve this sooner).
- I’ve read that you have to write a million terrible words before your writing will ever start to feel and sound less terrible.
I believe it.
I didn’t grow up with dreams of writing. I kept the occasional journal, forgotten by February each year. I’ve been in love with books my entire life, but I never considered trying to write them until two years ago.
Prior to starting this blog, I’d never written anything more extensive than school papers and business emails, and I didn’t particularly enjoy it.
In sixth grade, an English teacher told me I wasn’t creative, and I believed her. Part of me still does. My senior year in college, a professor told me I had a knack for business writing, and for the first time I allowed myself to consider writing in a different way. I didn’t do anything about that perspective shift for ten years, but I’m here now.
When I started this blog, I shared it tentatively with people I care about.
One told me he’d read some of it, but he didn’t think people would get it. I almost quit right then, and he wasn’t wrong. Most of my family and friends don’t read what I write. Many have long forgotten that I even do this.
But instead of focusing on that, I keep coming back to the page. Instead of worrying about how far I have to go, I try to focus on how far I’ve come, and the things that I’ve learned along the way.
In honor of my blogibirthday or blogiversary (blech, those words), I’ll share some of those things with you today.
- Things Change: Your voice, your goals, your style, and the way you approach writing will evolve. I started this blog as a humor blog because I was afraid to be transparent, and hiding behind jokes was easier. Turns out, I’m not really that funny; my humor in life is quiet and subtle, and instead of trying to force it into my writing, I’ve learned to share my thoughts and heart in increments. If you read one or two lines per post that make you smile, I consider it a success, and a more truthful representation of who I am. My writing became more authentic when I stopped trying so hard.
- Discipline and Discernment Will Come: Schedules are great, discipline can be learned, but when a post doesn’t feel ready I don’t hit publish anymore. I pushed two other posts I’d planned to share this week. Today, I’d rather not post at all than put up another shitty first draft–my archives are full of those. Some are being quietly deleted because they are embarrassing, but there is value in them. If I can find one idea in something I wrote a year ago that still rings true, it was worth saying, however awkwardly I said it the first time. Revisit the things you’ve written, witness your own growth and be proud of it. Look for themes, go deeper, and develop your ideas further.
- Don’t Get Bogged Down in Social Media: Being social is important. Take time to read what others write. Share the posts that speak to you. Observe, absorb, and draw inspiration from what others are doing, but don’t get so caught up in it, that you get intimidated by needless comparison and stop producing your own content.
- Everything is Derivative: There aren’t really any original ideas. Nothing I’ve said today is original. Don’t get discouraged if someone else has already written the post or book idea you’re working on. Your take on it is unique and worth sharing.
- Celebrate Your Progress: I don’t have a book written yet, and that was starting to get me down. The November, Nano focus on word count inspired to me look at my own, and I’ve posted close to 189,000 words to this blog alone. I’ve written at least that many offline. It’s progress. I’m writing, and I’m celebrating that today, even if all I have to show for it to date is this blog.
I’ve got a long way to go before I’ll ever feel like I’m any good at this, but that doubt doesn’t negate the steps I’ve taken.
I’m further along today than I was yesterday and so are you. If you love writing, keep writing.
Even when it’s hard. Even when you’re terrible at it.
Even when people don’t get it.