10,000 Miles To Go

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.

credit: paintermommy.com

credit: paintermommy.com

In honor of my blogibirthday or blogiversary (blech, those words), I’ll share some of those things with you today.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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64 thoughts on “10,000 Miles To Go

  1. Congratulations!!! I so know what you mean about this journey…I’m not quite a year but there’s just so much now that I think about, that I didn’t back then, about who I want to be: voice. subject. etc…and sometimes it’s hard to know where you are going with it, but it just feels right. And you have accomplished so much–189,000 words! Amazing! I look forward to reading more!

    • Thank you! I guess the only difference between blogging to find your voice and writing 6 novels that sit in a drawer is that your writing learning curve is public. Everyone’s path is different. I’ve been enjoying hearing your voice lately and I look forward to reading more from you too!

  2. Awesome, Rachelle!! Congrats on two years of blogging! It’s a huge accomplishment. You begin to see that when the honeymoon blogging stage is over. Wonderful words of wisdom and advice here. I think you’re a wonderful writer and I always laugh at your humor and am humbled by your beautiful words. As I always tell myself, keep writing!

    • Thanks, Amy! If you can stick with blogging and writing when the honeymoon period is over, I think that’s when your journey really begins. Your words are beautiful and you inspire me in many ways, especially on your recent submission. That’s what I tell myself too. Keep writing, and don’t waste another decade dreaming about it. Ten years will pass whether I write or not, so I might as well keep trying to move forward! However slow and awkward the progress might feel.

  3. I love the way you express yourself and found myself in many points… the way you started off, the way you hid behind humor which I did by posting comical copyright free photos (I’ve by accidents erased them all & replacing them slowly with my own as I don’t feel the need to protect my words with the same photos anymore)
    Your advice is the confirmation to my strong beliefs so, all in all this was tremendous for me to read and has inspired me to go on writing without putting myself in a rat race.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom that usually comes out of it!

  4. Congrats. I just posted my 100th post yesterday. Not very many since I have been blogging for 13 months now. I never expected to have 50 posts. I am a terrible writer, one day I hope to be a half way decent. Again congrats.

    • I think you are a very talented writer, Becki. Don’t sell yourself short. You also have a very compelling story. We are always hardest on ourselves, but that’s what keeps us trying to get better at this crazy craft! Congratulations on your 100th post, and cheers to 100 more!

  5. Happy blogiversary! Thank you for talking about your close friends and family. When I first started, I was so disappointed because my close family wouldn’t really anything I post (I still don’t think they’ve read any of my stuff lol). But you helped remind me that it doesn’t matter, and that they’re not the reason I’m blogging! Love your stuff!

    • It used to hurt my feelings a little bit, but like you said, you have to do it for yourself. I think letting go of any expectations is the only reason I’ve stuck with it for this long. I love your stuff too, and I’m happy to have met you!

  6. Both heartened and sobered to read this. I’m a new blogger. In two years I was hoping to be on Ellen, or at least NPR. Sigh. But those last words, about writing for yourself because you love to write, well, that made me smile. Because that’s where the heart is. Happy write-iversary!

    • This comment made me smile, and I had the same kind of hopes. I thought I’d be a lot further by now, but the important thing is to just keep writing and do things at your own pace. I’ve been around here long enough to so many of the people that I started out writing with up on the recommended lists, getting pressed all the time, and starting to publish their work. Hopefully I won’t be too far behind, and I think you’ll hit it sooner. You have a really strong voice already!

  7. Happy Joyous Day! Congratulations on your 2 years, and I know what you mean about thinking you’d be ‘divorced’ by now- but you bring up great points about what’s your focus and what’s just fodder.

    Basically, as you’ve said – if you want to write, write. If you don’t, don’t. That is about the sum of it, right?

    Keep moving forward!

    • Thanks! I guess old school teachers in charge of the creative and talented classes as well us lowly regular kids. I didn’t have much talent for creative writing at that age, and she pointed that out after an assignment I can barely remember. It’s funny which criticisms can stick with us for life though.

  8. I definitely love that 10,000 hours thing. It takes some of the pressure off. I am a few months behind you in blogging. IT’s a long road and it’s not a race, is that I like to remind myself. I wish it flowed sooner. Keep on writing. You are not alone.

    • I wish it flowed sooner too. You’re a blogger I have to watch out for on the comparison front, because you are so much further than me even though you’re behind on blog months! You should know that you inspire me though, and your dedication, and drive impress me daily. I’m so happy to have met you through YW. Submitting to that community changed the entire tone and approach I take to posting now, and hopefully I can get back on the grid soon. I think those weekly competitions are one of the best ways to hone your craft.

  9. You have a strong voice and a strong will. A toast to your blogi-whatever (I second your blech on those words): here’s to another 189,000 words!

    • Thanks, Melanie! It doesn’t seem like much, but slow and skull cracking progress is still better than no progress. You know I love your voice too, and your blogs. Keep writing, and cheers to slugging through the learning curve.

      • That learning curve sometimes feels like a mountain. I get up to the top of it and slide down the other side so fast, I forget how I got up the first time, so I do it all over again.
        Keep writing – it’s what we all have to do.

  10. congratulations & happy blogiversary! thank you for sharing your voice–it’s a good one, it is! and as an english teacher, shame on your former english teacher for not seeing how creative you and for failing in helping you to reach your potential {though it seems you did it all on your own!}. ;)

    • Aww, thanks darlin’! It’s a funny thing how a simple comment about creativity at an impressionable age can stick that way. English was my best subject in school, but from that point on, I saw myself as “not creative,” and also not an English or Literature person.

  11. Happy Anniversary! That is a milestone and I think your posts are great, as is your writing. I can especially relate to that “if a post doesn’t feel right,” don’t hit the publish button. Some of mine was when I wasn’t truly feeling what I was writing and it shows. Doesn’t ring true. I think writing is like anything else, the more one does it, the better one gets. Congrats again and I enjoy your posts very much!

  12. This piece really moved me and made me want to get back to writing just for me. I to have a blog but have been absent from it for months. I just wasn’t inspired. I’d forgotten that you should write even when you don’t feel like it. If it’s crap you can always just file it away for review at a later time. Thanks for kick starting it for me again. And Happy Anniversary – 2 years is a huge accomplishment.

    • Thank you! I’m glad that it moved you, and that you took the time to comment. I have to remind myself all the time to just keep at it and hope that someday it gets easier and better.

  13. I needed this today, thank you! :) I related to everything you said I’m still a new blogger (only a couple of months writing a personal blog). I was so worried about what my family/friends might think of what I was saying, it took me almost 3 months to even tell them I was doing it. :)

    I enjoy your blog and your quiet and subtle humour style. Happy Blogiversary!

  14. Congratulations!
    Your comment about family and friends not reading your writing really struck me. Some of my friends read my blog, but hardly any family members. I don’t know if it’s because they already know where I stand on most things, or they’ve already heard all my stories, or something else entirely. But I got over that, and kept writing. And I’m glad you did, too. You’re well into your 10,000 mile journey, so keep moving forward toward that destination. I hope to see you there!

    • Hi! Well, I hang on your every word !! ;) ok, I haven’t written in my blog in months. Let’s just say that too often there’s a beer or 5 involved when I do. Reading last night’s post makes that clear… However, I find it difficult to slip into the creative side , and to really have the nerve to bare my soul. It’s a bit of like sitting down with a therapist and just letting the thoughts flow. But I like what you said about shitty first drafts. Might be that all of my posts are that… As to family reading- my daughter and husband pop in, but I usually don’t want them to. Even my Desire poem, which is about him , might freak him out a bit. My biggest challenge is curbing the over share !! I have enjoyed your work for nearly 2 years and look forward to continuing.

    • Thank you Lisha! It took a while for me to stop worrying about whether or not anyone I knew read mine. Glad you’ve gotten over it too, and we’ll just keep at it!

  15. Congrats on your big 2 year anniversary! You have been one of the blogs that I’ve followed the most consistently, and I have to say I’ve loved the evolution of your voice. I think this post that you wrote today inspires me to “Keep writing,” even when I’m not sure where this is all going. It’s about the process, right?

  16. Two years in blog time is almost like dog years. Congratulations on some fine words written — both published and personal. This was a good reminder that not all words may be good words, but they are there and are a good marker of change (and eventually 10,000 hours!)

  17. I wish I had read this post BEFORE I wrote my post today. This is everything I wanted to say, but so much better.

    I think you’ve really grown as a writer since I started reading you, and I hope you keep up with it. Congrats on the two year anniversary! Here’s to many more.

    • I think your post on why you write was amazing, Jen! Learning you’ve been writing for seven years was a great thing. It’s good to know that the writers I look up to are as good as they are (ahem, yes, talking about you) partly because they have been at it for so long.
      I appreciate your kind words, and they mean a lot coming from you. Cheers to more years blogging and the book deals that will inevitably follow for us all. ;)

  18. I have never read Outliers, maybe I should, though I already believe in those numbers.

    Congratulations on your 2 years — such a great accomplishment!! I love how you’ve gone back to read your own words and can see and acknowledge your growth. Great job! And even though you may not have a lot of family reading your blog you do have over 1800 followers and have been FPed — that’s pretty great in my book!! Congrats again!

  19. Congratulations on the two-year milestone! You’re so right about not posting if what we’ve written doesn’t feel ready or right. Although, I’ve heard some people say a post like that got them FP’d…. Some bloggers gain huge following by posting at least once every day, but I’d rather go for quality over quantity. I think you’ve found your voice and a schedule that works for you. I’m looking forward to your third year of posts!

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