Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Power of Love

A friend of mine asked just asked me how I manage to write as often as I do. This post right here is my 190th blog entry since I started, back in May of 2013. I have a lot of thoughts about it, so I figured I'd share 'em here.

And that is the first tip I have, right there. When you've got something on your mind, something that you're passionate about and you know you have a bit to say on it, don't just sit on it. Open up Blogger (or whatever you use) and write! It's tough at first, but after a dozen or so entries, it becomes a reflex. You'll notice a lot of my blog entries begin with "I was reading this or that on someone's G+ post." It's because as soon as I feel that swell of bullshit in my brain, rather than posting some massive comment, I come here and blog it, instead.

As I write this, I'm also chatting with my friend on text, and I'm getting a little discombobulated over what I should say here and what I'm saying there. The instinct is to stop blogging and just focus on the texting. I want to do that because I'm afraid everything I write here is going to be a rambling, unfocused mess. And THAT right there is tip number two: your blog is going to be a mess. And that's okay. Accept it. Don't fight it. Writing, like nearly every other art form, has this romantic notion of one person, typing away at their keyboard in the dead of the night, but that just ain't true. There are editors. There are proofreaders. There is your best friend, your wife, your family. There are critics and colleagues. Great writing doesn't happen in a vacuum. So don't expect your blog to be any good. The sooner you accept that, the happier (and more consistent) your blogging will become.

"Well, why would anyone want to read a crappy, unorganized blog?" one may ask. The answer is tip number three: You're not writing for anyone but yourself. The only time you should care about readership is if you're counting on your blog as a revenue stream. And that is a whole 'nuther ballpark: good writing is only a tiny part of that shit. There's also advertising and networking and demographics to consider when it comes to readership. What blogging really needs to be about, first and foremost, is YOU. I write about tabletop gaming because I frequently, constantly think about tabletop gaming. And rather than bore someone to tears about it or ramble on some message board about it, I come to a blog: a place where my brain can run free, and occasionally other dudes can drop in and see what's going on. You blog for yourself first, and everyone else second.

That third tip is powerful. It can kill one of the other common excuses for not writing: "I don't feel like I'm saying anything original." Who gives a shit: You're not writing for anyone but yourself!

This fourth tip is a little harder to recognize, but it's helpful. All of those questions? There's a lot of judgements in there. That your blog is crappy, or boring, or messy. Yeah yeah yeah, you're writing for yourself, but it can be hard to care about that when you're busy being down on yourself for being crappy, boring, or messy. Stop judging yourself. It is very important to be your own harshest critic, but you also have to be your own biggest cheerleader. It's a difficult balance to strike, but if you don't believe you're any good, why the hell will anyone else?

As I said above, good writing seldom happens at just the single-person level. So the trick here is to hold two paradoxical truths in your mind at once: that you are a good writer, and that everyone needs help. Both of those ideas are equally valid, and you need to understand both to be a good writer. To be a good blogger, you really only need the first one, and a strong enough stomach to ignore the second one.

It can be a scary thing, publishing a blog, sharing your thoughts with the world, knowing it probably didn't come out right, knowing there are those out there judging you by what you've chosen to put out there. Unfortunately, I have no advice to help overcome that fear, except maybe this: make your passion stronger than your fear. Love what you're going to write about so much that you don't care if writing about it makes you look like an ass. When you can do that, you may be surprised to discover the opposite: that you don't look like a fool, but you in fact look exactly like what you really are: someone who loves something.


It don't take money. It don't take fame. It don't take no credit card, to blog on this train.




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