People tell me pretty regularly that they’re thinking about starting a blog. This is my advice: Don’t.
There are a lot of good reasons to write regularly. It helps you organize your thoughts. It helps establish your expertise on a topic. It helps connect you to new people in your area of interest. There are also a lot of good reasons to start playing Badminton. But if you’ve tried writing or playing Badminton and found yourself capable of stopping, that means you should.
I don’t really remember life before I began writing.
My first journal had sparkles on the front and a little metal lock with a tiny metal key on the side.
I was around eight years old when it came into my life, and I filled it with entries about how annoying my sister was when I visited my grandmother, what I wanted for Christmas (a Walkman, badly) and how I felt about my parents’ divorce.
I moved my journal online in high school. My first online journal was at Diaryland.
My profile there is a snapshot of that self. My favorite bands were Live, Third Day, Jars of Clay, Pearl Jam, and Bush. My favorite movies were Fight Club, Gladiator, Gangs of New York, Dazed and Confused and Nurse Betty. My favorite authors were Edgar Allen Poe and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
My favorite diarists were proto humor bloggers. Uncle Bob was a middle-aged married father and aspiring DJ in Alabama.
Genghis Jon loved music and liked writing angry letters to companies’ customer service departments.
Next I started a painstakingly customized LiveJournal.
I blogged at MySpace for a while. I think had a very short-lived Xanga. In 2009, at my first real job, my co-worker Matt taught me how to upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress installation so I could share my thoughts on Anarcho-capitalism with the world.
That’s when I started promoting my writing, after I graduated college. I wrote in the sparkle diary for two audiences: My future self and the people who would be interested in who I was after I died. I always believed I’d do things in life that would interest future people in my innermost thoughts. I also read Catherine, Called Birdy which taught me that even and especially ordinary past people are interesting to future people.
Empathy is not my strong suit. I just can’t empathize with people who are considering starting to write regularly. It would be like me thinking about beginning to breathe. Or use hyperbole.
I love writing like a resigned addict loves their fix. What I feel isn’t ecstasy when I write, it’s release. I feel closer to okay. People talk about how writing makes them nervous. That’s hilarious to me.
“This is a strange constellation of neuroses,” one of my best friends said to describe me. I’m a two-liter of Diet Dr Pepper I’ve just dropped but need to pour. Writing is opening the cap just enough to let some of the pressure out but not enough that soda spews all over the counter.
I didn’t start writing for any reason other than I had a lot of feels inside and I wanted to get them out. The world doesn’t need my shitty-assed blog posts. I just used a two-liter of Diet Dr. Pepper as a metaphor for myself. I need my shitty-assed blog posts.
Right now I have a full-time content marketing job, a WordPress blog, a sex advice column, a freelance content marketing client, and four active Twitter accounts. Tweetdeck columns: 11. Regrets: 0. It’s funny how addicts always have time for their crutch. People who have trouble finding time to write shouldn’t bother trying.
Maybe you’ll start writing and find you can’t stop. Maybe you’ll be able to stop but choose not to, gritting your teeth and cranking out the words for the benefits. Maybe the world will enjoy your blog posts. Maybe you’ll learn to love writing. But probably not. And all the while, you’ll be competing for eyeballs with people who live to write.
The only reason you should start a blog is if you have to. And if you had to you likely would have. So probs just don’t.
This post originally appeared at Medium.
Nailed it. You write to feed the rat eating away inside, not so you can tell people you write. Only a true writer knows the feeling. I like your wiring. It comes across as honest and bravely vulnerable. Thank you.
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