The first blog I remember making a conscious effort to read was Signal vs. Noise, circa 2004. I loved reading it. It was well written, often controversial and they were open and transparent (before being transparent was cool). I didn’t agree with everything they said but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that they shared intimate parts of their business, information that I’d not have access to any other way.
So, in 2004, fresh with inspiration, I started a blog called ‘Redefine’. I realised that writing didn’t come naturally to me. I found it really difficult. I had things I wanted to say; that was never the problem. The problem was putting those ideas down on paper and making them coherent. And the doubt and the fear. What if what I had written was wrong? Or offended someone? Or what if they thought I was stupid?
After 6 months, in which time I’d written half a dozen mediocre blog posts, I canned it. And I so badly wish I hadn’t.
In the years that followed, there was a part of my brain that consistently niggled with the fact that I wasn’t blogging. Browsing through my RSS feeds, I’d occasionally stumble on a gem of an article. Sometimes these posts would literally change the way I thought about the world or how I live my life. The feeling that I should be doing the same, in the hope that I could somehow affect someone else, never went away.
It was 7 years later — December of 2011 — that I finally started this blog. I was determined to make a success of it. My attitude towards writing has changed slightly: I’m no longer in pursuit of the perfect article; that, at least for me, will never happen. Instead, I view writing as tool: to explore new ideas, to clarify my own thoughts and, of course, to help others.
I still have doubts everytime I hit the publish button and I’m not sure that will ever go away. I still wonder if anyone will care. But you know what? Someone, somewhere, always cares. They might even care enough to share a link on Twitter, or Facebook, or take the time to write a comment. That is something I never take for granted.
I still feel like my writing sucks. Maybe I’ll always feel that way. But at least I’ve pushed past the fear of publishing. From here I can only get better.
My advice to you, dear reader, is to write too. Don’t get distracted by your writing environment, or the CMS, or your blog template. Focus on the writing.
If you enjoy writing, or want to enjoy writing, just do it. You’ll probably worry that you have nothing to say, or that what you write is terrible, or that you couldn’t possibly write as well as Neil Gaiman. But silence those voices, get your head down and hit publish on something. Anything. And then do it again. And again. If you do that enough, your writing will improve and the visitors will come and I guarantee you will be a better person for it.