Lately, with the freedom of the summer holidays, I’ve tried to make a habit of updating my blog on a regular basis. And the longer I go, the harder it seems to get; either the ideas dry up, or I don’t feel comfortable publishing what I’ve written.
Thankfully, though, these aren’t challenges unique to me. One of the obstacles, I’ve come to learn, is something called ‘the curse of knowledge.’ Although it doesn’t apply directly to blogging, the idea could be extended to say that, inherently, we as writers assume that everyone else knows what we know, and therefore tell ourselves that whatever we’re writing is common knowledge that everyone will have already read.
Hearing other writers allude to this phenomenon, and the need to block it out, has been greatly reassuring.
Another challenge with writing a blog is the question of quality. Knowing that your writing is going to be accessible by a large proportion of the world’s population can be daunting, especially when most of what’s published online these days can never really be erased.
Some wise words from blogger and programmer Steve Yegge comforted me on this front:
“People aren’t going to hold you to some exacting standard; they’re not going to demand that every blog entry you write be interesting or useful. Nobody can insist that you blog with regularity — blogs aren’t bowel movements, although certainly some of my entries have shared a certain family resemblance to them. But people are pretty forgiving, on the whole.”
— Steve Yegge, You Should Write Blogs
None of this is to say that you should publish everything and anything that ever occurs to you; it still pays to run each idea through a quick mental filter before publishing. Is this offensive? Fair? Does it sound snarky?
Being able to publish freely and openly on the internet is a huge privilege, if you think about it. Once upon a time, to have your voice heard by more than your own social circle, required sending a letter to the paper, thereby subjecting yourself to the whims of the editor, or becoming sufficiently esteemed to write a column of your own.
In closing, another quotation from Steve Yegge:
“That’s a key thing to realize about blogging: you can’t please everyone, and you won’t please everyone, so focus on making yourself happy. The rest will just happen naturally.”