The idea that I write something, put it out there and then someone – anyone – even just my mom – would read it – was always fascinating for me.
For many years I would only contemplate it – but in February 2014 I finally started.
Last week, my friend Iwona asked me: “What did you gain from writing your blog – and if you had the chance to go back, would you start it again?”
Answering the second question didn’t take more than a split of a second. Answering the first – took a bit longer. Here’s what I came up with:
1. It made me learn & master new stuff
My writing would often start with an idea: “It’s important to focus on my audience. Hmm, I remember reading about 7 steps how to Analyze my Audience to make my speech fit. But what are those steps?”
I go to Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology website and find it.
“Right, if I write it like this, either I just copy Nancy Duarte (boring) or I simplify it (even more boring).”
I get stuck for a moment. I go and make myself a cup of black tea with milk and sugar. I watch a few YouTube videos…
Then – an idea strikes me!
“Hmm, so what if I tried to find a famous movie speech and try understand how the hero analyzed his audience before giving his motivational speech?”
Trust me, writing the post about Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings – how he performed Audience Analysis for his speech to the armies of Gondor and Rohan, before the battle of the Black Gate – had paid off before the first person read the article. I had internalized the 7 steps – and thanks to that I was able to give a workshop on audience analysis without preparation a few weeks later.
2. It taught me to write for the trash bin
Almost always when I was writing my speeches for Toastmasters, I would find myself “blocked” for hours or days, unable to write a single line.
Every idea I came up with was too banal; every sentence too naive. So I wouldn’t write a thing. Until, of course, the evening just before the speech, when the pressure became too big and I put on paper whatever came to my mind.
This was unproductive.
But it was not until I started writing a blog that I was able to change it.
Suddenly, I did not feel such a pressure to make every line a life-changing piece of art (it would be only my mom reading it anyway). And I got inspired by Seth Godin, who explains that for every post he publishes, he writes at least two that he trashes.
No problem writing naive lines when they most probably go to trash, is there?
3. It gave me better conversations
What do I mean by “conversation”: Normally we understand a conversation is a chat we have in a pub with a bunch of other people; when we go for lunch or a cup of coffee; when we make a phone or Skype call.
Let me ask you one thing – in such settings – do you ever get a chance to say everything you have to say? Have you ever had someone listen to you for 8 minutes without interrupting you?
It’s almost impossible! The other people keep jumping in to tell a story of their own. Also, often when the perfect idea comes to my mind, it is too late and the conversation is already somewhere else. So I’m doomed to keep it to myself.
When I’m writing, there is no such problem. The reader does not interrupt me to tell me that she needs to order a beer. When I get stuck with my thoughts, I take a break, play some rock, get a cup of black tea with milk and sugar and… Come back to the keyboard when the clouds in my mind sail away.
The reader gets the real thing, without being distracted by the noise in the room, me speaking too fast or that other girl impatient to tell us that something even more interesting happened to her just yesterday.
My thoughts are sent directly into the reader’s brain. It’s telepathy – as Stephen King puts it in On Writing.
This is where the story often ends.
But sometimes – the readers actually come back to me. Some of them my friends, some of them people I barely know. Our conversations are now jump-started by their taking in my 800 words without interruption.
To answer the initial question:
To start a blog was one of the most useful challenges I took. It has changed the way how I learn new things, how I write and how I talk to people.
Will it work for you?
I don’t know…
Maybe you’d like to give it a shot?
Featured image by waferboard, taken from Flickr, under Creative Commons license. Colors adjusted.