Getting Past the Fear

Jeff Atwood had a good post this past week, entitled “Fear of Writing.” As I read, it really resonated with me and my desire to blog more often.

I’ve got a bunch of notes/URLs set aside as potential blog topics and have been saving these for well over a year. (At some point, I’ll have to clean them up because I’m sure many are now well past their “sell by” date.)

So if I have all these things that I think are noteworthy, why can’t I bring myself to blog more often? I think the reasons boil down to two things:


  1. Making it a habit. To get good, you need practice. Practice is repetition. Repetition forms habits. Right now, I’m simply not in the habit of writing up a few posts a week. I have to set reminders to myself. I know it’s something I want to do, so I think the reason it’s not yet a habit brings me to reason #2:

  2. That fear thing. The issue here is the fear of writing something that’s simply not worth reading. I think writing up a good post requires some up front work — to organize the thoughts, the research and links, the writing, and the editing. And anything less has the potential to pollute the bandwidth.

 

I’ve written a fair amount before, including many magazine articles and a monthly “Best Practices” column. I know it’s something I enjoy… but writing for a blog is different than writing for a magazine or a full online article. It’s a smaller scale. It’s typically much shorter. It should be more frequent. It’s far more casual and it’s supposed to be a conversation — a single voice in a larger community.

With magazine articles, it was a larger task  (thus requiring more preparation) and a looking deadline made the commitment easy. But once it was done, it’s over. Only occasionally would I hear from someone who’d read the article… and when I did, it was months after I’d written it (most magazines have a 3–4 month lead time).

A blog post is a smaller task, but the feedback (good or bad) is more immediate. Someone can comment or send email within minutes of me clicking the “Post” button. This tight feedback loop is the part of blogging that I think is so cool, but it also instills the fear — what if it sucks? What if I got it wrong? What if I hit “Post” too soon?

I suppose admitting the fear is the first step to overcoming it… so, my name is Jeff and I have a fear of blog posts.