When I started blogging, I wrote daily-ish updates. It was kind of like an email to everyone I knew. I wrote about what we’d been up to or funny things that happened, and I’d post links to essays I wrote in other places.
Over time, though, an email-to-everyone stopped seeming like the best thing for my blog to be.
Why didn’t I write essays on my own blog?
Or why didn’t I write about any of the other things I care about — all the stuff people ask me about offline?
Friends would say things like, “You should blog about [fill in the blank with anything at all]!”
And I would think, “Oh, people who read my blog don’t want to read about THAT!”
Did I ASK those people if they wanted to read about THAT, whatever that may have been? Why no, no I did not, because:
1. Asking sounded scary, and
2. I did not want to bother them.
This was a brilliant strategy, obviously.
I’m sure no one else especially cared WHAT I wrote about, but I had gotten myself all tangled up in the post-response-reply web of blogging, and I needed to get unstuck.
So I turned comments off.
I know, I know: comments are the lifeblood of a blog. Comments mean you’re listening, comments mean community, comments are social proof. I know.
And I still turned them right off.
Because while I think I shouldn’t care about these things, the truth was, sometimes I would stress out over how many comments a post received (or didn’t), or how quickly the comments came in.
What did they say? What did they mean? What did it mean if someone didn’t comment?
I would worry over how to respond. Should I reply to everyone? To no one? To some things? Which things? How quickly? How long should I spend writing my responses?
Some of that was about people-pleasing, and some was pride, but some was about knowing myself.
I know that I’m an introvert. I know that interacting with others — whether in person, on Twitter, or in the comments of a blog — is draining, not energizing, for me.
That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it, but it does mean I should be intentional about how and where and when I engage.
It’s okay for a blog to be a writing-only place. It’s okay to build community and maintain relationships in other ways.
It’s okay to need a little space between what you create, and the judgment of others. I think I did.
So I started experimenting with quiet.
I discovered that without the comments, I could let go of some of my internal filters.
I was able to be more vulnerable in my storytelling.
I was willing to experiment with different kinds of posts.
I had more to say, when I wasn’t worried about how — and whether — others might respond.
I even started seeing my posts as (weird little) gifts I could give to readers, without expecting anything in return.
Sometimes creativity develops best in silence.
It’s still not the usual way of doing things, I know. But you don’t always have to follow the rules. You don’t have to do things the way someone else would do them. You don’t have to do what other people expect. (She says, to herself.)
That’s what makes you YOU. That’s what makes your projects special and personal and YOUR OWN.
Even if that means you start by doing it very very quietly.