“Sing like there’s nobody listening”
This quote (variously attributed to Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh, William Purkey, Mark Twain and Satchel Paige) hangs on my friend’s kitchen wall. I love the sentiment behind it, of committing to a whole-hearted performance, uninhibited by fear of criticism or judgement. I also know that I find that far easier said than done. (I’m a classically trained singer, but even in the practice room, at times I’ve found it hard not to be singing to my inner critic.)
A year ago this week, I finally pressed publish on my first blog post here on yarnful.com. I’d been toying with the idea of writing a blog for a while. I loved the idea of having an expressive space online where I could write about things that inspire me (mainly yarns of all kinds, both textiles and tales), but although I bought a domain name and thought about it a lot, it remained just an idea.
That was until, as part of an online course on ideas generation, I had to carry out a project which took one idea and during the course of a week, turned it into something real. I mulled over whether this was the right time to start my blog and nearly didn’t do it.
Someone else on the course made a comment that helped me to take the plunge. They said (generally, not specifically to me) that, “Most new blogs aren’t read by anyone anyway!” Fears of public failure were put into perspective by the thought that my blog probably wouldn’t be seen anyway, so what on earth was I worrying about? I could “blog as if there’s nobody reading” and it would almost certainly be true (and risk-free). So I wrote my first post, spent an afternoon playing with paint and scraps of yarn and fabric to create the image at the top of this page (below is an unedited shot of what I got up to) and then I pressed that slightly terrifying “publish” button at the bottom of the screen…
And nothing happened, because nobody was reading what I’d written. But then I had to “hand in” my course homework online, and my fellow course-mates became my first readers. Their feedback was overwhelmingly constructive and I found that it was actually quite exciting that someone was reading my words.
So I kept at it, and I’ve published fairly regularly over the last 12 months. It’s definitely true that new blogs don’t get many readers at first, but gradually my number of “views” has increased and my confidence to share this blog has grown. It’s also been hugely encouraging to get feedback on posts, whether it’s from friends, strangers who have come across it by chance, or other knitters I have connected with in some way.
Singing as if there is no-one listening can provide a useful safety net, but the best performances happen when you are completely present with the audience and communicating your song to them. I think that blogging is much the same.
As I go into a second year of writing this blog, I’m hoping to build more connections and be braver about interacting with others. I also want to make more time to read and support other blogs by engaging more actively with the blogging community. So I am really excited to be taking part in A Playful Day’s Love Your Blog Challenge, which will be running throughout the month of April. A Playful Day is a blog that inspires me, and through a series of weekly blogging challenges, she’s hoping to inspire bloggers to “fall back in love” with their blog. This post is my interpretation of the first week’s challenge topic: interactions and community.
I hope that this will be a year when, instead of blogging like there’s nobody reading, I blog like my story is worth telling.
Aww such a lovely sentiment and idea. I’ve been blogging on my current blog for about 1 year too. I think the post I wrote about “loveyourblog” has gotten more comments and views than most of my posts! I agree with you though. It’s a bit freeing when you realise you can blog like no ones reading. Let’s see what the next year brings 😉
Thanks! I’m looking forward to this challenge. It’s great to find out about other bloggers too.
A blogger goes through highs and lows when writing, sometimes it’s necessary to take a break and step back to evaluate what you are blogging. Hope your 2nd year blogging turns out to be even better than you hope for. Jean
I have been really enjoying your blog although I don’t comment much on any blogs I read. It is always a welcome emails when a new one drops into my inbox. Cat x
Cat, thanks – writing this made me think that’s should comment more on blogs I read. I’m pleased you enjoy my posts. Hx
I’ve only just discovered your blog (via a link to the FoMO post) and I love it. I’ve been part of some conversation on Twitter and other blogs about how much we miss truly personal knitting blogs (ie, not ones intended to support a “brand”) and this is a joyous, enriching addition to the very thin list of such blogs I read.
Thanks for your lovely comment. Your point about a lack of personal knitting blogs is interesting. I wonder if there is more that writers of personal knitting blogs could do to share what we write. Building an audience sometimes feels hard when you’re just promoting “this is something I’ve written”. I think those with brands behind their blog might be more pro-active about this.
It’s funny how many posts I’m relating to while reading the links on aplayfulday’s blog challenge. I’m a new blogger and it feels like you actually wrote about my initial thoughts on blogging. I’m glad I read this post. It makes me think I’ll be ok:)
Hello! I’ve found the same while reading other posts on the challenge – they are all so different but there’s still lots to relate to. Just been looking at your blog and really enjoying it.
Oooh yes. I hear you – blogging to nobody can be both thrilling and lonely. For me, I think I drew back and started being less personal once I found people were reading… and then when I stopped posting as frequently, I found people stopped reading. So there are obviously benefits to taking risks in blogging, whether people are following you or not. (And I have to keep reminding myself that underneath it all, I started blogging for myself – so it’s okay if I’m mostly my own reader.)
I love the idea of being both thrilled and lonely at the same time. I’m not sure that I’ve opened up enough yet to get that thrill on this blog! I agree that you do have to write in part to keep yourself happy. It’s really interesting that you found that your own enjoyment and feeling of freedom corresponded with your reader numbers.
I think you really have to go at your own pace when it comes to how much you want to shareand connect with others on your blog. It was interesting reading your post but I absolutely LOVE that you shared the unedited shot of your blog header! It’s just so real 🙂
Thanks – I did debate with myself whether to crop my feet out, but then went for it! I completely agree with what you think about having to go at your own pace. I love writing and storytelling but I think the personal sharing side is challenging (for me, at least). I suppose it’s about finding a balance…
Blogging like there’s something worth saying really resonates with me- I’ve been without an authentic online voice for some years now. Thanks for putting how I feel about what’s missing for me in to words
I’m glad it struck a chord with you. There are so many great voices out there that I think it’s hard to keep sight of your own sometimes (and our voice is probably clearer to other people than to us when we feel like that).
I hear you! I have been blogging for a while and sometimes it feels like I am just talking to ‘thin air’ – so its lovely when someone somewhere tells me they read it! Keep going – if nothing else it works as a fantastic diary xx
It’s so motivating when you realise that there’s someone out there! Like your idea of seeing it as a diary though. Hx
I really enjoyed your post. I have been toying with the idea of starting a blog and finally took the plunge after the Love your Blog Challenge on A Playful Day. I too wonder if people will read my blog after I just ‘put it out there’ but rest assured that your post has inspired me anyway! Xo
I am new to my current blog and I share a whole lot of these feelings. Like you, I hope to step more bravely into conversations. I find value in the writing, but there is a hope to be read, but that has its own pressures… I’m definitely enjoying reading everyone’s responses to the prompt. (And your blog header image is beautiful!)
Agree about the pressures of being read (but it’s fun too!)
“I hope that this will be a year when, instead of blogging like there’s nobody reading, I blog like my story is worth telling.” ~ I loved that last line! I want to blog like that too! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks! Here’s to lots of brave blogging!
I loved reading your blog story and how you’ve challenged yourself and your blog has grown from it, and seeing behind the scenes of your cover image! Will be taking on your ‘blog like my story is worth telling’ idea and try to be brave instead of going through the motions or judging myself too much. 🙂 x
Thanks! Judging ourselves… it’s so hard not to!
“I blog like my story is worth telling.”
Yes! This! I think we should adopt this as the motto of the challenge. Too often I think “No one will want to hear” forgetting how much I love to read other people’s stories. This is such a lovely piece, thank you, and I’m looking forward to hearing more as the challenge goes on 🙂
Thanks! I love your point that you love hearing other people’s stories but then forget that when it comes to telling your own. So true. I think there’s also a lot to be said for remembering that not everyone has to like every story. It doesn’t mean that the story isn’t worth telling.
A story worth telling indeed 🙂 I’m glad you’ve shared and that through A Playful Day I’ve had the opportunity to come across your space here.
so nicely written! I am 100 % sharing the same feeling ! I used to write diaries as a teenager, I wrote so many of them that I have a shelf full of diaries with teenagers grumpiness and happiness in them. I wrote for nobody but me. It was a way of releasing something and now when I read them, it makes me smile and even cry! it is a beauty to write for nobody to read but at the end there is always someone who reads :), your growing self for example 🙂
Oh, I love the idea that even if nobody else is reading, I can write for my “growing self”! Thank you!
Wonderful – agreed! I had thought that blogs were slowly losing their steam and I was writing away and who listened, listened … but there are vast numbers of people out there who do read what we have to say and can relate to nuggets of our lives and weave their own to make their own story too! Here’s to year 2 for you — blog on!
Thanks! I agree that feedback and knowing that some others relate (or don’t relate but have a view about something you write about) makes such a difference.
“Blog like my story is worth telling.” Oh I love that! Especially as we have so many blogs now, that are almost magazine quality, if not better, it’s sometimes hard to think that you have anything to add. But I prefer blogs that don’t have the truth polished right out of them. I like good stories. Thank you and good luck in your second year!
I like stories too. 🙂 It’s an interesting balance, between writing something that is “polished” in the sense that you feel happy with and how it expresses what you want to say, and “polishing” a post too much so that gives up all sense of truth or character.
I love the sentiments you express in this post and the one before. Simple ideas but you express them like we are sitting in the same room…I am sitting nodding in agreement as I read. I look forward to reading more!
Thank you. It means a lot that you feel it’s as if we are sitting in the same room when you read.
oh! I love this post! glad to have joined the Love your blog challenge, it’s nice to discover very nice new to me blogs 🙂