This might surprise you, but not everyone enjoys the process of blogging. Even those who write for a living!
I’ve had clients whose main source of income was freelance writing tell me “I hate blogging.” And others who’ve even written and published entire books ask me, “How do I find my blogging groove?”
You’re not alone. It happens to all of us.
Being an “Experienced” Writer Doesn’t Make it Easy
At any given time, every business blogger finds themselves on every spot on this spectrum.
Sometimes things flow. And sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes resistance shows up for a short visit, and sometimes it moves in and plants itself on your couch.
It doesn’t matter if you were an English major or a technical writer or a even wrote letters to your grandmother every week for your entire life.
Blogging (or creating any regular content) as a way to market your business can still feel painful from time to time.
Does Any of This Sound Familiar?
I struggle to stay focused.
I’ve got enough draft posts to kill a horse, but I can’t seem to finish any of them.
I have so many ideas that sound brilliant in my head, but when I put them on paper, they feel generic and dull.
Editing is a chore! I cringe whenever I have to read my own writing. And it’s not that the writing is bad so much as the words just don’t come together the way I envisioned.
I know I need to blog, but I don’t feel like blogging most of the time. So then I force myself to do it and end up hating it.
I don’t feel like what I have to say would be interesting or helpful to my clients.
The topics I know I should be writing about bore me to tears.
I can’t seem to find the time or energy for this stuff.
I could go on, but you get the picture.
What’s the Resistance Truly About?
I’ve got two words for you: Lizard Brain.
Steven Pressfield calls this your Resistance:
That voice in our heads is not us. It is Resistance.
Those thoughts are not our thoughts. They are Resistance.
Resistance is an impartial force of nature, like gravity and the laws of thermodynamics. Resistance is clever. It knows if it personalizes its manifestations, it can deceive us and slip past our defenses…
The apparition of Resistance is by definition a good sign, because Resistance never appears except when preceded by a Dream. By “dream” I mean a creative vision of something original and worthy that you or I might do or produce—a movie, a painting, a new business, a charitable venture, an act of personal or political integrity and generosity.
Your Lizard Brain creates thoughts that it thinks will keep you safe. If you don’t write that blog post, make that video, or record that podcast, then you won’t find out that nobody likes it, right?
In short, having risked nothing, you also won’t fail.
The Real Truth About Blogging (or Creating Anything)
Writing is hard work. Even when you’ve experienced some level of success with it.
Part of the “hard” part of writing comes from the expectations we have around the payoff. (If I can write this blog post/paper/article/book, it will make me famous/successful/get me an A in the class/get me a promotion/etc.)
One of the ways I’ve been able to work in spite of my expectations is to put myself in a “how can I help” space. To ask, How can I best serve my audience today?
I noticed early on that when I worried about how many comments I got, or how much traffic I was getting, my blog posts suffered.
So now, instead of wondering “how can I write the most epic blog post?” or “how can I write something that will build my business?” I try to find my audiences’ questions.
If you’re on my email list (and really, why aren’t you?), you already know that I’m constantly bribing you to ask me questions. (Yes, there are bribes. Sometimes even chocolate.)
What’s entirely cool about your questions is that they help me shift out of my head and into heart-mode.
I take your queries and I answer them as clearly and concisely as I can. (Like right now — this post was born out of a series of questions/complaints about getting the blogging done.)
So, accepting that blogging or writing (with a business purpose) can be hard is just the first step.
You then have to find a way over, through or around the challenge.
Knowing what bothers you specifically can help you find a solution that works for you.
For example, if you struggle to write something cohesive, but you could talk the arms off an octopus, you might find using a tool like Dragon Naturally Speaking solves your problem.
Or maybe you could hire someone else to do the first drafts for you. Most of the time, it’s much easier to edit than to stare at a blank page.
Or, maybe you need to shift your writing goals for awhile — away from marketing your business and towards a more personal/spiritual practice. (I always say that entrepreneurship is the quickest path to self-actualization. You won’t find much in this world — other than parenthood — that will give you more opportunities to confront your shit.) Once you find your writing groove and have created a regular practice with good habits, you can incorporate the business goals again.
If too many ideas are a problem, there are tons of ways to sort them out and find the nuggets. The first thing tho, is to write them down. Find yourself a digital tool (like Evernote) or an analog notebook and capture them all. The act of writing down your ideas will free up treasured brain power that you can use on other things — like mind maps, outlines, and dare I say…writing!
For those who can’t seem to connect with an idea at all — whether from boredom or feelings of inadequacy — I’d challenge you to find a way to incorporate what you love as a metaphor or a theme for the thing you feel so-so about.
I love cooking (and food), so using those as themes to talk about marketing and storytelling helps make the writing process a lot more fun. Are you a film noir fan? Then use your favorite films, characters and stories as a way to talk about your business. Do you love camping and the outdoors? There’s SO much there you could use to step into a post about almost anything.
Writing Can Be Lonely (But it Doesn’t Have to be)
One of the things that’s always helped me as a writer was to share my works-in-progress with other writers.
Fiction writers and playwrights have done this for eons. It’s called “workshopping.”
You come together in small groups, pass around a few pages you’d like feedback on, and everyone gives you input.
They tell you what they liked and what bothered them. Share questions they have about the content. And then you get to go home and incorporate (or not) their suggestions.
These kinds of groups are helpful for more than just polishing the writing tho. They also give you moral support, accountability, new ideas and a feeling of belonging.
That’s why I started the Master the Art of Biz Blogging Workshops. So folks who wanted to improve their writing and blogging habits could talk through their outlines, clarify themes, brainstorm headlines and pull together succinct and distinct ideas.
Perhaps group conversations could help you get over the hump, too?
Quieting Your Lizard
To be sure, as an entrepreneur there’s always going to be a certain amount of “sucking it up” that has to happen. BUT that doesn’t mean you have to suffer forever. Or alone. You just need to find a solution that works for you. Even if that means you hire someone else to write for you.
If your blogging troubles are causing you to feel like you’re “not cut out” for entrepreneurship, your lizard brain is going full throttle. You know what silences the lizard brain? Some of these:
- Celebrating how far you’ve come and how much you’ve already accomplished
- Removing the HUGE expectations you have about how successful XYZ needs to be (or is going to be)
- Not comparing yourself to other people
- Coming from a place of service << this one is HUGE. It really shuts that lizard down when you write from your heart instead of your head
- Creating good habits and regular writing practices and rituals
- Working with a supportive group of like-minded folks
Now it’s your turn: Have you found a way to quiet the Lizard and blog more regularly? Or is there another challenge (not pointed out here) that’s keeping you from publishing on a regular basis? Share your questions or advice in a comment and let’s continue the conversation!
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
Great post Tea! One thing I’m still trying to figure out is how to conquer the “resistance”. When my lizard brain gets going, I just want to avoid everything about blogging altogether–I just turn away from it and have to keep refocusing myself. It’s hard to keep the idea that I’m being of service at the top of my mind, when I’m concerned that not a lot of people are even “listening” on my blog. It’s not the writing or editing itself that’s so draining, per se, but rather the need to keep forcing myself to the task. I’m finding it exhausting! However, you have some great tips here, and I suppose over time the habit will develop and it will become easier. Right? 🙂
It will! The thing to remember about this Resistance is that it happens to ALL of us. With practice tho’ you’ll find your own way to approach it. Whether that’s to picture it like a Chinese finger puzzle (and relax into it) or building a supportive community around yourself to help keep you inspired — there are as many ways to deal with this as there are manifestations of it. For me, I try to relax first. If I’m resisting, there’s always a reason. Sometimes it’s me. And sometimes it’s something else. If after an entire day of avoiding the project in front of me, I still don’t feel inspired or ready to tackle it, I’ll try to step back and look at it from an observer’s point of view (not mine). Is there something I need to do first so I can do this project better? Am I truly waiting for something I don’t have or is there some small piece I can bite off and tackle? The point is…you don’t need to keep beating your head against the wall. Yes, you need to practice the blogging skills, but not everyone is cut out for blogging. And you can definitely make that something you delegate. The choice and path is totally up to you!
‘In short, having risked nothing, you also won’t fail.’ Sort of sums it up.
Thanks for all the practical advice on overcoming our Lizzard Brains
You’re welcome, Sarah! And thanks for reading and implementing.
Yes! Like Jodi Picoult says, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
As someone who spends 25-30 hours a week writing for clients, but who struggles to honor her committment to write for herself for more than 30 minutes a day, I’m wildly familiar with all the ways resistance as you’ve described it here shows up. I’ll tell you what helps me: I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite books on writing lately, such as Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” and Stephen King’s “On Writing,” and just reading about the resistance and procrastination really skilled writers struggle with regularly makes me realize I’m in good company, and that every writer/creator/producer of things goes through this. And that somehow inspires me to put butt in chair and do the work.
I love your idea of shifting your writing goals for a while — when I’m writing for myself consistently, writing that may or may not ever see the light of day, I’m more inspired to write posts for my blog. I think it’s something about releasing bottled up creative energy — all that writing with no end goal in mind spills over into wanting to do some writing that helps solve a problem or answer a question, and I get to do that on my blog. : )
Thanks for a great post!
Thanks for chiming in, Kimberly. YES, half the battle here is finding community and solace with others who are going through the same thing. Bird by Bird is one of my favs. Will have to remember to recommend (and re-read) it to my clients.
Yes, here’s to community and solace! : )
I try remember that the first draft of anything is crap and it takes the pressure off me getting started! 🙂