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The Hardest Part they Never Tell you about Blogging

By Tiffany Monhollon

After an intentional two-week blogging hiatus to enjoy my honeymoon and try to start settling into normal – two weeks that turned mysteriously into three – I’m sitting here at my computer thinking that now I know what the hardest part of blogging really is.

It’s not coming up with enough ideas, or trying to find a creative way to cover them. It’s not building a network or forming relationships with rockstar bloggers. It’s not building authority or linking strategically or becoming the expert you truly want to be. It’s not getting major press. It’s not keeping up with your RSS reader, actively commenting on blogs, or keeping tabs on your peers. It’s not learning the programs or learning how to hack HTML code. It’s not transitioning from one blog to another, or even trying to actively write at not one or two but three blogs. It’s not navigating the ins and outs of social networks, learning how to master Digg, or becoming famously followed on Stumble Upon. It’s not jumping into new technologies like Twitter, or putting yourself out there, name and all, for the world to judge by the words you write.

Even though all those things can be hard, time-intensive, gut-wrenching, sleep-sucking, and thankless, somehow, they’re not quite the hardest thing I’ve come across blogging.

The hardest part about blogging is something that you probably wouldn’t understand if you don’t blog, like I don’t understand about children because I’m not a parent.

Here’s what it is: The hardest part of blogging that people don’t talk about is choosing not to blog. Even if you really need a break. Even if it makes you a better, more well-rounded, more insightful person to put it aside, even if it’s just for a tiny sliver of time in the grand scheme of things.

It’s hard, and not just for one reason.

Part of it is the feeling you get, sitting back down for the first time in what seems like forever, trying to figure out where to start, to remember where you left off, to believe in your words enough to put them out there to stand up against whatever may come.

Part of it is the guilt you feel, the kind of guilt I imagine you feel when you leave your child with the sitter for the first time, knowing that they’ll be fine when you get home, but paranoid the whole while about everything that could go terribly, terribly wrong.

Part of it is how much you realize you enjoy doing other things when you’re not spending hours a day writing, researching, networking, configuring, reading, commenting.

Part of it is fear, deep, immense fear, that somehow you’ll have lost all your momentum, that your readers are gone, that you’ll have to start over again.

Part of it is how the eagerness to write again overwhelms you so much that your fingers can’t type fast enough to keep up with your brain.

It’s not easy. Believe me. Or, believe him.

But just like with most things, getting through the hardest part pays off. Even if it’s just for you, just for the private moment of celebration, the satisfaction that you learned something, shared something, and are ready to move forward.

Because when it all boils down, here’s what I learned in what has probably been the hardest part of my blogging journey so far: you have to hold yourself to your own standard first, from your own courage, to fulfill your own passion, before you get anything else out of it. Because before anybody is great at blogging, they are a nobody at it. Before you write words that reach the world, you write them for yourself.

And that’s hard but beautiful. But it’s also what makes blogging unlike any other form of expression on earth.

Personal. Powerful. Worth it. Every time. 

By Tiffany Monhollon | May 20, 2008

Topics: Authenticity, Blogging, Learning, Life |

20 Responses to “The Hardest Part they Never Tell you about Blogging”

  1. Carl-Johan Hunefalk Says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Some good points, Tiffany. I just have to add that becoming a parent puts blogging into a new perspective. It suddenly becomes easier to separate the important things (like my 6 mo. old daughter for me) from putting energy into meaningless projects.

    I’m not saying blogging is meaningless in any way - in fact I agree with your post - but for me, becoming a parent has made me become more focused in my blogging and my consulting job. So putting it aside is easier, and when I blog, it’s with a higher degree of efficiency.

  2. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Carl,
    I think that all those big life moments are so powerful if we let them be, because they can redefine our perspective, our priorities, our time, in a good way, if we let them.

    And like you said, they can also help us just intensify our focus, which is very powerful.

    For me, that means a lot of things, like letting go of such a high degree of perfection when I write, or realizing that blogging is not always only about the audience, but sometimes just about you and what you need or want to say.

  3. Rebecca Says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Welcome back and congratulations! :)

    For me, your point about enjoying other activities so much more is quite accurate. I struggle with where I should put and prioritize my time. Sometimes I feel like blogging is the most important thing in the world and sometimes I feel like it’s the most ridiculous. Strange… thanks for the great post!

  4. Michael Henreckson Says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Very true. For all the good parts of blogging, and I think it’s very valuable, it’s awful easy to forget to have a life in the real world. Blogging can end up being very similar to a job. You’re always facing the same deadlines as a newspaper columnist, only it’s worse because they’re self-enforced and you feel responsible for any failure to crank out a post before you feel it’s too late.

    But at least you stopped for your honeymoon. If you hadn’t, I’d be worried. :)

  5. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    @ Rebecca - Thanks for the well wishes! We’re having a blast so far - it’s awesome marrying your best friend.

    @ Michael - Blogging is often VERY like a job, only most of us don’t get paid to do it :)

    The first week was the hardest for me, because I was so truly paranoid about feeling like I had lost my control of my own reality, since your digital reality is something you craft and create - and I was just completely tuned out. Even though it was on purpose, it was hard.

    The second week was a blur, trying to wade through getting my house set up, a new reality about how I want to spend my time now that my husband’s living with me, and realizing that all the other stuff of life was still there - the youth group, the friends, work, the blog… it was overwhelming. I simply didn’t have time to blog, so it didn’t happen.

    The third week was intentional. I drafted this post, actually, a week or so ago. But I realized that by posting it, I would push myself back into that mode without choosing to intentionally process or define my new life first. It was work/life balance dilemma on steroids. So I made myself stay out of the ring for one more week. And I’m glad I did.

    Looking back, it was a crucial decision: I could focus on how I wanted to choose to spend my time; or, I could delve back in, let it take over, and who knows from there.

  6. Milena Thomas Says:
    May 20th, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Blogging, whether you are getting paid, or hoping to gain a readership, is at least like a job, requiring constant attention to maintain a certain level of quality. Just like being a parent is a job, though you don’t get paid. (Although P-Trunk says a stay at home wife is worth 6 figures, yeah!)

    Tiffany - I think you express an interesting opinion - in that blogging can be “unlike any other form of expression on earth.” That’s a bold statement, placing it up there with the ineffable, a form of art: like singing, dancing, sculpting. Would you agree?

    I do think it’s a craft and a skill that takes time to develop. Sure, anyone can slap a blog together in a few minutes and babble about nothing in particular, just like anyone can learn a few simple songs on the piano, or doodle enough to make a wall hanging.

    To create something that resonates with people and make them want to read on a consistent basis is tough.

    You say the hardest part about blogging is not blogging. Do you think many artists feel the same about their craft? I’d have to say it’s true for me as a singer. Despite everything that has gone on in my life in the past few years, singing is the one thread I’ve refused to give up completely. I’ll stop exercising before I’ll stop singing. Perhaps not the best for my health…but you see where I’m going with this?

  7. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    May 21st, 2008 at 12:23 am

    @ Milena - I do think blogging is unlike any other form of expression, for a lot of reasons. Yes, it’s an art form, and that has a lot to do with it. To create something that is meaningful and beautiful to you first and hopefully to the world second is a definition of art, I believe. It’s also similar to art because really great blogging opens the author up to a level of transperancy and vulnerability that is beyond a traditional journalistic approach. Since I write as a part of my paying gig, I am keenly aware of the differences between the two.

    But the interesting thing about blogging that is so powerful and unique, and terrifying and difficult and awesome, all at once, is that in our digital age, there doesn’t have to be a gatekeeper between you and the world. My whole life, I dreamed of being published, recognized as a writer, an author, someone who had something to say, and who was read by others. And now, with the click of a button, my words are published raw, as they stand, unfiltered by any other voice. That’s powerful and beautiful and terrifying.

    But it goes beyond that. Not only am I read, passively, by however many people a day, but blogging also fulfills another passion of mine, and that’s relationships and communication (which to be true, is two-way). People read things I write, but they also contribute, interact, add, refine, evolve, inform. The collaboration of ideas, the relationship building, it’s all a very profound thing. So I definitely stand by that assertion.

    My husband’s an artist, a real, true-blue, blow your socks off artist and illustrator, and watching him go through the last five years as an artist, from a student to a kid looking for a gig, to a professional to now, doing it as a profession but also dealing with that need to create something for him, for his own reasons, for his own artistic legacy, whether he gets paid or not, I would wholeheartedly say one of the hardest things about art is not practicing it - and the parallel between that and blogging is very real.

  8. Milena Thomas Says:
    May 21st, 2008 at 1:15 am

    Tiffany - wow. I’m not surprised you feel that way, though I’m glad you do.

    You sum up perfectly how I feel, And now, with the click of a button, my words are published raw, as they stand, unfiltered by any other voice. That’s powerful and beautiful and terrifying.

    I have felt this since I started blogging – only - uncertain if I should. In every other aspect of my life, there are people I can instantly relate with and bounce ideas and feelings off of – whether it’s about marriage, family, work, music etc. Without knowing any other bloggers personally, it’s been hard to gauge if how I feel about and experience blogging is normal…I mean, it’s just a blog I think to myself…

  9. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    May 21st, 2008 at 3:04 am

    @ Milena - I think however you feel about blogging is both a unique experience, filtered through your own life, dreams, and expectations, and a shared one. Embrace it, dig in, let it be all you want it to be. Because here’s another amazing thing that blogging has revealed to me: It is what you make it. If you want it to be just a blog, just a place to write, to express, that is what it is. If you want it to be a platform to transformational relationships, that is what it is.

    Because your blog is driven by the action of your own dreams and ideas, you make it the reality that you want it to be: art, communication, relational, personal, public, theoretical, inspirational, tactical, strategic, organic, important, trivial, whatever you want it to be, that’s what it is …

  10. Glenn Says:
    May 23rd, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Tiffany,

    First and foremost, congrats on the marriage. Best wishes for many, many happy years ahead.

    Secondly, following this conversation between you and Milena has really inspired me to get back to my blog. For me, reducing my time spent writing has increased my time for studying and sleeping, two activities which, at the close of my high school career, were very attractive.

    That passion, that burning desire for writing never faded though — I would sift through posts on my feed reader and try and file away potential topics until I thought my brain would explode. I could always be better organized and create a list, but I’ve also found that when an idea manages to survive the chaotic nature of my brain and stay afloat, that makes the best subject for a future post. So now I’m a great deal more liberated, have time to make it back to my blog, and am looking forward to a word-filled summer.

  11. Andre Blackman Says:
    May 23rd, 2008 at 9:20 am

    First of all, a huge welcome back Tiffany and once again, congratulations on the wedding!

    It’s funny you wrote this because the past several weeks have caused me to take a long, hard look at my priorities - especially in the realm of social media and blogging. I would spend hours in limbo on what to write and then get frustrated and give up.

    I took some time to evaluate the WHY of this blogging thing and took a look at what was important to me in life as a whole. That really re-energized my passion for what I want to accomplish not only with the blog but with my life (it’s intertwined).

    Great post and great comments!

  12. Tiffany Monhollon Says:
    May 23rd, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    @ Glenn - Thanks so much for sharing! It’s always an amazing feeling to know when your thoughts and ideas have a positive impact. Looking forward to continuing the conversation with you!

    @ Andre - I definitely identify with that experience. I think any truly engaged and passionate blogger deals with these issues, so I’m glad sharing my struggles and thoughts on this topic gives others insights, or just permission, to grapple with all those things as well.

    And thanks to you both for the well wishes!

  13. Shawn Says:
    May 24th, 2008 at 12:55 am

    It’s true. I’ve never felt more guilt about something I’m not getting paid to do. Ha ha. But whether real or perceived, “Blogger’s Guilt” is one of the things that drives me to blog week in and week out. It was even something I found myself grappling with recently when my mom was visiting from out of town and I decided to take some time off.

  14. Miriam Salpeter Says:
    May 27th, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Welcome Back! Best wishes on your marriage! I enjoy your blogs and am glad you are back to blogging…

    I agree that the blog has a magnetic kind of draw. The cyber-relationship element of blogging is a strong appeal - making comments, returning to see the author’s reply…

    Trying to explain my “work work” versus my “blog work” to non-bloggers is tough…How to describe something work related, but not actual work? Something that can be so hard - or easy, but also so fulfilling?

    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on the art of blogging! :-)

    Miriam Salpeter
    Keppie Careers

  15. Kate Torrens Says:
    June 12th, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    First of all accept my congratulations!! And you are right, sometimes some of us really have the feeling that there are much more interesting things to do instead of blogging. There are days when I hate it but within time I can’t live without blogging as it is my life.

  16. Kate Torrens Says:
    July 2nd, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Hi again! Today I have the very feeling to do something new and different instead of blogging. How right you are

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  18. TeenDad Says:
    August 12th, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I’m now 19 and experiencing being a dad. I must say although it feels good it’s still hard. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but to be honest, the hard part is having to balance time. My daughter is great and makes managing her never dreadful. -Teen dad

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