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.