I started a blog about seven months ago in January 2018…I was scared, very scared.
Rewind to before I ever hit “publish” for the first time…
In the past few years, I’ve attended some large conferences and heard several incredible women speak. As I’ve listened, I’ve also been thinking, “I want to do that one day! I want to be just like her!” Unlike many people, I actually enjoy public speaking. I minored in public speaking in college and participated in many public speaking events and competitions in high school. Sure, I get butterflies, but I also feel energized by being in front of an audience. I would love to one day be a motivational speaker (but I don’t plan to “live in a van down by the river”). I discovered an article one day (that I can’t currently find or I would link it) that said one way to become a speaker is by starting a blog. You develop your message, gather an audience, and then speaking engagements might eventually follow.
All right, maybe I should start a blog.
But then, FEAR attacked me big time.
Fear One: what would I write about
I’ve enjoyed writing since elementary school, so a blog was a comfortable idea in that sense. But, what would I write about? The long-term direction for content was unclear to me which made me fear starting a blog. I knew I wanted to encourage my audience. And almost 5 months prior to me starting a blog, my first major post was ready. I had felt the compulsion to write and so I wrote. But, I had had no avenue to publish my work. My own personal blog would give me that outlet. But, then what would I write about next?
Fear Two: people I know will judge me or reject me
I was scared of people I know finding out about my blog. I didn’t want to feel (or actually be) judged by people who knew me. I wanted whoever was reading my blog to be drawn to my actual message (whatever it would end up being). I also didn’t want all my friends and family to know about the blog and then not choose to read it. I was scared of rejection. So, I planned to keep the blog on the low-down in an effort to self-protect.
Fear Three: stranger danger
Creating a blog would mean everyone could have access. All sorts of people are out there who will do all sorts of things. I wanted to protect myself from potentially dangerous strangers. I was scared of revealing to much of myself so I could be identified. I value my privacy and my safety. So, I went with only my middle name. Grace. It felt safer that way…both from strangers and those I knew…no one could track me down. And for these reasons, I also didn’t put a picture of myself on the blog.
Fear Four: going viral
I was scared of going viral. I find this fear ironic now since I have not gone anywhere close to viral. But, before I ever hit “publish” for the first time, I seriously was scared of going viral. All sorts of random things go viral. What if my post was one of those random things?! I did not want to go viral.
Fear Five: why bother
So many people are out there blogging. What made me think I really had anything worth adding to the blogging world? I had a lot of self-doubt. However, this amazing podcast episode gave me the final push I needed to just go and start a blog and see what would happen: Girls Night #10: How to Start and Grow a Blog.
So that pretty much captures my mindset at the start of the blogging journey. Lots of fear. Lack of clarity. And, more fear.
Now, six months down the blogging road, I can say I am so thankful I started a blog! The process of evaluating and organizing my own experiences, burdens, and thoughts and committing them to a post for another adult to hopefully benefit from reading has been a wonderful experience for me. Blogging is truly a natural extension of what I’ve always enjoyed doing…writing.
As I started reading and interacting with other WordPress bloggers, I quickly realized I really liked seeing pictures of other bloggers. Since “everyone” was posting their pictures, surely it couldn’t be that dangerous, right? So, not too long after starting the blog, I conquered a little stranger danger fear and added my picture on my “about page.” Then just recently, I conquered even more fear and used my full name on the blog. Grace, which I went by on my blog for about six months, is me as well, but I’ve only had one friend through the years call me by middle name. I guess I learned after six months of writing that it was easier to just be me. Elizabeth Neal. Also, I had built enough confidence by that point to own my own words regardless of the repercussions.
I’ve also had to wrestle through understanding my motive for writing. I already mentioned the speaking desire, but here I mean, why do I write each of these individual posts? What if no one reads a post; why do I bother writing the next one? What if people view a post but no one ever “likes” the post; why do I write the next one? I’ve experienced how awesome it feels to have someone “like” my post. I’ve also felt the discouragement of seeing that not even one soul has viewed a post I’ve spent hours preparing. It was after one particular post that no one had viewed for days that I really had to examine the why. What was the point? I might never have an audience for a post. Would I keep writing? Why? I found the answer in W.E.B. Du Bois’ book The Souls of Black Folk that I was reading during this time of self-questioning. He said on page 72, “…the thinker must think for truth, not for fame.” I would keep writing for truth’s sake even if fame (i.e. views, likes, speaking engagements) never came. Truth is what now motivates me to keep writing. (But, I gladly welcome likes and comments! Knowing I am touching someone else with my words has been huge.)
At the beginning of the blogging journey a friend advised me to have my husband read each post before publishing. My head-strong independent personality found (finds) that piece of advice to rub against the grain of what I want, but I could (can) see the wisdom of having a second pair of eyes on the post before it hits the internet. So, each week, before you have the pleasure of reading my wealth of wisdom, know that my husband and I have discussed it, most likely at great lengths, prior to it being published. My husband is more of a quiet, laid back personality. We don’t sit around daily incessantly talking. However, blogging has provided us a weekly opportunity to have some interesting dialogue. Since he can be very direct, I often start the vulnerable editing session with, “Please be kind.” He normally accommodates me. And, while we may not always agree on various posts, and he may not always “get me,” I’ve really enjoyed this new sharing of thoughts that came about all because I decided to go on this uncertain blogging journey.
One of the best things about blogging is I now have a ready word of encouragement to give to friends. Certain times I will be talking to someone who shares something, and I think, “I have a post that could be an encouragement or help!” So, although I may never be a well-known blogger, I do enjoy having posts of encouragement that I can then share with a friend in need.
One unexpected part of this blogging journey has been the audience I have reached. For some reason I expected I would most likely be attracting readers that were moms like myself. I never considered that men would stop and read what I had to say. And, I especially didn’t realize that African American men would care about my thoughts. It has been very encouraging to have this diverse audience all be touched by something I wrote. It helps me understand that my message is universal. We all need encouragement and we all need each other. The positive feedback from the African American readers has further stoked my desire to understand our current racial problems, our racial history, and how to pursue racial harmony in the present. Thank you so much to each of you who read my blog, “like” a post, or even go so far as to comment. You have given me much encouragement.
So, while I started a blog with the end goal in mind of being a speaker one day, currently, I’m just enjoying the week to week challenge of gathering and organizing and evaluating my thoughts and committing them to a post that I hope will be beneficial to anyone who reads it. You are my audience. This is my stage. I hope I will only bring you truth and do so in a manner that makes it well-received.
And, if you are considering starting a blog but are scared, go start one anyway! Don’t let fear stop you. God has given you a unique voice and a unique story. Go tell it!