What if the next time we sat down to write, we didn’t worry about being interesting, we didn’t worry about being liked, and we didn’t worry about being reblogged?
I recently told a friend of mine — a single mom who works in the healthcare industry — that she should write a blog about her amazing life. Her response to me was, “It’d be the most boring blog in the world. I’m nothing special.” That’s a direct quote. Nothing special? She’s raising three kids on her own, works in an ER in a massive city hospital, speaks three languages, and she studied opera in college. If she’s not special, I don’t know who is.
Her response really surprised me, and it reminded me of someone from my past who was the flip side of the self-confidence coin.
In my early 20s, I was taking a class with an outrageously flamboyant teacher. She found her life so interesting and loved telling us wild stories of the minutiae of her day. She could probably tell a story about boiling water and make it enjoyable. One day, after making us roar with laughter, she shrugged at us in disbelief and shrieked, “Stories just happen to me!”
My mouth dropped open. She really thought that more stories “happened” to her than to other people.
“Anything that gets your blood pumping is probably worth doing.”
Hunter S. Thompson
I was taken aback by the hubris. It was such an absurd statement because…well…stories happen to everyone. Did my teacher lead a more interesting life than my nurse friend? Nope. What made her a great storyteller is that she saw herself as the fascinating main character in the wild story of her life.
And she was right. But guess what? We all are.
The most frequent question I field from bloggers is, “How do I get more people to read my blog?” I suspect they want the answer to be something SEO-related, and I hate to disappoint, but my answer is almost always, “Pick a topic you want to talk about. Choose subjects that you can’t wait to write about, whether a million people will read your blog, or just your best friend.”
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
What if there were no pressure to be interesting, or wild, or unique, or marketable? What if the main ingredient in the recipe for a great blog post is simply the exuberance to share yourself? I bet we could excite readers just as much by writing about finding a killer sale at Marshalls, as we could about winning the latest season of Project Runway.
There is such a divide between a story that needs to be told, and a story that reads as if it were written out of obligation. The writers that I admire the most are those who can write about any topic, and draw me in with their exuberance. A writer’s moxie makes any story magnetic.
I am drawn in by their passion, not by their perfection.
What if the next time we sat down to write, we didn’t worry about being interesting, we didn’t worry about being liked, and we didn’t worry about being reblogged. What if, when we opened up a new post in our editors, we started by thinking, “I cannot wait to tell you this story…I might explode if I don’t share this with you.”
If we love our stories, our stories will be loved.
When you sit down to write, before you put pen to paper (or cursor to screen), think, “I can’t wait to tell this story!” Inject that feeling into the whole text. Sometimes, I think, “You’re not going to believe this…!” while I write a story.
Come up with your own variation on the theme, and write with energy and excitement.
When you read through your older posts, can you feel the difference between the posts you were enthusiastic about writing, and those you wrote in order to hit a deadline?