I used to call myself the reluctant blogger. When the term blog was coined, I dismissed it as frivolous. I studied journalism in college before Al Gore invented the internet, at a time when stories were called articles and were written on electric typewriters (look it up). When blogs came along, it seemed that everyone and their brother had one, and it sort of ruffled my feathers that anyone could call themselves a writer.
Yes, I was a real snob.
That was before I understood the harrowing and humbling fall from thinking about writing to butt-in-the-chair, sweaty-brow, just-kill-me-now writing. It was before I experienced how the best ideas and intentions can be watered down by years of distractions and excuses.
Before I realized that those who don’t do, criticize.
Thankfully (in retrospect) something happened in my personal life to change my beliefs and force me into blogging. I was told that my marriage was over and I had what Elizabeth Gilbert calls a Bathroom Floor Moment. She went on to write Eat, Pray, Love after her own bathroom floor moment. My experience led me to write a memoir about divorce as a spiritual and empowering journey.
This was the last thing in the world I wanted to write. But as writers know, stories are not necessarily polite when they come to you. They don’t always ask nicely to be told. Often they act like thugs pointing a gun at your head. Just do it, they say, and you just do it.
To keep myself accountable and committed to writing the book, I decided to post the first chapter on a website for divorced moms. I knew that if I put that chapter out, my pride and fear of embarrassment wouldn’t let me quit.
Imagine my surprise when I got an email informing me that the Huffington Post was picking it up. In less than 24 hours my chapter, now called a blog, was syndicated to Australia and Germany and within a few days had gotten nearly 4,000 likes and close to 600 comments.
A few days after that I was contacted by an editor at the Huffington Post and invited to become a community blogger.
Even then, I was reluctant. I had all the misgivings and fears that you probably have about putting your opinions and experiences out there for the world to read. But by sharing my story, I reached more readers in a matter of days than I had reached in the10 years I’d been writing fiction.
Annie Lamott says, “Very few writers know what they’ve done until they’ve done it.” I had to admit that the power of blogging is anything but frivolous. And it wasn’t just the medium that was powerful. It was my unique story.
Your unique story is just as powerful. I like to recount the time I went to a Marianne Williamson lecture. She’s the author of A Return to Love and A Year of Miracles and many other books. She was telling about a conference she held on race relations in Los Angeles. Things were getting heated in the room, and at one point, she said a white man stood up and angrily addressed a black woman. “We’ve heard about all of this injustice again and again,” he yelled. “This is not helping anything. Why can’t we move on?” And the woman looked at him and said, “Because you’ve never heard it from ME!”
You’ve never heard it from me. What a great mantra to keep as a writer. The world needs to hear it from you, whatever IT is.
So call it whatever you want—a chapter, an article, a blog—but give up your resistance, put your butt in the chair, and write, before life comes along and knocks you into the chair. Because whatever wants to come through you is not messing around. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.”
Just say yes.