It’s harder than you think.
You set out with the best of intentions, open up WordPress or Blogger (or Medium) and create a blog. You decide on a theme, a background, a cover image, a niche (maybe) and a name et voila, it’s ready for your shaking fingers and tremors of excitement as you see your baby take shape.
Fumbling, you knock the keys together in random succession and churn out what you think is wonderful writing. For, after all, it’s the sweat of your brow and the voice of your heart. Surely, that’s worth something?
Hit the Publish button and wait. A while goes by and a notification pops up. Someone likes it. Holy moly! Someone read the post you put up. They actually clicked ‘Like’. A few more minutes pass and that orange glow lights up the corner of your screen once again. A comment this time! Woo hoo!
And so it begins.
You get sucked into the vortex of likes and comments, shares and retweets, agreements and opposition. After a flurry of average posts, you hit the jackpot and churn out a post with viral capabilities. You watch in awe as the view counter climbs steadily, the Facebook likes spiral out of control and comments keep coming in droves. For a bit, you’re on a high and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
After that, there’s a lull. You don’t know what’s happened but it’s almost as if you cannot write anymore. Your writing spirit feels drained and whatever you write seems mediocre and will never quite hit the ‘viral’ domain again.
So what should you do?
Take a deep breath, a few steps back, take a break and look long and hard at the primary question: Why do you blog?
If you answer, ‘for myself’, then that’s only half the truth. If it really were only for yourself, you wouldn’t be blogging. You’d be writing in a personal diary. Yes, that’s the truth, the whole of it.
If you answer, ‘to give expression to my thoughts’, that too is not the entire truth. Yes, we write to express ourselves but we do it to be heard.
If you answer, ‘to generate healthy debate’, you’re only going to be partly satisfied, because, let’s face it, there is no such thing as absolutely healthy debate in the online world. Opinions fly thick and fast here, people find it more comfortable to tear you down from behind a computer or mobile screen and everyone’s a critic.
If you answer, ‘a bit of everything’ and that includes each of the points above, then the only thing left to do is grow a thick skin. By thick, I mean buffalo hide or bark-of-a-tree thick. Face it, your posts will not always be read by every single person you admire or visit in the big, virtual world. Some of them don’t have time to visit you while others may visit but not like it enough to leave a comment.
So, why should you blog? Really? It’s far easier to throw in the towel, quit blogging and find something else to do that will be infinitely more satisfying.
The answer to that, and it probably is the only truth that matters, is that blogging helps you grow. All the praise, the brickbats, the comments or lack of them, the virality or virtual invisibility of your posts- they all teach you something. It is that blogging is exactly like real life. Some things do well, other things don’t.
Instead of worrying about what didn’t work, focus on what did. Tweak that, nurture the creative streak, make it work for you.
Finally, blog with a layer of grit and determination. It should be the first thing you grow as a writer- an extra layer of skin that can effectively let the praise and the brickbats skim off the surface without penetrating too deeply.
Because, in that, lies our power of acceptance and the truth- we’re all in this together.