(Note: The post you are reading was written on 9/1/2020. I’ve written many other posts previous to this but they will not be published until later).
My Previous Blogs’ Deaths
I had tried blogging a few times over the years and met with the same results of probably 99% of beginning bloggers: I did it for a few days and then quit. “Tomorrow” comes really quickly and it was hard to keep cranking it out.
I decided to attack this problem with a couple strategies:
- I would not publish any posts until I had at least a big set of them already written. I believe I was aiming for six months worth of daily posts.
- I would write a few a day, that way I could get to posting in just a few months instead of waiting six months.
At the time my optimism and enthusiasm said of course you can do this!
In reality what this meant was that I had to write a few a day so that I could get ahead. No problem!
Except I already showed that I was having trouble posting ONE a day and now I was fixing the problem by committing to MULTIPLE a day. Sure, I’d let myself not post on Saturday but seeing as how I couldn’t post 4 days in a row successfully, I wasn’t even going to make it to Friday.
To my credit, I did manage to post two a day for about a week and a half.
But I hated it.
Additionally I found the expert “listen to me, I will tell you the right ways of the universe” tone I had taken wasn’t working for me. I’d been reading a lot of Seth Godin and I thought I’d try writing in his tone.
But I didn’t like the know-it-all tone. I’m not Seth Godin. I just wanted to share what I was working on, my ideas and ponderings, and things I had learned that may or may not actually be correct and/or worth learning.
So in addition to hating to sit down and hustle out posts that wouldn’t be seen for months (or ever?), I didn’t like the content of the posts, either.
In the spirit of crushed bloggers everywhere, I hung it up.
But the idea nagged at me over the next few months. I kept reading books that said things like “quantity over quality” and “always be shipping” and “Show Your Work.”
Since I was unsure about the future of the calendar company I own, I was also looking for possible full-time employment. One of the job postings a friend showed me was an activation designer for a marketing company. I felt I had the experience for the job but I didn’t have a portfolio to show, despite having created and executed many events. I didn’t get the job.
But that was one more thing telling me that if my work was visible I might have more opportunities to do the work I love.
So I decided to give myself another blogging at-bat.
I started this time by asking “Why?”.
What is the purpose of the blog? Ok, I show my work. So what? What do I hope to get out of it? Who was this for? Who was this going to help?
Honestly, I still don’t know for sure. Here’s the possibilities I considered at the time:
- Fans and visitors of The Eureka Room. They want to know more about how things are created, the person who makes it, and the behind the scenes stuff.
- People who might hire me as some sort of creative consultant. This might be for events or activations or other related work. The blog could show off my work and my talents and personality.
- Investors for The Eureka Room. I’m not sure I need or want any investors for The Eureka Room but maybe it would be good to start establishing cred by showing them I have thought a lot about the product, the customers, the market, and the business model.
- TBD. Maybe something else?
At the time I felt like my strength was ideas. I could show them that I am capable of generating loads of unique, interesting ideas. This really didn’t fit any of the possibilities I had considered. But I went with it anyway just to see where it would take me.
I landed on the concept to “museums”. I would think up 100 new museum ideas. High-level ideas of just a couple sentences. At some later time I would fill in the details.
So that’s what I did. Sitting down every day to brainstorm at least 10, I had about 200 ideas in 12 days. (I started Aug 5th and finished Aug 16th).
Then I began expanding each idea into its own post. After a few I started feeling like I was just pretending. I didn’t make these museums. “They’re just ideas,” people would say. “What have you MADE?”
As much as I hate to admit it, I know that ideas are cheap. While I loved many of the ideas I felt like I was writing to entertain. Not to get work or fans. Maybe for fans, but not really. I was mostly just writing for myself.
But that was OK. I had given myself permission to experiment. The museum ideas weren’t going where I wanted to go, so I set them aside.
I decided that I would just keep working on the blog every day until something shook out that helped me get where I needed.
I wanted to write about something I’d done. Something that was substantial. There were two good choices: The Eureka Room and the Austin Events 2020 Experimental Events Series. These I were real (mostly), real work was done, and I had a lot to say about them.
Five Days Is More Than Seven Days
I continued to write five blogs a week for the next couple of weeks, giving myself the weekend off, so as not to make it a tortuous everyday thing.
As a result, Monday was the hardest day by far and I found myself always wishing it was the weekend so I wouldn’t have to write the blog. But I kept at it like this until Sep 6th when I finally discovered more was less.
I had recently hit 100 days of meditating in a row. Meditating was something I had tried on and off for years but never lasted more than a few days. And I never felt I “got it”. But this time, thanks to the monotonous routine created by the pandemic I was able to keep it going and could actually see it adding up quickly.
It was just 10 minutes each day, but for me it was a huge accomplishment. I can’t remember the last time I kept up a new practice for 100 days in a row. Maybe never?
So here I was celebrating 100 days of non-stop meditating, proud of myself but also thinking it wasn’t that hard and at the SAME TIME I can’t hardly even get myself to sit down to blog on Monday – even after I gave myself the whole weekend off!
Maybe the weekend was the problem.
Maybe knowing I had on days and off days was making the on days look worse than they were. What if ALL the days were “on” days? It was worth a shot for a couple weeks, I figured. Cal Newport talks about keeping a compelling scoreboard to keep things going and those X’s on the calendar for all the meditation were way more fun to mark than a bystander would ever understand. Let’s try the blogging. Every. Day.
It’s been three weeks now and while I won’t claim to love it every day, since there’s no other day that’s better, the longing and comparison with “off” days is gone. It’s just something I do. Period. I’m at over 43,000 words now.
So I got myself writing more (that’s great) and with less reluctance (also great) and a nice scoreboard already (3 weeks – super great!)
But Why Am I Blogging?
But the elephant in the room is WHY. Why the F am I doing this?
Let’s review what I’ve done. In real-time (well stream of consciousness with some light editing post-hoc for clarity).
The posts on The Eureka Room were a nice analysis and some behind-the scenes insight, though perhaps a little dry. Might appeal to fans, investors or clients.
The posts on the Experimental Events were humorous and in the tone of Mike-the-overly-sunny-oblivious-guy, which I love to use but is NOT going to bring investors or clients. Fans possibly yes. Investors and clients will think I’m an idiot if they don’t get the humor.
I also have the Seth-Godin-inspired “Advice” posts from when I first started. Some of the advice I felt was solid; I had read it in book(s) and tried it and it worked for me. I wanted other people to know about it. The other kind of “advice” was more like my opinion, often half-baked and usually somewhat malleable. The latter seemed really disingenuous to pass off as “must do” advice. I decided to split the topic into two categories: Things I Learned and Ponderings. The former I take no credit for, the latter I give no answers. My imposter syndrome vanishes.
Depending on the topic of the “Things I’ve Learned” and “Ponderings” might or might not appeal to fans, but if those posts are getting more analytical they probably speak more to investors and clients . If for fans, I need to make sure the subject is relatable or interesting.
Then there’s the Ponderings. These could go pretty self indulgent so I’d want to make sure they are sparking ideas or are somehow valuable to anyone reading them. Fans might be interested. Investors and clients probably would prefer me to speak to their issues and not care about my ponderings.
IDEA: Perhaps the “oblivious guy” me should be a separate nom de plume and only go on the calendar site. I could still use the voice and it’s similar to the calendar newsletter voice anyways.
“About Me / Things I like / Things I’ve Done” These are typical person blog fodder, but I don’t want to lean too much on me me me. Perhaps a sprinkle here or there when I think it will help people. Like go to Huis Ten Bosch right now.
Experience Ideas… What about these “100 Futures” story ideas and the “Museum” ideas? Do those really fit anywhere? Maybe they just live on my big spreadsheet and I use them for future projects. Do I write about them in blog posts? Would that even be valuable to anyone? They are both entertainment right now. If I can turn them into “Ponderings” then maybe they are worthwhile because they get people to think about things differently which might help them solve some problem they are working on.
I think the priority of posts should be:
- Work I have made.
- Things I’ve learned making the work.
- Things I’ve learned in the meta of the work (productivity skills, etc)
- Things I’ve Done / About Me / Things I like
- Experience Ideas (that I didn’t do)
I think the top 3 are areas that are related and is showing my work the most.
Telling people about my work and sharing what I’ve learned is the most valuable.
Then telling people more about me.
Then brainstorming more ideas is the least valuable. At least in this format. I think if I wrote enough on these I could perhaps have a solid block of entertainment but the audience is likely not ER Fans, Investors, or creative clients. I’m not positioning myself as an expert if I just ponder shit. I need to make shit and show shit and learn shit.
A Few Odds And Ends:
- I discovered that I had more to say than I thought.
- I happy to discover I had lots of visuals I could add to the blog. I had been lamenting all the work I had put into media for the calendar marketing and failed/shelved Eureka Room programs. It was rewarding to have a place to say “hey! even if these weren’t winners, they EXISTED and I LEARNED from them.”
- Splitting the topics brainstorming and the blog writing into two pieces worked well. When sitting down to blog I would just take the first one that caught my eye and go. Less decisions = more work done.