What happens when you give up on your dream of being a writer?
It was the start of 2009, and I was about to find out.
I desperately wanted to build a career around my writing, instead of working a day-job and sleepily, painfully squeezing my writing into the small hours on either side of my “proper” job…
But I wasn’t.
I couldn’t see how to.
And I was ploughing a huge chunk of my time into this thing called “blogging” – which was fun, but so far, 100% financially unrewarding.
Worse, I had other work online, for other people, for actual money. Not much, but – it was money.
What was my blog for? What was the actual point of it?
I couldn’t see one – so after years of building it up, I quit.
I stopped posting. I turned the landing page into an uninspiring CV of my online work – and I waited for my WordPress hosting to run out, so my blog could die in peace.
In blogging, this is often known as the dip – where you’ve done a ton of work, and you haven’t yet seen measurable progress towards what you want.
Your enthusiasm gutters. Your resolve wavers – and disappears.
Every blogger enters the dip.
The ones that do emerge, or that swerve round the dip completely, are easy to spot.
They have a sense of purpose.
For bestselling author Taylor Pearson, blogging was about training himself to write creatively in a predictable, disciplined way:
I remember after starting my blog I had this sense that I HAD to do something interesting with my life or I had to think something interesting in a way that I hadn’t before.
For about three years I wrote my blog on Saturday mornings after the work week for my job was over. I remember being terrified to sit down on Saturday mornings and have nothing interesting to say. My rule was that I had to publish something before I ate lunch so I could stall, but not that long because I would get really hungry.
Knowing I had a deadline to publish something, I started trying to do things and to see the world in a way that I hadn’t before, if only to not look like an idiot on my blog.
It worked. Having in the back of my head all week that “I have to write a blog post this Saturday” taught me how to see in a way that I would not have learned otherwise.
I’m grateful and happy that my blog turned into something more than just a tool to teach me to see, but if my blog had gone up in a poof before I ever made a dime out of it, that was enough.
At first, the purpose of his blog was to force him to open his eyes and wake his brain up.
Then he was using his blog to learn to write on deadline, so he could take that skill and do other things with it, away from his blog.
(One of those things was publishing this terrific book.)
That was what his blog was for – and it was a decision. It didn’t manifest upon him out of nowhere. It was an act of will – and so was turning his blogging into a habit, so he could build it up into what he wanted it to be.
Most bloggers never make decisions like that – and they flail and flail until their energy is used up, and then they walk away in a cloud of disappointment.
And suddenly, in 2009, I was one of them.
Luckily for me, six months later I decided to try to become a travel writer – and found I needed somewhere to informally but publicly hone my skills, to test out what got read and what got ignored.
Suddenly, my blog had a point.
I opened it up, I started writing again – and I salvaged my future job as a professional online storyteller.
This is Engage! – my storytelling course for bloggers.
I’ve just relaunched it (it was previously called Open Loop), and if you’re wanting to build a creative hobby or business using a blog, it’s designed to help you get that story straight.
Yep – story. The thing you tell yourself when you sit down to write in your blog. Where you’re going. What all this is trying to achieve. What it’s all for.
Without that story guiding you, it’s going to get ugly. You’ll flame out. You won’t have that hard-earned chance you’ve always dreamed of – because you’ll disappear into the dip and never emerge.
That’s partly why I made the course.
The other reason is about how the wider world reacts to your story. Will it get excited? Will it mutter “meh” and click away, never to return? That’s ultimately up to you, and the kind of stories you tell in and around your blog.
Engage! is all about engagement – it’s right there in the title – and it’s everything I’ve learned from hard personal experience and from paying close attention to the most successful, influential and beloved folk writing on the internet today.
Do you want that kind of help?
Engage! is currently discounted by 50% – but you’ll have to act quickly.
I’m only leaving the doors open until 9pm GMT, Wednesday 25th January – and after that time, I’m closing registration for new students until later in the year, when it’ll be back up to full price. (It’ll never be this affordable again.)
I’d love to help you make 2017 your most purposeful year of blogging ever.
A Mile A Day is back tomorrow.