Seven years ago (yesterday, it seems… I had the date wrong in my calendar), I started this blog. I did it because I had gotten into a daily habit of writing working on a book for college students. I never got it published (might go back and edit it at some point), but I liked the discipline of writing and needed an outlet.
In seven years, I’ve thought a lot of things. Some of them, I’ve written down. Others I let go. I probably haven’t always been on the right side of what I should post and what I shouldn’t, but if you’ve been reading me for a while, you’re probably used to that.
The consistency of it provides constructive pressure to continuously find inputs and inspiration. The exercise of adding structure to my stream of consciousness fine tunes my ability to quickly recall, organize, associate, and hypothesize—not unlike repeatedly practicing the fundamentals of a sport or the basic moves of a martial art. Opening it up to the world is like having a training partner—someone to push back, to challenge, to push you to the next level. It often doesn’t matter whether or not someone actually comments—it’s knowing that someone might or that there’s an audience that makes me want to maintain high performance levels. I suspect this is why I can very quickly give pointed feedback to an innovator—I’ve been training for this kind of thing for a while… taking jumbled free association, snippets, and fleeting light bulbs and creating a narrative out of it that either makes sense or doesn’t. (I often find the latter after a post… that the theory of everything that was so clear in my mind didn’t amount to much on digital paper.)
That’s why I do it, really. The ancillary benefits of a brand, reach, reputation are all secondary. There’s no point to being invited to the big show if you aren’t prepared for it. I think that’s where people fall off the wagon when it comes to blogging. They think of it as a marketing exercise versus just being preparation. Blogging is taking batting practice. Sure, you may wow the audience with a display of upper deck blasts, but it really matters what you do in the actual game—the rest of your life. What turns out to be important isn’t the top ten list that you wrote that went viral, but the one insight you got from a post that no one read—the publishing equivalent of trying to hit it to the opposite field. It’s a little thing that can change momentum when you get a tough pitch to hit.
So for anyone thinking about starting a blog, don’t worry about how many people read it. Don’t worry about what to write. Blogging is breaking down the interactions you have in your life and your career and fine tuning all the details through careful thought and organized logic. It’s a rather solitary exercise that makes for good habit. Ever miss a train and wish you were just that much lighter on your feet or less winded when you got to the platform? Good health habits would have come in handy before that moment. It’s the same when you’re out at a networking event or on an interview and wish you had something more thoughtful to say. It’s all about hard work and practice. I could be the last blogger on earth in a post-social media world and I’d still do it—because I like who I am when I’m someone who tries to come up with something interesting a few times a week, going through all the motions and exercise it takes to get there.
Thanks for a good workout.