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Stop Reading Blogs about Blogging and Write Your Blog

Posted in blogging, creativity, discipline, fear, finding time to write, how to be a prolific writer, living the dream, making a living as a writer, motivation for writers, overcoming fear, Productivity for creatives, Rants, self-doubt, Uncategorized, and writing life

Reading blogs about blogging is like climbing a mountain

Blogging Is Writing Not Rocket Science

I’ve read such a lot of blogs about blogging. Without keeping a tally, the totals must be hundreds of pages and thousands of hours. I’ve done the same with writing fiction, although through the medium of paper books. Starting my writing career, I spent far more time reading about writing, dreaming about writing, and planning a writing life, than, you know, writing.

I’m not suggesting you don’t need an education. A few books about writing are worth the time you invest in them. But there are many reasons you should make this the last blog you ever read about blogging.

Here they are:

  • Learning what a blog is, and how to write one, isn’t rocket science. You need very little information to get started
  • There’s an on-going learning curve and it can be steep. But you can’t get on it until you blog for real, and that means writing
  • Most blogs about blogging are written by people who never blogged about anything else, and that’s just weird. They don’t give a damn about communicating anything of value. You’re a “niche market” to exploit for a few bucks
  • Reading blogs about blogging is like getting lost in a hall of mirrors. Everywhere you look, everything is the same, in infinite regress
  • Nobody can teach you how to blog, or tell you what to blog. There’s no one definition of success and there’s no magic formula for achieving it

When I discover one of my many weaknesses, failings, or plain stupidities, I assume other people out there are just like me. Maybe few, and fewer still who’d admit it in public, but I know they’re there. So I’m happy to speak on behalf of this embarrassed, silent group, and tell you why I’ve wasted – yes wasted – so many hours of my one, precious life reading blogs about blogging.

Enough Blogs About Blogging Already!

At first, it was innocent enough. I wanted to write a blog, and I’d never done it. It seemed sensible to research before getting started. Ah, so coy is the wasp as she buzzes toward the honey trap, so unknowing the fly that spirals to the web!

With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio.

William Shakespeare. Othello, Act II, Scene I

I found everything I needed to know about setting up and writing a blog in the first ten minutes. The important things to learn are these:

  • domain names, hosting and design
  • knowing what you want to blog about
  • blog posts are online articles

And that’s it. Those are the only three things you need to know to get started. There may be many bells and whistles you can add as you go, but the essentials of starting your blog boil down to three actionable steps, and they’re easy:

  • Set up your blog and get it online
  • Decide what you will write
  • Write

That’s good news. It’s easy.

But like a lot of good news, it’s also scary. It’s so tempting to put off writing that first blog post and instead, search for anything yet to learn. I mean, it cant be that simple, can it?

What We Would, We Would Not

The notion of making money by popular work, and then retiring to do good work, is the most familiar of all the devil’s traps for artists.

Logan Pearsall Smith

Let me share a true story with you.

I’m an atheist, rationalist, evidence-based chap these days – but in my youth I was a zealous Christian. By the age of 13 I was obsessed with Saint Francis of Assisi. I thought the Church was corrupt (I was right) and to follow Christ, we should give away all our possessions and go barefoot, preaching the gospel.

I berated my parents for their hypocrisy, and bemoaned that I couldn’t follow my sacred vocation.

Until one spring morning when I was hectoring my father about what it meant to be a true believer. When I’d reached the dramatic end of my sermon, he said, “Son, you’re right. You have my blessing to leave this house and preach the gospel. You can start now. And you can start next door.”

I was horror-struck. What? Actually do it?

My career as an itinerant preacher began and ended there.

Work and the Illusion of Work

Now it’s not a perfect analogy, but it shows that sometimes it’s only when the obstacles have gone, we realize how reluctant we are to do the thing we want to do.

So with blogging. Starting a blog doesn’t mean reading endless blogs about blogging, or burning the midnight oil analyzing hundreds of potential keywords. It means having something to say and saying it. You know, writing blog posts.

It’s easier to enjoy the illusion of progress by reading about doing something, than to get on and do it. But writing skills, you can only learn on the job. You can’t go from not writing at all to brilliant writing, or from having no blog posts to hundreds of pages pulling in a dedicated readership, in one magical leap. The laws of Nature just don’t allow it.

These Boots Were Made for Walking

To get from A to Z, you have to take steps B through Y. Map-reading and journey-planning can’t go on forever. Strap your boots on and get walking.

I’m glad we’ve come up with the analogy of walking, because it illustrates another vital point.

No-one wants to be bad at something. No-one wants to be a “newbie.” That may account for why so many phony expert bloggers exist out there. But competency comes through putting time and effort into doing the thing you want to be competent at doing. Everything has to develop.

Which takes us back to the walking analogy.  It’s one I like because I’m a walker. I walk everywhere, and I love hiking in the great outdoors.

If it’s the first time you’ve slouched off the sofa and poked your nose outside your front door, you can’t expect to walk to the top of a mountain the same day. But you’ve got to start somewhere or you’ll get nowhere.  Take the first steps.

Maybe you can only get around the block. But keep walking around the block and you’ll find you get stronger and your stamina builds. A month down the line, you’ll be doing circuits of the recreation ground. Three months down the line, you’ll be in the foothills of a National Park. A year from now, you’ll be taking in the view from the highest peak. And you won’t even be out of breath when you get there.

Everybody Starts at Zero, and the Only Way is Up

It’s the same with blogging – or any writing. It takes time to build your skills, your strengths, and your stamina. You’ve got to live through the period when you have only one post and no traffic; when you can’t think of anything useful to write; when you feel lonely and afraid and think it might all come to nothing.

But if you keep at it, everything gets easier and easier. Remember when you couldn’t balance on a bicycle or swim a length of the pool? And now you hop on your bike and go without even thinking about it. You turn somersaults from the high board and churn through the water at a phenomenal rate of knots. That which started out as a serious challenge has become effortless.

The only reason I’m any good at any of the things I’m any good at is because I allowed myself to be crap at them at the start. So stop reading blogs about blogging and write your blog.

If you want to write a blog, you can. You have my blessing to leave this blog and write your own. You can start now. And you can start with your next post.



If you’ve enjoyed this post or if you haven’t, I would love to read your insights, experiences, thoughts, critiques, or reflections in the comments below. Please share this post on your social media. That would be a lovely thing to do.



Image credits: all images (apart from the book covers of my novels and the photo of me) are in the Public Domain and were sourced via the Creative Commons. Click on the image to reveal the name of the artist and the work in the address bar.

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  1. Lol, Austin you’re so nice. Mirroring your dad’s words, eh? 😉 I’m in a boring-ish lecture now (about policy borrowing) and reading your blog post made me smile, so thanks for that.

    That’s true. The only way to improve is to allow yourself to produce crap. It’s a psychological mindset more than anything.

    When I first started blogging last autumn, I’d read plenty of helpful blog articles but never thought I would bother to start a blog myself. However, I enjoy having an online diary where I can note down my thoughts about topics

    On a related note, I read somewhere that we skim through 100k words online a day. That’s a lot of words!

    February 28, 2017
    • Austin Hackney
      Austin Hackney

      Hi Farrah.

      Glad you got that, otherwise it would seem as if I’m being really pompous!

      If I made you smile during a boring-ish lecture, I’m delighted. 🙂 Yes, the more I do this writing thing, the more I realize the obstacles to success, however you define it, are not knowledge, skills, opportunities, and so on. They can be planned for, improved, and managed. The main obstacles are psycho-emotional blocks we carry inside us.

      Having a blog which is an online diary is a perfectly good thing to do. It’s your blog, it can be whatever you want. The term is an abbreviation of “web log” shortened to “blog”- which you probably already know. The earliest blogs were exactly as you describe. Many still are. Others are more like information marketing platforms, and affiliate marketing portals, and all of that. Those kind bore me to death and it’s almost impossible to tell one from another. I suppose some of them are making money, but what a soul-destroying way to go about it!

      100k words every day? Can’ t be. That’s like reading War and Peace, cover to cover, twice. You know, Farrah, you can’t believe everything you read. Especially not on the internet.

      I wouldn’t even believe that, if I were you. 😉

      February 28, 2017
      • Did not know about blog being an abbreviation of “weblog”. Dontcha learn something new everyday 😂😜

        Daily M(F)ail says otherwise about the 100k words (I know not the most reliable source…. xD)
        Apologies if you dislike links on your blog. Feel free to delete my comment. 😊

        February 28, 2017
        • Austin Hackney
          Austin Hackney

          Hi Farrah,

          I’m happy to have added more to your education than your boring lecturer!

          I’ve removed the link from your comment. Now, if you’d linked to a newspaper rather than a bog roll, I might have allowed it. :p

          February 28, 2017
          • Bog roll indeed! 💯💯💯

            W&P and C&P – aim to complete them for my Goodreads reading challenge this year. ☺😯😊

            February 28, 2017
          • Austin Hackney
            Austin Hackney

            Hi Farrah,

            I thought that’s what it was for. The Daily Hate Mail, I mean. I tried reading it, but all I could find was excrement, so I thought, “Oh, I get it!” Now I tear it up into little squares and hang it on string behind the privy door, to be employed for the purpose for which it was intended.

            And just so I can mention something on-topic, a bog roll is not to be confused with a blogroll, which is something else altogether.

            Good luck with your Goodreads reading challenge!

            February 28, 2017
      • Oops. My comment might not have been sent. But to sum up, I didn’t know about the weblog terminology (but it’s fairly simple, now that I think about it… xD). And Daily Mail says otherwise about the 100k words we read/hear each day (I know, not the most reliable publication but it’s a time killer lool).

        Have you read W&P? If so, hats off to you. I got through 1/10 of the way through, but realized that it needed a longer stretch of my time devoted to it. I couldn’t read it in little bits and pieces, spread over weeks. The writing is surprisingly simple though, it’s just keep track of all the characters.

        February 28, 2017
        • Austin Hackney
          Austin Hackney

          Hi Farrah,

          Yes, I have read War and Peace. I’m one of those freaks who genuinely enjoyed it. But I love Russian literature. Give me Tolstoy or Dostoevsky and I’m a happy chap. However, you’re right, it has to be an immersive experience. You need to lock yourself away and nestle down with it and not re-emerge until you’re done.

          A. x

          February 28, 2017
  2. Shojib Islam
    Shojib Islam

    That was really interesting post. I think I need to think more about writing more times on my blog. Writing a blog is hard work. I want to make money on my blog but not much traffic comes so I do not know how it can be made without traffic. Thank you for a good blog which I like very much and have learn very much also.

    April 26, 2017
    • Austin Hackney
      Austin Hackney

      Hi Shojib,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you found this blog post helpful. I’m not blogging to make money, so I can’t really advise you about how to do that. Although the best way to get lots of traffic to your blog is to concentrate on writing the best blog posts you can and publishing as frequently as you can manage. To learn more about making money from a blog you might want to visit “Copyblogger.” I don’t know much about it, so I don’t necessarily recommend or condone it, but I have heard that’s the place to go for information like that.

      But whatever your reasons for blogging, there has to come a time when you stop reading blogs about blogging and write your blog. I’m convinced the surest way to get a blog to “work” – whatever that may mean for you personally – is to publish as much high-quality content as you can, as often as you can, and be patient.

      Thanks again for your comment and I hope that helps. 🙂

      April 26, 2017

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