You Might Not Like This. And That's Okay.

It’s 7:02PM on Friday. Sarah (my wife) and I are leaving for the airport at 3:45AM. Sleep is preferable, so I have about three hours to drum up the idea for this week’s blog post. And write it. And edit it.

A shortage of ideas is not the problem.

I want to write technical posts about some cool JavaScript that I wrote recently. And about some A/B testing that I’m doing. But most of my readers aren’t nerds.

I want to write a post about disc golf, the world’s most intentional sport. But I doubt more than 5% of my readers have ever played disc golf.

I want to write a post about how I crafted a more intentional Twitter feed. About how I programmatically unfollowed 82% without losing an ounce of value. But you can’t replicate this technique unless you’re a developer. And most of my readers aren’t developers.

The script I wrote calculates how much every user has engaged with you, and recommends which users to keep and which to drop. I hope to make this tool into a web app soon.
I want to write a post about not being so reliant on Mainstream Media. Heck, “want to write” is an understatement. It’s already written. It’s titled “No News is Good News” and it’s not bad. But it’s not great. It’s 1,200 words of mediocrity that’s going in the trash bin.

Stymied by The Most Minor of Successes

Three weeks ago I didn’t give a crap. I had four email subscribers and 193 visits to my site. This blog was my canvas, and I would paint it how I liked.

Then my posts started attracting more attention. Last week’s post, I’m Better Than You, already has 7,285 views.

Now instead of four email subscribers I have 55. I’m worried about appeasing those 55. I’m consumed with anxiety and nervousness in a way that never happens to me. I’m panicked. What if I write something that my new subscribers don’t love?

55 might sound laughable. And I guess it is. But it’s all relative. To someone who just started blogging last month, 55 is huge. It’s justifying.
I’m hesitant to write about something drastically different than last week’s post. 51 people took a leap of faith with me because of that post. 51 people took a simple action that means more to me than any of them will ever know. I appreciate those 51 and I want to be loyal to them. Sure, I want to write the occasional post about business and development and disc golf. But I don’t want to scare anyone away. I don’t want to disappoint any of the people who took a chance on me.

So I’m stressing about creating the perfect blog post. The post that every single reader will like. And the post that will pave the way for me to write about whatever I want going forward. The Unicorn of blog posts.

Luckily, in the midst of all this stress I’m reminded of something. It’s something I heard recently on my friend Jeff’s podcast. His guest, Marcia Hyatt, talks about dealing with “that deep fear that I’m not enough”.

Touché, Marcia. I can’t be everything to everyone. I can only be true to me. Some people will resonate with that. Some people won’t. Whatever.

The truth? I want you to like this post. I want you to like next week’s post. I want you to like every post that I write about every topic I write about. It matters to me. But you won’t. No matter how well I write or how much you like my writing, you’re not going to like everything. I have to be okay with that. And as of 72 seconds ago I am okay with that.

Finding Your Voice

When Sarah reads my blog I want her to say “damn Patrick, that sounds exactly like you.” That means that I’ve found my voice.

In the blogosphere, finding your voice means learning how to write the same way that you talk. It’s the key to great blogging. The key to connecting with people. Because when you’re fake - whether intentional or not - people can see through it.

One of the many reasons that finding your voice is so hard is because it’s natural to want to appease everyone. It’s natural to water down your words so as not to offend anyone. But being true to yourself - if you have anything worthwhile to say - will mean alienating some people. And making deeper connections with others.

What I’ve realized in the past hour is that finding your voice doesn’t just apply to writing blog posts. It applies to everything. All we can do in life is be ourselves and let the pieces fall where they will. Screw anybody who doesn’t like that. And it’s natural that some people won’t love that.

Finding my voice applies just as much to what I write as it does to how I write. If I want to write a meandering post about how I couldn’t decide on this week’s topic? That’s what I’ll do. The people who like me for me will like it. Or they’ll tolerate it enough to give me another shot next week. The people who dislike it enough to unsubscribe from my blog don’t like me for me. These people would’ve unsubscribed within the next few months anyway. So why should I care?

From now on, I’m going to write about whatever I want to write about. Without apology. I hope you like it. But you might not. And that’s okay.

The Take Home

Try hard to add value to people’s lives. But don’t fret if when some people don’t see the value. Be true to yourself. When you alienate some people, you draw others closer.