Two years ago, in the depths of what I didn’t recognize then as a dangerous case of burn-out, I had this crazy image.
I pictured my busy, exhausted self falling on the sidewalk and cracking open, only to find dozens… hundreds… thousands of words spilling out of me.
Nouns, adjectives, verbs… rolling down the street like tumbleweeds…
It was a startling vision and I had a hard time articulating it in a way that didn’t sound absolutely crazy.
I only knew that nothing at that time seemed more important than getting the words out of me and onto paper.
So I started writing.
Not because I had some great game plan to be a paid content writer or renowned blogger.
Not because I felt I should. Only because I knew I could.
I had always wanted to be a writer. I even got to chapter 13 of a work of fiction.
But in the busyness of career and family, that non-stop swirl of working motherhood in which I’d forget to write even the most basic of notes to the teacher (“Dear Mrs. Lipsmann, please excuse Julia’s absence yesterday, she needed to stay home and watch 3 hours of SpongeBob…”), I pushed this goal to the back burner.
Sure, I wrote at work. Lots of emails that I sent and replied to at all hours of the day. Some script edits and rewrites often met with scorn by a producer who’d insist the evil manager was ruining his artistic vision even as he refused to trim his 17-minute masterpiece down to the 7 minutes the digital contract required.
It wasn’t hard to see I wasn’t doing the kind of writing I wanted to do.
Talking about writing, sure.
Thinking about writing, yes.
Planning to write, always.
But not actually writing.
So I just started doing what I knew I could.
I wrote. About whatever.
And those words inside of me that threatened to break me started flowing from my overtaxed brain through my 70/words per minute fingertips.
And it felt good.
I wrote about finding clarity and being stubborn and bawling behind your closed office door. I wrote about courage and creativity killers and your cast of supporting characters. I wrote about editing out what’s not important to you and the idea of “enough-ness” and that elusive work-life balance.
My favorite blog post is one of my firsts, about what it felt like to wake up the first day without a job and that Unbearable Freedom of Free Time, which I found frightening.
It remains, in my mind, the best I’ve written.
My most-read blog post is inspired by this question from the MTA subway system: What Do You Want to Add?
Apparently, it has the most traffic because when tourists in NYC Google “What should I add to my MetroCard, value or time?” they come upon my blog post about the symbolism of this question. My apologies to them…
I just kept writing.
I wrote when no one was reading or sharing.
I wrote without those clickbait hacks guaranteed to grow my audience (like titling your article “How to” or “5 Ways to…” or “Look What Happened When…”
I wrote posts that made some people applaud and pissed off others like Everyday Sexism at Work, the Confidence Conundrum and Men Rise, Women Bounce. I believe these are important topics to read and discuss.
The more I wrote, the more ideas came to me.
I wrote some important things and silly things. I wrote (and published) with the occasional typo or grammatical mistake which, if you know me, makes me cringe.
But not enough for me to stop writing.
At some point, I started counting.
Those blog posts added up. I was averaging one post a week and had been writing for two years.
This is number 100.
I’m pretty proud of that, typos and all. It’s like a cache of content now readily available to share in various ways.
I suppose writing 100 blog posts makes me somewhat of an “expert” on this topic. So if you’ve clicked on this article for your “How to,” I want you to get what you’re seeking.
HOW TO WRITE 100 BLOG POSTS (OR DO ANYTHING ELSE YOUR HEART DESIRES):
Stop convincing yourself that whatever you truly want to do isn’t worthwhile and just freakin’ do it. Write. If writing is not your thing, do what is. Knit. Kayak. Collect snow globes. Whatever. Stop worrying about the goal or the plan or the outcome and just tap into your creative self, whatever makes your heart sing.
KNOW THAT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY IS IMPORTANT.
Self-doubt is the killer of self-expression. If it’s important to you, it’s worth doing. In one of my favorite books about creative exploration, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert encourages writers and others to do what they love regardless of “failure” or “success.”
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” ―
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME (AND IF THEY DON’T, SO WHAT?)
Write in authentic and valuable and generous ways. But don’t write solely to please the reader or to acquire likes or shares. Every blogging business expert out there will say I’m wrong and insist you invest $499 to follow their foolproof plan. Feel free to do so, but don’t change just to please a fickle audience.
IF YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION, YOU WILL FIND IT.
What to write about? Open your eyes and look around. There is creativity everywhere. Think about what bothers you, what you might say to console your best friend, and how you might consider something from another angle. Eavesdrop on conversations and pick up a snippet and start there. Listen to the silence. If you create space for ideas to show up, they will.
I have more ideas that I know will take me to 150 posts, 200, or maybe more. I’ll be writing about authentic leadership and imposter syndrome and, perhaps even How to Make Money from Writing.
Hey, it could happen.
Two years ago I started writing. Simply to express myself, despite all doubt.
100 blog posts to date.
This is my thank you to you, my readers, that you do what your heart asks of you and, above all else, never doubt that your voice is worthy of expression.
Stop worrying about the eyes and ears that might see and hear it.
Stop overthinking what they might think.
If you want to write, write.
Or whatever else you know is right for you.
See ya at number 200!
Valerie Gordon is a 10-time Emmy award-winning television producer whose work has appeared on CBS News, HBO and ESPN. Now the founder of career and communications firm The Storytelling Strategist, she speaks at conferences and works with corporations, helping future leaders use the power of story to build successful and satisfying careers. She turned many of those early blog posts into her first book, “Fire Your Narrator! A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life.”