The Terrifying Truth About Chasing Your Dreams: Things I Learned From Starting A Blog
If you are new to my blog, Last December I signed my first book contract with Zondervan Publishing. As a new author I was asked to build my platform. I’m zipping through this part because I’ve blogged extensively about that here and here.
One way for writers to build readership is to start a blog. But as a believer in Jesus I was trusting God to zoom me right past this phase of the publishing process. He raised people from the dead, after all, surely he can let me skip the platform building part of the otherwise fun stuff that comes with publishing a book.
Alas, mountains were moved, yes. Still, readership did not miraculously plop out of the sky eagerly awaiting my book release. It appeared I would have to soldier on through the daunting expedition of conceptualizing and maintaining the consistent(ish) journey that is blogging.
Because I love you, I want to walk you through each phase of the Blogging Process as you will meet them. A “What to Expect When You are Expecting.... to Start a Blog” tutorial, if you will. I wish I had someone to give me the heads up.
Phase I: Brain Blast.
An idea, a dream seedling is born. Ahhh, babies. So chubby and sweet. You breathe in that new baby-idea smell.
Phase II: Incubation (Procrastination).
You can’t shake your idea after a few days, months, years. Some dreams hang in limbo longer than others. Anyhow….in this phase, you finally decide to pursue it. Go, you!
Phase III: Empowerment.
An unusual surge of positivity displays itself out of no where. Enjoying this sense of unexpected empowerment, the following internal conversation with yourself may or may not be conscious:
I have things to say! *cheerleading pom poms
I can let my little light shine in the universe! *type type type
Yes, good has been done here! *hits 'Save & Publish' button
You have unknowingly unleashed Phase IV
Phase IV: Horrifying, Nauseating, Terrifying, Paralyzing Fear.
Second internal conversation with yourself that you are most definitely, glaringly aware and conscious of:
I’m stupid. I’m boring. I’m dumb. No one likes me. Why did I say that? Even if I delete it, someone probably saw it. 🙄
This is normal. (Maybe? Probably?) Relax. It will pass. (Maybe. Probably.)
Phase V: Stand Back Up on Shaking Sea Legs & Breathe in the Salty Ocean Air Phase
(No one is paying me for this blog, so yes. That can be a Phase Name. ^^^^)
If you hack your way through the thickets of Phase IV, Congratulations. Prepare to re-gain a fresh confidence. >I did it! I did it scared, but I did it! I CAN SAY ALL THE THINGS!< At this point you may begin to internalize famous quotes and start pinning floral-decorated inspirational sayings on your Pinterest board. You want to make sure and leave encouraging notes for yourself the next time you feel yourself backsliding back into Phase IV.
In this phase you don’t care if your post goes viral or is only read by your college roommate’s boyfriend’s grandma. You believed in something. You pursued it. You sat on fear’s head and you laughed at it. Ha-ha-ha-ha.
Phase VI: Second Guessing and Irrational Self Shaming.
(Similar to Phase IV, only again.)
Self doubt. You genuinely believe you’re the worlds biggest idiot. Only, you’ve made yourself public now so if you fail, you fail publicly. Nice job, idiot-self. Everyone will see that you have nothing to say and your words don’t make sense!
Completely optional and can be avoided altogether depending on how long you let Phase VI last. If you don’t nip that in the bud, you will unleash Phase VII:
Irrational and Overwhelming Analytics-Checking Urges.
Listen to me. They want you to be crazy. Walk away from the computer and go outside. Take your kiddos to the zoo or do your laundry. (If you’ve been blogging, I know the laundry is piled up so don’t even act like you have time to stalk analytics today.)
…..but don't follow around your blog traffic.
Phase VIII: Amnesia.
Just like childbirth, you forget the traumatic phases when it’s time to have another baby. You’re minding your own business and BOOM. A brain blast. This is good stuff! I CAN SAY ALL THE THINGS!
and so on.
As with pursuing any dream, the more you do something, the terrifying part dims and dims until you can mostly skip those phases. I mean, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. But I’d rather make mistakes by making something than make no mistakes by doing nothing.
Maybe the most shocking thing I’ve learned in this blogging journey is that MOST people are rooting for you to succeed. While there are those whose comments can be ugly and hyper-critical, I promise you, they are the fewest, just the loudest. You know why? If people see you succeed, they will be encouraged to believe they can succeed in their own thing. And BTW, by succeed, I mean just going for it! The outcome is not the prize, I promise. It’s the journey.
We were not created to sit in paralyzing fear and be stagnate. We were created to move.
We need to get past afraid.
For me, that all started by posting a blog. By kicking fear in the teeth. Most of my life I was ruled by fear. I never tried out for sports, or to be in a play, or for anything, really. Once I modeled an outfit I made for 4-H and ran off the stage sobbing because people were looking at me. I was totally afraid of the spotlight because I thought I would make a fool of myself and fail.
Now I get to promote freedom and call out fear as being a big fat fraud that it is; paralyzing the whole world from doing good.
Sometimes freedom just starts with a voice. You're wanting to start that blog. My advice?
Be scared and do it anyway.
And lastly, remember, it’s only the internet. Once you put it out there it’s likely permanent and is for anyone to see at any point for as long as there is electricity even long after your dead.
Shauna Shanks, author of A Fierce Love, available now.
I hope I am talking to dreamers. I hope I run into people who want to change the world. Dreamers are the ones who trailblazer organizations that adopt orphans, house refugees, provide relief efforts in crisis, who travel and spread peace to war-torn nations, who cast vision to fund-raise, that write stories and promote justice and Jesus.
We need to dream. Then we need to move.