Blogging Success Fallacy

I came across the following post from Nick Carr (linked from Assaf, credit must be given) which sounded familiar to me. Why familiar? Do I suffer from the same described bitterness on blogging? The same quest for readers and recognition? Not really. I’m a musician. Let me elaborate…

Van Gogh - A Pair of BootsInternet is a media, a channel, and like many other channels it gives you the ability to create and share your creativity. I don’t see much difference between some blogs and great books, paper doesn’t make a great difference. So there’s Creation (yes, capital letters) out there. And any artist (with both a small and a big ‘a’) knows about the dangers of seeking recognition or audience before everything else: you won’t last.

I play guitar and bass guitar. Guitar is a very demanding instrument, at first, when you just start playing, you’ll feel that your fingers are weak, numb and clumsy. Then you’ll finally play your first 5s of guitar that roughly sound like something known. And it will take months, years before you can get anything that people will like out of the instrument. If you started because of a desire of fame and recognition, you will give up far before that point. And it’s also a race for attention. Eventually people get tired of you playing always the same thing, you’ll have to learn new stuff, do always better. You may even be humiliated by your 16 years old cousin who managed to play much better than you after just 2 years of restless practice. Oh and did I mention that making your original creation instead of plagiarizing makes getting attention even harder? You need to learn the colossal gap between yourself and a wonderful musician like Sting for example.

So it’s mostly the same for blogging: attracting an audience when you start from nothing takes time. You have to hone your writing skills and style, find new subjects, be sharper than the others. And you can still discover after 2 years that you have no particular talent in writing. Another guy who started just 2 months ago will get much more audience than you, either because he’s just talented or he’s been lucky enough to write on a hot subject before everybody else (which could be a talent too; or not). Most likely, you’ll see that others have more success because they are much, much, much better.

So why bother? The first answer is often ego: “I’m better than everybody else and will conquer the world!”. But ultimately ego doesn’t bring you far and the fall is hard. Why did Van Gogh continue painting even if nobody cared during most of his life?

My answer to this question is pleasure and enjoyment. You just have to like it for yourself, selfishly. That’s the difference between those giving up after 2 months and those playing for their lifetime. How many people do you know who started music and gave up? How many people do you know who started blogging and gave up? It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work necessary to start a blog.

Just think about what it takes to write a book. Everybody can take a pen and a sheet of paper. And nowadays everybody can get published freely on the web. But still, that doesn’t lower the barrier of success. So how many real writers are there among us? Who would be published? Who would be read? And who would be Baudelaire? Just take your own pleasure first and let the audience be.

As for myself, I just enjoy writing a bit sometimes just like I enjoy playing a bit of guitar, amateurishly. Again, for myself.

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