Last December I decided to stop blogging. The final decision to stop caught me by surprise, although it was something I had been considering off and on for quite some time. Here are five things I learned during my year away from the blogosphere:
Silence is important. One of the most powerful things that happened to me in the last year was that I had an encounter with silence. I was hired to write a book for a man in Istanbul who was dying of cancer, an amazing, strong man with an incredible story, and while I was there I came face to face with silence.
After I got back from Istanbul, I started reading more about silence, making time for it. The practice of silence changed my life, and I look forward to writing more about that here soon.
Basically, when you’re blogging every day of the week, it’s difficult to make time for silence. It’s hard to dwell on things for any amount of time without talking about them right away. This is the challenge ahead of me. Blogging out of a space of silence.
Platform isn’t everything. I was so obsessed with numbers before I stopped blogging. How many visits today? This hour? This minute? How many likes? How many shares? A year away from the blog was a tangible step that forced me to focus on getting better at writing instead of getting better at drawing attention to myself.
There is value in secrecy. You know how in the story the angels told Mary she would give birth to the Messiah, then she Instagrammed it right away? Then shared it on Facebook (which was linked to her Twitter account)?
Nah. She treasured it in her heart. There’s power in letting things simmer, just thinking about them.
I am fascinated by the blog as a form of writing. As a lover of novels and short stories, I used to short-change the blog as a form. I tended to think of it as a platform-building tool, a means to an end. But during my time away I paid attention to the bloggers who were still forging ahead. I watched the interaction they had with their readers and the conversations going on.
The blog isn’t dead.
Jealousy sucks – Celebration is better. Anne Lamott talks about Jealousy in her book, Bird By Bird, and for the first month or two after I stopped blogging I sometimes got sideswiped by Jealousy. It’s hard to take a step back out of the limelight and watch other writers write amazing stuff and get huge numbers and continue to build an audience. But it was good for me. It was good for me to stay silent. It was good for me to wait.
And in the process I learned that one of the best ways to quell Jealousy is by supporting the folks you’re feeling jealous towards. Instead of stewing, get on board and help. Celebrate the small things with people. It’s possible to take joy in other people’s successes. It’s actually kind of fun.
So there you have it. Five of the many things I’ve learned during the last year. Any questions?