A while back, I wrote a blog post.
You know why? Because I had a nice photo of bulbs in pots. You know. Flowers and stuff.
Here it is.
I thought, how can I write a blog post around this image? I love this image. I want to use this image! I must, I must, or else I’ll bust!
Goals. Yeah! They’re like bulbs in the ground. Muddy little knots of nonsense, waiting to push their gizzards out into the sunlight. Waiting for the perfect time to blossom.
No cliché there…
So, I decided to write about goal setting.
Tap tappety tap.
I read it over.
I edited it.
I rewrote it.
I played around. Shuffled the paragraphs. Moved the image about.
No matter how hard I tried, nothing changed.
This was the worst thing I’d written in years and it was not going to change.
I could bully it all I liked. This post was committed to being codswallop.
But I’d put time into it! Lots of time. It would be a shame to waste it.
I tucked it away, thinking it would be good back up. I could use it one day. When I was desperate.
A week later, I came back to the drafts folder and read the bulby- flowery- goal setting- post again.
It was still rubbish. In fact, it was worse than I remembered.
(Secretly, I hoped I was being hard on myself.)
I was still loath to delete it!
I thought, there must be a gem in here. There must be something worth saving, worth polishing, worth rolling in glitter and sending out to the world.
I have two rules: A blog post must be helpful and it must be funny.
This post wasn’t helpful, not really, not in the true sense, and it definitely wasn’t funny.
There was no way around it.
I pressed DELETE.
But I saved the image. The pretty flowers. Yeah.
I went away thinking about why it was such a shitty blog post.
As I mentioned, it failed my basic test:
It wasn’t helpful.
It wasn’t funny.
It had no voice. It was flat and perfunctory.
It was forced, too, and lacked spontaneity.
But why? Why wasn’t it funny or passionate? Why did it lack spontaneity?
Because it was written late at night. I was tired. I was flat. I’d already been writing all day and I’d had a gutful.
My ennui came through in the writing.
BUT, it also came through in the subject matter.
I chose the subject from a sense of duty. I didn’t really care about what I was writing. I was writing from a sense of ‘should’. I should have content. More, more, more. I should write something about goals. Goals are hot right now—I should write about ’em.
I didn’t let inspiration work for me, either.
Sure, I loved the image. But I didn’t give it time to work its magic on me.
Instead, I forced the image into an article that was drab and clichéd. Just because I wanted content.
Content rules, right?
Of course, there’s a lovely irony here, too.
This morning, on girl and duck, we were talking about writing from the heart. There I was on video, prattling on about how important it is to write from the heart.
How could I ever publish that awful blog post after getting on my soapbox, like that?
And therein lies the gem.
The lesson in the shitty blog post.
Write from the heart. Respect your readers. Give them your best. Be true to yourself and to your audience. Write stuff that’s worth reading.
It’s not always easy. Sometimes you feel like you’re bleeding onto the page. Or that people won’t like the real you, or approve. Or they’ll think you’re… a dickhead.
But the alternative is boring. The alternative is sludge.
The alternative doesn’t help no-one.
Write from your heart, darling, it’s the only way to truly connect.
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