I’m approaching a 21-day writing streak (again). Last time I did this, I burned out hard. This time, I’m observing that writing is getting easier, rather than harder. My last streak was to ship daily, and I burnt myself out by trying to ship on weekends and not giving myself the breathing room to unwind and recover. That was dumb.
I recognize now that I need at least 2 days a week away from screens and work to recover. Otherwise, I can’t think straight and I don’t do my best work. This includes shutting off in the evenings and unplugging whenever possible. That recovery time (which looks a lot like spacing out and staring into outer space, hiking, or just reading a book) is essential to doing my best work.
Last night, I set up and automated an account with Feedburner. This means that if you don’t want to have to actually visit my blog or catch the occasional shares to LinkedIn, you can instead get the day’s musings shipped to your inbox.
Well, hopefully, the inbox…spam filters are a never-ending battle. You know it’s serious when even THE Seth Godin’s email consistently gets marked as spam. No matter how often I tell my email client I’m obsessed and never want to miss those riffs, they still get filtered sometimes. Rude.
Anyways…part of what burned me out last time was the pressure to perform and the pressure not to let you, the reader, down. I don’t even have anyone on my list yet (if you want to be the first you can subscribe in the footer) and yet I am already concerned about letting you down. It’s part of why I made sure I wouldn’t be notified when I got new subscribers. I’m not ready for knowing who is out there just yet.
It’s so easy when we aren’t married to the outcome, like when I write just for the sake of writing, but the second I try to link an outcome to it I start to feel the pressure. And this is the big challenge with being a creative. The challenge to continue to put work out there even when you might let someone down (or worse, to not put out content and actually let people down). Even when you’re worried what others may think, or that you’re not quite ready or good enough, it’s so valuable to find a way to keep shipping.
Sure, this comes with the assumption that what you create is worth reading (big one there). It also comes with the assumption that people out there are even reading what I write. My Google Analytics suggests that I get about 10 visits a day to my website. How many of these are real readers and how many are bots or those “people” who send cold-call messages through my contact form…that’s yet to be seen.
I know for sure the people sending those cold messages aren’t reading my blog, if they were they would stop offering me social media marketing services. The irony! Because, let’s be real, I spend half my time in these blogs bitching about the problems with social media and my past as a social media specialist with a stupid large budget and minimal ability to really create change.
Which, as an aside, if you’re pitching someone cold you better make sure you spend at least a moment or two looking at what they do and tailoring it to their needs. I get the same exact message from the same people on different contact boxes on my various websites so I’m pretty tuned into how hard they’re not trying…ok, I’m done ranting about those cold emails, that’s a copy teardown for another day. (Actually planning to do those soon, so please forward me your WORST cold emails if you can, I love reading them)
What I’m getting at here (eventually) is that I’m thrilled writing is getting easier as I get days under my belt, but I recognize the pressure will start to build because I don’t want to let you down. You’ve (hopefully) let me, or at least my content, into your inbox or at least your consciousness, and it’s important to me that I keep earning that privilege.
And really, that’s the big promise anyone with an email list should be making. If you’re getting all up in someone’s inbox, you better make it worth their time. Provide value, show up, and share something that is worth reading.