Audiences terrify us.
For fear of how they’ll react to us, or their not even noticing us.
No nod + no echo = social death
No wonder it’s so damn hard to start writing that blog you’ve been meaning to. You’re afraid. We’re all afraid.
Each new writer faces two major challenges: The chicken & the egg and The caterpillar & the butterfly.
#1 – The Chicken & The Egg
You have a novel idea you want to get out into the world but you want an audience before you share this nugget of wisdom.
Only problem is, before your first post your transmitter is facing into the dark void. No one can tune into your frequency until there is a frequency to be found. The alternative is to write some tired, regurgitated writing, and save your best post for later, but you can’t build an audience on half-assed wit.
So you have to come to grips with the notion that the thought that sparked the idea to have a blog will ultimately be the post that nobody reads.
And they probably won’t follow until you’ve shared more than you thought you had to say, because that scrumptious pistachio of a post you’ll eventually write lies beyond the shell of your original ideas.
First you have to share.
Then they have to see.
#2 – The Caterpillar & The Butterfly
This is of course assuming that you’re able to get your thoughts down in a coherent enough way to share them with the universe in the first place.
Because your thoughts are as to written words as a caterpillar is to a butterfly. One is not the other, one becomes the other through a colossal amount of work.
Most new writers find that if the contents of their original thoughts were a full martini glass, their palate would remain parched by the time the glass reached their lips.
Where the hell did all my liquid genius go? It sounded so good in my head! WTF just happened?
Like a game of telephone between non-native speakers in the middle of a skydive, this putting pen to pad thing isn’t so easy.
That’s because when we formulate an argument in our own head we win 100% of the time. It’s a debate against the gagged. But when we’re trying to sculpt a point-of-view that people might read, we’re a little less sure that we are right. So we hem and we haw. We pace and we fret, we research and we edit. We hunt for a way to nestle our voice between our uniqueness and their expectations until the hopeful day comes that our uniqueness is what they expect.
Social scientists describe it as “the audience effect,” the shift in our performance when we know people are watching.
It turns out that before we can convince everyone else what we’re trying to say, we have to convince ourselves what we’re trying to say.
First, you have to believe it.
Then, someone else has to believe it.
It’s always your move first, though. That’s how trust works.
Your supporters WILL come. All of a sudden you’ll check Google Analytics and someone, somewhere will be reading what you wrote and they’ll chime in with their support.
I’d argue that the cognitive shift in going from an audience of zero (talking to yourself) to an audience of ten people (a few friends or random strangers checking out your online post) is so big that it’s actually huger than going from ten people to a million people. – Clive Thompson, from Smarter Than You Think
You don’t need thousands of fans. You just need to know you’re not alone.
Who’s out there dealing with the wall of the first post, or even, the next post? What’s tripping you up? Chime in below.