I get asked from time to time by others interested in publishing a book and/or starting a blog questions like:
What was the process like? How did you do it? What publisher did you use? How much did it cost? What blog site do you use? What advice would you give? Was it a lot of work?…
Okay, so no one really asks that last one. I wouldn’t have either when I was starting out in the blogging/writing/publishing world a few years ago because I wouldn’t have cared… I was in love! Through blogging, my writing would finally have an avenue in which my work could be read and enjoyed by others like so many beloved writers before me!! Woo Woo – cue fireworks and roses and spinning in a field of wildflowers…
But I came down from that cloud real quickly. Blogging was def the opposite of showers in the form of positive affirmation and instant gratification for my countless hours and years of pouring time and energy into my English assignments in high school and college. Come to find out, it is a lot harder than I thought to get people to appreciate excellence:) Okay, okay… it might be less about peoples’ lack of fine taste and more about me… In fact, it was mostly me and my naive misconceptions, pride, and unrealistic expectations. I hope you can learn from my journey and avoid landmines that I casually walked into. Here we go…
5 Misconceptions I had about Blogging/Writing/Publishing::
Misconception #1 – Someday soon, I’m going to make it…
This is a misconception because “it” is an illusion. The world of writing is a not a destination. It is a long arduous journey. My voyage in the online world of writing started out on a site called HubPages – think of it like a Facebook /blog combo for literary nerds. You get to rate articles and tell people if you think their content is useful/stupid/funny…etc. You even get an actual rating number on a scale from 0-100 that goes in the lower right hand corner of your profile pic. I used a very clever pseudonym so you’ll never find my profile… muah hahaha… It didn’t get a lot of traffic, was not aesthetically pleasing and I just wasn’t loving it.
From there, I found my way to WordPress via a friend’s blog. I loved the layout and professional look. I have spent countless hours (like an embarrassing amount) exploring, failing and learning about themes, photo headers, fonts, profile pictures, widgets, HTML & CSS, color schemes, tags, categories, display names, links, referrers, photo editing, media uploads, comments, feedback buttons, dashboards, stats and the like. If I would have taken a class on blogging, I might have never started. I learn by doing. So, I would encourage you to think about your learning style – do you work best after gathering some intel a.k.a talking to others and researching? Cool, do that for a bit and then start! Do you need to dive right in and learn through mistakes? Cool, get started!
To summarize, it’s a long journey that is really more about learning about God, yourself and how to love others than being “successful” – embrace it… don’t anticipate the journey, just start somewhere!
Misconception #2 – Writing is a solo endeavor.
This one is hard for me to admit, folks. Writing is something I totally enjoy doing by myself – that’s how I began writing… I was quiet and shy growing up. I devoured books. I didn’t need anyone else to entertain me… I mean, afterall, I was hanging out with Rowling, Lowery-Nixon, and Naylor. But, upon entering 7th grade, I realized an important truth about life – it’s cool to have friends… and not only that, it’s cool to have the right friends. And, I had friends, but I hadn’t really dove into the world of inside jokes, sleep overs, boys, and drama.
So, from there, I had two separate worlds. The nerdy world of writing and reading and the cool world of sports and friends. Since then, I’ve kind of operated in the same way. It’s hard for me to meld the two world of writing and friends. I find it scary. It’s hard to let people in… and it’s really hard to let people read my thoughts… and then on top of that society seems to think that this thing called “peer editing” is important. Gross. It’s definitely hard to let people give you feedback, but, as hard as it is to admit, I think society makes a good point in this case.
Let people read your work and give them permission to give you feedback…(I’m still working on this… it’s scary!)… and then, no matter what they say, respond sincerely with, “thank you” and a smile because it really is so helpful to know how your writing is being perceived. At the same time, keep in mind: haters gon hate. Don’t live to please man, live to please God.
Misconception #3 – People think I’m crazy and want nothing to do with me and my writing.
I also struggle to believe people care about what I am writing and would want to help me. I mean, c’mon people are busy… especially my talented and amazing friends. But, to my surprise, a few of my friends have said yes – and I’m still on awe that they’re willing to contribute their time and skills…and I’m so grateful. Shout out to the fabulous Jacy Corral and Leslie Chou who designed my book covers and Jay Woodward who produced & recorded Because I Love You as an audiobook.
On top of that, to my surprise, people are willing to read my blog and buy my books from time to time… and on top of that, they’re sometimes willing to “like” a status that I post, and most mind blowing of all to me – people are willing to be excited with me and walk with me through the journey God has me on. That truly never fails to amaze me.
Takeaway from #3 – don’t be like me and assume people don’t care or don’t have time. Give them a chance to say “no” because they might just say “yes.”
Misconception #4 – Eating is arbitrary and gets in the way.
I can prioritize my blog/writing/work because I find it more enjoyable than laundry/eating/cleaning. I tend to get super task orientated and overlook basic life necessities… And sometimes I can be so consumed with finishing a task that I forget to just spend time with people. Like it’s okay to put something away and come back to it later…. and other times, I need to say no to spending time with people so that I can spend time with God or do work. It’s all about balance and boundaries. I would encourage you to pray about what the Lord would want you to focus on as you begin each day – and don’t neglect the mundane, but important tasks. Take care of yourself so that you can be a blessing to others.
Also, just to reiterate, eating is super important. Eat with other people. Jesus made time to sit and have meals with people – especially people society didn’t think was important – despite having the fullest plate of anyone I know when it comes to mission, vision, and tasks. (See Luke 7:36-50 & Luke 19:1-10)
Misconception #5 – To be a successful blogger, I just need to write.
This is just plain not true. Writing is a very small part of what makes a successful blogger/author/writer… so I’ve learned. Blogging is a community. I did not take time to read the blogs of those that read my blog for the first few years. I received their feedback and encouragement, but didn’t give. I didn’t feel like I had time.
In that statement, what I’m really saying is – I don’t value hearing what other people are writing about. I think my writing is best. I know what I’m doing and I don’t need to learn from others. It’s pretty crazy how blogging can show you the ugliness and sin in your heart. I’m thankful for that – it’s not always fun to see, but man, I definitely don’t want to stay the same. I want to grow. Blogging/writing is awesome because it’s been a huge tool that God has used to help me to process life, see my pride, understand my failures , and realize, most of all, that I want to fail forward. I want to keep growing.
I hope you keep growing too. Life is pretty boring if you just write. Live. Read. Eat. Laugh. Serve. Be still. Exercise. Drink boba tea… all amazing things:)
Best wishes on your journey!
P.S. I realize I didn’t actually answer common blogging/publishing/writing questions, but I’ll answer those in my next post! Questions like: What publisher did you use? How much did it cost? Where should I start if I want to publish? Feel free to pose other questions as well!