Behind the curtain
Since the idea of working for myself popped into my mind, oh, almost ten years ago, I imagined doing what I’d seen my heroes doing: maintaining a popular blog to share my insights and advice and also share some of the pitfalls and challenges I experience on my journey to fulfilling my life purpose. Sharing things that others on a similar journey might expect to experience as well.
To me, the highest form and best example of this was Chris Guillebeau’s blog on his website The Art of Non-Conformity.
But here was my problem. Even though I admired others who were leading the way with this, I had so many doubts about doing it myself. First off, I had been, up until then and really until recently, a very private person. I didn’t like sharing my thoughts or ideas or interests. Which I know was silly but that’s who I was. Even my closest friends didn’t know me. I found it so difficult to open up that it took me a really long time to even decide to find myself a professional to talk to about my problems. I was stuck on the inside. No one knew the world going on inside my head, least of all myself.
The other challenge was that I didn’t believe anyone could possibly be interested in what I had to say.
This weekend I finished reading two books by Austin Kleon that my husband purchased. The first is called “Steal Like an Artist,” and the second one is “Show Your Work.”
In the second book, Kleon offers advice to those of us who create things and want to be noticed for what they do. Well, not to be noticed for the sake of being noticed, but so that they are able to make a living from their art or creativity. He realizes that creatives hate the idea of self-promoting. So he shares alternatives.
He shares the most important thing that Chris Guillebeau always said, and that’s to keep writing in order to share what you’re doing. Post it on blogs and share these on social media. Because the way you get people to “follow” you or become interested in you is if you are sharing things they care about too. If you put your own personal stamp on it, and aren’t just rehashing what so many other people are saying.
The way to do this is to share how you’re creating what you create. Your ideas or thoughts behind your creations. If you’re a foodie, you can write about your favorite places to eat, or how you choose your meals, or what recipes you have tried out to make at home and what you have found to be the best ingredients, and places to buy those ingredients, and on and on like that. Because foodies are all interested in those kinds of things and always want to hear other people’s opinions about it. It becomes a community of like-minded people. So you just become a louder voice in that community, because you’re actually putting your shit out there, you’re talking about it, you’re doing things that perhaps others haven’t thought about doing or saying things others are hesitant to say.
My own hesitancy to wear my heart on my sleeve and be completely transparent about my life held me back all these years. But now I realize that this has hurt me. People don’t get to know me unless I share. Unless I pull back the curtain and show the world who's behind it.
At the same time, Kleon says to make sure it passes the “so what” test. Don’t just share and talk about yourself or what you’re doing endlessly. There needs to be a point for why you’re sharing. Maybe you have a unique perspective. Maybe you’ve solved a particular problem. Maybe you’re experiencing a challenge and are throwing it out there to get people’s help or feedback. Whatever it is, when you’re sharing, when you’re voicing opinions on things other people wish they were doing — or are also doing but in a different way — you become known as an expert in that field.
Maybe you are not necessarily an expert, but even if you call yourself an amateur, that’s fine too, because many people consider themselves amateurs, and that, says Kleon, is ok. In fact, the word amateur actually just means “someone who loves something.” So show people what you love. Share your enthusiasm and other people will connect, will resonate, will respond with their own enthusiasm.
I’m inspired now to write something for my blog every single day. I’m done with thinking that it might be too much. Or that no one cares.
When I was enrolled in my coach training program, each student that was enrolled with me was given an invitation, a purpose, something to aspire for during the year that would have us grow into our greater natures.
Mine was: "A year of shouting from the mountain top."
Can I even begin to tell you how much this invitation scared me? Aside from dying, this was the most scary thing I could imagine.
So now I find myself thinking, how am I going to do this? What is key for me is to hold a time slot in the day that is “sacred writing time.” Time that I don’t give into any other activity, is dedicated just for writing, whether or not I publish it. My intention is that I will write every single day, starting with a goal of 100 days. Whether or not it turns into something interesting, that’s not the point. But if I do it every single day, after a year I’ll have 365 different pieces of writing and I might find that it’s enough to actually collect in some way and put into a book or some other format.
That’s actually how one woman, who’s name is Julie, decided to cook one thing every week from the Julia Childs cookbook and blog about it. It turned into a popular book and then a movie! (“Julie & Julia”).
So write what you’re doing. Even if you’re ashamed of what you’re doing. Even if it’s stuff that you find cringe-worthy. As long as it’s stuff that you wouldn’t get fired for if you were working for a company. That’s essentially what Kleon says to consider when you are being open and honest about what you’re up to. If it doesn’t pass the bar of: “my mom would disinherit me for this or my boss would fire me for this,” then don’t publish it (unless you’re willing to take that risk). Otherwise, go for it. Be real. Be raw. Be broken. Be less than perfect.
That’s really what I think makes it so interesting.
If you were to keep a blog, what would you write about? What do you want to be known for?
[Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash]