I suck at diaries

If you read somebody’s diary, you get what you deserve.
David Sedaris

Blog’s really are online diaries. And by that I mean you can find thousands of them that have lots of entries between (metaphorically) January 1st and 15th, then things peter off to every once in a while and then the rest of the year is ‘Aunt Gladys’s Birthday’.

I am guilty of this. I am actually so old that I am guilty of this over the course of 4 decades and various media! From pocket diaries, to school diaries to typewritten diaries to the LiveJournal to Blogger to… philsmy.com! Yes, when it comes to diaries I am a serial starter.
But why? Why am I and SO MANY other people like this?
I have some theories:
  • I get nothing from it
  • I have nothing to write
  • it reminds me of my empty, pointless life
  • someone else might read (or worse, has read!) my private feelings and embarrassed me with ridicule
  • there is no time
Bloggers often throw in a few more reasons:
  • no one reads it
  • I’m not making any money
At least, those are reasons I’ve used!
So, let’s take a look at this.

1) I get nothing from it.

Well – the question would be what did you expect to get. Diaries are not some sort of instant gratification tool, or instant path to self-awareness or anything instant. Diaries are a map of your evolution. What you ‘get’ from them is some sort of perspective. Writing – ideally every day – a little about what is at the front of your mind is a great tool for seeing what you are really thinking. It takes time but soon you start to see the patterns.

2) I have nothing to write

Diaries/blogs/journals are not places where you have to fill empty space with constant profundity. They are the perfect example of the 10,000 hour theory. Write what you think. Write what you feel. Write about what makes you happy, or sad. Write “I am writing today” 100 times. But just write. Saying you have nothing to write is thinking like an editor. Not like a writer. A writer writes. An editor edits. Don’t edit.

3) It reminds me of my empty, pointless life

Get over it. Make your life non-empty…full. Give your life a point, if for no other reason than to give yourself something to write about. Because, at the end of it all, do you want to read a map of nothing or a map of something? I used to take pictures of my food. Then I started to realise that I was always eating the same things. So I changed it up. I experienced new and wonderful cuisines simply so I could have an interesting picture.

4) Someone might read it.

If you want privacy then, hey, it’s the 21st century. Passwords exist for a reason. In truth, this has happened to me. I used to write a journal where I was exploring my deep inner feelings. At the time I was heavily into ‘The Artist’s Way’ that said write 3 pages a day. To refer back to point #1, after a few weeks of doing 3 pages a day you stop lying to yourself and get down to brass tacks. And inside of all of us are negative feelings. Well, someone read those journals in a gross breach of privacy. I was stupid and left them in my office. Don’t be so stupid. It put me off writing in journals probably for life because I felt I could not express my dark side. Its a shame, because I actually love writing long hand with pen and paper.
Evernote has a password. Use it!

5) There is no time

Make time. Writing a diary/blog/journal is a long term investment in yourself. Force yourself to do it. Maybe only 15 minutes a day. And there will be days – many days – when you really don’t feel like it or have a lot going on. Just do it anyway. Sitting in the car (record audio onto your phone and transcribe it later, or write using Siri!), sitting on the train, at lunch, when you first wake up, go to bed 15 minutes later.
There is always time.

6) No one reads it.

Who cares? You think your writing is so amazing that overnight a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand people will magically find you? If you are saying something true over time people will find you, if that’s what you want. I would question why you are doing a blog if this is a real stumbling block. You should be writing for yourself. You aren’t all that anyway!

7) I’m not making money

One of the things that really pisses me off about the internet marketing/blogging for money revolution is the insane idea that anyone can/should start a blog and they can build an audience. My particular pet peeve is people who start a consulting business without having any proof or experience that they know what they are talking about – just some bullshit testimonials and a ‘buy my ebook now’ button. If you are saying anything worth reading people will find you. If you have anything really worth buying people will buy it. Very few ‘great ideas’ go undiscovered, very few ‘great bands’ go unnoticed, very few ‘revolutionary thinkers’ go unread.
Why should you make money from writing? How about you trying writing amazing stuff first and see what happens.
Maybe this posting is full of vitriol. I guess I am weary. Weary of internet marketing. Weary of 1,000 online consultants who can tell me how to make money from my blog or from becoming an instant expert.
What ever happened to being an apprentice?
I spend a lot of time in Japan. In Japan people spend a VERY long time learning their trade. Even in chain ‘ramen’ (noodle) restaurants the guy making your noodles might have been studying it for years. They value perfection. They recognise mastery. I am not one of these people who goes all gooey at ‘the eastern way’ but, they do have that. In the west if we have to study for a job we can’t be bothered. If we have to work our way up from the bottom we can’t be bothered. There is such a sense of entitlement.
The people who are really making it are the people who realise it takes time. You have to learn to be good. Hone your craft.
There are few if any natural born anythings in this world. But I do believe that studying can give you ability. Please study. Please write. Every day. Please blog. Please look inside yourself.
Don’t give up.
I have given up many times. I might give up many more times. But maybe, just maybe, I will stick at it long enough to come up with something worth reading.

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