Awesome Almost Killed My Blog

by Telling Dad on October 14, 2010

This isn’t right.

I shouldn’t be sitting here for the umpteenth night in a row paralyzed from writing by an inexplicable fear of inadequacy.

For over a month now, I have sat down eager to write, eager to share, and eager to entertain, only to ultimately choose a path of silence.

And I couldn’t figure out why.

I wasn’t depressed. I was the same jovial happy-go-unlucky guy I’ve always been. I wasn’t bitter, angry, sad, lazy, or apathetic. I wasn’t losing my passion for writing, and I certainly wasn’t lacking any ideas.

And yet, as much as I wanted to write, I simply couldn’t.

I spoke with friends, family, and the wonderful people I’ve met through MomDot, Twitter, and the blogosphere to try and figure out how to re-ignite that creative spark. I felt that if I could determine the root cause of the problem, I could find a solution and blaze forward.

I received lots of great suggestions on how to get over writer’s block, but I was facing a far greater barrier than writer’s block. I knew how to write, I knew what to write, and I even knew that I wanted to write. But before I could, I needed to come to grips with whatever force was holding me back.

One of my favorite suggestions was to “write drunk and edit sober”. For a fleeting moment, the recommendation made perfect sense, but I gave up getting drunk on purpose a long time ago. Granted, some of my more hilarious nights began with a swig of Mad Dog 20/20, but they often ended with a spinning room, nausea, and an appearance ticket. I’d have to keep searching for an answer.

What really buoyed me throughout this rough period were the words of encouragement from people who said they missed me. Reading a few tweets and receiving a few emails asking where the heck I was hiding meant a lot to me.

Between those who reached out to me and my commitment to my Sweet Dreams Fund, I felt compelled to kick myself in the rear and start writing again. The energy began to channel from within and the creative juices once again started to flow.

To all of you who cared enough to do a cyberspace search-and-rescue mission, I thank you. I was so petrified that my hiatus had cost me 100% of my readership that I was dreading trying to rebuild what I felt I had so carelessly lost.

After a lot of self-reflection I finally realized what was holding me back.

I had set the bar WAY too high for myself.

I had let the few occasions where I was besieged by compliments, comments, and adoration establish a benchmark that I felt I needed to hit with each and every post.

In my mind, every post had to absolutely rock the house or it wasn’t worth doing. This created an aura of fear and it ultimately paralyzed me. I was so afraid of being a let-down, of not hitting that outrageously high benchmark, that I opted to not write at all. As flawed as this thinking was, it was real, and it was absolutely stifling.

As many of you know, I’m overly obsessed with receiving reader comments on my posts. So much so that I wrote a song parody on this obsession called “Say the Things”. That song, and my Ode to BlogHer ’09 parody, brought in a deluge of traffic and comments. The euphoria I felt when everyone was showing me the love was intoxicating. Especially since I had spent weeks on the project.

But then, as with any high, a crash would soon follow. And this last one almost did me in.

When the “Say the Things” parody, which had brought in a frenzy of comments and retweets, was followed by a post that elicited almost no reaction, I felt that I had disappointed everyone. I felt that my readership expected, and fully deserved, nothing short of awesomeness in absolutely everything I delivered. I had obviously left them unfulfilled.

This is what I mean by the title, “Awesome Almost Killed My Blog”, because a few awesome posts and parodies created an unattainable and unrealistic set of new expectations.

If I hadn’t felt that surge, that rush of positive energy from those posts, then I wouldn’t know what I was missing when my more mundane personal blah-blah posts were met without any fanfare. While I’ll never seek mediocrity, it’s impractical for me to expect perfection.

Jenny, of “The Bloggess” fame, who I absolutely love, admire, and want to kidnap, could write about corn starch and get 276 comments about how awesome corn starch is. I could cure cancer and probably top out at about 50.

Over time, getting comments became an addiction, and sadly, my raison d’etre when it came to blogging. When they didn’t come, my motivation was sapped. I didn’t want to write until I had something so tremendous that I would feel that high again.

I almost feel as though I should attend a Bloggers Anonymous meeting or something.

“Hi, my name is Greg, and I’m a comment junkie.”

As days continued to pass, I felt more and more pressure to deliver something awesome. Another day would pass and now it’d have to be even more awesome. People won’t be satiated by a few pictures of my daughter picking apples, I needed to deliver something totally and utterly amazing.

This created a wicked cycle.

Another day. More silence. Increased pressure. Total literary paralysis.

I realize now that this thinking is as impractical as it is skewed. I enjoy writing and I cherish the friendships I’ve made through blogging. These need to be my focus. Not kudos, ‘atta boy’s, and virtual pats on the back.

I need to write for me, for the children I hope to help, and for those who enjoy stopping by even when a post isn’t dripping with awesomeness. Comments will no longer be my motivator, nor will I allow my comment count to define me as a writer.

I feel rejuvenated and I’m really looking forward to jumping back into the fray. Just know that while the grand slams will come, there will be plenty of singles, doubles, triples, and even some strikeouts along the way.

I just hope you stay tuned regardless. I have a lot planned and I have a lot of catching up to do.

Oh, and since I mentioned it, here are a few photos of my daughter “apple pipping” after all.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Silver October 14, 2010 at 12:35 am

Soooo…are we not supposed to comment on this one? This feels like enabling. eh, whatever.

Glad you're back.

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Telling Dad October 14, 2010 at 12:42 am

Hahahahahaa, so true, lol. This is sounding more and more like a drug addiction.

But yeah. Enable away. While I'm going to try not to obsess over comments, I'll still want my daily fix.

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Stacey @ Tree, Root, October 14, 2010 at 12:56 am

I knew when I saw the title of this post on Twitter that we'd be getting some insight into how (and where!) you've been. So glad you shared. And though my Awesome Moments hardly rival your Awesome Moments, I still feel like I can identify. I really do hope you join those of us on the Dark Side who have learned to find melody in the sound of (comment) silence, and just keep on keepin' on! (ps: can I beg you to make your feed available via email? i'm such a lazy google reader reader!)

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one cluttered brain October 14, 2010 at 2:39 am

I can definitely identify with you Greg! While I have NEVER received as many comments as you, people still know me. I was feeling kinda blah the other day with blogging, like I'm not getting as many views and comments…and thinking WHERE is everybody? But I LOVE to write whether I have 1 million followers and comments or 2.

I have a few choice blogging friends that will comment no matter what. (Well, I can't write complete crap but U know what I mean)

When I need support, I feel it. It might not be in the hundreds of comments i receive BUT I feel the support.

I know I am probably enabling your comment addiction by writing a comment…Ahh..Who cares? I am SO glad you are BACK!!! YES. I lived for your mingles…You are hilarious. Maybe someday we can be on the same speaking panel at a conference…That would be so SWEET I think.

I have dreams. And yes, I do get down about blogging. But the pull to write is always STRONG for me. I hope you continue to write this time and don't leave us alone for too long.

It's a BIG scary blog world out there Greg.

Don't leave me….;) lol.

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one cluttered brain October 14, 2010 at 2:43 am

I am so glad I put U on my blog roll so I could immediately see an update from you…:)

YES!

I am in the first 10 comments. I feel special now.

:))

Hey if you get a minute, do you think you could spare a vote for me in homecoming queen? :) (It's just a fun blogging thing.) Thanks! http://www.notyouraverageteen.com/2010/10/who-wil

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T October 14, 2010 at 3:46 am

aren't we all just a little comment addicted? (shoot, I get downright giddy when I hit the 50 mark… y'know the TWICE that it ever happened)

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Lisa Brown October 14, 2010 at 5:26 am

Well, it was a pleasant surprise to see a new post from Telling Dad in my Google Reader! Comments or not, you still write great posts. I recently took a break too – about a month long, and feel SO rejuvinated. And, like you, a few people asked where the heck I was, and their emails really did mean the world to me! So, welcome back!

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Rob October 14, 2010 at 6:03 am

Glad you are back my friend. I missed you. Remember what I said on the MomDot forum they all don't need to be home runs. Singles, doubles and triples are nice also.

I remeber MD 20/20 my brothers and I used to get wasted all of the time on that suff as well as Everclear back in high school. Boy were those the days. LOL. Love the apple picking pictures. We went apple picking about a month ago and the kids had a blast. it is a family ritual that we usually do once or twice a season.

Again, glad you are back and please don't go missing again!

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Jennifer October 14, 2010 at 7:02 am

I was just thinking about you yesterday and hoping for something new soon. So glad to see you're back!

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Gena October 14, 2010 at 7:12 am

Greg, I am so glad you are back!! It's just nice to see YOU. Your Kam is sooo cute as well!

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Kelly W October 14, 2010 at 7:49 am

it is so good to have you back and I just loved seeing your cute little daughter picking apples

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thepsychobabble October 14, 2010 at 9:43 am

I'm reallyreally bad about commenting:(

So I just pretend *my* readers are also insanely busy/lazy, and that's why the comments are few!

Love,

Delusional Me

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Maria @ Mom et al October 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I'm happy if more than one person comments on my blog, and blissful if one of those two persons is not my mother. Welcome back!

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Mary October 14, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I had a money-saving blog for about 20 minutes (DH deployed and the kids took precedence). I definitely know what you mean. I swear I felt like I was in the middle of a constant soliloquy. We are all comment junkies. Who cares!? As long as you don’t let it sway your writing. And seriously (yes, I did just start a sentence with “and”), you are an amazing writer. We tend to be hard on ourselves but just being you is good enough. :)

Be blessed!

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Cheryl October 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I always consider it a good day when I get one comment on my posts! Glad to see you're back!

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Jamie October 15, 2010 at 6:31 am

Hey Greg! Good to see you back! I agree with Cheryl, I consider it pure awesomeness when I get one comment on my posts. It's Heaven when there's more! HA!

At least you know you have faithful readers who respond to your blog. My faithful readers aren't web-savvy enough to know how. :(

Love ya!

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RobMonroe October 16, 2010 at 12:47 am

Absolutely Beautiful pictures – wow. I'm off the wagon for now – planning a big push in November to push me a bit harder on regular blogging.

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wheels209 October 16, 2010 at 4:48 am

Hey Greg,

Really glad to see you my friend. Great post. Great pics. I did wonder what had happened to you but I knew that you were moving. Beyond that I thought you might need your space to figure things out. Do whatever makes you happy and then you will be way ahead.

Take care,

wheels209

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Katie October 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm

yay! you got your groove back! :)

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Lesley March 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm

You are now one of my TOP Blogs to read. :-) Which means…you are always on my computer among the other 3 *I wont say who is first!* and I refresh you and the other blogs every morning when I get up and in the evening when I’m done with school. I guess that makes me a blog stalker…but I’m cool with that.

And your daughter is adorable. :-D

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Christine January 3, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I stumbled upon your blog when reading The Blogess and saw your link in her sidebar. That was 2 days ago, I read some of your more recent entries and was smitten so I went back to the beginning of your archives and have been reading forward. I am fighting off my own demons and your entries have made me smile and reflect and given me something positive to focus on instead of getting lost in my own head. I read lots of blogs and hardly ever comment but had to comment now so you know your words make a difference. Thank you.

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