Blogging for You

Imagine, for a moment, that you get the urge to do something creative, so you've decided to paint a tree (on canvas. You're not applying paint to a living tree. Why would you do that?). If you're just going to hang the painting up on the wall at home, you are probably just going to paint whatever tree catches your eye. However, as soon as you think of putting it online, people start thinking about what other people are going to think about your tree painting. Worse, if you decide you want to do a series of tree paintings for posting online, then that urge gets stronger. You start worrying about your "audience."

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Back in the early days of the web, people experimented a lot with crazy websites. Often, the purpose of these pages was just to see what could be done with the web. After a few years, though, services began popping up to make posting things easier, and these services normalized whole swaths of the web.

Suddenly, blogs were a thing, where you could write anything and easily have it appear in reverse-chronological order. Because the form solidified, the experimental nature became less prominent. After all, we knew what we could do with a website: we could make a blog with it.

The difficulty bar for making a new site was drastically lowered, which means lots of people could create a blog without trouble. Because lots of otherwise normal people were creating blogs, The Media was interested in the phenomenon. Without the hook of experimentation with the medium to prop up these new sites, just about the only thing The Media had to say about blogs was, "Why are people wasting their time with this, and will they keep doing it?"

All of this is rather a long-winded way to say, when you start a website to display your tree paintings, you may have this preconception that there has to be a purpose. The easy answer is "I want people to see my pictures," and from there you wonder who these people are who want to see your trees, and after that you develop anxiety that people might not like your tree paintings. That anxiety kills your project, and you decide never to paint again. 

But here's the thing: at first, you wanted to paint a tree. Then, you wanted to please an audience. Now you want to be taken seriously. Then you want to curl up in a ball and avoid everything. What is it you really want to do?

If you are paralyzed starting a project because you are afraid how people will take it, then you're thinking about it all wrong. Unless you have to ask someone for money, your audience should be one person: you. Take out those unnecessary fears, anxieties, and desires for focus groups, and make a thing because it pleases you and you alone. When you're done with that, you'll have something you like, and that you can be proud of, because you made it to your vision.

When you make something that you think is Awesome, there's a funny thing that happens: other people think it's Awesome, too. Not everyone, and maybe not a large percentage of people. There was a time when that was important, because the only people you could show things to were the people around you, unless you could get a lot of money for wider distribution. Now, we have the internet, and distribution is a pretty simple process for ideas, pictures, text, movies, and anything that can be made digital. 

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So what happens is you make your thing, you show it on the internet, and, if it's good to other people, they'll see it and share it. Some people who see that thing will think, "Why?" and move on. Other people will see it, like it, and share it. Keep doing this, and the people who like the kinds of things you make will find you and see your stuff.

If what you make ends up not being all that good, then you make it, people won't share it, and it won't go very far. But! You will have still made a thing for you. And then you can do more, and more, until you get better at the thing you do. Eventually people may share, or they won't, but you'll be making those things that you like better and better all the time. There are very few things more enjoyable than getting better at something you enjoy.