Years ago I used to bother celebrities on Twitter and write about the interactions.
I called it CelebTweets. After a few posts went live a television producer contacted me with an idea. If I wrote fifty more of these she could pitch it to publishers and get a book made.
She cautioned me, however, to be very selective on what else I wrote on my blog. I did a lot of other styles of posts and she thought that might hurt my “brand.” If I wanted a book deal, I needed to decide if I would be the guy that bugs famous people on Twitter exclusively.
I decided against it. I wanted to do other things.
At the time I was separated and starting to go through a divorce which would become the most painful experience of my life. I had only, up until then, written silly posts. I was terrified to try anything unfunny. Looking back, I don’t know why this was such a scary proposition – I only had fifty readers. If nobody liked the serious stuff I could always go back to comedy.
By the way, my dad’s dick post is still the most popular story on this blog. Can you believe 154k visitors read that last year? Yes, that’s sad. And yes, I’m bragging.
I decided to change up my style. I started to chronicle feelings, thoughts, and perspectives around daily life. Sure I’d pepper in a joke or two, but the overarching theme was honesty and vulnerability. That was my mission.
In 2012 I ended up writing every day. I published 185k words that year. And let me tell you, not all of the posts were gold. Some were flat out stinkers.
The number one reason bloggers tell me they don’t write more often is that they want each post to be gold. I understand. I do, too. But I have way more singles and doubles in me than home runs. I also have strikeouts.
Yesterday I struck out. I sat at my computer for two hours trying to save a piece of shit. It wasn’t working no matter how many times I edited. But, in a way, I felt okay about it. The piece was as good as it was going to get. I had pride because even though the post didn’t turn out perfect, I had done all that I could. I hit publish.
According to stats 74% of my daily traffic comes from new visitors. Today many people were introduced to my blog with maybe the worst post I have ever written. I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t return.
So, why do I publish strikeouts?
One, failure is part of human experience. We all put effort into projects that don’t pan out. People relate to mistakes. Two years ago I dropped the need for my posts to be perfect and the weirdest thing happened. My viewership increased. The comments from readers got longer and more frequent. I was connecting with people at a deeper level than that of just fart jokes.
Also, many kept coming back after a less-than-stellar post. People forgive. I found that the only time anyone got pissed was when I didn’t share something intimate or “real.” Like if I wrote a joke that for a quick laugh I would receive little engagement.
I believe part of respecting and honoring an audience is to show them the truth. The flubs. Times that it doesn’t come together. As long as the writing is honest and in my voice I push it through. Now, I accept the consequences of this behavior, too. I lose readers who expect better consistency.
I guess at the end of the day I just want to feel good. During that marathon session yesterday I put my heart and sweat into that piece. I just re-read it again and yes, it’s cringe worthy. It was also the best I could do. I feel good about it because I see all the hard work that went into the process.
The question is, however – should I subject the audience to a mediocre post?
I’m probably alone here, but I say yes. A resounding yes. I just want to try my hardest and let the chips fall where they may. Were there readers bummed out after reading yesterday? I don’t know – I’m sure some were unimpressed.
So, here’s my deal. I write a lot. I have a boring, normal life and sometimes my posts will suck. Usually they won’t. Thanks for understanding.