How I Lost My Blogging Voice and Found it Again

How I Lost My Blogging Voice and Found it Again

I’ve been a writer ever since I was a toddler.

My mom had me tell her stories, and then she would write them down.

But when I was 12 years old, I fell completely in love with writing. I would sit at my parents’ old Macintosh and write love stories in which I was the object of not just one, but 2 boys’ affections.

My love of writing continued into high school, when I went to Denver School of the Arts in the Creative Writing program. My teacher, Ms. Clark, taught me how to come back day after day and write. She taught me that it was okay to be a hopeless romantic even while surrounded with kids who seemed to have much deeper things to write about than I did.

A story I wrote was published in a book about grandmothers when I was 16 years old. It was about a conversation I had with my grandma in which she told me I should have sex before marriage.

At Hampshire College, I created a cocktail major of Storytelling through Creative Writing, Film, Photography, and Theater. My senior thesis was a collection of poems about travel, distance, longing and love.

But in writing that thesis (which we at Hampshire called a Division III project), I completely lost my love of writing.

I was in a toxic relationship at the time, and I was completely unwilling to write the truth that was in my heart – that my boyfriend was making me miserable. My attachment to the relationship made it impossible to write my truth, which, in my mind, is the whole point of writing poetry – to express a deep truth within yourself.

Somehow, I managed to write 23 poems, most of which were pretty good (if I do say so myself), but the experience of sitting down, day after day, and struggling to write while disconnected from my inner truth, left me drained and unwilling to write anymore.

For the next 10 years, I slowly found my way back to writing. I taught a course on how to develop a writing practice. I joined writing groups, and created my own. But I couldn’t find my way back to the loving relationship I’d experienced with writing when I was younger.

I even started a few blogs, but they all fizzled out after 10 posts or so.

Then, last December, I was visiting my family in Denver, when I felt this strong urge to start writing again.

The first post I wrote on this blog was called “Feeling Good in My Own Flip-Flops.” It was about coming to terms with living in Miami.

I decided that I would write a blog post every single day. One was about good parking karma (which is a trait that runs in my family). Another was about morning practice. I didn’t have many readers, but I didn’t care. The joy of writing sustained me.

Then I started writing about finding your writer’s voice, and my blog picked up momentum. I wrote about how to build your brand and your business online. I wrote posts about launching my first product (which, incidentally, was pretty much a failure, but it was a good exercise in getting something out there).

As I gained new readers and my blog traffic grew, I started asking questions of other bloggers. What did they really struggle with? What did they care about? I coached a bunch of bloggers on their content, and, in the process got lots of ideas for blog posts.

Then, something shifted. In the beginning of writing my blog, I felt the freedom to write about anything and everything.

But once I had defined my niche, I felt like I couldn’t write about things like parking karma and morning practice. Every single post needed to be about blogging.

I slowed down from writing every day, to writing 5 times a week, to 3 times a week, to 2 times, and finally, once a week.

And something else happened, too. My “blogging” no longer just consisted of writing. I created the 10 Day Blog Makeover Challenge, which brought thousands of bloggers into my life, grew my Facebook group to over 2,000 people, and made me think about how to build my business in a whole new way.

In the beginning, I saw writing blog posts as a non-negotiable activity. It was my way of expressing myself, but it was also my vehicle for building a business.

Now, the writing portion of blogging has been pushed to the back burner, because there are so many other responsibilities I’ve given myself. Running my Facebook group, creating courses, building my Twitter following. And on and on.

My initial drive to write led to so many unexpected benefits and twists and turns along the way, that I lost my initial reason for blogging – to express myself and reconnect with the long lost writer inside of me.

And that’s okay. Really. Because I also wanted to build an audience and a business, and sometimes that means refining your focus and being strategic.

But it’s also painful. It’s hard to write with the burning question of, “Will my audience like this?” Because then I’m not always sitting down to write what’s real, and true, for me.

All of my posts are honest. It’s not that. It’s more that I don’t write a lot of what I want to write, because I’m worried about what you’ll think of me. Most of my posts have more answers than questions, because that’s what I know you want – answers to your blogging questions. Help along the path.

But I’ve recently decided that sometimes it’s okay to admit that I don’t have all of the answers (or even most of them). I’ve decided that, while I am still writing posts for a specific audience, (bloggers who are, day by day, building a platform for themselves) what matters more to me right now isn’t being liked.

It’s being real. It’s getting back to my own voice.

I deeply, deeply care about what you want to read about. But to build a blog that’s uniquely me, I’ve found that I need to care just as much about the stories burning inside of me than about what my readers want.

I don’t want to fall out of love with blogging, like I fell out of love with writing all those years ago. So I am coming back. I’m reconnecting with why I started doing this in the first place.

And, instead of giving you answers in this post, I am leaving you with questions.

How much of what you write is driven by a need to write something that matters to you, and how much is to cater to your audience?
What do you think blogging is for? Is it to express yourself, to build an audience, or both?
How can you sustain your love of blogging even when it feels like a drag?

Blogging really is just a series of questions, anyway. About what matters most, to both you and your audience. About how to stay motivated even when it gets hard. And as soon as you answer one question, another arises.

That’s one thing I love about writing and blogging. There’s always another question to explore.

How I Lost My Blogging Voice and Found it Again

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • When you
    are new you tend to write about many things. Although I am still navigating my
    way learning about blogging and what my audiences wants it feel discouraging at
    times. Yes, at this point feeling a loss of my blogging voice need to take a
    break. But the reason why I wanted to
    write was to shed light on depression…what I was dealing with as a teen and
    only wish had people surrounding me who cared.

  • It’s so important to keep track of the “why”… when I started blogging it was just to write but I soon got caught up in the money making side of things.. when I let go of that pull, I realised that actually, maybe my blog is enough if I’m just sharing my stories in my voice and that has given me some sort of magical power. I love my blog and I love that it’s SO me. Who knows, perhaps one day I’ll figure out the monetising strategy anyway.

  • I’m so glad you found your writting voice again. Keep up the good work.

    I’m the opposite of a hopeless romantic. I didn’t think I would ever want to be with the same person for more than 6 months until I met my curent partner. But now we been living together for two years. And it still feels great. 🙂

  • Great post! I relate to your childhood. When other kids were playing “school” with their friends, I used to play newspaper owner and write stories (there were no such thing as blogs back then).

    It is a great idea to write what you want along with what your readers want too. It was very authentic of you to write that. Because, if you can’t stay true to yourself…. then how are you going to stay true to your audience?

  • Chrissy

    I love this! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Monica Bruno

    I know exactly what you mean. Some say you should blog about what your passionate about, others say you should write about what your target audience wants. But, if you only write for others, how long can you go without burning out? I appreciate your honesty, Daniela. Thanks for keeping it real!

  • Diane Menz

    Great read – thank you for sharing! I have wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. Whenever something crazy would happen, my family would say “put it in the book”. It got to be a joke because we had talked about it for so long and I was always going to start it “next week”.

    I’m only 3 months into blogging, but I feel like it is fueling the desire to finally start my book. I’ve found blogging to be overwhelming with all the social media to-do lists – when all I really want to do is create and write. I know they say you should have a niche, but I am scattered – that’s part of who I am. And so that is how I write, I am all over the place. I write about what interests me, because if I was writing just for the sake of getting numbers, the passion would be gone. If you want to stay in love – be it a person or a thing – you need to keep the passion alive.

    Like I said, I’m still a newbie – but I think having a more personal category on your site about blogging is a good idea. I for one would go there for blogging tips and then take a little “break” and read your more personal posts. 😀

  • Jenn Ross

    Love this and what I found is when I am writing about things I care about or things I would want to read ( I really want to read the one about ‘Parking Karma” the words come easily. When I am writing what I think I SHOULD write it is much more difficult and a chore. If I am true to myself then I am in my heart and I love what I write and I love writing it!

  • Beth

    Like the rest of the creative world, I’m currently reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. And when I was reading your post, I thought of her chapter “Motives.” She writes, “I mean, it is very kind of you to want to help people, but please don’t make it your sole creative motive, because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention and it will put a strain upon our souls. …I would so much rather that you wrote a book in order to entertain yourself than to help me.” So to sum up: write what you want to write because you want to write it.

  • Welcome back Daniela and I applaud your honesty.

    We all don’t blog for the same reasons so your questions can only be answered truthfully for what we each want to accomplish. For me I am completely 100% honest about who I am with my audience and if I feel like writing about something off topic I do. I think that’s why they appreciate and are able to connect with me if I’m completely honest about that. You’d have to ask them though, I’m only speculating.

    For me though I blog for my audience but because I took a step back myself earlier this year and reconnected with who I truly wanted to help I’m much happier now. Because of that switch that I made I’m thrilled with what I share and who my audience is. I love blogging because I’m doing what I love which is helping those who need me the most and are eager and willing to work with me.

    I guess I now look at myself more of a blogger than an actual writer but it’s a very rewarding experience.

    I say that no matter what you do or blog about you always need to remain 100% true to yourself. Once you take a step sideways then the enjoyment of why you do what you do starts to subside and that’s no fun.

    Thanks for sharing this with us and I wish you the very best moving forward.

    ~Adrienne

  • So much of this is my story that it’s a little uncanny. I also credit a university writing degree with destroying my love of writing for a long time; I’ve also run into the same problem of trying to start extremely niched blogs and running out of enthusiasm for the topic. To cap it off, I re-discovered my love of writing when I started a blog for the purpose of using words and not worrying about anything else.

    When we love what we’re writing, it shows, and people will respond. I fell into a habit of never posting anything unless there were a whole bunch of photos, because I felt the photos were more interesting, but when I looked at my stats a while back, the posts that received the most comments and conversation were the ones with no photos at all; the ones where I spoke about something from the heart.

    I love the way you write about writing and I know from experience that it can be difficult to do that in an engaging way. You’re inspiring me to get out there and do the thing I love: putting words together in a way that makes my brain and heart happy. Thank-you.