When it comes to blogging, my mental trajectory over the last couple of years has looked something like this:
Looking back, I’d love to say I was an early adopter. The truth is, I arrived late to the social media party and hardly mingled when I got there, choosing, instead, to mope alone in a corner nursing my cup of dread on the rocks. I couldn’t stop thinking about how my existence as I knew it was over. Like, forever.
As with most journalists who had tasted some success the old way, I was suspicious and resentful when all of these seemingly stupid new platforms started taking time, attention and funding away from real reading material — i.e. newspapers, magazines and books.
How was I going to be an OpEd columnist now when newspapers were hemorraging so much of their influence and advertising dollars?
Finally, I said to myself (in this order):
1. Snap out of it
2. Adapt or die
3. And flee into the future as fast as you can
From then on I entered a brand new headspace, one in which I spent countless hours trying to figure out the difference between wasting time and revolutionizing the way I wrote and did business.
Slowly, that old feeling that blogging was something I did under duress (and for free) was replaced by a new sense of excitement and possibility. My penny-dropping moment came when a friend said, “Blog what you want to be known for.” The same goes for tweeting. So I started writing what I wished editors would assign me, but weren’t. In short, I took control of my ambition.
Sure enough, editors started reading my blog. So did filmmakers and designers and corporate types who thought I handled social media well, and why wasn’t I teaching workshops on it to the uninitiated? All of them offered me writing work or paid speaking engagements, which is to say, my blog is now playing a significant role in covering my food and rent. And I’m doing it all on my own terms, without sacrificing my integrity or sabotaging my talent or adopting a photogenic cat. Sorry, I’m a dog person.
So when Hugh MacLeod published his latest book this week, a funny and insightful collection of essays called Freedom is Blogging In Your Underwear I read it as a true believer.
“Having a blog, a voice, having my own media, utterly changed my life,” says MacLeod.
Mine too. “Having my own media” … hmmm, take note of this concept, fellow journalists and novelists.
“That’s what the Internet is REALLY about,” continues MacLeod. “Finding your freedom. Finding your wings. Using a computer instead of a guitar.”
Blogging is the new rock and roll.
You, me, we’re all on one end of the wire, MacLeod concludes. “But worry less about the wire,” he warns. “Worry less about the shiny objects in the middle [Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blah, blah, blah], and, instead, think about MAKING your own stuff, and the rest of the Internet will look after itself.”