People make a lot of assumptions about you when you have a large platform. Especially when you’re just starting to break through.
You get the strangest comments from people, ones that clearly assume things about your personality and intention for writing that aren’t in the pieces themselves. That are instead drawn from people’s opinions of what writers who have grown popular must be like personality-wise.
One pattern I noticed was that people thought I must be really opinionated. And confident that my views were superior to other people’s. Not just a quiet confidence, a private lift (I didn’t even have that, mind you). No, they believed I had an obstinate confidence that didn’t allow for growth or change in the face of new evidence.
It was curious to me, since I could see behind the curtain. Since I knew what it had been like to write the essays and books that helped people find me. That I’d actually been filled with self-doubt as I wrote, convinced that no one really wanted to hear what I had to say. And if it weren’t for the support of a few trusted friends (at first) and early readers (a bit later), I would have packed up and stopped.
Even with that support, the early days felt like absolute lunacy. I was thinking aloud when I wrote, not always sure why I was doing it. A voracious reader of other people’s blogs, I was basically writing things that I hadn’t seen much or at all in other places. At first, I wrote primarily about non-monogamy, but as time went on and I wrote more, it became evident that it was all connected thematically. There wasn’t necessarily a topic that was out of bounds. Especially not when you had a few thousand blog posts under your belt, and you wrote every day. There was a little bit of time for everything. And it was sensible and logical to go there from time to time. You didn’t have to stay in your home base all the time.
I’m Not the Kind of Person Who Normally Would Have Been a “Blogger”
I’m glad I stuck with it now. Having been through the process of building an audience, I understand now why people made those assumptions about me. In the world of blogging, I’m a little atypical.
When I call myself “atypical,” I’m not talking about the subject matter I write on — alternative relationships.
I think you can be atypical as a blogger when writing about anything, really.
When I talk about an atypical blogger, I mean someone who doesn’t think they’re the greatest writer in the world every time they step up to do it but does it anyway. Over and over again.
I’m talking about someone who doesn’t think their opinions are Pure Unadulterated Truth flowing free from on high but who is actually open to learning from their readership. Open to growing as a writer and as a person from the process of writing for an audience.
An essayist who is okay with voicing the contradictions and nuances that don’t sound like pithy tweets. That don’t make for a punchy meme.
Who is okay with being vulnerable in public or admitting they don’t know all the answers.
Who is fine with not always being right. With not always looking good. With not always doing it — whatever the heck it is at the current moment — right.
The World Needs More “Atypical” Writers
I’m pretty sure there are tons of you out there, atypical writers, but I bet you think no one really wants to hear what you have to say.
You don’t realize it, but you’re probably wrong about that. Your lack of confidence is the reason you’re not doing it, and it’s the exact reason that you’d probably be good at it. As Dunning-Kruger famously established, confidence and ability are quite often inversely proportional: Or to put it another way, the least skilled among us feel like they are the best performers, and the skilled conversely are plagued by doubt.
But I get it. I get why most of you don’t do it. My own path had me producing hundreds of public essays before really feeling like I should, like it was a sensible or valuable thing to do — the succession of posts like hundreds of tiny leaps of faith.
I wish more of you would do the same, ignore your gut. Ignore your doubts. But I get why you don’t.