Monday, May 4, 2009

Making It: Let's get real

Let's get real
by Cassie Gray

I spend an inordinate amount of time every day reading blogs. I mean, it’s slightly ridiculous, considering all the things I could be doing—including working on my own blog. And when you get into reading other people’s blogs daily, there’s an insidious little bit of self-criticism that can start to creep in if you let it—a voice that says “your interests aren’t cool enough, your life isn’t important enough, your business isn’t big enough.” It’s a little voice that’s plagued me for months, and I was so relieved when other bloggers started addressing it. Did you see Jena at Modish BizTips’s post titled “When you feel like you just don’t measure up”? And artist Jess Gonacha's post titled “this is me in the morning”? And Nicole from Astulabee’s post about revealing her true inspirations?

A blog should be about you, your life, your interests and daily pursuits, but it’s also a business card of sorts, right? Trying to balance the two is often so frustrating to crafter-artist/bloggers that they just end up abandoning the blog. And spending so much time reading other people’s blogs can leave you wanting—wanting so much more for yourself, for your work, for your family, for your business. This is a conundrum I’ve really been struggling with lately: how do I, as a designer/maker, craft a blog? And how do I sustain it, keep it relevant, and make it something others want to visit, while at the same time not driving myself crazy with insecurities about what I put out there and whether it measures up? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: going forward, I’ll post nothing on my blog that doesn’t truly speak to (or for) me; I won’t post if the spirit doesn’t move me (and when the spirit does move me, I’ll try to schedule more than one post at time), and I’ll step away from the computer when I start feeling overwhelmed (and uninspired and inadequate, etc). Of course, this will mean I’m violating common blogging rules: post daily, have weekly themes, create an aesthetic that will carry through the posts. But really, these are the things that intimidate me most about blogging with a capital B.

I’ve also tried to get real with myself about my blog’s content—and what it will and won’t be. You will not see gorgeous food shots of the bread I made this morning because I don’t make bread and I completely lack the willpower to photograph my meals before I eat them (plus, my meals tend to be pretty lame). Marichelle takes mouth-watering pix before she eats stuff, and I don’t know how she restrains herself! But I just need to acknowledge that it’s okay that mouth-watering food shots are never going to be a part of my blog. Nor images of my inspiring workspace—because my workspace is about as average as it gets. Nor gorgeous, shapely arms :). Because those things don’t live in me, and I don’t have to try to fake them for the world or beat myself up about not possessing them. Trust me, for someone who spends as much time as I do living vicariously through other people’s blogs, this is a big revelation for me—and a sigh of relief. I don’t want to give up on my blog, but I’ve come to the realization that I’m not going to be the next Marichelle or Ez or Jena or Holly or Grace, and I don’t have to treat my blog as if I were.

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modish said...

aww Cassie, thanks for the nice words and links to Modish!

I appreciate it and have felt the exact same way, especially with my personal blog... it's a lot easier to write about other people than it is to write about myself. I feel like who really cares and why should they? And I can't for the life of me keep up my own blog, not because I don't have time or couldn't make time, I just feel like I don't have much to offer through there. Just this morning I was thinking of writing my "well, I'm not even gonna attempt to write here any longer" post! :)

But reading this helps me remember that it doesn't have to follow any rules- it can just be there when I need it, and just be what it is and that's ok. And I can drool over other blogs I love without comparing mine to theirs.

Thanks for this post Cassie!

Antje said...

Dear Cassie,
I also want to thank you for your honest words wich ones (at least it seems like it) you just took out of my thoughts.
If all of this giant blogger community become aware of those things there will be soon a lot more of great blogs, great in the sense of beeing inspiring and not overwhelming. Don´t you think? Love, Annluise

Anonymous said...

oh cassie, this is so great. i put so much pressure on myself, and i tell myself that if my blog isn't measuring up to "the big guns" that you mentioned, then it's not even worth it. which is total crap! thank you for the reminder that i blog because i want to, and that means i get to do it however i please. and i agree-- it's a big sigh of relief to realize that there are no rules for how to do it, and also that you don't have to try to be everything in the whole world! phew. :)

Anonymous said...


this is the first time I've met you in bloggoid land, but holy mess, I feel so grateful for you, your humility and honesty. It's amazing how synchronized my reading of your post with the way I'm feeling this morning, has been.

seriously, thank you SO much for this. you are very inspiring.

astulabee/nicole said...

I'm so super flattered you linked to my blog post!
I loved reading your thoughts and Jess' photo... too sweet, Jena post excellent.
Thank you so much!

design for mankind. said...

AMEN, SISTER! This is probably the best account of true blogging pressure, whether warranted or not. I love your thoughts, sweet girl. ;)

Marichelle said...

Cassie, thanks for yet another awesome awesome post. Although I'm far from considering myself a big gun, thank you for including me on your list.

I can't tell you how many times I've thought about turning the lights off, both here and on my personal blog. And I'm not sure if you've noticed but Homecooked and Hi-tech aren't exactly spewing with fresh content on a daily basis. It's SO hard for me not to compare myself with my favorite bloggers and it's only human to feel a bit jealous or snarky when you see a really good idea elsewhere and spend the rest of the afternoon punishing yourself for not coming up with the idea.

For me it's a rollercoaster ride, there are few days when I feel I'm on point and then there are days when my game is off - I feel like I totally suck or the site sucks and then I start questioning my existence and if there's a point to what I'm doing. You know, the drama. THEN I remember that in a few days, I'll get over it and I'll feel like an innovative refreshing blogger with all sorts of new ideas. Rewind. Repeat. Sort of like that annoying *friend that shows up every month. Hmm wonder what blogging menopause is all about?

Clementine said...

Oh, I'm so glad this post connected with all of you!

Jena-- that's just it, right? a personal blog only feels inadequate when you compare it to other blogs. but it is what it is! :)

AnnLuise--thank you, I'm so glad you could relate :)

Jess--YES! you don't have to try to be everything in the whole world. So true, and especially hard for creative types to remember, since there's always that internal pressure to be good at *everything* creative.

betsy--so nice to meet you, and thank you so much for your sweet words! I'm glad to hear you were feeling the same way I was :)

Nicole/Astula-- you're so welcome, and thanks for your post! it's the one that really put a bee in my bonnet about this whole topic.

Erin-- damn, I'd be lying if I didn't say it surprised me that you feel similarly, since you're definitely in that bold-face name, blogging with a capital B category. Thank you for your kind words!

Marichelle--HA, blogger menopause. Yes, I would say blogging for me is definitely similar (perhaps even linked!) to old aunt flo. Absolutely full of ups and downs and fits of delight and sadness. Totally. And I hope you don't turn out the lights here, I think this is a wonderful blog!! said...

This is FABULOUS and the comments are wonderful. It's nice to see so many bloggers that I look up to have the same feelings of not good enough and pressure issues as me. I'm totally saving this for the next time I feel like I'm not doing enough for my blog. I'll be linking to this as well. Wonderful, wonderful words.

Jeanette Carlstrom said...

I like your blog just the way it is :)

Anonymous said...

I think that you have said exactly what a lot of us think. I am often telling myself that I am spending far too much time keeping up with things that others are doing, and not feeling like I can measure up.

Thank you so much for coming out and saying it!

And thank you to everyone who has commented here as well. It's great to just know that others experience the same feelings!

Anonymous said...

New to the blogging and crafting world, I truly appreciate this post, as well as the links you refer to. It is hard not to compare oneself to the more successful (and beautiful!) blogs out there, but each day I must remind myself why it is that I'm tackling this new adventure in my life. I will continue to use blogs like your and the others as inspiration!!

Cindy said...

thank you so much for this post. we have a personal blog and i put the same kind of pressures on myself. i've noticed it lately a lot more. we're going through a tough time right now and i feel strange writing about it because i don't want our blog to be a sad place to visit. but, it is a personal blog about our lives and sometimes life is tough. i like your 'guidelines'. thanks.

twiddlestix said...

Well said! I love this post, it's been on my mind a lot too. Thanks!

Clementine said...

Rachel--yes, it's a relief to know others feel the same way, right?

Jeanette--Awwww, thanks! :)

thestitchinchicken, twiddlestix--you're welcome, and thank YOU for commenting and adding your voice!

awesomeasaone--I'm so glad you clicked thru all the links and found them helpful, too

cindy--I totally understand your dilemma. When my dad died a few months ago I really struggled with how to address it on my blog, and ended up just walking away from it for about a month. We each need to do what feels right to us, especially when writing/blogging about sad things.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such an honest post--blogging is, in the end, about honesty and being yourself. I think there is just so much going on in blogland that it's easy to forget--thanks for the reminder.

modernemotive said...

What a great post Cassie. Truly heartfelt and I could relate to everything. Everything.

I'm still expermimenting with my blog. Trying things out and I'm enjoying myself. If I feel like writing, I will. If I don't and have something sort and sweet to say, awesome.

I'm trying out weekly series and we'll see how they go. They have really helped in letting me post regularly as I can usually whip them up when I'm having a lazy evening. :)

I'm still trying to find my voice with my blog but I definitely feel like I'm getting there.

Amy said...

I find myself nodding in agreement to what Jena said -- it's easier to write about someone else than it is to write about my own life. Most of the time it's more of questioning why would someone read it, but I just learned recently that it wasn't the point at all. Getting things out there just for yourself should be the main aim, not for others.

Love this! :)

Unknown said...

Brave post, and helpful! It´s always good to know it is more or less the same for everyone. I try not to compare my achivements with other people´s: everyone has their own pace. But it´s hard sometimes...