This guest post is by Stephanie Krishnan of guide2office.com.
I play the African drum: an instrument called the djembe. I’ve been playing it since 2005. Until last year I used to play it as often as four times a week with a local group. My husband requested that I reduce the frequency of my playing (as it took a lot of time away from our time together: he travels a lot for his work). Initially I resisted, however, now I play very infrequently—probably only once every three months when he’s out of town.
One of the things that made it easier to reduce the frequency of my drumming was fear. It wasn’t that I couldn’t play. Our teacher had a series of 20 rhythms of varying complexity and I did fairly well in mastering those. I could play them practically on demand (and still can). I even liked playing them in front of others at performances. The problem was that when it came to improvising and soloing, which was expected of everyone who had played for a couple of years, I believed I was terrible.
I tried various methods for overcoming this.
I would put together a “planned solo”—a rhythm that I could play when it was my turn to go alone. When it came to crunch time I would get nervous and forget it.
I tried to play the rhythm over and over again—on my car stereo, on my iPod, at home—and just play what felt natural to see if anything fit. Nothing seemed to fit together, or if it did, I couldn’t repeat it. Again, when it came time to perform I would go a brilliant shade of red, drum out a few beats and pass it on to the next soloist, convinced I’d just embarrassed myself royally in front of an audience and in front of other players whose opinion I cared about.
Now, I’m not an A-list blogger. I’m not even a P-list blogger (does the list go that low?). I have a passion for Office productivity software (eg. OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice, etc.). I love what it can do and I love the idea of open-source. I love the idea of developing something and giving back to the community. So open-source-office-productivity-software just plain floats my boat. I have also found that others don’t like Office productivity software. They see it more as a necessary evil. They use it because they have a task to do and want to know the best way to achieve that task without the software hanging or producing undesirable results.
I try to fill this gap.
So you would think that I had identified a problem and a solution to my problem?
Possibly—there is no guarantee. The problem I have is not with this. The problem I have is that now I have my “product”, I’m scared and I’m over-thinking everything. I’m back to the same problem I have with my djembe-playing.
Lessons from the djembe
My djembe teacher used to say that there are a few things that you need to do in order to solo well.
- Don’t think too much. If you think about what you are going to do too much, you’ll be slow, and you’ll miss the beat. Then your performance will sound as bad as you are afraid it will sound, and you will think even harder. It’s a never-ending cycle.
- Let yourself go. You have the knowledge and the skill. Now just let your body do what it feels is right. If it’s wrong, it will find its rhythm again and you will have an opportunity in the next beat to make it right.
- Find your voice. Think about what you want to say with your instrument and say it. Joy? Sadness? Love? Express it with your instrument!
- Practice. Often. Keep at it. Don’t give up. It will come and it will steadily get better.
I have intellectually known that I have not been applying this to my blogging. I have been letting fears that I am not expert enough, and that I don’t have enough information/expertise/whatever to put out the ebook that’s been sitting in the back of my mind.
I read blogs. I do research. I read on twitter. I read, read, read.
But I forget to write.
I see my figures on Google Analytics—the meagre 100 visitors that I used to get every month are dwindling – 80, 70 and now 60.
It’s time I learned to solo.
From drumming to blogging
Now I will put my djembe master’s guide into practice.
- Don’t think too much. I will commit to sitting down and writing Not reading, not researching. Just doing. A minimum of three times per week. Nike’s will be my mantra—”just do it.”
- Let myself go. I will start my ebook: first as a series of blog posts that will build into the full book. I can correct the mistakes based on feedback and I can put together solutions that people will be able to follow.
- Find my voice. I know what I want to say. I’ve just been afraid of what people will say. But you know what? There will be mistakes. There will be better ways to do things. And I can learn and grow and adapt as my readers do, and my voice can be one that shares this growth with others.
- Practice. And this means write. And keep on writing. And don’t stop. It will get better.
I can do this. I know I can. And then maybe I’ll get back to soloing on the djembe as well.
Have you found your blogging rhythm? Tell us how in the comments.
Stephanie Krishnan is passionate about Open Source and all Office Productivity Software, and her site at http://www.guide2office.com provides solutions, templates and tutorials on getting you the results you want from your Office software. You can follow Guide2Office on Facebook or Twitter.