Do you sometimes feel like you couldn’t possibly write another blog post, even if it was a case of life or death? Does the constant grind of writing to a schedule feel like it’s wearing you down? Take heart: it’s perfectly normal! It’s called a Dip.
Many bloggers go through Dips and in this post Mark Dykeman from Broadcasting Brain shares what we need to do to take advantage of this opportunity.
By “Dip”, I’m referring to the term used by Seth Godin in the book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick).
The Dip, to paraphrase Godin, represents all of the challenges involved from going from apprentice to master: going from OK to good to great to the best in your field. The Dip represents the time, the effort, the obstacles, and the hard parts of becoming a master.
People like Seth Godin and Darren Rowse honed their skills and mastered their fields by:
- trial and error
- making smart decisions based on their results and feedback
- some luck
- putting an enormous amount of effort into being the best that they could be.
Blogging can be very hard work and working through a Dip can seem like climbing a mountain. However, by being smarter and mentally tougher than a lot of people, people like Seth and Darren and many others climbed up their Dips and achieved great things. The same is true for athletes, business leaders, scientists, lawyers, public speakers: you name it.
Godin says that the fastest way to get through a Dip is to push straight through it or “lean into it”. In his view, there is no such thing as a short cut through the work because it either:
a) Doesn’t get you to the right destination
b) Takes more time and effort to get to the right destination rather than “leaning into the Dip”
c) Gets you to the destination without being ready to fully exploit it. We all need time and experience to be ready for the next challenge when we get through a Dip. (Oh yes, there can be more than one)
It’s very likely that I’ll be working through a Dip when you are reading this article. My Dip is the effort involved in growing my blog to be the best it can be and to reach as many people as possible. Perhaps it feels the same to you?
I know the basics of writing good blog posts and the basics of writing in general. I’ve written some good posts and gotten some positive feedback.
However, it’s not enough.
It sounds cheesy, but it’s true: practice makes perfect. There’s a practical experience factor to mastering a craft that can’t be bought with money or with short cuts. My research and my experience to date both tell me that I still have plenty of growing to do as a writer:
- Darren Rowse has said that making a good and successful blog takes years, maybe even five years. I doubt that it take less time for me and it will likely take longer.
- I’ve been blogging since July 2007. I’ve only started to really get an idea of how to write better and more consistently since January 2008.
I’m learning a lot and (hopefully) getting better with each post.
But there’s a long road ahead. It’s well worn from the footsteps of the people who have come before and it’s packed with people today, although the numbers seem to thin out as we continue onward, much like a marathon.
HOW DO I (AND YOU) GET THROUGH THE DIP?
I need to be consistent. I need to continually learn, improve, and innovate. I need to network more with other bloggers. I need to further develop my own distinctive voice.
Most of all, I need to write. I need to write a lot. That’s the way that I’m going to push through the Dip.
- I need to write when I don’t think I’ve got anything new to say.
- I’ve got to write when I’ve got too much to say.
- I’ve got to write when I learn something new so I can share it with my readers.
- I’ve got to write when I find something “old” that’s valuable and convince my readers that it’s worth examining.
- I’ve got to write when I feel confident and relaxed.
- I’ve got to write when every word that comes out seems like crap.
- And I’ve got to write during all of the times in between.
To be a successful blogger (and writer), I need to keep pushing forward. That doesn’t mean I can’t occasionally rest and regain some energy. Sometimes that’s crucial to staying healthy. I just need to get back up afterward and get writing again because the Dip will still be there.
The thing that keeps me going, and might keep you going, is the belief that I can do this; I can communicate successfully to a growing audience of friends and strangers. I can cover new ground and old ground and do both well because I can present my thoughts in a way that no one else can. I think I have enough talent and smarts to make it work.
As for motivation and determination, I’m on a journey of self-actualization. I’m trying to improve myself and see what more I can do in this life. I’d love to make a living by writing, but if I can reach another person and make a positive difference in their life, even if it’s fleeting, then it’s important to me to do so.
Oh, and one other thing: blogging is fun, even during the darkest times!
PUT YOUR SHOULDER INTO IT AND LEAN!
The central idea in this post isn’t new. It’s been restated over and over again in many ways. However, if you can take this image of “the Dip” that Seth Godin created for us and realize that it’s a perfectly natural process, you’ll be better prepared for the long journey ahead that lies between you and achieving a goal.
If you really, really want to achieve that goal, like being the best blogger that you can possibly be, then blog. And keep blogging.
Read other blogs and learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Examine what you are doing and learn from your experiences. Keep going.
Lean into the Dip. As Seth Godin tells us, it’s the shortest path to success. And it feels pretty darned good to get to the top of a mountain. It makes you want to tackle the next one. And the next one. And so on.
Mark Dykeman broadcasts from his brain about communications and social media several times per week at Broadcasting Brain. He enjoys participating in several social media sites, including Twitter and StumbleUpon.