My blogging friend was dispensing a few words of wisdom on how to start out (the usually kind of beginner blogging tips) when he said something out of the blue which made me take note because of the wisdom of it.
“In the early days you’ll feel like you’re talking to yourself (actually in the very beginning you probably are) – but don’t give up because it’s a feeling that will subside. The key is to keep blogging through that awkward beginning because if you do you’ll find people will begin to find you and the memory of talking to yourself will be a distant memory.”
I really appreciated my friend’s words. They reminded me a lot of my own beginnings in blogging when I felt quite foolish about pouring out what was on my mind for everyone (and nobody) to read).
His words also reminded me of another time in my life where I felt like I was talking to an empty room.
Warning – Tangent Ahead (it’s been a while since we had a tangent hasn’t it!)
In my previous life, before I was a blogger, I was a minister of a middle sized suburban church (I still do this work in a part time voluntary capacity in a small emerging experimental church).
Part of my work in this church that I really enjoyed was preaching. I loved preparing for and delivering sermons (in fact I find the process very similar to putting together blog posts).
My workflow for preparing a sermon went something like this (it took a week or more to go through the full process):
- Pick a Topic (or be given one by the senior minister).
- Begin Brainstorming ideas/angles/points
- Research the Topic (bible study, reading the opinion of others, surfing the web/forums/sermon resource sites)
- Putting together some main points
At this point I would jot my main points (usually 5 or so) down on a piece of paper and leave my office to go and find a quiet empty room (quite often the main chapel of the church). Once in that empty echoing room I would do something that felt quite awkward the first time I did it – I would begin to preach.
With my main points before me I would begin to speak them out – playing with how the words sounded – adding stories, illustrations and ideas as they came to mind.
For me the researching/brainstorming process of the first 4 steps outlined above was a fairly dry process. I gathered information – but it wasn’t until I began to actually do it that the real magic happened. While it felt a little weird at first to start talking out loud in a big empty room it was actually a valuable practice.
As I would preach to the empty pews and as my word echoed around the room I found that I learned so much about the topic I was exploring and how to deliver it. I also learned a lot about preaching. New ideas would come, I’d try different ways of expressing it and slowly the final version of the sermon would begin to form – to the point that when I got up in the same room on Sunday to deliver the final version it would flow.
The more I practiced in this way the more I improved as a preacher.
Lessons for Blogging from Preaching to Empty Pews
As I reflect upon my early days of blogging where I felt that nobody was listening I now realize that that was a time where I learned a lot about what I wanted to say and how to say it.
In those early days I tested ideas, tried new ways of expressing them and learned a lot about my topic and the medium of blogging.
So my advice to new bloggers who feel like no one is listening is to not give up and see the experience of preaching to the empty pews on your blog as a learning experience.
The things you learn now will shape your future blogging, will grow your understanding of your topic, will grow your character and make you into a better blogger.
Hear endeth today’s sermon….