A Guest Post in Which New Haven Graphic Designer Jessica Ferguson Reveals Her “Blog Problem”
“Most people are just afraid of putting pencil to paper.” That’s how one of my favorite art teachers started his “Introduction to Drawing” course.
“When you’re a kid, you don’t care – you’ll draw anything on any surface you can get away with. You just draw. But now, I can tell you’re afraid – you’re terrified to make that first mark. You need to just do it, just draw!”
And I was afraid. Terrified actually. It sounds silly, but that first mark was so important: it was where you started. There was no going back. You could make or break a drawing with that first mark. It was a commitment, once you did it, that mark would be out there for the world to see… and what if it turned out I had no drawing skills? Putting pencil to paper felt a lot like jumping off a cliff.
Blogging into the Abyss
Blogging feels the same way to me. I love the idea of it – expressing myself out there on the web. I’m a born attention whore you see. My Facebook wall teems with updates, links, comments on my life and photos from my iPhone. I never think twice about throwing something up there – it feels so casual, so relaxed. I know people judge me from time to time (the term “morally questionable” was thrown about at one point in reference to a post), and I welcome the critiques. If you don’t like it – unfriend me. Or I’ll unfriend you. Let’s race to see who can click “unfriend” first! Facebook is easy!
But blogging is different.
Blogs aren’t just for your friends, nosy little buggers that they are. Blogs are for strangers who don’t care what your husband cooked you for dinner. They don’t care what cute thing the cat did last night or if you’ll be at the bar, “just in case anyone wants to show up.”
And blogs filled with links to cool shit better be filled to the brim with the coolest of shit, because otherwise they’re a dime a dozen.
I should know, I have several. Oh yes, I’ve done my share of blogging. Let’s see…
Stringing Them Along
There was my first blog.
Quite a few years ago when blogspot started making it easy for any Tom, Dick or Harry to toss their thoughts out onto the web. I started as many do, with a massive manifesto post – filled with tidbits about WHO I AM and IMPORTANT BELIEFS and WHAT I WILL BLOG ABOUT. It was self-important and grandiose. It was everything I wanted my blog to be. I WAS A BLOGGER!
And then the fear set in. I had the shocking realization that I don’t really have much to blog about. It was less of a venue for my important and well-thought-out views on life and more of a random journal. Sort of embarrassing really – especially since this was before the days of FB and sharing everything from how you slept last night to what you had for dinner seemed normal. Back then it just seemed silly to make those things public. My blog died a slow death over several months until I eventually shut it down for good, kicked some dirt over in and moved on as though it had never happened.
My second blog, was different. It had a point!
It was to be A CRAFT BLOG: chiefly about my own craft projects (mainly quilting) but also about a few choice crafts other people had done – and tutorials/patterns for those.
I skipped the manifesto this time and went straight to work; I’d learned my lesson about setting unachievable goals. THIS is what I was working on yesterday. And THIS is my project tonight. HERE are some amazing photos of a new fabric and HERE they are in my quilt! It was beautiful – a work of art in its own right. But then I ran out of projects – I only have so much time to craft after all. So I started sharing more and more projects from the web. I’m a craft-blog addict – so there was never any shortage of amazing things I could share from them. I used the blog as a sort of “to-do” list, blogging about all the craft projects I planned to try myself. But somehow, I never got around to them. They faded into the back of my mind and the bottom of my blog as I posted more and more. My comments became more sparse with each post as I grew tired of using the same words, “Gorgeous!” “Isn’t this beautiful?!” “I love this!”… I just didn’t have anything else to say.
And eventually the pointlessness of the project became apparent. The people reading my blog were likely the same people reading the blogs I was reading. I wasn’t creating anymore: I was simply regurgitating images with pathetic and interchangeable comments attached to them.
Third Time’s a What?
This time I didn’t kill the blog. I started a new one. I transitioned from one to another by putting up a post on the old one saying that I was starting new, starting clean. I had a new purpose & a new focus. It was no longer going to be a craft blog – but now A DESIGN BLOG.
In recent months I’d been blurring the lines anyway – posting typography links that got me excited, links to well-designed webpages & fliers. It was time to refocus.
The first post? Back to the much-loved manifesto. This one focused on the need for designers & artists to keep a journal – and this would be mine! Eleven posts later – the blog went silent. My own expectations were too high. Everything I thought to post seemed wrong, not enough, not focused enough, not enough to say about it. And there it sits gathering dust. I even still have a standard link to in my email signature – though most of the time I manually delete it before hitting send, out of embarrassment of making my failure public.
No surprise: I love blogs. My Google blog reader has me subscribed to 196 blogs, and I read through them almost daily. Mostly I look for cool links, images or projects. I share a ton of these on my Facebook page, where I have no fear. I look up to bloggers – mostly women– who find the time to put their thoughts down on the page. They make me laugh, they make me cry. They feel like friends. I want to be one of them. I want to join their club. I want people like them to be moved & inspired by MY words the page.
What Now You Ask?
So now I’m starting my own business. And I really should be blogging. Its almost a necessity, but the business aspect makes the whole thing even more stressful. Potential clients will be judging me. I need to seem professional and educated in my field. I need to find something interesting to say. I need to blog with some frequency. I need to find the courage jump again.
In short, I want my blogs to make me the kind of person who should be blogging. But I’m not really sure what kind of person that is, and I’m even more unsure that the person is me.
As for the pencil to paper dilemma? I did it. I jumped. I think the first time I may have even done it with my eyes closed, my breath held – but I did it. I drew a bike.