I hear from therapists (and friends) quite frequently that they have a burning DESIRE to blog. But, they never publish any blog posts.
On the surface, I am confused. If you've ALWAYS wanted to write about a topic, then why not do it?
Most therapists have a website which means that they have a built-in blogging platform. For those that don't have their own website, other bloggers have already written guides like this one to teach you how to get started for free.
But, the reality is that actually writing a blog and hitting that little publish button is a little scary.
The Vulnerability of Blog Posts
Even though many of us are frequently pouring our hearts out on social media posts, commenting in online forums with resources for our colleagues, or offering suggestions to people in real life, the idea of writing something "official" stirs up a huge batch of imposter syndrome for a lot of people (including me).
That is because there is a lot of vulnerability in publishing a blog post.
I can't talk about vulnerability (and shame) without referencing Dr. Brene Brown. She talks about this concept so often and it fits perfectly in this area too. She says that:
Shame drives two big tapes - 'you're not good enough' and 'who do you think you are?' ~ Dr. Brene Brown
You can hear the Ted Talk where she explains this fully here.
But the struggle is real.
You have an idea for a blog post. But, you might think, "I'm not enough of an expert. Someone else could say it better. Who am I to talk about this topic? I'm not good enough."
And many people stop there. They never write a word or if they do, they never hit publish.
For those that do hit publish, the second that your words are out there, we often struggle with the, "Who do you think you are?" part.
What are people going to say about this?
You think you have expertise on this topic, but now it is open to COMMENTS and CRITICISM. It's open for discussion and for people to give you feedback about typos, errors, things that you forgot to mention or that you didn't say perfectly.
Who do you think you are?
Blogging Requires Courage
The truth is that writing down your thoughts or ideas or opinions about a topic requires some courage. It requires you to have some confidence. But mostly, it is about courage.
The courage to own your ideas and thoughts. The courage to understand that not everyone will agree with you. The courage to deal with the silence that comes after you hit publish and realize that no one even reads what you wrote!
Honestly, in the beginning, it's mostly your parents, your spouse, and a few friends reading your blog posts and they always say encouraging things. The fear that your first post is going to be virally spread and read by billions of people is actually pretty unrealistic.
But, the courage comes from knowing that it's POSSIBLE that you get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of views. And the more people see it, the more negative feedback might come back.
It is a whole lot easier to keep those ideas to yourself! It is much easier to write rough drafts, to edit them, to curate more research, and make lists of ideas than it is to actually hit SCHEDULE POST.
There's always something more to say
You could always add a little more info. You can edit a blog to death and still find that it could be re-written and added to. There is always something more to say. Publish it anyway and you can always add more in another post.
And there is always someone that has something negative to say.
I have been fortunate to have some very kind colleagues read my blogs and reach out to me privately (and very nicely) to give me feedback about things I have published. I won't mention their names, but these wonderful editors are probably reading this now and will recognize themselves.
But, they have said things like:
- You really should include Dr. in the title when you are referencing a PhD level writer. They have earned that distinction. AGREE! (And side note, I went back as I wrote this very article and added it in the (Dr.) Brene Brown quote)
- You misspelled this name or there is a typo in this sentence. YEP: Even though I do proofread all of my posts, there is always some little mistake that creeps through.
Those nice and helpful comments are wonderful. And proof that people are actually reading what you have written. They shouldn't stop you from publishing the next post though.
Other, less kind colleagues have said things like:
- You didn't properly cite this source or you didn't give credit to the right person. OUCH. There has never been a time that I have intentionally taken someone's work and credited as my own, but I guess there have been a few times that I was wrong about a source or didn't adequately hyperlink a source or explain it well.
- You don't have my permission to use this. Take it down immediately. WOW -that one hurt (a lot). But, yes, there was a video that I made about a wonderful conference workshop. I compiled some stories from attendees (and photos with their permission) and shared this amazing intervention. But, the presenter hated it and told me to take it down because it was a copyright violation. I probably could have argued that it was in fact, properly cited, but I caved. I took it down and didn't publish anything else for way too long because those Dr. Brene Brown shame gremlins were loudly proclaiming "who do you think you are?" every time I tried to hit publish.
And I have heard similar stories from my friends. They finally got the nerve to post a blog and then got reamed from colleagues that they didn't do something the "right way".
But, I learn something from every criticism (from the justified ones AND from the irrational ones). And after licking my wounds, I hit publish again.
Be Brave and Hit Publish Anyway
As the beloved Dr. Brene Brown says:
Dare greatly. Get in the arena and try. ~ Dr. Brene Brown
In addition to cultivating courage, from a business perspective, there are some really great reasons to blog.
- Blog for Google! I remember Joe Sanok of Practice of the Practice telling me that even if no one reads your blog, Google is paying attention to your content. And Google notices what/when/how often you create content. And that helps your search engine rankings. This means that your website will start to come up before other ones in your area.
- Build a Relationship Before the Relationship: When parents or potential clients read your blog, they begin a relationship with you. Your readers learn about your style of therapy, your level of expertise, and the ways that you might be able to help them. Even though you are not offering therapeutic advice, your general information about a problem will help people begin to develop a relationship with you that may lead them to call you. I get more emails from clinicians about this blog that I wrote for Practice of the Practice than any other. Some of those people get supervision or consultation from me, or buy courses, or join my Facebook group because that initial bit of information made me approachable to them in a very small way!
- Blogging creates opportunities: I wrote this blog about cooperative games in play therapy a long time ago. And guess what?? I have a chapter in a play therapy book coming out this year on this very topic. Somewhere, somebody saw this and thought that it was worthy of a more official contribution.
- It reinforces things you say all the time: I started blogging because I was giving clients the same information over and over and over again. They would ask, "Do you have anything I can read about this?" And so I started writing things down so I could easily send them a link. I started with things that would help them get oriented to therapy, but often addressed things like popular apps that might be dangerous, TV shows that are controversial or other trending topics.
But sometimes, I create blogs "just because."
There is this wonderful book on creativity called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. And in it, she talks about being a writer. She talks about being a writer even if no one ever reads her work. Even if no one likes it. Even if everyone HATES it. Even if you think it's already been done by someone else.
She says this specifically:
Most things have been done, but they have not yet been done by you. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
And then she says that you don't need a REASON. All of those great reasons I gave a few paragraphs ago are good reasons. But you don't need a reason at all other than you just want to.
Your own reasons to make are reason enough. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
So, if I am being totally honest, I often blog just because I enjoy writing and I have something to say. And once it is out there, it might be helpful to you or it might not and I am okay with either of those outcomes. The truth is that sometimes I blog just because it helps ME process information.
I'm pretty selfish that way. Most of the things I do are because they benefit me in some way. So, if they also benefit you, then that is great.
But I will continue to create because that is one of the things that I enjoy doing.
So, if you have a blog idea that is burning inside of you but you are afraid to publish it, I would highly encourage you to read Big Magic.
And then shush those shame gremlins and step into the arena and try.
Be prepared for the critics (both internal and external) who say that you are not good enough and for the ones that question who are YOU to write about this topic and then
Because you are the only one that can say things that way that you do.
You Only Need One Fan
A few years ago, I heard this You Tube Creator, Amy Landino (who has way more fans that me) say once in a video somewhere that I cannot properly cite, but will paraphrase to the best of my ability, "If you have a mom, you have a fan."
And one fan is enough to give you the courage to create.
And for those of you (like me) who don't have a mom on earth anymore, you might have a dad, or a spouse ,or a son. And if not, you have ME.
Send me your blog and I will be your first fan/encourager
I'm also a pretty decent editor and will politely and discreetly tell you about your typos (just as my editors do for me).
But really, if there is ONE person that wants to read your blog, then publish it.
If you want to follow along with ways that I incorporate play therapy techniques and theories into my parenting and play therapy business, please subscribe to the mailing list.
But please tell me, what topic are you dying to blog about but have been too afraid to publish? Please share it with me.