Joanie’s Journey Jottings is a blog of travel tales, but blogging itself has been a different kind of “journey” for me, and I’m still learning to navigate the landscape. A good friend recently recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I’m not a regular reader of “self-help” books, but Ms. Gilbert hooked me in the very first chapter with her list of all the ways in which we “might be afraid to live a more creative life.”
Her list was long but here are the ones that I, as a beginner blogger, personally recognized:
- You’re afraid you have no talent.
- You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood – or worst of all – ignored.
- You’re afraid somebody else already did it better.
- You’re afraid everybody else already did it better.
- You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life.
- You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist.
- You’re afraid your best work is behind you.
- You’re afraid you never had any best work to begin with.
- You’re afraid you’re too old to start.
- You’re afraid you’re too fat. (She notes: I don’t know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we’re too fat, so let’s just put it on the anxiety list for good measure.)
Yes to all of the above, (including the final bullet – LOL)! I have been writing an online travel blog for years, but I never really worried about getting a large audience with that one. That other blog, Travels With Robby, (link on the menu bar above) was started simply as a way for my husband and me to remember all of the wonderful experiences we shared on our travels…and as a way to share them with friends and family. But some of those adventures had days or moments that shined, and I wanted to share those moments and the things we learned about other cultures, art, history, nature – or about the art of travel itself – with a wider audience.
I started Joanie’s Journey Jottings as a way to accomplish that wish. But that meant attracting some sort of audience of readers, and I don’t seem to be very good at that part of blogging. As I discover others’ travel blogs, I find that many of them have thousands of followers, and I wonder how they accomplish that difficult feat. But I also notice that many of those successful bloggers do this full-time and monetize their blogs through sponsorships, affiliations, ads, etc. And most of the “successful” blogs have titles like, “10 Sights You MUST See in Venice,” or “What to Expect on a River Cruise.”
That’s not the kind of post I write. I don’t have a “niche” or a particular focus other than general travel writing. I am just hoping to share interesting, enjoyable stories about some of the lessons we have learned while exploring this wonderful planet.
Here is where the fear comes in – especially with the fear that it’s already been done by someone else. After all, we travel writers are a dime a dozen, and pretty much every get-at-able part of the globe has been written about by thousands of other writers. My travel writing mentor, Dave Fox of Globejotting: A Home for Global Storytelling encourages his students by reminding us that, while others may have been to the same location, they didn’t see it through our eyes. Travel experiences are unique to each of us, so there are always new stories to tell.
Fair enough, but when we have those great stories to tell, we need someone to tell them to! It’s discouraging to spend hours – or days – working on a story, then realizing that almost no one is reading it. (I should add that I do have a few faithful readers at this point – and I am grateful to each and every one of you for your interest!)
Another blogger recently said, when I questioned her about how she had attracted an audience, “Just write from the heart.” Her good advice, coming just at the time I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, led me to write this post. So here is my heartfelt invitation to follow along as I share the best of Rob’s and my travels…and also to share with me your comments and your own tips for blogging in the comments section below. I would love to have you subscribe to Joanie’s Journey Jottings, (and I promise not to flood your inbox with any sort of spam.) If you have a blog you would like to share, please give me the link in your comments and I will be delighted to return the favor by subscribing to your blog. I learn so much about travel and writing from the bloggers I follow now – and I look forward to getting to know even more of you!