When I was in pre-school, I wanted to be an astronaut. I loved the idea of weightlessness and flying, seeing space and doing things no one else could do. I believed that if I could get into NASA’s Space Camp, I’d get the experience I needed to begin my journey to the stars.
My passion for space travel was astronomical. (And, yes, I’ve been waiting decades to use that pun.)
Did I ever make it to space? Of course not. I stayed planet-side and enjoyed the twinkling stars like everyone else. The closest I ever got to the stars was a telescope and the glow-in-the-dark stickers I lovingly arranged on my bedroom ceiling.
I think that, even if I spent all the summers of my youth at NASA, I would never come any closer to a space shuttle than the average Earthling. Even with all the passion and practice in the world, I could never achieve my dream.
Chris Brogan, in his keynote speech at BlogWorldExpo 2012, said you can be a successful blogger with passion and practice. He told the audience to “not worry if your writing isn’t good enough; worry that you’re not writing passionately enough.” Anyone can reach the stars.
I say stay grounded.
A ton of passion and training went into the space program, but also a lot of unique skill and talent. The staff at NASA certainly wasn’t asking the average citizen to help with their calculations and engineering.
It may come as a surprise to some of you, then, that writing isn’t something that just anyone can do.
There is an art to writing that goes beyond subject-verb agreement and grammar. Understanding style, rhetoric, syntax, connotation, voice and structure are imperative to strong writing, and these aren’t simple skills to master.
True, some of these skills can be taught. English professors at my university always said they could turn a bad writer into a good writer, but it was impossible to turn a good writer into a great one.
The first transformation, from bad to good, is simple. You fix spelling errors, establish consistency, and improve grammar. There are plenty of people out there who can write perfectly from a technical standpoint. However, there is an intangible aspect to making the transition from being a good to great writer.
Every writer has a terminal writing “velocity” that can be calculated with this basic formula:
Writing Velocity = Your Talent + (Your Passion + The amount of time you’re prepared to Practice)
I’ve seen extremely talented writers that will never live up to their potential velocity because they didn’t want to practice their craft or because they simply found their passion in other areas.
Unfortunately, it’s also true that there are plenty of people that write every day and may never find the success they dream of.
Preparing For Takeoff
NASA celebrated space orbits before they completed moon landings. Heck, getting a rocket off the ground without imploding was a momentous success. Each milestone was an achievement in itself.
Similarly, writers should set goals that can be achieved with their writing velocity. Not everyone is going to be able to make it to the moon. In fact, to date, there have only been a handful. That doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate when takeoff gets you a few inches off the ground.
You probably want your blog to be the go-to authority on a given topic. However, you have to understand that those in authority now never thought they could get there. They aimed for personal, more attainable goals until they found themselves in the blogging stratosphere.
Aim for the stars—but be okay if you can only reach 30,000 feet like the rest of us.
The Final Countdown
Am I saying you should give up? Absolutely not. If you feel like you have the passion, practice and talent to try blogging professionally, then aim for the stars. If you feel like your company’s blog is an undiscovered treasure to your industry, then keep at it. All systems go. Prepare for blast off and God speed.
Chances are you wouldn’t be interested in writing and blogging if you didn’t feel like you had something interesting to bring to the conversation, so show the world what you’re about.
What I am saying is that you should be satisfied with where your writing rocket lands. There will be spectacular explosions that you never predicted. There will be near-successes and partial-failures. All of these events should be celebrated—as long as you use all the talent available to you, along with your passion and training.
When you give it your all and you reach your final velocity as a writer, what does it matter if you landed on the moon or if you found yourself grounded, watching the yellow-green star stickers fade away? There’s beauty in both.