Daily Archives: November 10, 2008

the next post

It was huge, that post. Not that we care about traffic, mind you, but somehow everyone came. It may have been the Brogan bump, the traffic that comes when Chris puts your post or blog on Twitter. It may be because we had a really trendy word (technically known as a keyword) that everyone was looking for. It may have been because all of our friends linked to that post. Whatever the cause, it was a huge day.

It was horrible, that post. Everything that was cranky, mean-spirited, small, and critical in the last six months somehow got poured into that one 300 word screed. And we would have deleted it but we didn’t. And people saw it. And we just couldn’t delete it then.

So what do you do after a wonderful or a horrible post?

Write like you have been writing.

[I suppose I should offer a disclaimer. This is not intended for people trying to build traffic, to make money from their blog, to blog their business. This is not intended for people wanting to maximize SEO orĀ  ad income. This is for the majority of us who are finding and using our voice.]

When I was starting grad school at the University of Texas, I received an A on my very first short paper in my very first class. Unfortunately, there were no comments. So I asked the prof. He couldn’t tell me much other than, “what you did worked.” I wanted more. I wanted to know how I measured up, why I got the A. As I remember, I tried to figure it out so I could write for the A. What I should have done is to just keep writing like I had been writing. The grade, the bump, the kind remark is helpful, but I should be writing for to help people understand or to help myself understand. To suddenly say, “if person X gave me a shout out for that, I’ll write more exactly like that” is foolish. (which is not to say that I’ve not done that.)

On the other hand, when I had a bad lecture one day, I had a prof tell me that everyone has a bad day teaching. Everyone has a class session where everything goes wrong, where you feel completely unprepared, where you seem to offend everyone. The secret, he said, is to not have two bad classes in a row.

You get to have a bad post. The question is, what will you do with the next one that is more thoughtful, more intentional, more respectful and respectable?

You are, I am, post by post finding a voice, building a presence. There will be highs and lows. There will be wildly successful posts (as measured by traffic) and wildly successful posts (as measured by individual emails that say “I needed that.”) There will be horrible posts (as measured by traffic) and horrible posts (as measured by an absence of grace or of integrity).

The secret is…there is no secret.

Just write the next post.

Write like you have been writing.

This is another occasional entry in the next sentence series. Follow that link for the previous sentence.