Hello, World: A Welcome Message and My Fears of Launching a Blog

An avatar of David Neuman
David Neuman // January 3, 2020
5 minute read
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On January 3, 2019 I began writing at 200 Words a Day. Many of my early posts focused on my preparation for Lighthouse Labs’ coding bootcamp. My goal was to become a better writer so that I could gain the confidence to launch my own blog.

One year later, on January 3, 2020, I am employed as a full stack web developer at a local startup and I’m launching a blog.

I’m not sure what it will become yet. My best guess is that the content will be a mix of:

  • What I have learned transitioning into a career in software development
  • My thoughts and ideas on the things I find interesting: technology, personal development, valuable lessons from books and podcasts, etc.
  • Small tutorials or “how-to’s” related to the front-end development ecosystem

I hope you’ll stay along for the ride and figure it out with me.

The Fear of Launching

All that being said, the decision to launch was not an easy one. I’m still not comfortable with making it public. But I have learned that you need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s when you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and where real growth happens.

So, what am I still afraid of? Mostly receiving feedback and writing unoriginal content.

Receiving Feedback

Here’s what you would have seen if you visited my site prior to today:

Sorry, no visitors allowed!

My blog has been deployed to a Digital Ocean droplet and powered by Ghost for a couple of months now. Its design has been in development for even longer - originally I had a Gatsby site and was planning to deploy it to Netlify - and I may change it again in the future. The blogs of both Gergely Orosz and Steph Smith served as inspirations for using Ghost as a CMS, as well as for the excellent content. I had written a few articles but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with how they came out.

The point is that I was afraid to expose myself publicly. If I don’t launch my blog today, I will inevitably come up with a plethora of excuses for myself justifying additional work before it’s ready. I may not have many posts lined up. The design may be subject to change. I might not even be satisfied with what I wrote for myself on my ‘About’ page.

But it doesn’t matter. Learning in public is about putting yourself out there for feedback and keeping yourself accountable. As a writer at 200 Words a Day, I knew that each post would potentially be seen by another community member. And even if my post received no comments, that didn’t mean no one read it. It was this accountability and possibility of feedback that kept me going.

And if no one reads my content? Who cares? William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, wrote that you should be writing for no one but yourself. If you write for yourself and enjoy the process then you may just entertain others in the process.

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

Cyril Connolly, New Statesman, February 25, 1933

Unoriginal Content

Will anything I write here be truly original? Probably not. But there’s no way that I should let that become an impediment to writing.

For several years I wrote most of the music for my old band. I was theoretically writing “original” songs, but to say that these songs were truly original would be a blatant lie. My songs were so heavily inspired by other artists that the pre-production name of a track was often a play on words of that artist’s name.

Illustration by Ouch.pics>

This is Austin Kleon’s main takeaway in Steal Like an Artist. The best ideas are “stolen” from other places and combined together to make something of your own. I would listen to tracks from several bands and combine ideas from different sections into a new song. I can still go back to our old songs and tell you which parts were inspired by specific bands.

Alexey Guzey also explains that unoriginal writing is useful because it “helps in the process of discovery and in the process of supporting underappreciated ideas”. See all of the links in this post? Someone might read this and discover one of them for the first time. Or they might have heard about one of the ideas before and this post finally convinced them that it’s something worth remembering.

Looking Ahead

If you like what you’re reading, I hope you’ll stick around for whatever else I decide to write about. I’m only just getting started - my hope is that it’s mostly up and to the right from here.

I’m grateful for the 200 Words a Day community - especially its creator, Baz - for helping me gain the confidence to finally launch this thing. While I stopped writing there to focus on my blog, it helped me build a writing habit. The community there is fantastic. If you’re looking to get better at writing I would highly encourage you to check it out.

I’d also like to thank Shawn Wang, Jonathan Borichevskiy, Steph Smith, Gergely Orosz, Alexey Guzey, and quite possibly many others that I’m forgetting about for inspiration.

And thank you, the reader, for taking the time to read through my first post.