13 April 2012

five tips / find your voice and get unstuck



Dear Marta, As a blogger, I get caught in between two schools of thought. On the one hand, I want to only post really great content that I'm super proud of. I want everything I post to be worth sharing and reading (and pinning!). On the other hand, I want to free myself from my perfectionist tendencies and just go ahead and post when something is current and fresh on my mind, even if what I want to share isn't absolutely AMAZING or the photos weren't taken in the ideal light. I have a tendency to over-think things so much that I end up doing nothing. I've heard it called analysis paralysis -- which is a great way to describe how STUCK I feel sometimes! Any tips for getting unstuck?! 


oh dear. i have been there. i sometimes live in the pockets of unsure-ity. it's like taking a bumpy bus ride from insecurity-ville thru rut town all the way to doubtful knob lane. get off that bus, my friend. i hope you've already read my feelings on blogging and jealousy. it's hard not to fall into a trap of comparisons. in life. in blogging. in motherhood. in looking in the mirror every morning. in everything we do. if you're not comparing yourself to someone else than you are perhaps comparing yourself to the person you WISH you were, but aren't yet. you have this ideal of who you'd like to become but can never get there because taking those steps means you have to face facts that you aren't perfect yet. and this is hard reality. so we stew. and never do. and that is the downward spiral of perfectionism. oh, i too, have many a plans and projects that sit undone because i have deemed myself not ready for them. more like, not worthy of them. i don't even want to attempt certain things because i know they will not be all that i make them out to be in my mind. so i sit empty handed instead of feeling accomplished or proud of myself. i know your question is about blogging, but i want to open it up to more than just blogging. here are my five tips to get unstuck and let loose. 


 tip #1. practice. practice. practice. this is boring advice, i know. no one likes to hear that you have to practice something. we all want results and we all want them fast. we want to be a power blogger. right now. we want to be a better writer. right now. we want to be more fashion forward. better with money. less shy and more outgoing. we want so easily and yet, it is so hard to do. but, if i am honest with myself, in everything i do that i am somewhat successful at, it is because i've practiced. and, my husband has downed enough burned cookies to know that i am still practicing my baking skills. this is what i know: the more you do something, the more you understand it, the more you feel comfortable with it, the more you can play and have fun with it, and the less tedious it is, the more natural it becomes. the more you understand how to tango with it, the more confidence comes with all the practice that has naturally evolved. this has been my experience with learning photoshop and illustrator, in learning how to blog in my own voice, in learning how to run my own graphic design business. and learning to let go and just be me in a party full of intimidating and fabulous guests. pick something you want to be better at and practice becoming your favorite self. a little at a time. don't stress about the huge hurdles. you'll find yourself understanding more and more as you keep at it! 


 tip #2. my creative writing teacher used to advise, stop whining and put your head down and write. admittedly practicing is not always so fun. sometimes just the word 'practice' gives me hives. it feels like a chore. if you can fool yourself into practicing, then maybe you'll learn something somewhat by accident! for example; i named my blog martawrites because i crave to be a real writer. i want all those gushy lovely prose to pour out of me. but usually they do not come. usually i am not so bold or creative or thoughtful to think up such amazing pieces of writing. however, i do know that nothing would ever pour out of me if i did not at least TRY. therefore, i've fooled myself into writing practice every day by just blogging. i love that this medium is giving me the excuse to write even without me really noticing it. it doesn't feel so hard to write because i have fallen in love with blogging and blogging doesn't feel like writing. give yourself an assignment like photographing your next door neighbor's newborn and figure out your camera as you are experimenting. you will please a new mama with lovely pictures and you'll have learned new lessons by simply doing what you crave to do. going back to my baking lessons; i always sign up for desserts on our church lists because i need to fool myself into practicing baking them. and thus last month, i figured out how to flip a cake out of the pan without any crumbs sticking. 


 tip #3. sometimes it (whatever it is you're working on) needs a little time to breathe and evolve organically. for awhile and sometimes still, i feel like my blog is way too all over the place. every blog conference i've attended warns that you must have a niche to be a successful blogger. but frankly, i figured out that for me i don't really belong in a niche. my blogging style is crazy and random and off the top of my head and that's the way i spill my words the best. those of you who can hack it have stayed with me. hooray. you have to do what's right for you. you have to be brave enough to let loose and let go of your need for perfectionism. you cannot figure out what you want to blog about if you never blog. you cannot find your voice in blogging if you never allow yourself to get comfortable using it. you can never learn what your readers connect with if you're constantly editing your work and giving yourself negative feedback and pulling back on your original content. you will not get better at something if you never really start with your whole heart. you will never know what the genuine words of your voice are saying if you're gagging your words with a spoon. "slotted spoons don't hold much soup." that is my favorite line from the musical, into the woods. figure out what it means for you. 


 tip #4. do or do not, there is no try, words from yoda. lets review: figure out what it is you want most and figure out a way to do it. practice it. fool yourself into practicing and do not be so hard on yourself. let your rough drafts breathe. allow yourself to be imperfect. some of my favorite pieces from famous artists are the ones that were tossed to the side, the rare peeks at their scribbles. sometimes a masterpiece can come from doodling in the margins. van gogh drew little sketches in his letters to his brother, theo. let yourself be at ease with your art (and yourself). it's okay to let the mistakes show.


tip #5. when faced with a problem, step back and take your own advice. what would you say to a friend who was struggling with a similar problem? think of what you'd tell her and then take your own advice. i like writing these types of blog posts because it reminds me to actually practice what i preach. ease up the pressure; think of your goal and break it down into simple segments. do not focus so much on the outcome of what you want to accomplish (a gorgeous inspirational blog, an incredible six pack, shiny hair that just won't quit), but rather hone in on the journey of it (continuing to figure out what posts you like to write and brushing up on your photography, figuring out the next rockin' playlist that will get you movin, deep conditioning like a maniac). make it a manageable goal rather than something that feels overwhelming. take baby steps and you'll find yourself refining your art. take small bites and overcome your feelings of self doubt and stage fright (and feel proud of every batch you do not burn). you can do this. xo. marta

18 comments:

Melissa said...

Thanks for this, Marta! As I begin and grow my own freelance writing business, I have lots of hopes and fears... but I know that I just have to DO it in order to get better. And p.s. I love your blog and how your writing has a unique "voice" so no need to "find a niche" - just keep being YOU!

Stephanie said...

Thank you Marta! This is fabulous advice for blogging and for life. I love your emphasis on practicing and letting yourself make mistakes. That is how we learn just about everything!

cecilia said...

you're always the biggest fan of your biggest fans. i love that! this is all such great advice.

Lettie said...

Can I tell you again how glad I found your blog? It really is so great and you are just amazing and so right on (at least I think so!) and just really real. I appreciate that. I am glad to know you, even if just a little bit. :)

deborah said...

Thanks, Marta. Good advice. Maybe you should become a life coach!!

{ SHE } said...

This post is fantastic on all levels. Thank you for offering so many valuable tips, tid bits, and words of encouragement. You could write a book on this Marta!

Lena said...

Thank you, Marta! I just started a blog and had those questions in my head.. I totally agree with the practice. You can not be the best or perfect at the first time, you have to put some work into it. And also, staying real is very important. Loving your blog!

Anna said...

simply awesomeness! So glad you just spread a thin layer of "you can do it ness" all over everying- not just blogging. Because I struggle with it too. the piles of paper that I just dont know if I need or want or how/where to file them. The projects that I want to start or have started but Im afraid to complete. I cant get up the gumption to start trying to loose weight because, what if I fail. Yeah. sigh. I needed this.

Emily said...

Marta - you are darling. Thanks for sharing. I wish everyone could stop by and read this. Happy weekend!

Jessica said...

Such great advice that you have shared, and you have made it real by sharing your own struggles. Thank you. I find that making excuses for inaction stalls my progress the most. For instance, waiting until I am next at the shops to buy the perfect materials for a project when in reality what I have at home would most likely be fine. And then I lose momentum. This is a post that I anticipate I will return to when I need a reminder to let go of the need for perfection.

Angie said...

Marta - I'm new to blogging, and I constantly feel that intimidation and "analysis paralysis," but your entries always remind me to be myself and enjoy the process. You are truly encouraging and inspiring in the way that you keep it real. And you are so right, it's all about practice. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us!

Aly Queen said...

^what they said :)
This is fantastic advice and I appreciate you sharing it with us.

*Dream Weaver* said...

Love this helpful post Marta. I think it also helps heaps to have someone to gentlely push you along. My husband reminds me ever so casually about doing this and that that I had planned to do :) Helps me get back on the path of doing and trying :)

a n a said...

Thank you, Marta, for such an inspiring post. Sometimes a person needs only few words like you wrote to feel better in her skin and to believe she can do things she want! Keep on doing great job with your blog and your work!

r8chel said...

Such good words, Marta. I love your example of signing up to make desserts. I recently signed up to take rolls to a work event because I knew I had to trick myself into practicing. :) I think that's one reason I like blog-based projects so much. By telling people I'm going to do something, I set myself up for actually following through.

M.C. Sommers said...

I'm always so glad when I read your blog. I keep hearing that whole niche thing too and the problem is that my life doesn't fit into a niche! I am like you: I like to write. I write about pretty much anything and everything. It makes me breathe a sigh of relief that I'm not the only person who has struggled to cram herself into a niche! (After writing this comment, I'm really sick of the word "niche.")

shopgirl said...

Brilliant Advice Marta! I wish I could find a way to pin this on my useful tips board!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

icklebabe_com said...

I love you Martha, ( I'm not a stalker honest) I just love what you say and how you espress it so perfectly to the very heart. Don't ever stop ;) x

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