“Publish my stuff? Online? What…..do you mean my writing?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“It’s just………..not…..good enough yet!”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years of blogging, it’s that new media (like blogs and podcasts) requires new attitudes toward content creation and publication. Quickly fading are the days when getting your voice heard meant either slogging it through the ranks of traditional media outfits, fetching coffee and filing papers for years, or else toiling endlessly on your own, churning out print zines, trying to get a slot on a college radio station, or worming your way into the public access television station programming.
Grim as these options were (how many people can even have access to your content under these older systems), they were all that existed for most people prior to the advent of blogging, podcasting, and other forms of social media. Online, the individual now has just as much theoretical access to the public as does the largest news outlet. Even a URL from CNN.com is just that–a single URL, no more or less accessible to anyone with an Internet connection than any URL from www.doublebassblog.org or www.contrabassconversations.com. Under this new system, the quality of one’s content rather than the financial influence of one’s network determines one’s success. While major networks still have an advantage (bigger budgets, more varied distribution channels like newspaper and television), individuals have never had a better opportunity to publish their content to a wide audience.
I generally follow the “good enough–tweak it later” philosophy in my online activities. Put it out, then tweak it to your heart’s content. For so many people, just putting it out there and getting some momentum going is the hardest step of all. Most find (and I have experienced this firsthand) that new media projects take on a life of their own, and the content creator becomes steward, librarian, principal editor, and captain of their own little new media ship.
People will read your blog, and they will get in touch with you. It may take time, but you soon begin to develop a community of like-minded readers, and the knowledge of this community and their expectation of new content can motivate a person to put out more and better content, which leads to more readers….
Plus, just getting started and putting your stuff out there gives you time to practice your craft. Most people are not writers by trade. I know I’m not. But blogging daily gives you regular practice, giving you a chance to hone your craft and find your voice. I know that my writing has improved a lot since I started this blog–not that I was a total doofus writer when I started blogging, but anyone who clicks on the late 2005 or early 2006 archives can find some pretty ham-fisted prose on those past pages.
The same is true of podcasting, video blogging, or any other creative endeavor in which you are content creator and publisher.
Online projects are not created in a vacuum and dumped upon the world. They grow, slowly and organically, piece by piece, gradually creating a deep and powerful body of work. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself wearing a lot of different hats. I spend my days alternating between creative writer, pseudo-journalist, talk show host, disc jockey, video editor, audio editor, ad pitchman, web developer, and system administrator.
Am I good at all of these jobs? No. But, much like the original writing on the blog, I am getting better and better every day. It’s all about practicing your craft, just like performing music!