When it’s time to get off the stage

by Joanna on September 22, 2007

Writing is fun.  Blogging is lots of fun.   It’s a fabulous platform – for writing, for learning, for hearing ourselves think, for sharing ideas, words, stories, possibilities, conversations.

But what happens when it’s time to get off the stage for a while – when the blog shifts from being “your” platform to a shared space, where other people also get the chance to sing?

I guess the short answer is: the sound of the music goes up!

But to dig a bit further I thought I’d look back at what I’d learned from having three guest authors write with me at Confident Writing this month.

These were the main learning points for me:

1.    There are lots of practicalities to work out – I think I did okay in terms of explaining how it would work when I first invited people, but I hadn’t entirely thought through some of the details like adding photos, asking for short bios and mugshots

2.    I wasn’t entirely sure how the commenting would pan out, like how much I should offer to moderate.   I think it worked a treat in the end though – thanks to the input of the contributing authors :-)

3.    There were some practical hiccups – the formats from the different systems people use broke my live feed for a day (sounds painful, yes it was, I was pained!) but I learned how to use the ‘troubleshootize’ feature on Feedburner as a result (what a knack they have for making up ridiculous verbs!)

4.    I had to plan the week more carefully (this is no bad thing) and schedule the posts to give the contributing authors the space they deserved

5.    I have to admit to feeling at a bit of a loose end on the days when their work was up – with an inner voice protesting ‘oh! I can’t write on my own blog!’ – I tried to channel that energy into other creative work on the days when the space was properly given over to others

6.    You gain by letting go.  I felt optimistic, positive, excited as soon as I made the decision – and way before I saw what they’d written

7.    I felt a big sense of responsibility for looking after their words.  They seemed more precious than my own somehow – a lot more precious.  I’m not sure if responsibility is the right word – maybe it was more like stewardship.  I wanted to take care of what they’d written.  (This was very different from the sense of responsibility I’ve felt as a guest writer for other people, where the desire to ‘live up’ to the quality of the host site can be a pressure, and get in the way of authentic writing)

8.    Seeing what people have written in preview is a total buzz, a burst of excitement.  It was like starting to unwrap a surprise present, and then stopping in wonder and amazement when you see what’s inside.

9.    I think, hope, that the experience has forged a strong relationship between us.  That we are now connected, in a different way to before, by our words, by sharing our writing together.

10.    I can’t wait to experiment some more.  Next month we’re on writing with clarity.  Do you want to join me?

We’ve enjoyed three guest posts as part of the September focus on authenticity:

Italian Lessons in Authenticity by Emma Bird

Sometimes I Write Hollow by Jon Swanson and

Two Simple Steps to Writing with Authenticity by Robert Hruzek.

I’ll be focusing on writing with clarity next month.  If you’d be interested in contributing here with some words on what writing with clarity means to you - how you do it, what happens when you find yourself writing clearly, times when it escapes you - whatever… just let me know, either in the comment box here or by e-mail to me joanna@confidentwriting.com

And then I promise I’ll get back down off the stage again and let you all sing!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad Shorr 09.22.07 at 10:31 pm

Hi Joanna. Clarity is a wonderful topic to explore. For me clarity is a two-step process. First, it’s understanding precisely what I’m trying to say. That’s not always easy. When a client’s involved, it can be doubly difficult. Sometimes clients want a new web page to tout a particular product, but they themselves don’t know exactly what makes the product toutworthy (is that a word?). The second step is organizing thoughts into a comprehensible flow of ideas. I have trouble with this. When there’s a lot to say, my tendency is to spew everything out too quickly, without adequately fleshing out the concept at hand and connecting it to the next one. If you or CW readers can offer suggestions - I’ll be on the lookout all through October!

Robyn 09.22.07 at 10:56 pm

Joanna, I have become rich when I let go… works well in most of life’s arenas!

It’s great to see how you keep stretching to the limits.

Joanna Young 09.23.07 at 12:00 pm

Hi Brad.

I do love readers who consistently ask the most challenging questions!

You make some really good points here. I’m sure these are all things that we’ll be trying to cover in October.


Joanna Young 09.23.07 at 12:02 pm

Robyn, thanks, and for your consistent coaching of me. It helps, a lot.

Does letting go also work in golf, I’m wondering?


Chris Brogan... 09.24.07 at 2:26 am

Hi Joanna- I think that sharing the stage enriches everyone, especially when some kind of energy happens between yourself and the folks you choose to share with. I’m really excited to read about clarity coming up. Lord knows I need it. : )

Joanna Young 09.24.07 at 9:43 am

Hi Chris

Sharing the stage here has certainly been fun - and as you say, lots of energy around.

Your post on rocking the stage gave me the hook to write this piece so thanks for providing the right words at the right moment - I love the way the blogosphere can provide like that!


Robert Hruzek 09.24.07 at 1:21 pm

This is too weird! I just started several drafts on the subject of “clarity”! (Great minds, you know…)

Joanna, you mentioned being a “steward” of the words of your guest authors. I can appreciate that, but the flip side was also true. It was a little scary to put my own words on your site; it caused me to be extra-careful that what I said added value to YOUR site and readers. (Oh, the responsibility!)

Much different than writing at my own site! I mean, I still take care with my words, but it’s… different somehow.

Hey, count me in next month!

Joanna Young 09.24.07 at 7:31 pm

Hi Robert - it is totally different, isn’t it? It’s why I’m still musing (okay, make that procrastinating) over what to write for you…

Looking forward to what you come up with on clarity - you can help me deliver on all these expectations I’m building up!


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