Blog Writing

The Search for the Rosetta Stone or Confessions of a Serial Blogger

The labels you’re given, or that you learn to apply to yourself, can hold you back.  Limit your sense of what is possible.

Peeling off those labels, and replacing them with words that create space, opportunity, and possibility can be a powerful thing.

I wrote that back in April of this year and I think, to be honest, I’ve been reflecting on what it means for me ever since.

Was the label of Confident Writing limiting me in some way?  Was there another structure, framework, or label that would make sense and help to create a more powerful sense of what was possible?  Was there a different way to channel my ideas and energies?

Big questions that have been rumbling and rolling around for most of the last six months.

Working out how to manage the blogging demands of comments and conversation has brought some of those considerations to a head, at least in terms of how I organise myself online.

I’m still trying to figure some of this out, and I know I haven’t yet worked out all the answers.  And that’s just the answers that I think will work for me.  I’m not pretending this is advice that others ‘should’ follow.  But I did want to share some of my thinking with you, both to help me work through how I take these strands forward, and to help shape the future development of this blog (of which you are a crucial part.)

I’m not sure how to make this a short post… so I think I’ll just allow it to be the length it needs to be.  With no further apologies and explanations, I’ll begin.


I’d been thinking for a while that some of the labels I applied to myself or let others apply were getting in the way of where I wanted to be.  The words around ‘writing’ seemed to fit uncomfortably with me.

I didn’t really think of myself as a writer: rather someone who enjoyed using words to create space and possibilities for others. (Was that just semantics?)

Although I was grateful for the recognition of Confident Writing as a blog for writers that sat uneasily with me: I didn’t blog about publishing, or creative fiction, or short story writing, or freelance rates and getting writing gigs… so how did the blog sit within that genre?  (And did it matter?)

It wasn’t so much the writing that interested me as the people who were doing the writing… often people who didn’t or couldn’t dare to apply the label of ‘writer’ to themselves either.  They were ‘just’ people who wanted some extra encouragement and support to find the confidence to write.

(Yes, I know, some introverts can think too much about things that don’t really matter ;-) )

I knew there were other things that I wanted to work on, to write about, to learn about and to teach.  Things that were around natural inspiration and tapping into the source, about trusting our own creativity, about mindfulness and being mindful in our writing, about walking and what happens to our words and our writing when we spend more time outside, about writing just for the sheer hell of it not to fit any genre or form, just for the pleasure of the words falling on the page.

But I couldn’t work out what those things were about.  What brought them together.  What kind of label I could apply to them that would be big enough that I could stop searching, and manageable enough that I could write about, blog about, teach, market and sell.

A friend said to me it was like a search for the Rosetta Stone. (The Rosetta Stone was a key that allowed linguists to translate ancient hierogylphics.  It’s now also used as an expression for something that is a critical key to the process of decryption.)

The analogy made a lot of sense.  But as the summer went on and I looked harder and harder for the Rosetta Stone, the further it seemed out of reach.  It was like chasing a piece of soap round the bath.  The harder you squeezed, the faster it flew.  (Yes, I realise that searching too hard is generally not a good idea in such circumstances, but it’s not always easy to take your own medicine, is it?)

I started working with a client who was re-organising her online presence into one place.  One brand, one identity, one home.  Integrated, strong and confident.

I was jealous.  I wanted some of that too.  I wanted that… that label, that space, that brand that would encompass everything I was about, and everything I did.

But the more I tried to contain things in one idea the more other ideas kept on bursting out at the seams.  (I think there is a game analogy here but I can’t think what it is: you’re trying to hit a target with a hammer, but as soon as you knock one down another appears somewhere else.  Am I imagining this, or can you help me out by reminding me what it is?)

Before I knew it, new websites were in danger of being born, and my domain name purchasing fetish was getting out of hand…


At the same time, I was taking stock of Confident Writing, and working through some of those tricky blog equations.  These were the conclusions that I reached:

1. I need space beyond Confident Writing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still want, need and love this blog.  I do.

2. I need to find a way to slow down the posting frequency, because each bright idea I share generates comments and conversation that I need to (choose to) find time to respond to.

3. I need to adjust my comment policy so I continue to respond to each comment (while that’s feasible), but based on ‘real thoughtful‘ rather than real time (which is self-imposed nonsense when you think about it).

4. One of the ways I could slow down the posting would be to create other outlets for some of my ideas.

5. That didn’t need to mean more social media interaction though.  Remembering the advice on the blogging equations, it is possible to blog (to create and publish online) in a way that doesn’t demand a response.  You can do it in a myriad of ways: to share some material  you’ve found, to pass on information and tips, or to process your own thoughts.  The trick is just to get clear which is which before you start.

6. The focus for Confident Writing should be community and conversation: creating space that encourages you to write with confidence.

7. I need to get better at asking my readers for help in the things that I’m doing.  And I will.

I’d ended up in a place I wasn’t expecting when I started.  Not one streamlined site, but several new outlets.  Not one key, one rosetta stone, but several new strands of thinking, playing out in tandem.

It didn’t seem that wise.  It didn’t seem that sensible in terms of brand management.  It didn’t seem to be what I’d advise to someone else in similar circumstances.  But heck: does that matter?

It seemed to work for me, which should be enough.

And then I read something that gave me the nudge and the permission that I needed.  It was just one line, following on from another, well loved, sentence:

Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage. Anais Nin

A call to expand our lives into the space available, and beyond! ~ Jan Scott Nelson, Grow Your Own Life

The space available, and beyond.  Indeed. Grow your own life.  Grow your own space.

And if I need more space to think, and learn, and grow just now then that’s what I shall do.

I’ll let the new sites be born, and worry about the Rosetta Stone another day.


So, without further ado, let me introduce you to three of my new spaces.  There’s one more - the most important - that I’m still working on… I hope to share more on that in the next week or so.

Here’s what I have so far.  They’re not perfect, but that’s okay… I hope they’re adding some value, but the  main thing is they’re giving me space.

1. Naturally Creative on Tumblr

Tumbling is a great way to share links you find online, as well as quotes, photos, and random thoughts.  I’ve used Tumblr blogs before from time to time… I’m enjoying my new creation as it’s a celebration of natural creativity: the site looks pretty (I think anyway) and it makes me feel naturally creative when I pop over there ;-)

2. Writing with Rapport

I’ve long been intending to write a book on writing with rapport.  To make it more likely that this will happen, I’ve reduced the gap by a) creating this site (and the expectation that goes with it) b) changing the intention to publishing an ebook.  I can see the end point for that within sight.

I will of course let you know when it’s available and will promote / sell it from here too :-)

I’m going to update this new site on a weekly basis with short writing tips on how to write with rapport.

Writing tips seem to fit more naturally in this kind of information giving site than they do here, and it’s another way of creating a bit more space at Confident Writing.

3. Journaling for Life

I realised over the summer that a large part of what I teach and advocate is journaling as much as writing.  I love the verb “to journal”: it seems to offer more freedom to express, play and create than “writing” which can get weighed down with rules on form.  (My only problem is the way it looks when written this way: journaling seems to beg for an extra l, don’t you think?)

I’m also studying to teach Journal to the Self workshops, and I wanted a site where I could write about and promote those classes.  There’s a connection here, of course (and yes I’ll let you know about them) but I knew I could explore ideas around journaling more fully in a site dedicated to that, rather than as an adjunct here.


And that, dear readers, is that.  Where I’ve got to, in rather less than a nutshell.

I realise there will be challenges aplenty in keeping the connections going between these different places.  I realise I might not be able to maintain all these sites in the long term, and might add to the web clutter that flies around the internet… I realise I might find a different answer in 2010 that demands I unpick this work and bundle these ideas back up again.

But for now: it’s what I need.  It’s more and different space, and it gives me the chance to grow and expand into it.

I’m still trying to figure out just how this will play out for Confident Writing.

There are some things I need to ask for your help with over the next few weeks.  There are some things that I am going to adjust, like the way I answer comments, and forcing myself to post less frequently here when 2010 opens her doors.

Beyond that: we’ll see.  I’m content to let the rest unfold.

And if my Rosetta Stone ever turns up… don’t worry.  You’ll be the first to know.

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24 Responses to “The Search for the Rosetta Stone or Confessions of a Serial Blogger”

  1. On November 17, 2009 at 8:20 am Jan Scott Nelson
    Twitter: JanScottNelson
    responded with... #

    Wow, Joanna - I think I might have to comment more than once on this hugely significant post. For now, three things are crashing around and eager to be articulated.
    Firstly, I’m thinking ‘beautifully cut precious stone’ and ‘facets’. I think you’ll get my drift. I LOVE that we get more angles on the wisdom you have to offer.
    Then, well it’s the audacity: flying in the face of every bit of conventional wisdom - where’s your branding, girl? BRILLIANT! I love it when people shrug off all that stuff. And with such style.
    And finally I am moved, delighted, thoroughly bigged-up that my two words had such an impact.
    Exciting times. x
    Jan Scott Nelson´s last blog ..Focus in on the good stuff My ComLuv Profile

  2. On November 17, 2009 at 8:23 am Jan Scott Nelson
    Twitter: JanScottNelson
    responded with... #

    Can I just add that, on this occasion, by ‘branding’ I mean visual branding, i.e. site lok and feel.
    The clear and authentic Brand Joanna just got bigger and better. :)
    Jan Scott Nelson´s last blog ..Focus in on the good stuff My ComLuv Profile

  3. On November 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm Bo Mackison responded with... #

    Ah, expanding to fit your space. Love that you worked out what’s the best fit for you, and are following through. If we all followed though dratted rules, we would all get bored and be boring.

    Moving forward, Joanna. Nice!
    Bo´s last blog ..Looking through the Window My ComLuv Profile

  4. On November 17, 2009 at 4:06 pm amypalko responded with... #

    What wonderful news, Joanna! I think this is the best way forward at the moment, rosetta stone found or not ;-)
    I can’t wait to go and check out all your new sites!!
    Speak soon

  5. On November 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm Lori Hoeck responded with... #

    Rosetta stone quests are a funny thing. Sometimes I prefer: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

    Writing and creativity, like the martial arts, have many perspectives, methods, and paths. Some people like the one box, one path experience; others embrace the greater totality. In the latter case, it’s like the bumpersticker: “All who wander are not lost.” Both non-wanderers and wanderers absorb and radiate life in amazing — but different — ways. I’ve always appreciated your ability to “radiate” with your writing and now you have more outlets to do so!
    Lori Hoeck´s last blog ..How Grandma’s wisdom helps in self defense My ComLuv Profile

  6. On November 17, 2009 at 5:00 pm Ralph responded with... #

    Oh, Joanna, I feel like being always a step behind you! Branding and concentrating on one topic is what I´ve learned from this blog, and I will have to go through this experience. Actually, writing about experiences with traumatised children in a sort of ever-developping story takes up a lot of my energy and emotions, and developping it in English and German is even more exciting and exhausting at the same time. It is also a new experience to find a schedule of writing posts, such as once a week. Still, I can see that reaching out for new challenges is, at the same time, necessary and exciting at a certain stage of your development.

    Even, if I don´t comment much on your blog, I always feel inspired by reading it. And I am going to follow you around! ;-)

  7. On November 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm Lillie Ammann responded with... #


    I’m happy for you that you’ve found the creative outlets you need.

    On the other hand, my initial reaction for myself is Oh, no! I don’t time to comment as much as I’d like here at Confident Writing. Now Joanna is offering more for me to read and comment on … and I can’t do it!

    I’m cutting down the number of blogs in my reader, not expanding them, so I probably won’t be following you on all your new blogs, but I’m sure they will be wonderful.
    Lillie Ammann´s last blog ..I Love to Write Day My ComLuv Profile

  8. On November 18, 2009 at 12:43 am Karen Swim responded with... #

    Kudos Joanna! I firmly support your approach and will delightedly follow you around the web. Labels can be incredibly empowering but can also become restrictive. Your beautiful, honest post mirrors so much of my own journey this year. I’ve struggled in trying to define myself, my business and have often felt like Goldilocks - too big, too small and finding “just right” to be something I build, develop, create. The beautiful thing about this new world is that we have the power and freedom to create around who we are and what we need in the moment. Congratulations on the journey wherever it leads!
    Karen Swim´s last blog ..Naked Trees and Wild Eyed Murderers My ComLuv Profile

  9. On November 18, 2009 at 1:50 am Holli B responded with... #

    Joanna, what an inspirational post! I get so overwhelmed sometimes, I believe my creativity has abandoned me for another, less harried soul. But the truth of the matter is, I’m trying to find boxes and nooks and crannies for my creativity to fit in instead of letting it out and allowing it to find its own niche! I’m stifling it before I can ever truly give it breath and that is going to stop.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Believe me when I tell you - it’s very helpful for me to read what you’re experiencing and what you’re doing.
    Holli B´s last blog ..Just Close Your Eyes and Dance My ComLuv Profile

  10. On November 18, 2009 at 2:37 am Davina responded with... #

    Hi Joanna. I’ve enjoyed reading about the process you’ve been walking through. It’s a neat idea to give a different home to each of your ideas. This feels to me a lot like you are planting a garden and adding to your seed collection, if you will. Lots of growth possibilities. Wait till harvest time :-)
    Davina´s last blog ..There’s An Artist In Our Midst My ComLuv Profile

  11. On November 18, 2009 at 8:16 am Karen Wallace responded with... #

    Oh Joanna! Congratulations!!! Like Jan, I think there will be more than one reading, and maybe more than one comment, there is so much to absorb! So much resonates with what you’ve written about your journey to THIS place… and that frequency of possibility you’re vibrating is so, so infectious!

    (and so, so many exclamation marks… sigh)

    I’m seeing this as a journey and feel this mind map of sites you’re creating (with Joanna firmly at the centre) is fluid, and that is good. Right now, you’re here. Next year, you’ll be a different you, and whatever you chose then - add or subtract, change, morph into, will still be you. And I will love it. As I love this!
    Karen Wallace´s last blog ..Add Fresh Life and Strength this Holiday Season My ComLuv Profile

  12. On November 18, 2009 at 8:29 am Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome responded with... #

    Wow! What a great amount of self-reflection. I’m excited to see what comes next…
    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog ..Just Let It Happen: How to Stay Productive While Sick My ComLuv Profile

  13. On November 18, 2009 at 3:08 pm Ulla Hennig responded with... #

    After having read your blog post I am sitting here at my office desk, smiling, with the urgent desire to hug you and say “Congratulations!”. I noticed naturally Creative on tumblr with its wonderful colors and insightful quotations. I just hopped over to “Journaling for Life” and subscribed to it. I won’t be able to follow you everywhere as a regular reader, but I will be putting my nose in at all your places now and then.
    Ulla Hennig´s last blog ..Gone to the Beach My ComLuv Profile

  14. On November 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm Shari Smothes responded with... #

    Wow Joanna:

    This is an amazing post. I don’t wish you well, because that’s a given. Nothing you do could be considered clutter in any form. I wish you much joy in the space you’re seeking! Thank you for sharing your plans and dreams!


  15. On November 18, 2009 at 7:47 pm Maria Palma responded with... #


    I can definitely relate to everything that you’re saying here in this post. I, too, have so much creative energy within me and so much to say…which is why I have so many blogs!

    I applaud you for following your heart and going with the creative flow.
    Maria Palma´s last blog ..Creativity Tip: Reconnect With Nature My ComLuv Profile

  16. On November 20, 2009 at 4:19 pm Meryl K Evans responded with... #

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts out loud with us. It’ll help us with our own self-reflections.
    Meryl K Evans´s last blog ..11 Reasons Why People Don’t Follow Back on Twitter My ComLuv Profile

  17. On November 20, 2009 at 6:32 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Jan thanks so much for joining in, and being part of the inspiration in the first place. I love what you said about the stone… makes a lot of sense. And as for being audacious… I’m learning. With all of you, I am learning.

    Bo indeed. It is gratifying to see what wonderful readers I have here who understand the need for more space, and bending the rules!

    amy thank you, I knew you’d understand :-)

    Oh Lori how wise you are. I am such a wanderer, and find it so hard to remind myself that doesn’t mean I’m lost. I do like those words: “wherever you go, there you are.” Simple, but hugely comforting.

    PS Thank you for what you said about my writing… it means a great deal

  18. On November 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Ralph I most definitely wouldn’t advise others to follow suit - one blog is really enough! And I don’t intend to develop those other sites in the same way as I have this one which will always remain my home and my baby… They’re just side outlets really, and perhaps in some way still helping me to focus and concentrate what I do here.

    Lillie never fear! I’m not meaning you all to follow, or comment, in fact I’m kind of selfishly hoping not to generate too many comments at the other places as I can only just keep up here. It’s wonderful you’re still around here (as I am at your place, even if I don’t always tell you so).

    Karen I feel so much of our journey is in tandem… I love the picture of you as Goldilocks, and know just what you mean about the feeling of things being too big or too small… we just need to be heroic enough in the end to tell our own tale, just the way that suits us.

  19. On November 20, 2009 at 6:43 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Holli I know just what you mean… the need to let it go and let it flow! sounds like you need just to close your eyes and dance ;-)

    Davina yes, I do believe you’re right. There will be a harvest in the future that brings these things together - but that time isn’t now. I need to let things grow first. Thanks x

    Karen thank you for understanding :-) You guys really are wonderful. I felt a bit exposed sharing this, it doesn’t seem to fit the rules or the norms, I should have known better, of course you all understand. I like what you said about fluidity and me at the centre… perhaps this is a very female pattern of growth? In any case, there’s no point resisting it, I just need to go with the flow and see where she takes me :-)

  20. On November 20, 2009 at 6:48 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Alex me too :-)

    Ulla what a wonderful friend you are, thank you :-) As I said to Lillie, following & commenting is not expected, unless you happen to be interested. I’m glad you like the tumblr… I have so much fun playing wiht it

    Shari what a lovely thing for you to say. Thank you x

    Maria it is making me feel so much better knowing I’m not alone! Thanks :-)

  21. On November 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Meryl I hope so - I know I enjoy it when others share their thoughts and dreams… It’s how we learn and grow together

  22. On November 24, 2009 at 7:53 pm Leah Pauls responded with... #

    Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage. Anais Nin

    A call to expand our lives into the space available, and beyond! ~ Jan Scott Nelson, Grow Your Own Life

    These quotes remind me of the “Prayer of Jabez,” a best-seller in the Christian lit. market a few years back. In the book, author, Bruce Wilkinson, elaborates on an obscure Old Testament passage in which Jabez asks God to expand his territory. Such a prayer is an act of courage in itself, and I have found that when I dare to pray it, inspiration and opportunity abound. Maybe it’s a direct answer to prayer, or maybe it’s simply a greater awareness and receptivity to inspiration and opportunity. Either way, it’s a blessing.

  23. On November 27, 2009 at 9:31 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Leah it’s good to see you back :-) Thank you for sharing those reflections. I like what you say about courage, and asking, and also the blessing that is space. I am blessed with the space I have… and the wonderful people who share it.



  1. Introducing the Writing Space | Confident Writing - December 11, 2009

    [...] mentioned in my piece on the Rosetta Stone that there was one more project I was working on that was still to be [...]

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