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Starting a Blog in 2023? Is That Even Legal?

For your sanity, I have deleted the self-indulgent 500-word introduction I wrote detailing all my past blogging exploits, of which there were many, on various different subjects, dating back to November 2000. The most popular was called Untamed Writing, which I launched in 2013, used to grow my business, and shut down six years later. And now, after several years of being blogless, I have finally decided to start another, and I’m doing things a little differently this time around because of… reasons. Look, I can’t summarise it neatly, okay? It’s kind of a lot.

Then again, maybe this is a terrible idea? Like, do people still read blogs? Do you still read them? (Trick question! You’re reading one right now!) I sure don’t, not like I used to. I tried. I kept checking my Feedly account for a few years after Google Reader closed down, but gradually I realised there was no point any more. Only a couple of people were still publishing things I wanted to read, and that was never regularly, so I just signed up to get their emails instead.

Some of the old blogs I used to love were still being updated pretty often, but they’d clearly become stagnant, and the writers were only doing it for ‘marketing’ and ‘business’ and ‘getting found on Google’ purposes, which—blech. No thanks. I don’t need to read a blog by someone who’s run out of things to say but carries on anyway, updating and regurgitating old content and publishing new low-effort crap.

Newsletters are the thing now, right? I love a newsletter, and yeah, I have one of those, too. But that’s different! For one thing, well, look, I know what I just said about Google, but it is kinda important when you make your living online. And lemme tell ya, Substack is not great at getting your stuff into the ol’ search engines. I can type in the exact title of one of my newsletters + my name, and it still doesn’t show up in Google. Like, what? It’s not even like I’m one of the unlucky ones whose Substack never got an RSS feed. It did! So what gives? I dunno. (Okay so I just checked again and they actually do show up now, but it’s too late! I’m starting another blog and you can’t stop me!!!)

What I do know is that historically, having a blog was great for my business. SEO up the frickin’ wazoo, yanno? And I still believe Google is one of the best ways to get new readers, fans, customers, clients, whatever. Outside of word of mouth and direct referrals, it’s been the best for me. But that’s not why I want to start blogging again (it’s just a nice bonus).

So anyway, let me get to the point already, huh? Yeah yeah, I’ve been stalling. Only the real ones will get this far. (Love ya!) So here it is: something I’ve been struggling with the past few years is what to, like… do? How do I want to spend my time and my life? What kind of work do I want to do? Yes, I’m a basic bitch and I’m having another existential crisis, but who isn’t?

I closed down Untamed Writing because I didn’t want to keep going where that road was taking me, and I carried on quietly writing copy for clients in the background, which is great, but also not, like… enough? I want to do more with my life than create things for other people. So I made to give me a space where I could write about whatever I wanted without worrying whether it was ‘in the right niche’. I wanted to be able to write about whatever the fuck! There are so many subjects that interest me! So many fields I want to explore and talk about! (As evidenced by the bajillion different blogs on varying topics I’ve created over my life.) But the rational side of me who loves organising things and doing stuff ‘in a way that makes sense’ had a firm grasp on my upper arm and constantly murmured in my ear things such as, ‘You can’t do it like that. You have to decide which thing you really want to make your life’s work and focus exclusively on that forever. Idiot.’

Can you imagine if I’d consistently just written whatever-the-fuck over the past five years? Instead of stopping and starting and dancing around my various ideas without ever committing to any of them? I’d probably have figured a lot out about the whole what-I-really-wanna-do thing, and I might’ve gotten some new readers – dare I say fans – and made some bold ~career moves~ and, yeah. I dunno. It’s not worth dwelling on, because I didn’t do it, and this is where I am now. And finally, finally, I have figured out something that ‘makes sense’ to the irrationally rational side of my brain (she’s been with me a long time and I’m not sure I can shake her now). And god, I wish I had thought of this in 2019.

The good news is I’m not doing this solely because it seems rational. I also want to! A lot of people talk about how hard it is to write, but I’ve never felt like that. I’ve always felt compelled to do it and just, yeah, I dunno, man. Writing is great. Blogging is great. There’s just something about it. Your very own space on the internet where you can write about whatever the hell you want? Bliss. Perfection. MWUAH! (That’s a kissy noise. Hmm. That was obvious. Sorry.) I know it seems untrue right now – the whole ‘I love writing’ thing – because I haven’t published anything in so long, but I have over 70 newsletter drafts on my Substack and 60 drafts here on this blog, and another god-knows-how-many drafts scattered across various Scrivener files, not to mention about a dozen novels in varying states of undress (mostly in their socks, if I’m honest). It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I just haven’t been sharing, okay? I haven’t been doing the hard part.

So, this new thing. It’s a balanced approach that will appease both sides of me (I hope) and also strong-arm me into finally sharing my writing again. I’ll admit, I was terrified of falling into the old trap I found myself in at Untamed Writing, where I felt I had to do work I didn’t want to do any more because that was the pit I had dug for myself. Let’s just think of these past few years as me climbing out of the pit, okay? I had a lot of time to think on the way up, and now I’m at the top. I can start digging a new pit! No, wait… let me think this through. I will dig shallower holes that I can step out of and go start digging another one when I’m ready, and it will be connected to the first one, the central one, the one… Is this making sense? Metaphors aren’t really my strong suit. Maybe it’ll become clearer when I actually explain myself, although I suppose that defeats the point of the metaphor.

My trouble is I am somebody who loves throwing myself into things, and will do them incessantly until they’re done, which can be extremely productive or extremely destructive depending on my fixation. I struggle more with the slow, consistent effort over a long duration – the ‘I am doing a little bit at a time, uniformly and forever’ approach. This is why most of my copywriting work is self-contained projects for clients rather than, oh, hey – blogging. And maybe it’s why I’ve started so many new blogs over the years instead of just sticking to the one. And now… perhaps this blog shall be THE BLOG TO END ALL OTHER BLOGS. That’s a dramatic way of putting it, but I think you get me. Oh, you don’t? Well, hang on. We’re nearly there.

Part of my problem at Untamed Writing was I decided to publish to a set schedule – every Monday and Thursday – and on those days I would end up like, Welp, it’s [designated day] again, gotta publish something like I said I would, and then I’d hurriedly write something cogent and readable but ultimately shallow and thoughtless. I don’t know why I think doing it for 30 days in a row will be any better – oh, that’s the new idea by the way; how unceremonious of me to blurt it out like that, but I’ll tell you more in a sec, okay? – or will somehow be more achievable, or less like pulling teeth, but I’m certain it will be. Maybe it’s because it’s not open-ended. It’s a defined project with a specific goal to work towards. It could also be a momentum thing. Once I’m in a certain headspace, I like to stay there, but if I have to keep going in and out of it, I get distracted, lose interest, wander off to see what’s going on over there—

Okay, right. The 30-days thing. The crux of the matter is this: I change my mind a lot and constantly have new ideas, and wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to toss them all into one big pot and turn them into a delicious, nutritious meal instead of a confused slurry of offcuts? So here’s the plan: I will pick a subject – one of the many that interest me – and write about it here every single day, including weekends, for 30 days in a row. In the original version of this post, I asked ‘Does that sound ludicrous?’ at this point, because in the original version I declared I was going to be doing this for 100 days in a row. Then I published the post but never told anyone about it, which made me realise something was wrong. A few days later, lying in bed at 10am after getting, I dunno, maybe two hours of sleep, I realised 100 days didn’t feel right, and that’s why I hadn’t told anybody yet.

And then let me tell you about my original original plan, which was to pick a subject and write about it for 365 days, and to create an entirely new website for it, and to come up with a unique and interesting name for it, and then to do the same thing the following year with another subject. Now that would be fucking ludicrous. The 100-days thing was already pretty ludicrous, but this? Whew. An entire year of publishing every day, then leaping straight into another 365-day project when exactly? When would I take breaks? Just how many websites would I end up managing? Could I even take my birthday off???

At first I thought 30 days felt too easy, too short, too doable, but then I thought, So what? Sure, I want to push myself, and I want to give myself time to delve deeply into my chosen subjects, but I also don’t want to overwhelm myself, or throw myself heedlessly into an idea without thinking it through only to end up quitting and looking like a total flake (which I most certainly have never done before ever!!!). I also realised I have difficulty conceptualising 100 days. Like, how long is that really, you know? Oh, it’s a lot? It’s more than a quarter of a year? But it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal?? Huh. Okay. Fair enough.

So instead I’ve decided I’ll extend projects by 30 days at a time if I feel like I’m not done with them yet, maybe taking some time off in between. And if I decide I am done with a particular project, I’ll take a longer break before I start the next one. Breaks are nice, aren’t they? They’ll allow me to figure out what the hell I’m gonna do next, and also slot other things into my schedule, like, umm, life? Haven’t had much of one of those lately, but I should probably leave space for it, right?

That’s the current plan. I have a whole bunch of ideas, some deeper than others, not all of them strictly writing-focused, and I’m excited to get going. The thing I’m most excited about, aside from getting to write about all the things I want to, is having the freedom to experiment and explore and go where my interests take me. (And yes maybe the reduction from 100 days to 30 is partly because I’m impatient to explore all my ideas!!!)

What do I hope to get out of all this? Aside from the enjoyment of being creative and writing about things that interest me, you mean? Oh, I don’t know… Fame? Endless riches? The whereabouts of my self-worth? (In my old coat pocket, I think.) Irrefutable evidence that I’m not the no-hope slacker my school teachers all thought I was? To get obsessed with something productive instead of destructive for a nice change of pace? Simply to be consistent with something for once in my goddamn life I swear to—fffnnn. Hm. Listen. Look. I don’t know. It’s just how I want to spend my time right now, okay?

In my next post, I’ll announce the subject of my first 30-Day Project! The answer will (absolutely won’t) surprise you!!!