Why Most People Quit Blogging: The Princess Syndrome

Send to Kindle

fighting writer's blockI read a crazy statistic today.

Most bloggers quit blogging in the first 2-3 months.

That one smacked me in the face.

There are 31 million blogs in the U.S. and there will be 34 million blogs by the end of the year.

But the Pew Research Center reported that, among 18-33-year-olds, the number of bloggers declined for the first time last year.

So, lots of start-up bloggers, but many of them shut down (or stop posting) after just three months?

What happens to them?

I call it the ‘Princess Syndrome.” They want every post they write to be perfect. Beautiful. Appealing. Worthy of applause. With all those readers gathered at their feet.

A couple of days ago, I tested my idea on my Facebook CatsEyeWriter page. In my Fresh Daily Blogging Tip, I said:

Get over being perfect. Nobody writes a perfect blog post. Spell check? Yes. Read for clarity? Yes. But if you obsessively write and rewrite, it will never get out to your readers.

A few people had something to say about that.

The wildly creative and smart Patty K said: “Even after I finally hit ‘publish,’ it’s never perfect enough.”

The saddest part of that comment is that I so get it.

We are never ‘perfect enough.’

“How many times do you rewrite an article, Judy?” my friend Jen, a talented life coach and leadership trainer, said.

It was a great question because, that dream of writing the perfect post can leave us ‘wasting away in rewrite-ville’ if we’re not careful.

My friend, sales strategist and experienced blogger Lori Richardson, said: “As much as I try to not have spelling issues, it still happens. I like bestselling business author Michael Port’s emails. He always says, ‘P.S. I don’t charge extra for typos. They’re just my gift to you.'”

And she is right. Those typos will get through, even with spell check, even with editing and proofing. They just do. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

If you battle the perfection demons, as I do, just know that they have the power to make you stop blogging if you let them.

They will mock you (“You are going to publish that? How could you put such a piece of crap as that out there?”).

And you will spend so much time writing that one post that you will just know that there aren’t enough hours in the day to run a business and blog. If you fight the Princess Syndrome, I have a few tips for you:

Write from your heart.

There’s no better way to fight the Princess Syndrome than to reveal your imperfect self. That person lives in your heart—at the core of your being. Let that person out because she has some important things to say. Weird and quirky sometimes? Yeah, but it’s the part of you that connects emotionally with your readers.

Read once for flow and clarity.

Are your main ideas in there? Are they clear? Read your post aloud. Do any parts sound jarring or awkward?

Ignore the grammar police.

Forget your 8th grade teacher. You are allowed to start a sentence with “and.” You have every right to write like you talk. That’s what voice is all about.

Run a spell check.

It’ll catch most of your spelling errors so do use it.  Just know that if you use the wrong word, but spell it correctly (like “it’s” instead of “its”), spell check won’t know the difference.

Let it sit for 24 hours, if you can.

This is incredibly helpful—if you are not in a time crunch. I find errors I didn’t catch when I come back with fresh eyes. Not always possible, but do it when you can.

Hit the “publish” button—with no regrets.

This is the step that shows you’ve recovered from Princess Syndrome. Be bold. Get your stuff out there in the world!

Perhaps my friend, the amazing business and marketing coach Molly Gordon said it best:

The world needs you now, not when you’re perfect.

Two more things

It has been my honor and pleasure to make friends with 9 other amazing writers who are blogging wonders. I share the prize of 2011 Top 10 Blogs for Writers with them.

I’m excited to announce a semi-regular blog series called “Top 10 Tuesdays.” Each Tuesday, you’ll read a new guest post from one of the other nine Top 10 bloggers, beginning with Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn) next Tuesday, February 8. Keep an eye out for them.

And, watch for my webinar coming on March 15. You’ll get 30 design and content tips to move your blog from average to astounding. And the first 30 people to sign up also get a mini-critique of their blog with suggestions for improvement.

How about you?

Do you fight Princess Syndrome?

What’s the hardest part of writing a post for you?

Do you wrestle with the perfection demons?

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you Miss Judy! I am so glad I can let the tiara go on my blogging talent. And more importantly, thank you for giving me grace and permission to write like I talk! I was always ridiculed in school about that talent I have and it has taken many years to simply embrace that quality.

    I too love the Michael Port statement on Typos. In fact, I often say, “Typo’s are free, they’re my gift to you.” It has freed me to write by suspending judgment on my posts and letting go of perfect comma placement.

    Now the sitting on something for 24 hours will be my next stretch. I am one to type, proof, edit, publish. As fast as I can. My VA gets very annoyed with me when I do that before she has a chance to put eyes on it. haha.

    Thanks for the lovely confirmation and that cute as heck picture!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Tammy,

      Yes, the tiara needs to go. : )

      It’s amazing how so many well-meaning teachers have bottled us up with all their rules and made it almost impossible to “write like we talk.” (And I say that as a former teacher.) I used to have my first grade students tape record their stories—delightful, they were!—and I would transcribe them. A lot of work, but, boy, the joy on their faces when I would read some of them aloud to the rest of the class. They were writers!

      On the 24-hour wait. Yeah, in a perfect world (There’s that word “perfect” again) it works. I have to admit sometimes I don’t have that luxury, either. Thanks for weighing in here.

      • Latrice says

        I couldn’t agree with you more Judy. I’m sure that our teachers had nothing but the best of intentions when they instructed us to write according to the “rules” but that can really make for a BORING read at times. I say let’s just keep our written pieces true to who we really are and how we really speak.

  2. says

    I think this is a great piece of advise for writing on the web in general, not just for blogs. I tend to be a little old school in my writing and lean towards perfection to such an extent that oftentimes I won’t even comment on posts because I don’t have the time to gather my thoughts and then edit them the way I would like. Keeping in mind that production is sometimes more important then perfection.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Breanna,

      Yes! Definitely, this applies to any kind of writing. It is the fear of not being perfect that stops so many of us from finishing. Commenting on blogs is another big area where perfection rears its ugly head. Some people tell me that they don’t leave comments because it just takes too ling to construct a wise, meaningful one. But if you comment from the heart, it takes some of the pressure off. And we get to hear the ‘real’ you! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. says

    Judy…I have a pile of posts at the 50% – 90% complete stage. I’ve lost interest in them (because I tend to write about what’s happening for me/on my mind at the moment.) And yet, when I go back and read them, I often think: “You know, that wasn’t all that bad. I wonder why I didn’t just publish the damned thing.”

    Of course, your post explained exactly what was going on.

    My perfection habit follows the old 80/20 rule. 20% of the effort gets a post to about 80% complete (aka “perfect”). The remaining 80% of the effort isn’t usually worth it (especially for something like a blog post with such a short shelf life.) In fact, sometimes I monkey around with a post for so long that I lose track of what I was trying to say in the first place. (I think this is how they get into that “incomplete and abandoned” pile in the first place.)

    My biggest struggle is with length and scope creep. I find that one thought/topic leads to another and I try to cover too much ground in a single post.

    Thanks for the “permission slip” to just put it out there. (I have Molly’s quote posted on my wall directly in front of me!) I’m going to challenge myself to write a few shorter posts that stick to a single point. Wish me luck!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Patty,

      I hear you. When you read those abandoned posts later, you think, “Hmm, I could have done something with this.”

      I love the 80/20 thing. Because the tinkering is where the problem starts. When do you stop “editing”? You are much like me with the “one thing leads to another.” I swear that if I paid attention as I am writing, at least a dozen new pos ideas would come to me. I have started doing that. Telling myself, “No, this doesn’t fit here,” and writing the sub-topic on my whiteboard for another post. : )

      Molly’s quote is profund, isn’t it?

  4. says

    Great post. I saw myself in every word. Hitting that publish button and then finding an error – even a minor one – feels like that dream where you show up to school in your underwear. Because that’s what we’re really afraid of, right? People catching us exposed and unprepared.

    I was one of those blogging die-offs: after blogging steadily for 9 months, I stopped. Why? I’d let my fear of not being good enough, of not KNOWING enough get to me. Instead of following my passion (ocean science and environmental issues), I started blogging about science topics that I knew a lot about, but didn’t interest me as much. Finally, after 6 months of only intermittent posts, I found my spine again and got back to it. It hurt to see how much my hit rate had suffered in that time, but now that I’m back doing what I love, the visits have gone back up.

    Feel the fear – and publish it anyway!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Danielle,

      I know. Finding that typo after hitting “publish” can be painful. I used to picture each one of my hundreds of subscribers calling up my post on their screen and that typo (to me) was blinking, in red. I’m such a princess. : )

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Great piece of wisdom. Blog about your passions. And that is truly writing from the heart.

  5. says

    These are all really good points. I think that doing NaBloPoMo helped me with a lot of them: post every day, regardless of whether it’s amazing. The thing that I get stuck on is one of your major points, though: write from the heart. When it works, it works, but some days I just don’t have anything I connect with or can’t find anything to say… currently trying to compile a list to fall back on :)

    Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Okay, now I have to check out NaBloPoMo. You made me curious. IOn writing from the heart, I don’t think it means that we are always jumping-up-and-down excited, but that we say what we feel. I make lists of topics, but, like you, if I start writing and I’m not feeling much of anything. I usually shelve it. And sometimes I’ll come back to it and find that I am connecting with it on that particular day. Go figure.

  6. says

    Judy,

    I can’t even call myself a blogging newbie because my blog isn’t live yet. But I feel so much better prepared for what’s to come from reading your posts.

    I think I went through the Princess Syndrome with my newsletter – it took me months (maybe even a year) to start letting my real self come through a little, and not worry so much if the article doesn’t feel 100% perfect. Plus, I learned from you that a perfect article might leave the reader with nothing to add for themselves – and I definitely want to make people *think*.

    So even though the newsletter has given me some practice with this, I feel like knowing about this 3-month “phenomenon” will help me get past it and keep writing when it hits me.

    I almost feel like I have some secret weapons in my arsenal :) Thank you!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Claudine,

      Great to see you here again. It’s been fun talking to you on Facebook. I am looking forward to the day you launch your blog. You know, we can study and study (I’m talking about me now) and never think we are ready, but I finally discovered that plunging in is the only way to start learning and improving. If you’ve read my piece on my “stinky first post,” you’ll see just how bad I was. : )

      • says

        Oh, no, believe me, you’re talking about me, too. I can get stuck on learning and absorbing information and never really putting it into action. (it’s one of the blog posts I have in the works is on this very topic, because it’s something that plagues so many entrepreneurs).

        I’ve been devouring your posts and “know” (hope?) that one day I’ll be looking back to my “stinky first post.”

        Thanks Judy.

        • Judy Dunn says

          Claudine,

          Why do we “overthink” like that? It can be a curse. But I also think it can make us better writers—if we know when staying in the thinking stage is a convenient reason not to start the work. : ) The “stinky first post” is also the blogger’s badge of honor. We took up our courage and just hit “publish.” Yay for us!

          • says

            If overthinking can make us better writers, I am off to a GREAT start.

            I think you hit the nail on the head that it’s always about knowing our point of “diminishing returns” when it comes to the thinking and planning that comes before actually DOING anything – including writing.

            It’s a little weird knowing that when I hit “publish” in a few weeks (hopefully) one day I’ll be referring to it as my “crappy first post” (or something similar). Weird, but kind of fun and liberating at the same time.

            I’m having too much fun already and I’m not even blogging yet. :)

            • Judy Dunn says

              Claudine,

              Ha! I follow someone on Twitter whose handle is @overthinker. I followed her just because of her name. : )

              And, yes, calling it you “crappy first post” is rather liberating, isn’t it? Of course, you may fool all of us and create the most astoundingly perfect first post anyone has ever written.

  7. says

    Thanks Judy. I’m one of those who wrote one blog, then gave up for not being perfect enough. Just last week a client told me how much she liked my blog, which made me wonder if I’m not too hard on myself. I guess I got the ‘princess syndrome’. You put your finger right on there. Thank you!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Christine,

      Isn’t it a shame that we find out how much people liked our stuff after we quit? Now if that client had gone in and left a comment on your blog, it might have been just the encouragement you needed to keep going. Many, many people read and enjoy but stay quiet. : )

  8. says

    Judy, it’s so funny reading this post, after I JUST published my weekly offering to the blogging gods :-). And I did so without being hyper about perfection – yay! I’ve not always been that way, of course. As I’ve learned to have confidence in my abilities and message, I’ve grown less attached to being perfect.

    Sure, the post, article, e-mail, whatever, can always be “better,” and life’s too short to stress over every phrase and syntax. What I love about blogging is that, as you say, I can write how I talk! It’s a more casual and authentic mode of communication than most of us grew up with. I find it refreshing, liberating and FUN.

    I love Molly’s quote, “The world needs you now, not when you’re perfect.” Amen to that!

    And I hope it’s OK to share a Biznik article I wrote a while back that’s completely relevant and complementary to your post:
    http://biznik.com/articles/just-hit-send-four-steps-to-getting-past-perfection It’s my most popular article, which tells me that we’re in very good company with our desire to ditch the tiara!!!!

    Thanks for offering the inspiration to give perfection the old heave-ho and get on with it already!!! :-)

    • Judy Dunn says

      Beth,

      You are getting lots of positive feedback on that new post of yours. Shedding that tiara works, doesn’t it? : )

      I found that the more I step up my blogging, the less I worry about each post being perfect. It’s your body of work that matters most, not any one individual post. Now if they all stink, that’s a different story.

      Now I am remembering your Biznik article. Complements my post beautifully.

  9. says

    I am new to your blog. Enjoyed the post.

    I have been writing a niche blog about my struggles and journey through incest for 3 1/2 years now. Lately I haven’t been writing as often as I used to but I am still not really to stop blogging. In the beginning, I did struggle with wanting everyone of my posts to be perfect. I don’t today.

    I have found out the my favorite posts and the favorites of my readers aren’t always the same. When I do the first draft, I don’t monitor it. I just let the words flow as they come out of me. Then I go back and read what I wrote. Sometimes I rewrite sentences to flow more easily and I check for spelling errors. Still occasionally after publishing the post, I will find something that got by me. I don’t obsess about it.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts and learning from them how to be a better writer. Have a glorious weekend.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Patricia,

      You bring up an important point. After this long, it still surprises me which posts my readers find the most helpful/engaging. I’ll be all hot over a topic and see it isn’t resonating with my readers. Another one, that I think is okay but not my favorite will touch a nerve and bring lots of comments. Not always easy to predict.

      In my opinion, you are writing your first draft in the right away if you just let the ideas tumble out. Then you can find those gems and cut the stuff that doesn’t move your post forward.

      Thanks for sharing.

  10. says

    I am glad I found your site. I have forwarded this to my business partner. Every time she catches a typo she immediately must point it out to me. This has definitely made me worried about not being perfect and causes me not to write as many blog posts.
    Thanks.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Katherine,

      I used to hate the fact that I ruined an entire message for someone if I made one typo in it. But I’ve found that for most of us, it’s much easier to find grammatical mistakes and spelling errors than it is to think about and comment on ideas. Because unfortunately, those red-blinking-light typos are so glaring. Glad you took something useful away from this post.

  11. says

    With you on all of the above Judy. I’ve had my business blog for about 2 years now and my personal blog for about 14 months. During this time, I’ve been amazed with how many people start like a bolt of fire and lightning and fizzle off before the end of the first quarter. Pretty sad, really.

    I do think some bloggers suffer from the ‘princess’ syndrome as you aptly named it, but I also think so many get in this world of internet writing for the wrong reasons. It takes a person of incredible passion to do this week after week after week.

    For some, it’s a chore. For others, it’s a blast. Personally, I love the ride, and I can tell you do to Judy.

    Marcus

    Ps: my typos are also free ;-)

    • Judy Dunn says

      Marcus,

      Hello! Great to see you here.

      I agree. There are certainly other reasons people stop blogging and the one you mention is a big one. And whether you consider blogging a chore or a blast, yeah, that has a lot to do with it. I always tell people, if you don’t like expressing your ideas, continuously, in written form, maybe you should think twice about blogging. It is definitely a commitment. Thanks for weighing in here.

  12. Holly says

    Thanks for this. I just recently started blogging and no lie, I will spend HOURS on 4-6 paragraphs. I’m learning and I know it may take some time to get comfortable. Your post was helpful in knowing that I’m not the only one suffering. Suffering…really?!? Did I just describe the time suck of my self absorbed obsession with editing content as suffering. Jeez, what do I think I am, a Princess?

    • Judy Dunn says

      Dear Princess—I mean, Holly,

      I’m going to be writing a few posts on proven formulas and ways to organize a post, so hope that will help. Try to get those first ideas out quickly, almost without thinking about them. Anne Lamott, the brilliant author of Bird by Bird, a book on writing (I highly recommend it) calls them, “shitty first drafts.” We all write that way in our first drafts (except for maybe 2 or 3 writers in the world and they aren’t even human.) : )

      Don’t spend 4-6 hours! That’s the best way to become totally frustrated (and depressed). Just let it pour out first. You can always fix it in your rewrite.

  13. says

    Hey Judy,

    I’m not a blogger, but I am a writer, and I want to second your suggestion to read everything you write out loud. So much easier to catch errors that way and so much easier to feel the life of what you have written whether it’s a poem, a blog post, a letter, or a whole book. Reading it out loud brings it into reality, and then you can literally feel whether what you have written truly carries your voice.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Miriam,

      Yes, you are an expert in this area. So glad you chimed in here. Reading our work aloud is one of the best ways to detect problems with grammar, flow, transitions, lots of stuff. And most importantly, have you nailed your voice? Does it sound like you? Thanks for adding value to the conversation.

  14. Junelle says

    They will mock you (“You are going to publish that? How could you put such a piece of crap as that out there?”).

    This struck me right to the core. I haven’t launched my blog yet, but I have to admit that the one thing that slows me down and prevents me from reaching my goal quickly (having x number of posts as a prerequisite to launching) is this obsession/compulsion to check and re-check every thing I write. I spend so much time looking for possible mistakes that it takes forever to move on to the next piece! Hopefully, with practice, I can stop being so self-conscious and leave that “princess complex” behind. Thank you for the inspiration, Judy!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Junelle,

      I know just what you are saying. When is our work ‘perfect’? Answer? It will never be perfect. But we can send it out when it’s ‘good enough.’ Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  15. says

    I’m not a perfectionist in most areas of my life (just ask my husband, kids, mom etc) and I’ve never thought of myself as remotely princessy, but I do stress over imperfect blog posts. I’ll even spot a missing comma in a 6 month old post and go back to edit it. I know there aren’t enough hours in the day to create perfect posts every time, yet I still obsess over it. I clearly need help.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Karen,

      It’s true. I have a messy office desk, almost every day of the year. (They say that messy people are more creative, at least that’s my excuse). : ) I have been known to leave dishes to air dry and not put them in the cupboard right away.

      But writing? That is where I’ll go all obsessive-compulsive if I don’t catch myself. Why is that? Does our writing make us more vulnerable because we are opening up and sharing the deepest parts of ourselves? Not sure, but interesting to think about.

  16. says

    I think the number reason why many drop blogging on their first 3 months is lack of focus and direction. Many will just blog because they were told that they needed to but they never really understood what it’s all about.

    – Mike

    • Judy Dunn says

      Mike,

      Good point. Especially the blogging because “they were told they needed to.” In our blogging workshops, we tell people, “Don’t blog because your colleague or your sister or your hairdresser told you you should. Blog because it adds value to your business, because it’s right for you, because you want to blog.”

      Every time, at least one or two people will come up to us afterward with smiles on their faces. They say something like, “Thanks for giving me permission not to blog.” Blogging is a huge commitment and people ned to decide if it’s right for them. Thanks for sharing that important message.

  17. says

    I find that at times my constant fiddling with a blog actually creates more errors as I cut and paste and move lines around. Sometimes, you just have to leave it alone.Thanks for the pep talk.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Jane,

      Good addition to the conversation here. Yes, you can actually create more (or new) errors if you play around with your post too much.

  18. says

    Hi Judy,

    Thanks for yet another helpful tip, and all the wonderful comments you’re receiving. Desperately seeking perfection reminds me of a line attributed to John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

    I completely agree with all your points about getting down to the business of blogging, especially your last one: “Hit the ‘publish’ button—with no regrets”. This is the business end of the whole project — starting the conversation so that others may comment and keep the ball rolling.

    My academic background in writing taught me to quickly outline a draft, then write it, then juggle paragraphs to clarify the flow of ideas, then juggle sentences in each paragraph clarify my message, then consider a different word here and there to add focus and emphasis, then review it all later with fresh eyes…

    Well, in my experience, completing ANY project became a minor miracle, after all this.

    And now I sense it was way too much. Proofreading ultimately became a roadblock. I still edit, but less compulsively. Maybe it’s because of all that early background, but I feel my writing (and blogging) is now much smoother, more effortless, and hopefully more expressive. Who can say?

    These days I agree with Hemmingway’s recommendation to “write drunk; edit sober”, and I’d recommend that we do each one only in moderation.

    Looking forward to your next post. And where do we sign up for your March 15 webinar?

    Robbie

    • Judy Dunn says

      I know what you mean, Robbie. I also came from an academic background—in the field of education for many years. But the first article I wrote for a magazine showed me how different “academic” writing is from genuine, authentic, “feeling” writing. The editor accepted it, but she ripped it apart!

      On considering a different word, I just read a Stephen King quote that reminds me of this. He said:

      “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

      Wow, that’s harsh. But I think he’s right. Finding that “just perfect” word often means that you are talking yourself out of the writing. And Hemingway’s quote is priceless, too.

      Thanks for asking about the webinar! I’ll start posting more details (and a link to sign up) next week.

      • says

        Thanks, Judy. Hmmmm… Stephen King, huh? You’d think he’d know better. What if the first word you choose is a bad choice? Don’t improve it?

        Speaking isn’t perfect — people mis-speak all the time and apologize later if they’d made a serious error. Writing is slower than speaking, and in our haste to write in our speaking “voice”, we’re likely to choose a “blah” word, rather than one which really “tells”.

        I agree with King’s rule that consulting a thesaurus is a bad idea, to the degree that it weakens whatever point you’re making by undermining your voice. Taking you out of the writing, as you said. But sometimes your first word isn’t the best word you want, and later if you know you might have said a better one, use it! Agree?

        Robbie

        • Judy Dunn says

          Valid point. It’s just that sometimes in my journey to identify a stronger, more powerful word, I find myself sounding a little pretentious. : )

          I’m not saying never change to a better word, I just don’t find that better word in a Thesaurus anymore. Perhaps it has come with making writing my living? Not sure, but somehow King’s quote resonated with me. Thanks for making me think, Robbie.

  19. says

    Judy,

    I believe I am a pretty good writer, and I continue to battle the analysis paralysis demons. Even when I am relaxed and the words seem to flow freely (which is not often, I’m afraid!), it takes me a long time to write a post — not to mention the time it takes to tag and categorize the post, to add hyperlinks, and to find and insert a relevant image.

    I’m happy to say, though, that I have released ‘having to be perfect,’ for the most part. If, after hitting ‘publish,’ I find an error, the magic of blogging (as opposed to offline publication) is I can just go in to make corrections at any time….or not!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Tshombe,

      I know that you and I have talked about how much time and effort you put into your posts. Glad to hear you are easing up on yourself a little. I say, one post is just one post. You are not going to live or die from it—whether it was mediocre or brilliant. Because there is always another day and another post.

      And, yes, I’ve gone back in and fixed a few typos myself. : )

  20. says

    I find if I read my post backwards I tend to find those wrong words spelled correctly such as there, their, and they’re. Don’t know why this triggers my brain but it works for me.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Suzie,

      Yes, I learned the read-backwards thing from a writer who used to be an editor. It really works. Thanks for sharing that.

  21. says

    The reason people quit blogging is because they don’t get tons of accolades after only three months. There’s your princess syndrome. You can’t be everybody’s little princess so you go away.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Michael,

      There are definitely several reasons why people stop blogging besides being afraid to send imperfect posts out. I agree with you there. And sometimes it isn’t that they didn’t get accolades (although that certainly might be a reason). Many of my coaching clients who are start-up bloggers tell me that they would be happy with any kind of comment on their post—just to know that someone is reading. They just want to be heard.

      Thanks for weighing in here. Please come back and visit again. : )

  22. says

    When things I see touch my heart and relate to the news too, then I usually try to get in a blog post. I do worry just before hitting publish for a new blog post, but selecting preview first is a great help. I find the odd phrase and weird spacing there, and fix it up. Then when I publish, I feel really happy to tell the truth!

    • Judy Dunn says

      J.J.,

      Thanks for commenting here. “Preview” is a nice function, isn’t it. : )

      And you are right. The best way to overcome perfectionism is to write about things you are passionate about. Great point.

  23. says

    Thanks, Judy! You are always so affirming. Yes, when we realize that it’s just one post and we can always write another one, we can let ourselves off the perfectionist hook!

  24. says

    Honestly, blogging is hard. I thought it’d be easy to just plunk my hands on the keyboard and whip something up every other day or so. Then I realized I had no focus–did I want to write tips, like you do, or did I want to just keep it a personal author’s blog–and no organization or tactics. I think I’ll keep this post in mind when I update from now on. Here’s to hoping something more consistent comes out!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Elisa,

      Yes, beginning bloggers struggle with focus. This is so common, something we all go through. I always tell my coaching clients who are in the start-up phase to decide on the goal of their blog first. What is its purpose? What are the results they want to see? When that question is answered, it gets much easier to focus the content down.

      For example, my blog is a central part of my business. It’s where my clients (and prospective clients) come to learn more about me and my services, to get help with their problems and to interact with me and get to know me better. Sometimes they end up hiring me. A personal blog might have a completely different purpose. And a blogger with a different business may have yet a different reason for launching their blog.

      Thanks for weighing in here.

      • says

        Thanks again for this. I think I just need to focus on my personal writing habits, my writing process, and how I go about the entire writing experience with my author’s blog. Maybe then it’ll be interesting, haha.

  25. says

    With any kind of writing, I agree that it’s important to accept imperfection. Otherwise, as you say, people get stuck or quit.

    But there’s this thing called advertising…and it sends the exact opposite message. There’s a wonderful blogging ecourse called “Blog Post Engineering” by David Doolin. It’s full of great info, but the title sends the message that we’re supposed to *engineer* our blog posts. A far cry from accepting imperfection.

    Even your webinar, Judy, is advertised as helping us go from “average to astounding.” Suggesting we need to be astounding is the opposite message of saying it’s okay to be imperfect.

    Just about everyone does this in their advertising and I don’t expect it to stop, so bloggers need to be aware of the hyperbolic language used in these situations and take it with a grain of salt! Yes, work toward improvement, always, but also accept that you will never be astounding.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Wow, Sue. What a perceptive comment. Thanks for sharing that.

      I agree with you that all of us can get caught up in that kind of advertising language. And you called me on it. Good on you. I think that going from average to astounding is a journey and some people may not even be interested in taking their blog to “astounding” (not to mention that the word means different things to different people).

      Just as “taking your blog to the next level” means different things to different people. Perhaps we can agree that that kind of progress can be a goal for some people? But what does it really mean and how do we know when we’ve gotten there? Very interesting and helpful points you make here. You made me think. Thanks for that. : )

  26. says

    Now that I’ve noticed this, I see it everywhere. People use extreme language in advertising copy, and we’re all so used to it that we don’t realize the impact it has on encouraging us to be perfectionists.

    Now here’s the irony. I have been planning a blog post on just this topic for a while now, but I can’t get it…perfect. LOL. Actually, I’ve barely started drafting because I’ve been waiting for the idea to really crystallize. Talking about this here has helped. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get that post done now!

    This is a wonderful site, Judy. So glad I discovered it this morning through Patty K. :)

    • Judy Dunn says

      Sue,

      Don’t you think it’s also a part of our culture’s “fix you whole life in 30 minutes” mentality? We all want quick and easy fixes. And we want them now! If have helped you get that next blog post out, then that’s reward enough for me. : )

      Isn’t Patty K amazing? I am so glad I met her. She came to one of the blogging workshops I presented and is a charter member of my Blogging Buddies program. She’s smart, funny and authentic. What a powerful combo.

  27. says

    Hi Judy, love your post,with the great list of tips. The stats on blog quitters – wow, most quit within 2-3 months – sobering.

    This quote couldn’t be any more perfect: “The world needs you now, not when you’re perfect.” I appreciate you writing the post just for me personally. :-)

    Thank you.

    • Judy Dunn says

      It is sobering, you’re right. But many of us continue to soldier on. Don’t think too much about those stats. Just keep blogging. : )

      And, yes, Molly’s quote about perfection is priceless.

  28. Arnold Howard says

    Good point. However, it is all to easy to become sloppy. The Internet is filled with misspelled words and typos. Eliminate them, and you will stand out.

    Arnold

    • Judy Dunn says

      Arnold,

      The typos and misspelling are a little easier to catch and, yes, correcting them will make us more professional looking in our readers’ eyes.

      But I think it is the rest of the stuff that causes us to be afraid to push the “publish” button. “Is it good enough? Is it interesting enough? Has it already been said a million times before?”

      In my experience, that is where the perfection monsters rear their ugly heads. : )

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  29. says

    I just started blogging last week and posted my 3rd blog tonight. I began drafting my 4th post while writing my 3rd and it focuses on social media typos, grammar, punctuation, etc. I am a perfectionist and fear the very demise you address. Thank you for writing this – I am going to hold onto it for reference and for when I need a pep talk!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Laura,

      It’s hard to let go, isn’t it. But the thing I found, as a recovering perfectionist, is that the more I write, the less attention I pay to any on individual post. Because does anyone ever say, “That Copyblogger [or Problogger or whoever] guy is supposed to be so good, but did you know that on July 2, 2005 he wrote a very stupid post?”

      Nobody remembers individual posts or their specific content. They remember how you made them think and feel. I honestly believe that. We just need to keep writing. it’s the one thing that has made me better. So try out different voices, different styles, different kinds of posts until you find the ones that feel right.

  30. says

    I write from the heart with a focus on the human perspective, which means my writing is as flawed as Indian fabric, but I figure that’s what give it its character…
    Thanks for liberating others to be write more freely with their words…

    • Judy Dunn says

      Writing from the heart is key. Good for you. And the “flaws” are what make you you. Like the way you recognize a character in a novel by the way they talk, before you even see their name.

      Thanks for sharing here.

  31. says

    That statistic fit me well at one point in time. I started a blog in 2009. I went strong for 3 months and then I hit that wall. I wanted things to be perfect. So perfect that I wasn’t using my own voice. I was trying to write things I thought people might want to hear. I started again more intentionally last summer. Between the two blogs I have, I have written over 120 posts. The content is in my own voice and the perfectionist has gone away, because it is my words coming out…and I know that they aren’t perfect to begin with. Thank you for this post. It was most insightful.

    • Judy Dunn says

      David,

      You bring up such a good point. Writing “perfect” means you lose your voice, which is the one thing that sets you apart from every other blogger on the planet. And my friend Danny Brown over at For Bloggers, By Bloggers strongly believes that, funny as it sounds (we are always taught to identify our audience and write what they want to hear), you should write for your yourself—and the readers who are attracted to your ideas will find you. I love that.

      Over 120 posts? Wow, that’s great. : )

  32. says

    Thank you for writing (and hitting “publish!”) such an encouraging post. I’ve gotten so used to the finger-wagging cynicism of dont-be-this-idiot posts written for bloggers and content managers; it really proves that usefulness and positivity are a match made in.. html? Hehe.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Rae,

      Ha! Sometimes we “professional” bloggers get a skewed view of the world and we think that everyone who blogs has made blogging a central part of their lives—or spends much of their day writing. I thank you for your comment because it makes me see the kinds of things bloggers like you need. Very helpful. : )

  33. says

    I write exactly like I talk. When I try to write all flowery it sounds fake and contrite.

    The hardest stuff for me to post is when I handwrite poetry because they tend to be more revealing. But once publish is hit, I feel liberated.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Michael,

      You have a poetry blog? Very cool. I so get what you mean. Writing by hand just connects us more to our inner being—our soul. I still do 30 minutes of free writing every day in my journal.

      Keep posting your poetry. : )

  34. says

    Judy, thank you for this. I’m sitting here giggling at myself, mostly over your following statement:

    “I call it the ‘Princess Syndrome.” They want every post they write to be perfect. Beautiful. Appealing. Worthy of applause. With all those readers gathered at their feet.”

    I’m laughing at myself because, as a new blogger, I do indeed feel exactly like that! In my head, I know very good and well that this emotional expectation has nothing to do with reality. But my writer’s heart still wants, wants, wants! ;)

    Your stat about new bloggers quitting so early hit me in the face, too. I am determined to fight Princess Syndrome, because I will *not* be part of that statistic!

    So, onward and tally-ho, typos and all!

  35. says

    The hardest part of writing my blog is the fact that something about my format on blogspot is wrong, just wrong. I cannot preview anything. Well, I can see the last fourth of the blog. Some code has been replicated 100s or tens of thousands of time, leaving holes in my blog. Queen? Me? No, I am a slave to my faulty blog.

    Ideas come. People seem to like them. I just don’t have the patience to make them perfect. Yes, MaEd in English. I type fast but not well. Hey, I can sling them out imperfect for the world to view. I just hate it when I mix up synonyms. That is the worst!

    • Judy Dunn says

      Hmmm. Took a look at your blog. Hard to tell from the front end what you are talking about. I see your posts just fine (although your most recent one says it has zero comments but when I click on the comments hyperlink, you seem to have two comments).

      May be your theme or it may be a blogspot problem. Our businesses (CatsEyeWriter and Savvy WordPress) both focus solely on WordPress blogs, so afraid I’m not much help here.

      Thanks for sharing here and hope you will visit again. : )

  36. says

    Really enjoyed this–thank you! I’ve been blogging daily for 15 months—but I’ve been a writer my whole life. Recently, though, a burst of criticism has derailed me (my blog isn’t controversial at all, mostly poetry). I feel really bad. Not sure how to handle it. Advice?

    • Judy Dunn says

      Miriam,

      Thanks for reading. I guess I need to know more about the “burst of criticism.” Was it in the form of comments left on your blog? Because if it was, just know that you are going to get negative comments. It comes with blogging. But it is how you respond to them that makes all the difference in the world. I have a guest post from another blogger coming up soon and his topic is how to handle negative comments.

      Or maybe it wasn’t comments but something else?

  37. says

    Judy – Thanks for this wonderful post. It looks as though you’ve touched a nerve here.

    I am lucky to have days when my writing flows. The ideas seem to fall into my brain and the words are part of it. Those are the easy posts to write and publish.

    Then there are the posts that really aren’t ready for others to read. I’ve been writing for business for 15+ years, and I have standards for what I publish. I’m sure you do too. For me, those REALLY need the day to sit, the ruthless editing, the endless questioning, “So what does this have to do with the topic?”

    But that isn’t what you are talking about here. My best method to avoid getting stuck in Princessa Perfectionland is to keep writing. It’s amazing how quickly those less compelling posts disappear into the digital attic of archives. I have published 42 posts in 8 months. Amazing. It’s hard to wade through them to find an old one.

    One of my greatest learning edges is letting go of the formal, neutral voice of business writing (at least where I come from) and embracing the personal, offbeat, heartfelt voice that is me. The trick is finding that voice and seeing how to bring it through even when the topic is pretty straight information. For me, I try to remember that this is also a kind of entertainment, and that we live in a culture saturated by the expectation to be entertained.

    What is entertaining anyway? Heartfelt expression from other human beings.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Barbara,

      I so appreciate you as a reader. What thoughtful comments you leave. You are so right. The more you keep writing, the easier those posts become (and the less attention you pay to the crappy ones you might have written!).

      And “business writing”/ Yes, as a copywriter, I was stuck in that mode for many years. But one of the reasons I love blogging is that you get to show your whole, real and imperfect self. And when you do, readers actually can connect with your more. And if you can get to the “entertain” of educate, engage, and entertain, I think that you have it made. : )

  38. says

    I love what you wrote and I think you are right. I am a fan of flylady and she says perfect is a bad word. Someone, her maybe? also said, “Perfect is the enemy of Good enough”

    When I write, I try to do my best, but everyone knows that a blog is a form of journal writing, and when I journal, the content and the immediate reactions are critical – like posting in a forum or writing in my diary, or dashing off a note to a friend, I do “good enough” to communicate and imperfectly enough that I actually get it done.

    Dixie Goode,
    http://duffybarkley.blogspot.com/
    Author of, “Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog”

    • Judy Dunn says

      Dixie,

      I have heard the “good enough” line before, can’t remember where. But it’s a great mindset. “This is good enough to send out into the world.”

      You bring up an interesting point. Some of the blogs I like the most are written by bloggers who seem to be ‘in the moment.’ Because it is immediate and you feel that you are right there with them. I wrote a post on the For Bloggers, By Bloggers site this week that talks about writing ‘in the moment.’ You might find it helpful:

      http://bestbloggingtipsonline.com/5-reasons-first-graders-would-rule-the-blogging-world/

      Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you around these parts again soon. : )

  39. says

    I used to struggle with the grammar police and the perfection patrol, they even got me to stop blogging for awhile. Then I started doing NaNoWriMo, and I started to keep my writing up rather than letting it lag. My entire blog is simply spell checked and read through once, if I leave it sitting as a draft it’ll never get posted so I can’t leave it for 24 hours.

    However I do use Edit Minion on some of the more important blog posts.

    • Judy Dunn says

      Casi,

      There is nothing like structure and a commitment to writing something every day (as in NaNoWriMo) for moving you out of the perfectionist mode. Good for you!

      And if leaving it for 24 hours just means the attack of the pesky self-doubting demons, then I say, send it out! No one will ever be judged on one less than perfect post.

      Not familiar with Edit Minion. Will have to check that out.

  40. says

    Great post. I have had that problem. And not only for the texts. Since I often make the illustrations myself, they also have to be perfect – right? I was returning some time ago to a post that I was drafting: Should I not present the background more in detail? Should I not add another small drawing? Shouldn’t the color of the illustration be more vivid? Then I relised that the post was realated to a specific (expired) date, and publishing it felt a bit outdated. Since then I just publish. If something is not correct, I might get a comment about it and how big a catasrophy is that?

    • Judy Dunn says

      Karin,

      Thanks for sharing here. And you bring up a good point. Sometimes a post is time-sensitive and we just need to get it out! And on doing something wrong, yes, there are always readers who will point it out, in case you didn’t notice it yourself. : )

  41. says

    PS And I realise that there are a couple of typos in my comment, sorry about that, but I’m just trying to live up to my new philosophy: publish first and correct later.

  42. says

    So true! Great advice too. I just started blogging, although not in the younger demographic (slightly older) It is a challenge to write, edit and publish pieces that always reflect your best work. I have come to the conclusion that some blogs are my favs, some blogs my readers really like, and some just end up being duds. My philosophy – keep trying, keep writing, keep it real for me and the readers.
    Thanks!
    K

    • Judy Dunn says

      k,

      And do you ever find that the post you are most excited about, the one you think was your very best, doesn’t strike a chord with your readers? So, yes, what you think is excellent and what hits your readers in the center of their hearts are not always the same. It’s really trial and error, this blogging thing.

      Thanks for weighing in here.

  43. says

    It never ceases to amaze me how many typos or mistakes I can still spot in an article I have read and reread over months. Perfection only exists when you read someone else’s work. It’s the way it should be. I am sure Somerset Maugham, Coleridge and Byron could easily make changes to their work, if given a chance to check through it now. But to us they are the icons. Perfection.

  44. says

    It is easy to say that I am perfect but it is hard to prove, the same funda applies for blogging, it always take some time to set up the things before it actually pays.. if u wish to become a blogger all you need to do is have some patience and time to do things in a better way..

  45. says

    Judy, I must thank you.

    I stumbled upon this post searching for something completely unrelated, but I am quite happy I found it. I started my own blog to share my poetry with the internet about eight months ago. I was not terribly concerned about who read it, but I’ve always been a perfectionist. When I started full time school in September, in addition to my full time job as well as my wife (also in school) and my one year old, I found I didn’t have the same amount of time I had before. I couldn’t sit down and sink hours into a poem to make it perfect. I was stuck.

    As I didn’t have the time to perfect my poems I felt as though I never truly finished a poem. So I didn’t post them, but sat on them trying to improve them. I kept coming up with ideas, but as I didn’t feel I was finished with old ones, I didn’t bother working on them.

    It wasn’t until six months after this stalemate due to my lack of time in which I stumbled upon this post. Now I have a bit of confidence to post without worrying that my posts will be perfect.

    Again, thank you!

    • says

      Ryan,

      I know what you are saying. Perfectionism is a curse I fight with every day. Because when is good ever good enough. It is so much more important to get your work out into the world. A university instructor in a writing class said to me once, “If you keep stopping one story and starting another, you will never have a finished piece. Stay with the story until it is done.” It was a good piece of advice. I find it helps, though to put a piece of writing away for a bit because I always come back to it with a fresh, objective pair of eyes. So glad you decided to get back to your blog. : )

  46. says

    I was a good reader and writer when I went to
    college for two years and then went to vocational school. I was also a receptionist at a freight forwarding company. I only find some time to write my thoughts when I go on vacation once in a while I look at my posts. People have different opinions what I will say to them online. I try to be careful whom I chat with.

  47. says

    Perhaps I should spend more time on my blogs. It takes me on average less than an hour to write one and that might also include uncorking wine time. I put it through spell check and reread once and note that I should do it at least twice since errors are there. But then I figure my readers will know what I mean anyway. The hardest thing about spending the time writing a post is ‘is it worth it given the number of hits I get?’ Perhaps that’s another factor of the Princess syndrome?

    • says

      An old post finds a new reader. Cool.

      Man, those spelling errors sometimes just creep in, don’t they? I hear you on the number of hits issue. If you are writing to connect with people, that can be a problem. I just to stress out over page views and comments in the beginning, wondering if anyone was even reading my stuff. If you keep going, you WILL build an audience. Thanks for visiting the Cat’s Eye blog. : )

  48. says

    I love this post. I’ve been blogging for six months now and I have never once considered stopping. However, this is my fourth try at running a blog. I just think that I’m so passionate about my blog’s topic, my incredible weight loss, that I just don’t want to stop. I am also not  afraid to be imperfect. It’s MY blog and it’s about me and I’m not perfect!

    • says

       @Wendy’s Adventures in Weight Loss You definitely have the right attitude. So often people think they need ton wait until they have that ‘perfect’ post.  You are on the right track.  : )

      • says

         @JudyDunn  I’ve been reading about how to improve my blog in various different places and ya know what?  I do follow some advice, like the things I’ve read here, but for the most part,  I’m doing this on my own terms. If I get readers I get readers. Just putting it out there on the web and getting the occasional comment is enough for me! I think that might be one of the keys to why I haven’t given up.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Surprisingly, little empirical statistical research has been published on the phenomenon of blogs and blogging. Our blog is hosted on WordPress, according to Forbes the most popular blogging system in the world, powering over 60 million websites worldwide. Yet the statistics I’ve seen seem to suggest most people who start blogs, quit within the first three months. What blogger Judy Lee Dunn calls, The Princess Syndrome. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*