So, you are an unknown blogger, writing just for the hell of it. Knowing that nobody will ever really read your work, so you’re free to write anything, do anything. It’s liberating.
But then one day, overnight, you suddenly become blog-famous.
This has never happened to me, but I have watched it happen to many people–some of which have become my close friends.
And I’ve noticed that the sudden burst of popularity does something to your writing. You change as a blogger, in a few very predictable ways.
1. Your writing style changes completely.
Whereas before you were writing only for yourself, your mother, and maybe your roommate, now you’re writing for a slew of unfamiliar people who hang on your every word. You may have just been writing for the hell of it before, but now you agonize over every word, wanting to produce something that your unexpected audience will approve of.
Feelings of inadequacy will flood your soul, and you will find yourself wondering what on earth you could do to top whatever post made you internet-famous.
Your writing will probably stop being about existential rants with your subconscious and start being about stuff that you think your audience will care about. Like ponies. Or Nyan Cat. Or breathing. Everybody breathes.
2. You will suddenly become a terrible correspondent.
Before your popularity hike, you were on the ball. You answered every email, replied to every comment, were an internet communications guru. Of course, you only had like a comment a week, but who’s counting?
And then you check your email one day and have 500 messages. And that’s only the beginning.
You want to write people back, you really do. But with your inbox exploding with comment notifications and email and god knows what else, it’s all you can do to keep from drowning.
At first you try to respond to everyone. Then, after you burn yourself out, you post an apology for not being able to respond to everyone. Later, you will most likely stop replying out of sheer helplessness. There’s just no way to keep up.
3. You will worry about keeping/losing your fame.
Because you haven’t got the slightest idea what you did to get famous, you’ll start losing sleep over what to do to keep your fame. We all know that people have the attention span of gnats, and if you don’t hold their attention they’ll be gone faster than a slice of your grandma’s apple pie.
Which is why you’ll start staying up at night wondering what you can do to keep your schizophrenic audience happy. You’ll quickly find out that nothing you do will please everyone. You will begin to descend into psychological chaos when your blog entries about Nyan Cat and breathing get negative comments.
4. Driven by a crushing sense of self-inadequacy, you will stop posting for a while.
Granted, the first little while after your big “hit,” you’ll probably be in too much shock to post much of anything other than “LWJERLKSJLKFJLSDJF OMG GUYS WHAT.” But after that initial shock wears off, you’ll slowly realize (due to a combination of the things mentioned above) that you can’t post anymore because it won’t be as good as what you did before.
You’ll give it your best shot. You’ll write some floundering posts that try to cater to everyone’s interests. But you’ll eventually realize that it’s futile. You’ll give up. Start wishing you could go back to where you were before, when you could air whatever laundry you darn well felt like airing and nobody cared.
5. You will realize that you have been a complete idiot and go back to the way things were.
Somewhere along the line you’ll figure out that all you had to do was be yourself. That it didn’t matter what the haters said, or that your next few posts were less than stellar. That you’ve just spent the past few weeks fretting and moping around for nothing. That yes, you now have an audience, but you don’t have to cater to them. All you have to do is what you did before–write whatever the heck you feel like writing and chunk it at the internet.
If you don’t ever get to this step, it’s okay. Some people haven’t, and won’t ever get there. You can function with high levels of self-depreciating stress. You just won’t be very productive.
And some of you arrogant people with spades of self-confidence never had to go through steps 1-4. The rest of us are jealous. So jealous. You don’t even know.