I don't think I can be the only person who feels incredibly anxious and painfully vulnerable when punching the "save & publish" button on my blogging web-platform of choice. Despite the fact my website has had a totality of (at time of writing) 245 hits over the past 4 months (the majority of which are probably friends, family or accidents!), each post brings with it the possibility that someone might really, really disagree with me. And that is scary!
I feel like this fear is even more acute for academics, since their entire training is focused on how to defend an idea from every angle of possible assassination. Despite all this training, it is not appropriate to write in the same way for a blog. Therefore, publishing a blog is a bit like going out into battle without armour. There's also the added pressure for academics that the quality of their ideas correlate with the quality of their reputation and resultant career. To be told something like, "oh yeah, that's old news" is a shame inducing comment of gargantuan proportions - especially if you are an early career academic and you get the feeling that pretty much everyone knows more than you do! Worst case scenario, you find yourself violently back-peddling or re-justifying your assertions by way of comment replies beneath your initial, and clearly insufficient, presentation of ideas.
None of the above has happened to be yet, and my vivid imagination is perhaps the only problem I have at present, but the possibility of a blog battle increases with each post. With this in mind, and assuming I'm not alone in this, here's some pep-talk style points on why I continue to blog despite this fear and anxiety.
For me, ideas are generated through writing, and so writing is part of the process and never the finished product. If I waited for thoughts to be 100% justified before putting pixels to screen I would never write anything, or I would get bored and move on to something else with the idea fading into my distant memory.
I know the world is a tough place, but I have committed to a principle where I try my up-most to assume the best of people and trust their intentions (i.e. not feel like I'm at risk of attack all the time). Call me naive or even careless, but if in doubt, I'd rather think the best of people and be wrong than think badly of someone and be wrong.
I am a very stubborn person, so if I don't put forward my thoughts for critique, I run the risk of not ever discovering the blatant errors in my ways of thinking.
When people have questioned my reasoning, I have always learned more and found it an enriching experience.
I have a wonderful husband and supportive friends who remind me who I am and my worth, such that I try not to let my ideas and my career define me. This means I have less to lose if I find that I, at some point, am found to be wrong or misinformed!
Living life in a genuine way is more rewarding and allows more energy for creativity than if I were to be constantly worrying about the "right" or "most acceptable" things to say.
And for those who want to learn a bit more about their own fallibility and what it feels like to be wrong (spoiler alert: it feels like being right!). Here’s a handy TED Talk:
I'd be interested to hear other people's approaches to blogging and how they manage their blogging anxiety. Pop your thoughts in the comment box below!
Headline photo is my own - what can be more anxiety inducing than setting fire to the bottom of your boat!