Measuring Up

I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a few years now, which means I occasionally give people the impression that I might know what I’m doing.

Once in awhile I’ll receive an email asking me for blogging tips or tricks to be successful, at which point I spit out my tea in surprise and make sure that the email was actually intended for me.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t really have any clue, mostly because I don’t know what “successful” really means.


Whenever I see things that other people are doing—publishing books, appearing on the Huffington Post, getting a lot of comments, etc.—I admit that I get jealous and then sometimes a bit insecure, which is stupid considering that I’ve published books and have appeared on the Huffington Post.

But when I do something, I often dismiss it as “no big deal” in comparison to what everyone else is doing. It’s easy to fall into this trap because we keep coming up with new things to measure—Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Pinterest pins, etc.—even though those really don’t have a lot to do with how much impact you actually have or if what you do is actually decent.

After all, you can’t tell if a book is any good by the number of words it contains, even though that’s easily measured.

The fact is that now that everyone can write, publish, etc. there is a lot of noise and poorly written stuff cluttering up the Internet. Some of it “goes viral” and leaves you staring at the computer and wondering, “Why not me? Weren’t those last couple status updates or tweets funny or clever enough? Why aren’t there more comments on my last post?”

The deafening silence can cause you to doubt yourself and wonder where you went wrong.

This, my flustered friends, is where it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and do what seems to be working for everyone else. That’s why it often seems like there aren’t many new ideas — simply new people regurgitating the same things people have said in the past and being praised for reinventing a wheel that’s been rolling for years.

But this just in: If you’re doing what you want to do—not what you think you should do—you’re doing everything right.

It’s unrealistic to assume that whatever you’ve made—art, writing, cooking—is something that everyone everywhere should embrace. And even though it’s hard to stop measuring things that are measurable, the best things don’t measure well by conventional means.

The most popular isn’t necessarily the “best,” and personally I don’t want to mirror what’s around me, especially if it’s mediocre.

So even though I still stress over the silence that I often hear, I’ve come to learn that everyone is different. I write because I love it (most days) and while I’m willing to work hard, I’m not willing to change who I am just to please the masses.

I would like to think that walking away from those that don’t get it unlocks my ability to do different things, to create whatever it is without worrying what somebody thinks.

I guess that’s what I call success.

Like the blog? Buy the books!

37 responses to “Measuring Up

  1. If you ever change who you are or what you write-or stop writing altogether–I’ll hunt you down and kick your ass.
    (I mean that in the nicest way possible)

  2. Yes! Well said. And I’m pinning this, despite the fact that it might give you hives. 🙂

    • A pin from you is an honor. And expect a “Pinterest” post in the future, despite my inability to create awesome graphics like you and 90 percent of the bloggers on there 😉

  3. Think you got this blogging thing down to a science. Don’t doubt it. We “get you”.

  4. Your books are the best, I tell everyone I meet to get them. Your writing and humor are what we think and wish we all could say…..

  5. Don’t go changing to try to please anybody. We love you just the way you are. Erin

  6. betternotbroken

    All good points Abby, I don’t embrace everyone’s writing so why would everyone embrace mine? I tell myself this often. Have you read the “comments” at places like CNN or Yahoo News? That will cure you of any desire for comments. Blog on.

    • Of course. I don’t worry about comments at all, especially after being on Huffington Post, the place where common sense goes to wither and die.

      • betternotbroken

        When I read the comments there I often see no correlation whatsoever to the article – zero. I think why don’t you all go get a blog instead? Too cheap? You can get one for free. And with that digression from the topic I am done commenting.

  7. That was awesome. Recently I ran into this crazy woman who had been drinking and in a case of mistaken identity, she threatened to ruin my reputation and go to the media. It took me a moment to think, “wait, what reputation??” At that moment I realized that living in relative obscurity and not being famous was a bit of a blessing. By the end of the conversation, I had her laughing. I mean honestly, black mail me, I dare ya. There’s no such thing as bad press.

  8. Thank you for writing this. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the crazy. Knowing your worth inside should be enough. 🙂

    I’ll be sharing your piece. oxox

  9. Keep doing what you’re doing and being your awesome self! xo

  10. Thank you for this; I needed it.

  11. Well said. It’s great to be able to create a blog and do what I love doing. I have modern technology to thank for that chance but it also brings literally tons of rubbish too. Sometimes it is hard not to get caught up in the ‘followers’ ‘comments’ thing though.

  12. I get very few comments on my blogs, so I look at the stats for views & subscriptions to fill the void. 🙂 Being a musician and a blogger I do understand that being creative isn’t about pleasing other people, it’s about soothing your own soul. I’m always so glad I found your blog!!!

  13. Keep doing what you love, my friend. You’re so damned good at it!

  14. Thank you for this post – it was exactly what I needed to hear/see. New to the blogging world – working on my mere 20th entry; I have found myself starting – and deleting multiple times. I am suddenly worried if people are going to like what I have to say. I never worried when I was writing to no one – & I just realized, I need to just write. “But this just in: If you’re doing what you want to do—not what you think you should do—you’re doing everything right.” Perfect! Thanks again!

  15. If I were you, I’d be pretty proud. You have Good measure of heart. A book, boldness, yet still thoughtful and kind. That’s a great measure of worth that no amount comments or pins can prove

  16. You have mad, mad graphics-making skills, Abs.

  17. ” though it’s hard to stop measuring things that are measurable, the best things don’t measure well by conventional means.” – for what its worth to you, these are words that I’ll keep and Ill be sure to repeat. Thank you for making my night and reminding me of my “measurable’s”.

  18. I’ve been following your Blog since before the dawn of Blogging time because I enjoy it, it makes me laugh, and I think we share a few eccentricities. That makes it a successful Blog in my book, and long may it continue to make me smile

  19. You write the way I like to read. You make me laugh. I think that’s enough.

  20. what kim bon jovi said times 100

    I want to watch a baseball game with you….maybe I’ll learn some new swear words from you or mom

  21. This is what I needed to hear. Thank you!

  22. This post could not have been written with better wording. I recently started my own humor blog (feel free to go have a laugh) and I have come to realize that there aren’t rules to blogging. Every bog is different and therefore every blog will need different things to succeed.

  23. Of course we must first write for ourselves but that is called a diary. Blogging is writing for others and that leaves us with two choices, either write for people who like what we like or write what the most people like.

    If we write for people who like what we like,it’s called art. If we write for what most people like, it’s called a job.

  24. Abby, you nailed it too (as well as the above–wow, yes). I like the idea of it being art (or a diary, lol). I sure don’t want or need another job.

    I write when and what I feel like, but yes, I hear you– the deafening silence and comparison to stuff that has gone viral (some of which is not as good as stuff I wrote in high school), can be somehow…disappointing.

    What I DO like about blogging (and I’m new at it) is that I don’t technically care *who* reads it–or if they like it. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. I write stuff mostly for myself (because I make myself laugh–I know, weird), and for my family, my kids, and my friends, who, for the most part, think I’m hilarious. Unfortunately for me, they also rarely leave comments, although they FB and email me to tell me how much they laughed about this or that post. Still. It’d be much more of an ego boost if they’d FIGURE OUT Google comments for crying out loud.

    I try not to compare, because it wouldn’t matter if I had a million readers or 2 readers…I’m not doing it to make money (I’d have no idea how to do that), and I don’t want to have to answer 1 million people anyway, but there’s always that voice in my head saying “wow…you are SO not that funny”…

    You should never doubt YOUR writing, though. You are what new bloggers aspire to, my dear (No! Don’t spit out your tea!). You are relate-able and hilarious, and I find myself saying “OMG that’s ME” in a lot of what you write.

    So there’s that…

  25. You stay just the way u are!
    Why can’t books be judged by the amount of words? I can write a lot of words no problem.

  26. I’d say you’re hugely successful by any standards. You’re consistently funny and tons and tons of people adore you. Including me. 🙂

Talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s